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Occasionally, I see a question for which I don't know enough to write a good answer, but I happen to know something that I think would be useful for someone asking that question to know.

  • Example 1: Arthaban wants to know how to do something in HeroForge. I don't know how to do the thing they want to do in HeroForge, so I can't write a good answer. But I do know the developer of HeroForge, who probably knows the answer. So I comment with a link to where they could get in touch with her.

  • Example 2: HeyICanChan wants to know what exactly gets replaced when you take a substitution level. I can't find satisfactory rules text that would tell us what actually happens - but I have noticed a regularity that might help them out in ruling on these things in a way that makes sense, so I post a comment briefly mentioning it.


On the one hand, these smell a little bit like partial-answers-in-comments. On the other hand, they're not really answers - they're just things that the question makes me think the asker would probably want to know.

Are such comments acceptable? If not, is there a different venue by which it would be more appropriate to communicate this kind of information?

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No, these aren't acceptable. These are partial answers in comments.

A "lead", an "idea", and something that starts with "not an answer but..." are all answers in comments.

Your options are:

  1. Take the time to find out and write an answer.
  2. Hit them up in chat.
  3. Let it lie.

Usually #3 is the best, because usually the helpful tip isn't really that helpful. Most of them are some variant on "LMGTFY". Your example of "you could go here and contact the developer" - realistically, they know that, or could with a token bit of research. But they're asking here. Everyone knows they could Google or go ask the author/designer on Twitter or go post on some other forum for thing X and ask there. But that's not an answer.

Someone with the wherewithal to actually contact the developer and find out - they deserve to post an answer.

Your second example - so there's a 50% chance the lead is wrong and deceptive as to an approach, because you don't really know the answer.

I totally know everyone throwing out "tips" is doing it to be helpful. I am certainly not questioning any motives. But the fact is, these "tips" in comments are often a) wrong, b) pointless, and/or c) lead to comment arguments when people try to rebut them since comments don't have downvotes and their own comments like a proper answer does.

In general, don't do it. The likelihood you have the critical piece of information some real answerer doesn't have is slight. And by posting a piece, you disincentivize someone from writing an actual answer around that, since "Well... It's there in a comment and they've already read it... I'll go spend my time somewhere else."

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    \$\begingroup\$ "Everyone knows they could Google or go ask the author/designer on Twitter or go post on some other forum for thing X and ask there." Everyone knows they could go to Google or whatever and they don't because they come here seeking expert knowledge from our expert GMs, players, and designers. They asked here specifically, so sending them off to some other resource is a disservice to them and a disservice to the site because we miss out on the opportunity to add more good answers to our knowledge base. \$\endgroup\$ – LegendaryDude Apr 14 '17 at 12:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ @LegendaryDude I agree with the thrust of your comment, but I personally didn't know that game developers were responsive on twitter or other forums. \$\endgroup\$ – BlackVegetable Apr 17 '17 at 16:19
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You do technically have a fourth option. If you actually have a good, substantial partial-answer but can't finish it off for whatever reason, consider posting it as a community wiki answer in its incomplete form. Community wiki answers should be rare, because we can generally answer a question without needing multiple different experts specialized in different areas, but they are there if you want to use them and posting partial answers is still officially okay. I don't think either of the test cases you mention pass muster for that, though.

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