This question asks about the UK specifically, but as of now the highest voted answer applies to the US. The person who gave the answer suggested in a comment that a US answer is useful anyway for US-based site users.

Discussions on broadly similar issues on meta.SE (example) seem to conclude that answers that are correct but inapplicable in some way are not useful and should be downvoted.

How should we handle answers that are correct in themselves, but apply to another jurisdiction? We have lots of questions about one specific set of regulations where there are comments or answers that mention or apply to other jurisdictions (example, example). Sometimes it doesn't matter and they're often interesting as comments, but should we be doing something different? One (extreme?) approach would be to make all regulatory questions wikis, so that we could list the regs in each jurisdiction that people are interested in.

  • $\begingroup$ the UK tag was added Dec 26 at 3:48. My answer was posted at Dec 25 at 22:52. I didn't realize this until @henning-makholm noticed it, but I can tell you that when I wrote the answer, I had no idea it was UK specific and just wrote about what I knew about university aviation programs, so I just shrugged my shoulders at the comments on the question and at this meta question. i figured I just misread the question, and let the chips fall where they may. $\endgroup$ – rbp Dec 31 '14 at 1:32
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    $\begingroup$ Is it technically possible to create a near-duplicate question that asks the same thing about the USA, and then move the USA-specific answer to that question? (Move it, rather than copy-paste it, so it keeps its votes.) If it's possible, is it desirable to do so? $\endgroup$ – David Richerby Jan 1 '15 at 20:34
  • $\begingroup$ This would be a great way to solve the problem, and I'm happy to do whatever to help. $\endgroup$ – rbp Jan 2 '15 at 0:34
  • $\begingroup$ Read the latest two comments on the question itself: the first asks if the questioner would consider "studying overseas," and the OP answers: "I'd prefer to study in the UK, but overseas could be considered, if I fail to find a placement in the UK." So it's still unclear what OP wants. $\endgroup$ – rbp Jan 3 '15 at 15:27
  • $\begingroup$ aviation.stackexchange.com/questions/11498/… $\endgroup$ – rbp Jan 4 '15 at 15:15

Accept the answer that solves your problem

Nothing says a question-asker must accept the most upvoted answer. Instead, the accept button is for indicating that this answer solved my problem.

Upvote answers that can help others solve their problems

The point of Stack Exchange [citation needed] is helping people find expert answers to their questions. Google plays a role in this; we're finishing up a site self-evaluation right now which compares our answers to those found elsewhere using Google. So we should certainly answer the original asker's question, but we should also make the question (and it's associated answers) helpful to everyone else who will see the question throughout the life of the page.

Edit: Although I still believe my answer is worthwhile in the general case, I now feel that Henning Makholm's answer is the best one in this case.

I also think that the meta-problem here isn't the incorrect answer, but the ambiguous original question.


I think it is relevant that the question did not say it was UK specific until it was edited four minutes after the US-specific answer was posted.

Based on that I wouldn't be comfortable downvoting the answer.

When the question doesn't specify which part of the world it's about (and it's unreasonable in my eyes to expect that a reader will understand that the letters "GCSE" in the text of the question means it is UK specific), it is to be expected that people will answer out of their local perspective. The answerer could have indicated better that he was speaking from a US perspective, but I don't feel that's worth downvoting for.

  • $\begingroup$ good on you for tracking this down $\endgroup$ – rbp Jan 1 '15 at 1:03
  • $\begingroup$ This is very relevant. Thanks for this. $\endgroup$ – Steve V. Jan 1 '15 at 22:26
  • $\begingroup$ Well, in the end what matters is that the answer is relevant for the final question that was asked, and it really shouldn't matter if it was edited. The negative reputation from down votes go away if the answer is deleted, which is really what should happen in this case. As I say in my answer, they can copy and paste it to a new question so as to not lose the quality answer. $\endgroup$ – Lnafziger Jan 2 '15 at 16:12

the discussions you cite are pretty clear about what to do for wrong/not helpful answers: downvote it and leave a comment, don't moderate it, and tell people in chat to create a groundswell. that's the power of the community, and I don't see why we need special treatment/rules for Aviation.SE

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    $\begingroup$ and if you want to improve the site rather than turning this into an issue, you could have added a phrase at the beginning of the wrong answer that says "Under FAA rules...." $\endgroup$ – rbp Dec 27 '14 at 17:04
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    $\begingroup$ FWIW, I don't want to make an issue out of anything; it's simply that jurisdictions and national regulations (including training) are very important in aviation and I think it's worth discussing how we can best handle them in answers to give everyone the best possible information. This particular question happens to be a nice example of that. $\endgroup$ – Pondlife Dec 27 '14 at 18:16
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    $\begingroup$ @rbp Your comment still doesn't fix the problem that it doesn't answer the question that was asked. As I'm sure you know, How to Answer discusses that. $\endgroup$ – Lnafziger Dec 27 '14 at 18:48

We have had previous discussions about this (not at my computer to look them up right now), but if a question asks about a certain jurisdiction or tags a certain jurisdiction, then the answers should actually answer the question that was asked and not a different one. In this case, I feel that a down-vote is appropriate.

From the How to answer help page:

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.

Google probably won't highly rank a question tagged EASA when someone is searching for FAA, even if it does answer their question.

The biggest problem though, is that if we try to answer it for multiple jurisdictions, where do we stop? Someone could ask about Russia next, then China, then Japan, then Fiji, then.... On and on and on. Now, even if someone finds the question, trying to find the answer that applies to them is really hard, and the up-votes do not mean what they are supposed to: That the answer actually answers the question that was asked. On the other hand, if they each have their own question and answer pair, then finding the right one is easy.

If someone feels that it will be useful for others to have the answer to a question other than the one that was asked, they can feel free to ask it themselves and then answer their own question where it is more likely to be useful for future visitors.

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    $\begingroup$ Maybe you're thinking of this one? Among others, probably $\endgroup$ – Pondlife Dec 27 '14 at 18:45

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