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author's profile photo Jelena Perfiljeva

"Thanks for your answer! My question was actually [the whole different story]"

Seems to be some kind of epidemic today in SD forum. What is it with people posting a vague question and then turning it into something completely different after receiving an answer? Exhibit A and B.

It's super annoying when you're searching in the existing questions and "owls are not what they seem". And now you have to expand all the comments manually just to find the question went into another direction. It must be also quite frustrating to the person who provided an answer based on the initial question.

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  • Feb 06, 2018 at 05:10 PM

    So what do you prefer?

    An OP

    1. who never comes back to his question or
    2. who at least tells you your fine answer is off-topic because the actual question is not the one that was asked?

    Those are the really difficult questions here, right?

    • Feb 06, 2018 at 09:32 PM

      Are these the only two options? Oh man... :)

      To be honest, not really sure what's worse. The current platform with the answer/comment separation and the comments rolled up underneath each answer seems very unforgiving in the cases when the question is not really what OP posted.

      For example, imagine you see this question:

      "Dear gurus, my client requirement is to find how much is 2 + 2. Please guide me."

      Then you see this:

      Best answer: "1"
      Answer: "4".

      Since you know the actual answer to the question, you're thinking WTF. But if you drill down into the comments underneath the second best answer you'll see: "Thank you for a reply! Actually my client wants to know how much is 2 divided by 2".

      For someone searching how much 2 + 2 is option 1 (OP never coming back) would sure as heck be more beneficial.

      • Feb 07, 2018 at 09:09 AM

        Well, as stated before, I don't think that this is a general problem of the answer/comment separation but of the "Auto-hidden comment" feature. I still would strongly prefer that comments are expanded by default, at least to a certain number like in SO. The fact that the "best answer" does not answer the original question but a refined one would also be possible in a "one-kind-of-reply" style, as well...

        That being said, I think I do prefer that an OP returns at all, even when telling that the actual question is a different one. If so, one can either clarify that this is undesired behaviour (and that one does not like to spend time answering "wrong" questions), or help to find out the actual question – there are certainly situations when "finding out the actual question" is part of the solution...


        I doubt that the latter is the case in the two samples you provided, but I'm no matter expert in those topics at all, so it's difficult to tell for me. Even in your "math sample", I could imagine that a "young student" might mess up the terms for both operations, so asking the wrong question might not necessarily be due to sloppiness. – OK, he should not have clients then, for sure:)

      • Feb 09, 2018 at 08:34 AM

        I prefer the one that never comes back. Then there's no confusion and after a while we can just delete his question. :-D

  • Feb 15, 2018 at 08:32 PM

    Variation of this: ask a vague question and then when someone answers make them look like a fool by replying "oh, I already knew this" and "I actually was asking [not what the question looked like]":

    Great way to discourage anyone from answering. :(

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