7

This does not really answer the question. If you have a different question, you can ask it by clicking Ask Question. You can also add a bounty to draw more attention to this question once you have enough reputation. - From Review

vs

This does not answer the question. If you have a different question, you can ask it by clicking Ask Question. You can also add a bounty to draw more attention to this question once you have enough reputation. - From Review

It's not a massive change, but it does change the meaning. The word "really" implies (to me) that it "kinda does answer the question, but not well enough for us". If it's a sort of answer, it's not supposed to be deleted; if it's not an answer don't suggest it sort of is.

For clarification, it feels like your commenting on answers that are No 2 or No 4, saying that they're No 5 but deleting them (correctly).

Worse, I worry that because this comment applies to 5, it will start to be used on 5, and then 5 will be (incorrectly) deleted.

  • Well, very often it is a sort of answer. We rarely get things that aren't even trying to answer at all. It's just that it isn't really an answer (for example it is a link to an answer). – terdon Jun 7 '17 at 15:25
  • @terdon I remember reading something (by shog9?) about the NAA flag. They were saying that if it's just a link, it's not an answer. If it's a link with a quick explanation, it's a bad answer. – Tim Jun 7 '17 at 15:26
  • Totally agree, the "really" in that comment annoys me every time I see it – Zanna Jun 7 '17 at 15:26
  • 6
    Well, I very often find things where I would have said they don't really answer myself. I mean, even without that comment, that would have been the natural way for me to phrase it since they tend to sorta kinda try to answer and they would be considered answers on other platforms, just not here. Also, the "really" makes it a bit less aggressive IMO, it gives the OP the benefit of the doubt. – terdon Jun 7 '17 at 15:28
  • @terdon I agree that it's a gentler response. But we are deleting their answer here (which is not a gentle response). The edit contains the image I referenced in my previous comment. – Tim Jun 7 '17 at 15:29
  • @Zanna I don't really agree with you :) – Jacob Vlijm Jun 7 '17 at 15:38
  • @JacobVlijm I agree with the spirit of the answer and comments about softening the blow, but this comment is supposed to be for the type of NAA where the writer doesn't attempt to answer at all but asks a question of their own – Zanna Jun 7 '17 at 16:13
  • @Zanna I really reject "really" as the "really" really rattles me and I really do reason that a redundant "really" really reduces readability. – Tim Jun 7 '17 at 17:01
  • @terdon the "really" isn't in the LOA comment - I agree it would be fine there because an LOA sort of answers the question usually, but it's actually in the weirdest place possible imho - the "I'm having this problem too" comment, where the least answery answers are found (what do you mean rarely? We get them every day!). Tim, maybe add this so people can see why the "really" is a bit odd – Zanna Jun 7 '17 at 21:18
  • By the way, we are supposed to delete low quality answers (by voting to delete them) if we can't fix them, just not flag them as I understand this to mean – Zanna Jun 7 '17 at 21:28
  • I like the "really", I think it makes it look more friendly and slightly changes the comment to say that it's not completely wrong, but doesn't answer the question. – user364819 Jun 10 '17 at 11:06
5

Just to play devil's advocate, there are answers that don't directly answer a stated question but that are still perfectly useful and even acceptable answers.

Q: How do I overclock my CPU to 17GHz?
A: You can get to about 5GHz if you do ....

Not a great example, but do you see what I mean? It hasn't answered the question, but it's done a good attempt at getting there.

Very often people ask over-specified things not knowing that it's either impossible or undesirable, or just worthy of a more generic answer. In those cases, a flag like that might be used to shut down an otherwise good answer.


While writing the closing to this answer, it occurred to me that we might interpret the message in different ways. Your question might be suggesting the direct opposite of what I've said above.

When I read the versions out, I actually put a very different intonation on the words.

  • When I say "This does not really answer the question", the really elongates, like a vocal shrug. When I say it, I mean:

    I've given you the benefit of the doubt but I don't think this works here.

  • When I say "This does not answer" or "This really does not answer" I am being absolute. The "really" in the second is curt and decisive. In both versions, the meaning is much more confrontational:

    Hop it buster. You've posted this in the wrong place.

There a difference between the two I hadn't really considered before writing this, but now I have, I don't think it hurts to soften the language. Being told you've done something wrong is bad enough. There's little harm in at least looking like you're willing to accept you could be wrong.

  • 2
    +1 softening your language goes a long way towards getting a proper response. I think that is why SE worded it the way they did. – Seth Jun 7 '17 at 15:46
  • Yes, this. It seems far less abrasive with the really and it is often the case that it kinda answers, just not, well, really. – terdon Jun 7 '17 at 16:03
  • 1
    I think a more natural-sounding way to soften it would be "this does not seem to answer the question" - there I am admitting I may be wrong, rather than suggesting it sort-of answers the question, when for that particular type of NAA "I have the same problem too!" it feels wrong to say it sort of answers – Zanna Jun 7 '17 at 16:20
5

I decided to write an answer in the hope of clarifying the question a bit. To be honest, this isn't an answer, just a really long comment. Irony I guess!

Here are our canned comment options, with the "really" comment highlighted

enter image description here

When I first began reviewing the Low Quality Posts queue, I found the "really" in that particular comment to be illogical and confusing to the reader, since most of the posts I was seeing that fit the description of "I'm having this problem too" were not sort-of answers, they were just not answers - the writer had no intention of answering the question.

After a while, I started ignoring the canned comments 90% of the time and just writing my own comment if one seemed necessary.

This question and the response to it led me to think again about the canned comments and the "really" that I'd always felt was unhelpful.

I am absolutely 100% in favour of using friendly language and softening the blow when criticising someone's action, and the comments here and Oli's answer draw attention to that possible function of the "really" in question in a way that made me doubt my first thought about it. One of reasons I started avoiding the canned comments is that I felt their tone was too harsh, or they didn't explain the problem clearly... or perhaps it was just me, a problem of perception on my end - the fact of using a canned comment maybe seemed unfeeling and unfriendly...

I considered more carefully the posts that fit the description "I'm having this problem too". Here are a few where I feel somewhat that the "really" is illogical:

enter image description here enter image description here enter image description here

OTOH, here's one I found in the queue today where the comment seemed to fit and IIRC I actually added it myself:

enter image description here

I softened my stance on the "really" after thinking about the plurality of NAAs we get that are like that last one. Sometimes, there is an intention to reply, adding information, and there is a case for saying this sort-of-but-not-really answers the question, so the comment fits. It just doesn't fit them all IMHO.

None of the other comments have a "really" softening their tone.

enter image description here

It's strange to me still.


TL;DR

(And it really was TL)

Since "really" is sometimes illogical, I feel it would be better to have something like "this doesn't seem to answer the question", which contains an admission that the commenter might be in the wrong, without creating confusion by suggesting that something that is not even intended to be an answer is sort-of an answer.

I'd noticed that Bhargav Rao who is a mod on Stack Overflow and is involved in developing a bot to catch NAAs, was leaving much better comments that the canned ones. He told me they come from here and showed me the bot's full list of comments. For this type of answer, the comment is:

Please don't add Me too! as answers. It doesn't actually provide an answer to the question and can be perceived as noise by its future visitors. If you have a different but related question then ask it (reference this one if it will help provide context). If you're interested in this specific question, you can upvote it or leave a comment once you have enough reputation

I think this is much clearer and more helpful than the canned comment and I will be using it from now on.

You must log in to answer this question.

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