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As I understand it, UX.SE is a site for collecting good answers to interesting questions, and less a site for rambling discussions in response to questions.

The "pick a best answer" mechanic drives somewhat towards the goal of getting good answers but often there are multiple answers to a question, each good in their part, but none which is comprehensive.

Contributors can update and edit their previously supplied answers but often don't. It appears that contributors add their two bits, and then let the next person add their two bits, but most contributors don't actively work on updating their answers to remain a contender for "best answer".

Is this the state of affairs we want as the status quo, or could we do more to encourage curation of answers?

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    On a more subjective site this is more of a touchy issue; on Stack Overflow the only "correct" answer should have all of that to begin with, but here people often have a couple good points. It feels wrong to just absorb other's points into your answer ex post facto so it's not usually something I do unless someone reminds me my answer is lacking or incorrect in some manner – Ben Brocka Oct 16 '11 at 17:10
  • Aye. There is an admonishment in the FAQs about wholesale duplication of other answers, but is silent on assimilating succinct points. – Erics Oct 16 '11 at 22:36
  • Can you provide a couple of examples of questions that are currently lacking a comprehensive answer? – Patrick McElhaney Oct 17 '11 at 0:46
  • Oh, I found the question that prompted you to ask, and left a comment on the answer I think you should have accepted. :) – Patrick McElhaney Oct 17 '11 at 1:18
  • Not just that one question. Look also at the top related question to this question – Erics Oct 17 '11 at 8:23
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    Its also just occurred to me that having many answers which say pretty much the same thing isn't something that any of us want, and thus there's a hesitation to repeat what's already been said in another answer. – Erics Oct 20 '11 at 6:57
  • @BenBrocka That may be the point. Subjective questions beg for answers from different perspectives, and so rarely somebody agrees with all of them (so that he would be motivated to ponder an all-containing, "authorative" answer.) – giraff Nov 1 '11 at 6:49
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I think it comes down to the difference between asking "What's the best way to solve this particular problem?" vs. "What are some common ways to solve this type of problem?"

When you ask about a specific problem, a new answer is useless unless it improves upon ideas already set forth. Existing answers may need to updated to address weaknesses exposed by competing answers.

But when the question isn't specific, rather than improving upon existing answers, it's easier to find a different way to frame the problem.

  • I understand that sometimes it's difficult to get into specifics when trade secrets are involved. – Patrick McElhaney Oct 17 '11 at 14:03

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