4
$\begingroup$

If a question has multiple parts A, B, and C, then how to the pros and cons balance out for partial answers vs. complete answers?

Obviously an excellent answer that covers A, B, and C is most likely to be upvoted and accepted.

But it seems that the answers per question ratio is one of the indicators of a good site. The ratio increases if someone answers B, and someone else answers C.

What would the ideal outcome be, if a question already has separate answers for A, B, and C? It's not clear to me if someone should come in and make massive edits to one answer in an attempt to bring in answers to the other parts, or post a new answer with copied material addressing all the points. Without one of these actions, how could the questioner accept any of the incomplete answers?

I did some searching around but did not find this topic addressed. But feel free to point me to a good link if it is available somewhere.

$\endgroup$

1 Answer 1

8
$\begingroup$

enter image description here

If the question is not reasonably scoped, then the author should be given the opportunity to neck it down to a single question. Otherwise, it should either be closed or improved by our user community (hopefully with the consent of the author).

enter image description here

However, there are certainly excellent single questions for which partial (incomplete) answers can be given. For example, ProfRob asked: What are Kepler's laws (as he wrote them)? Three laws are attributed to Kepler, but the accepted answer only addresses the first. There is room for additional answers addressing the other laws! If they are posted, there is no responsibility on additional posters or even the community or moderators to copy or merge answers. Instead, we rely on the effectiveness of the community and the stack exchange process to upvote and downvote appropriately (on average) to sort the best content to the top.

There are many well received partial and supplemental answers here on Astronomy SE. In my opinion, partial answers are just fine, and may even be better than some complete answers, especially if they address the spirit of the question! It is up to the community to vote, and up to the asker to accept (or not). If answers all had to be complete, I think we might loose a number of valuable partial answers!

$\endgroup$
6
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Thanks for explaining! I wonder if there will be any other responses against partial answers. $\endgroup$
    – giardia
    Feb 16 at 22:39
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I thought it was 22 parts $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Feb 17 at 2:54
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @giardia when a Stack Exchange community settles down to the work of generating answers rather than closing questions, it focuses more on the spirit of, rather than the letter of the law. Sometimes it takes multiple contributions and/or viewpoints to adequately address a question, and in mature, collegiate stack Exchange communities this is often seen to be just fine. Many of the original "rules and traditions of Stack Exchange" are really decade-old historical holdovers from Stack Overflow which was focused primarily on finding solutions to programming problems. $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Feb 17 at 2:58
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @giardia In sites that are more academic in nature, partial answers have become quite acceptable as an alternative to question fragmentation, at least that's how I see it. $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Feb 17 at 2:59
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ @uhoh After an unsatisfying experience on another science SE, I completely see what you mean about Astro SE being a "mature, collegiate stack Exchange community." I have been learning a lot on this site, and seeing a lot of positive interactions between the users. $\endgroup$
    – giardia
    Feb 18 at 19:08
  • $\begingroup$ @giardia Yes, this is really a wonderful site! To me, going from site to site feels a little bit like country to country in the real world; each has its own culture, traditions, peculiarities and aspirations. $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Feb 18 at 22:28

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .