31
\$\begingroup\$

RPG rules, in pursuit of flavour, can sometimes be flowery and ambiguous, even self-contradicting[citation needed]. In doing research for improving one of my answers that tries to resolve an interaction of two character powers, I have encountered evidence of varying strengths for opposing conclusions.

Should I:

  1. Consider both conclusions in a single answer, or
  2. Post two answers, each putting forward a single conclusion and its arguments.

Furthermore, is the best practice different if only part of the conclusion, or an interim conclusion, is different? If so, how much of the overall answer has to be 'different' to warrant a separate post?

\$\endgroup\$
37
\$\begingroup\$

I look at this from the point of view of the voter, and I try to give answers which are clear to vote on.

As a voter, I feel tricked when two different answers that would each be sufficient on their own are lumped into one single post. It means I have to choose only one response to two answers, and that's not cool. (And it leads to "I disagree" comments, which aren't good either.)

It's also not helpful to people in the future: the point of voting is to sort answers by how useful the groupmind thinks they are.

But on the other hand, I don't want to crowd up the page with multiple answers that are almost identical.

So if I have two answers to a question I need to ask myself, "Could these each stand on their own as an answer?" and "Is it clear what the difference between them is?" If the answer to both is "Yes," then I definitely make 'em separate answers. If both are "No," then I leave 'em together. If one's "Yes" and one's "No," then I make a judgement call based on how I'd feel about being asked to vote on them together or separately--if I think I'd feel compelled to leave a comment explaining my vote, I should definitely separate them.

\$\endgroup\$
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ +1 for being able to give distinct votes to different answers. That's what our system's for, after all. \$\endgroup\$ – GMJoe Aug 10 '15 at 6:02
9
\$\begingroup\$

It really depends on the details of your answer(s), and there is no one-size-fits-all rule you can follow that will always be the best course of action. Your exact execution matters much more than the issue of together or separate, and we can't predict the details of execution. This is something that can only be figured out by doing it and learning from real experience with real answers.

So just write your answer or answers, and observe the resulting votes and community response. Repeat a few times and you'll develop a sense of what does and doesn't work. There is no substitute for learning from the live site's feedback system, because teaching users how (and how not) to answer is a large part of its purpose.

This is how every best practice we've developed locally at RPG.se has been discovered: people trying things, and the community discovering and discussing after the fact what works and what doesn't. Join us in that grand tradition!

\$\endgroup\$
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ +1. If it's a binary question like "RAW says yes you can" vs "RAW says no you can't" then it's good to split them; if it's "here's two or three possible solutions to your problem" then no don't. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk - Justice for Monica Aug 7 '15 at 14:16
6
\$\begingroup\$

Put both conclusions in but one answer

In theory BESW's answer is correct. Were the system perfect, each question about an ambiguity would get many answers, each answer addressing a different area of that ambiguity and reaching a different (or the same) conclusion. Voters would read each answer, recognize the nuances of each, and a best single-conclusion answer would float to the top.

It doesn't work that way. The body of experts is too small to make that number of different answers a reasonable expectation, and the patience required to read and recognize subtleties between multiple answers is, for many, too vast. Finally, the tendency to consolidate earlier answers into a clearinghouse of a lone big answer later exists, so were a dozen alternative answers presented individually, another later answer might piggyback on those, add others, include some uniques, and end up with a good, cool, useful (if massive) multipurpose answer with greater appeal.

That said, an answer that doesn't address at least obvious alternative conclusions in favor of single-shotting a lone conclusion is often downvoted, even if the lone conclusion that's reached is elegant, reasoned, and playable. That's because those who disagree with the lone conclusion downvote the answer because they think it's wrong rather than downvote the answer because they think it's not useful.1

If not taking a side makes you uncomfortable, take sides for or against one of the sides you've presented within the answer itself.

An answer that addresses multiple sides of the same issue is often considered more useful than an answer that addresses just one side.


1 I know that users never need justify downvotes and can downvote for any reason, yet the mouseover text on the downvote button really does say This answer is not useful not This answer is wrong, which I've always appreciated as a nod to wrong answers still having the possibility to be useful answers.

\$\endgroup\$

You must log in to answer this question.

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