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I thought about this while answering this question. The question doesn't ask for a list, just for an explanation of whether or not it can happen. Several respondents list singular examples and one answer gives an incomplete list. Understanding the different ways very much is helpful, but does an incomplete list create more confusion because it 'looks' exhaustive? Is it better to overanswer incompletely or to not do this?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Thank you for the comments below. I wasn't sure if there was site policy on this or 'best practices'. But letting the up/down votes make the call is fine. Interesting that so far both responses are "i wouldn't, but..." It's a combination of the list not being the actual request and being incomplete that threw me. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Apr 14 '17 at 19:05
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I've done some partial lists. I've always felt poorly when posting them, because they never feel like a complete answer. Here's why:

Partial lists aren't clear

A partial list leaves the impression that it may be a complete list. Upon my first look at that answer I had thought that it was meant to be a complete list or ways to gain advantage on initiative, not just Dexterity checks, and was surprised that it missed the one I included in my answer.

Partial lists invite additions

Anyone with additional examples can edit a list to add things to it. That can help make it exhaustive, but it can also become too long, and at that point become less useful as an answer.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ If you'd say yes, I would upvote it, if you'd say no, I would downvote it. As it is now, I can not decide if you are against lists or not. \$\endgroup\$ – András Apr 14 '17 at 19:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ @András Some things in life are not binary. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Apr 14 '17 at 19:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie upvotes are :) \$\endgroup\$ – András Apr 14 '17 at 19:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ @András The question might be assuming the issue is a binary yes/no, but that doesn't mean that the correct answer is a binary yes/no, nor that voters have to adopt a question's assumption that it's binary. Some things in life are shades of grey, and the strength of SE is being able to write with nuance on subjects that might look binary, but are not. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Apr 14 '17 at 20:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ They also encourage people to post answers that don't actually answer the question and instead focus on listing things you missed. \$\endgroup\$ – Miniman Apr 14 '17 at 23:32
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This is a content-level decision that authors can make at their discretion. Sometimes it's helpful and enhances the answer, sometimes it's unhelpful and makes it harder to understand. It all depends on execution.

So yes, it's fine to provide full or partial lists of examples in an answer to support a general point being made. Whether that's a good idea or not will be revealed by the voting.


Personally, speaking as a post writer, I tend to avoid adding such things. I tend to stick to a minimal number of representative examples in-paragraph (and make it abundantly clear that they're just examples), which can be as few as one, because I find that adding lists to an answer when the list is just “bonus” information makes the whole post harder to evaluate and process. With the torrent of material we produce, simply getting readers to read a post is part of the challenge of writing a good answer. But again, this is just my personal preference, as a writer of posts, and in writing there are few rules that can't be broken for good effect in the right circumstances!

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