How do I write a good answer?

Thanks for taking the time to contribute an answer. It’s because of helpful peers like yourself that we’re able to learn together as a community. Here are a few tips on how to make your answer great:

Pay it forward

Saying “thanks” is appreciated, but it doesn’t answer the question. Instead, vote up the answers that helped you the most! If these answers were helpful to you, please consider saying thank you in a more constructive way – by contributing your own answers to questions your peers have asked here.

Have the same problem?

Still no answer to the question, and you have the same problem? Help us find a solution by researching the problem, then contribute the results of your research and anything additional you’ve tried as a partial answer. That way, even if we can’t figure it out, the next person has more to go on. You can also vote up the question or set a bounty on it so the question gets more attention.

Answer the question

Read the question carefully. What, specifically, is the question asking for? Make sure your answer provides that – or a viable alternative. The answer can be “don’t do that”, but it should also include “try this instead”. Any answer that gets the asker going in the right direction is helpful, but do try to mention any limitations, assumptions or simplifications in your answer. Brevity is acceptable, but fuller explanations are better.

Provide context for links

Links to external resources are encouraged, but please add context around the link so your fellow users will have some idea what it is and why it’s there. Always quote the most relevant part of an important link, in case the target site is unreachable or goes permanently offline.

Write to the best of your ability

We don't expect every answer to be perfect, but answers with correct spelling, punctuation, and grammar are easier to read. They also tend to get upvoted more frequently. Remember, you can always go back at any time and edit your answer to improve it.

Answer well-asked questions

Not all questions can or should be answered here. Save yourself some frustration and avoid trying to answer questions which...

  • ...are unclear or lacking specific details that can uniquely identify the problem.
  • ...solicit opinions rather than facts.
  • ...have already been asked and answered many times before.
  • ...require too much guidance for you to answer in full, or request answers to multiple questions.
  • ...are not about computer software or computer hardware as defined in the help center.

Don't forget that you can edit the question you're answering to improve the clarity and focus - this can reduce the chances of the question being closed or deleted.

Always be polite and have fun

It’s fine to disagree and express concern, but please be civil. There’s a real human being on the other end of that network connection, however misguided they may appear to be. We’re here to learn from our peers, not yell at each other.