How to write a helpful answer
Thank you for taking the time to write an answer. Thanks to you, the community is growing and will be able to share your knowledge and personal experiences with a wide range of readers.
Here are some tips for writing well-received answers:
- Answer well-written questions. Posting a well-written answer under a poorly written question can make your answer look bad. Also familiarize yourself with what the topic of discussion is about here, and avoid answering questions on topics that are not allowed on the site.
- Always address the questioner's problem in your answer. A good answer should, at a minimum, allow the person whose question you are answering to solve their problem. Not all questions can be answered this way, but if you don't think you can write a complete solution, it is better to write a comment on the question.
- Avoid subjectivity and purely taste-based answers. It is better to write about personal experience or what can be confirmed by an authoritative source.
- Put the answer in the right context. You, as the expert or experience provider, see many dimensions of the situation, see the issues involved, even those that are not addressed or misinterpreted in the question. Try to give important information and remarks to put the answer in the right context. Always explain why your proposed solution is appropriate and how it works.
- Answer the question directly. For example, if the question is "Why...?", the answer includes "Because"; if the question is "Who...?", the answer names the actors; if the question is "How...?", the answer explains the process.
- Write in detail. Use examples and explanations. You can write briefly, but you need the answer to be complete, with a clear reasoning.
- Structure your answer so that the first paragraph answers the question, and the following paragraphs contain arguments for "why this is the case" with logical explanation. Divide the text into meaningful paragraphs.
- Highlight key points. Do not make the entire text bold or italic, but you can make visual accents on important moments.
- Provide references. You can insert a relevant link to a book, an article, a video in your response. But do not leave only one link with a comment in your reply – the link should complement the answer, not replace it. Placing a link should not be the primary goal of the author of the response. This is easy to check: if you remove the link from the response, the response should remain complete and useful. Links to other questions or service responses are welcome. Try to quote the most important part or write what you need to pay attention to in the link. If you are citing a source outside the internet, cite the source explicitly with the title, author, chapter, or even page of the book.
- Write unique text. Do not copy it from third-party or your own sources. If you need to use part of the text from other sources – make a citation. The answer cannot consist only of citations.
- Write clearly. Take into account people unfamiliar with construction. If you use professional terminology in your text, explain it. Also explain logical relationships.
- Illustrate the answer. There may be pictures in the answer if they help answer the question. This is optional, but often a picture can show what is difficult to describe in text alone. It is also sometimes necessary to insert, for example, a graph or chart to illustrate a particular statistical argument.
- Read the question carefully, preferably several times. Very often people mistakenly answer something that is not in the question.
- Offer realistic alternatives if there is no way to solve the problem directly,
- Share at least your observations or research (e.g., in comment), even if you don't know the answer but have encountered the same situation. Such teamwork will allow the next participants to consider your additional data and find the solution they are looking for.
- Try to write as competently as you can. Check your spelling and punctuation.
- Edit your answer if you notice a mistake or have forgotten something. Also remember that you can edit the question you are answering if it is poorly written. That way you reduce the chance that your question will be deleted.
- Be polite.