This is about those two questions:

Both had no answer (neither accepted nor unaccepted). Both askers answered it without actually writing an answer, but by

  • adding a comment explaining the answer
  • editing the question to contain the answer

Unfortunately, both did not respond to the hints to create and accept an answer. In one, I added the asker's question as answer because he didn't do that.

Now my questions:

  • Is that ok?
  • If not, what should we do in such cases?
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2 Answers

up vote 28 down vote accepted

Steal comments that answer the question and post them as an answer. If it happens enough either the misguided commentators will be annoyed enough at the "lost" rep to give outright answers next time, or no one will notice / care and you'll help the community and... oh yeah, get some rep.

BTW, I stole this answer from Jeff Atwood's comment on sysadmin1138's post, so you should upvote this to annoy Jeff.


As Nixphoe points out in the comments below, sometimes you have to lead the author along to get more information out of him. In those cases, comments should be avoided like the plague and any information discovered in comments should be placed in either the original question or in an answer.

If you post an answer based on limited information, wait to see if more info is given and then edit the answer accordingly. It's also nice to modify the original question to include all information that is garnered in the process.

Throughout all of it, encourage the author to update their own question and provide more information. Eventually people will get the hang of it. The Q/A nature of the site is defeated if half of the pertinent information is in comments, and the accepted answer is only truly acceptable after reading two dozen comments strung out over the question and three different answers.

Always under all circumstances strive to keep all infromation in either the Q or the A.

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What about instances like this serverfault.com/questions/301739/… where you don't really answer a question outright, but walk the person through troubleshooting it? –  Nixphoe Aug 17 '11 at 18:35
    
@Nixphoe Updated! –  Wesley Aug 17 '11 at 18:57
    
I have taken to updating my answers with a solution from the comments if that is where it is finally sorted out. –  Iain Aug 17 '11 at 20:02
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It's frustrating. Once in a while we'll get a mod-flag saying to fix it, but even with SuperCow powers I can't magically make an answer for someone else. I believe even the Devs can't do it without database hacking. It's unfortunate.

The one area that we do get a break is if the asker actually answered their own question at some point, usually by adding info that should be in comments. At that point, we can edit the answer with the right information.

But they'll still have to mark it accepted.

You can lead a user to their answer, but you can't make them accept it.


There isn't much we can do beyond leaving helpful suggestions in comments.

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devs can arbitrarily assign ownership to a post, so we can post someone else's answer, then change ownership from me to that user. However, note that I completely support stealing answers-as-comments and posting them as your own answer in these cases. So either way. –  Jeff Atwood Aug 12 '11 at 14:37
    
@Jeff, I'm good with that except the correct answer never gets accepted, so community keeps bumping it up now and then. –  Chris S Aug 12 '11 at 18:42
    
@chris community bumps have very little to do with accept, they mostly have to do with upvotes on answers. See blog.stackoverflow.com/2008/09/ok-now-define-answered –  Jeff Atwood Aug 12 '11 at 18:42
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@Jeff I stole your answer. You snooze you loose!! =) –  Wesley Aug 18 '11 at 4:24
    
@wesley ooooh you network frobnosticators!! –  Jeff Atwood Aug 18 '11 at 4:27
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