I left a comment on an answer which I believe is only a frame challenge to the question about imposing a "Limit Curse" on a player. This is what I said in that comment:

This answer is only a frame challenge, and therefore it does not answer the question asked. You are supposed to answer the Q first, and then challenge the frame later.

I link to the answer to the question, "How do we handle a desire to challenge the frame of a question?" because it gives the following guidelines, in my own words:

  • Still answer the question, even if you don't like it

  • Make sure the frame challenge is not most of your answer

  • Don't be upset if you are downvoted

For leaving the above comment, I have been told I was doing an inappropriate action. That is, I shouldn't let people know answers that are only frame challenges are not actually delivering what the querent wants.

My view of it is, even if I disagree with a particular Q, if I have the knowledge to challenge the frame of it, then I should also have the foresight to suggest ways on how to execute ideas which I believe can make the best out of a bad situation.

For example, in the linked question, if Ben truly wanted to go with executing his Limit Curse, then I have suggestions for what I believe to be the best way of executing that despite my opinion that it's best he should not do it at all. However, after giving my answer, I will still challenge his frame afterwards. I believe that is a proper frame challenge.

This is also why I think answers that are only frame challenges are not actually answers.

And so, to the thing I would like to hear the Stack's answers for: if an answer is only a frame challenge, is it appropriate or inappropriate to point it out in the comments? Should I leave it be?


3 Answers 3


Yes, it is appropriate to point out that pure frame challenges are often problematic in a comment on the answer.

The question and answer have gone through substantial revisions, but in the end, I expect users to respect the playstyle of the asker and help them in a way they will use.

In this case, you can certainly comment on the question, "Hey, you seem to be leaping to a single solution and should probably ask about your problem instead." It looks like SSD has actually edited the question at hand into that format, I would assume with the OP's consent. Then, it's easier to answer with info on which of a variety of solutions are good or bad.

But if they don't want to ask about that, but ask about their specific solution - answer about their specific solution. If you just say "don't do that," expect people (including me) to downvote it and comment "You should give more help than just a frame challenge."

Because here's the deal. Everyone's got their opinions. And in the past, on this site, before we derived the frame challenge guidelines, here's what happened. There were always fights.

"I am doing survival horror in D&D and want good gun rules. Where are some good gun rules for D&D?"

"Don't use survival horror for D&D, use another game! D&D sucks for any genre other than heroic fantasy."

"I want a RAW answer to how to do X."

"RAW is bad and is for fools! Just swag it."

Et cetera. I realize everyone always thinks they know better than the OP in cases like these. And maybe you do. But maybe you just know different, and so it's not your place. Sometimes the mob loves the frame challenge and gives it a lot of votes. It doesn't mean it's helpful, it just means it's turned a Q&A into a playstyle war.

If the question stays scoped to the proposed solution, if you just simply a priori disagree with the solution - move on to another question.

In this case - if you actually have experience with a "limit curse," or other similar kind of workaround, well then it's a legit answer to say "well we used something like that and here's how it worked out, and it worked out poorly." GS/BS to the rescue. But "in my opinion that's bad, just, you know, because I'm a gamer and have opinions" - you are allowed to have that opinion, but it's not helpful. So "someone's wrong on the internet," get over it.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I might have made the wrong call then in responding to the situation. 🤔 I'll own that and take it as a lesson on when & how to step in to try to resolve something, and I'll try to do what I can to help clear this up. \$\endgroup\$ May 16, 2017 at 22:43
  • \$\begingroup\$ FWIW, it was still a badly worded question after the edit, but as KRyan pointed out in the chat discussion, the person's frustration/problem seeking of a solution was evident and understandable by most of the viewers and respondents. I didn't respond, as others were covering some of the points I'd have addressed, but I tried to get the person asking the question to tighten/up, improve this question because good questions attract good answers; that's a conceit of this system. So I get barked at for trying to be helpful. What got this further attention was the false accusation. \$\endgroup\$ May 17, 2017 at 0:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks. You went straight to the point -- respecting conflicting playstyles -- that I couldn't quite say. \$\endgroup\$
    – user27327
    May 17, 2017 at 1:03


Our meta material on frame challenges are only guidelines. They're not rules, nor do we enforce them. (That way lies madness for the enforcers.)

These guidelines aren't soft rules either — they're very much guides toward best practices for those who want to give themselves a better chance at a successful, well-received frame challenge. They're help intended for authors to improve their content.

Since they're not rules, but suggestions and help, this is not the case:

This is also why I think answers that are only frame challenges are not actually answers.

Posts that attempt to answer the question are answers. Whether they're good answers or bad answers is to be determined by the quality of the content and the voters' reception of the same.

Most importantly though, guidelines can sometimes be incomplete, or even wrong for a specific case. There are corner cases and exceptions that will, despite violating the recognised guidelines for quality answer-writing, manage to buck the trends and be good answers anyway. We want those trend-defying answers to be able to be posted here so they can help us continue improving the Internet, and rules prohibiting them would be counter-productive.


It's fine to comment pointing someone towards the frame-challenge guidelines.

Just as with any suggested change to a post though, the author may decline to take the suggestion. This should be received with equanimity and good grace, an appropriate vote, perhaps a parting comment (if it's not going to inflame the situation), and moving on.

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ I was under the impression that it was bad form to state in comments that a given answer was invalid, that flags should be used if a user believes this to be the case and comments to that effect are inappropriate. I may be misremembering/misunderstanding responses my own comments in the past have received, though. My point here is that the form of the comment is also relevant and worthy of address, not just its existence. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    May 16, 2017 at 16:17
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan There's room for well-intended suggestions for change; those are always okay, even if the change is rejected by the author. It's when a comment just says that the answer is wrong or implies it shouldn't exist that it's unconstructive and has the potential to set the comments on fire. (I won't say it's invalid, just counter-productive.) The latter situation is for voting rather than comments. Though, if the objection can be respectfully framed as a suggested change, even one unlikely to be accepted by the author, that can be at least informative and less likely to be inflammatory. \$\endgroup\$ May 16, 2017 at 16:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan We have each had occasion to comment on an answer that seems to have missed the mark ... and each of us probably has made some answers that missed a tag or an important element of the question. So a comment on "answer for the wrong system" or "answer not addressing the question" crop up a lot, as is "is your answer addressing the person's question" or 'how is your answer addressing the question" probably fits this case well enough. Concur with your point on the form of a comment. \$\endgroup\$ May 16, 2017 at 20:12

We do not need to point it out. You can always suggest improvements, but there's no need for frame challenges to also include an answer to the question, and the author is almost certainly aware they have done a pure frame challenge and so don't really need it pointed out to them.

I've updated the frame challenge guidelines to make this clearer. I'm sorry you went through that confusion and trouble, and I can see how you got there. Point 1 has been rephrased to this:

  1. Provide your critique as part of an otherwise legitimate answer. (This isn't strictly required, but we very strongly recommend it. Sometimes declining to answer the question and instead going straight to a frame challenge — e.g. “don't do that at all” — is the right answer, but it's also risky and liable to backfire. This is a judgement call for the author and voters to handle.)

The intention is that 2 and 3 are firmly required, but not because of any special rules, but because we require them anyway:

  1. We do require you to substantiate your frame challenge: if you don't, it's the kind of Bad Subjective opinionated answer that gets downvoted and deleted.
  2. We do require that you don't cause trouble if people disagree: that's just site policy.

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