Giving Good Answers

This post will give you a few guidelines to help improve your responses to questions and topics posed here. Remember that you don’t have to be an expert to provide a useful response; mentors and staff can help out, but teaching the material yourself after learning it is one of the best ways to solidify what you’ve learned.

The goal of this site is to be more useful than a pure search engine or a more generalized forum like Stack Overflow; this is primarily achieved through thoughtful and helpful answers to good questions, outlined in this post.

Fully read the question you're responding to

If someone has taken the time to outline the details of their issue, you owe it to them to take the time to read and try to understand where they’re coming from. You may think that you know what’s going on from the first sentence, but simply responding based on that first sentence and ignoring the rest is unlikely to be helpful for anyone.

Provide explanation for your answer

One of the advantages of lies in responders’ ability to help the original poster learn from their question. Simply providing a code fix might solve that problem, but it won’t help the asker avoid their mistake in the future or become a better programmer as a result. Instead, try to explain why the issue arose, why your fix solves it, and if necessary, how you came to that solution.

Remember that your answer might not just be in response to that one poster’s question, but also a response to any future users with a similar issue. Your answer should be able to help as many of them as possible learn and improve.

Be adaptable and understanding

Everyone’s brain works differently, so a seemingly simple issue may not be so for someone else. If someone’s still struggling after you gave an answer that you thought would suffice, find other ways to present the solution.

If you do the above, chances are you can help students along and maybe even get a checkmark for your troubles.