Recently there has been an influx of new users coming to our site and posting answers that consist of one or two sentences and possibly a picture of some sort.

Example answer: here

Is there anything that can be done to help fix this problem? Many of them raise good points but the answers are not complete and detailed but also not quite worthy of a flag in my opinion.

I have tried to explain that that is what comments and edits are intended for on several occasions but have been mostly unsuccessful so far.

Is there a way we should be handling these?

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I recommend listing answers as examples, not users. $\endgroup$
    – user14897
    Commented Jun 3, 2018 at 1:47
  • $\begingroup$ You can downvote them if you feel the answer is bad. Commenting is okay, but if they are already a proper answer, just move on. $\endgroup$
    – Andrew T.
    Commented Jun 3, 2018 at 8:15
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @ymb1 Good idea, will do shortly $\endgroup$
    – dalearn
    Commented Jun 3, 2018 at 12:14

3 Answers 3


Comments are not a place for short, one-or-two-liner answers. Answers are the place for short answers. Promoting the idea that short answers should be in the comments robs us of an important quality control mechanism: the downvote.

I don't think there's a real problem here. Sure, extensive, detailed and well-researched answers are great, but sometimes a picture says more than a thousand words. Perhaps some of these answers may need to be fleshed out, but for those answers, the existing downvote, edit and comment options should be more than sufficient. The SE network has plenty of mechanisms for answer quality control for this perceived problem.

  • $\begingroup$ If it is stand-alone I absolutely agree with you but is several cases it has been "To add to <user>'s answer, I thought this picture would be helpful. <picture>" The other answer's existence is necessary for the answer to make sense. I wouldn't downvote because the content is ok, it just needs to be added to another answer. $\endgroup$
    – dalearn
    Commented Jun 3, 2018 at 12:14
  • $\begingroup$ And that is exactly why the edit feature is there in my opinion. $\endgroup$
    – dalearn
    Commented Jun 3, 2018 at 12:21

A picture's often worth a thousand words

We had a round table discussion a few decades ago on how to improve our NATOPS manual (Navy flying manual, T-34C training aircraft). The most well received recommendation was from my good friend (call sign Snake) which was as follows.

Use more pictures
A picture's worth a thousand words.

I wrote a five paragraph recommendation on the engine system section that was responded to with yawns 8^p

Snake was right. We found through the process of reviewing all of the "end of course" critiques that with both instructors and students, where you could insert a diagram of a particular process or system we had fewer problems with comprehension than with the five-to-six-paragraph-wall-text approach for a lot of the content in that manual. Some of our training material was updated with this in mind.

  • Point to ponder: the Ancient Egyptians managed a civilization nicely for about 2000 years using pictures, not words, as the means of presenting information.

  • Second Point to Ponder: Steve Jobs made billions when he decided to use pictures to replace text.

Bottom Line

Sometimes, a brief bit of text and a picture / diagram is exactly the answer that is called for.

There isn't a problem here.

  • $\begingroup$ But when it is someone trying to say "here is a good picture to go along with <user>'s answer" do you still say that there isn't a problem? I have absolutely no problem with a standalone answer, these answers are being propped up by others users's answers. $\endgroup$
    – dalearn
    Commented Jun 10, 2018 at 0:19
  • $\begingroup$ @dalearn Anyone can edit that into the answer that it is intended to help. We can work together to improve answers. $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 10, 2018 at 1:14

What is wrong with short answers and pictures?

Since I wrote the answers to which you object, please tell me what you expect in response to an "identify this aircraft" beyond the manufacturer and model? No one else on the entire site thought any other answer was needed and the one to which you object got 37 upvotes.

The second answer could use explanation, but I got beat by PeterK because it took time to find the material I wanted. By "material" I mean pictures. I like pictures, and so do a large number of the other people on the site. I intentionally used only the diagram to avoid boring repetition. You called this is a "minor detail" but the community gave it 20 upvotes.

Please share with me an example answer of yours so I can learn how I might improve.


You must log in to answer this question.

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