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Recently, I've noticed that lots of id requests are getting resolved without any real answers posted. Either someone's stab in the dark comment turns out to be right, or the OP puts in a little more research and finds the title, then shows up and puts it in a comment. In both cases, once the OP knows the answer, he or she scampers off without posting an answer and can't be reached.

This bugs me. I want questions to have real answers if they've been answered; I don't want answers buried in the comment threads on wrong answers. If that wrong answer gets deleted, there goes the real answer. I don't want answers buried in the comment thread on the question itself either. I want real answers with substantive content, something that could potentially help other users if they're looking for the same series and remembered different things about it.

Does this bother anyone else, and if so, what should we do? In one instance, I wrote an answer based on what the OP put in the comments, after it became fairly clear the OP was gone and wasn't coming back. Now there's a real answer, but I didn't discover it, yet I'm getting rep for it, which doesn't seem right. In another instance, another user discovered the series and posted a real answer after the OP had found it, because the OP put that information at the bottom of a long comment thread on another, wrong, answer. I'm glad we got that real answer, but it was probably annoying to that user to find that all the effort put into answering the question was unneeded by the OP.

Some ideas I had for what to do in these cases:

  • Free-for-all: The first user to notice gets to post an answer and gain rep.
  • Community wiki: Write the answer and make it community wiki.
  • Delete: The questions aren't useful, so get rid of them.
  • Nothing: I'm the only weirdo who is bothered by this.
  • Something else: Give me your ideas!

What does the community think is the best way to deal with this?

  • I agree with ton.yeung's answer below (CW), and I've done it here some time ago. If the OP (in that case, whoever found the answer otherwise) decides to show up and answer the question, the CW is deleted and the person who really found the answer can get the credit. – JNat Nov 19 '14 at 17:14
  • @JNat I like Madara's answer, and it has the most upvotes, but my gut says CW is right and you make a very good argument for it. – Torisuda Nov 19 '14 at 23:44
  • Either way, Madara's answer does not go against CW, it simply says that you should answer even if you weren't the one who found the answer. Now if you choose to use a regular answer or a CW is up to you, either way is fine, as long as the question gets answered. If it bothers you to get rep for it not having found the answer, go for CW; if it's completely indifferent to you, go for a regular. In any case, I go for CW :) – JNat Nov 20 '14 at 10:06
  • @JNat Can I write your comment up as an answer? :) – Torisuda Nov 20 '14 at 19:49
  • Yes, no problem. I'd write it now, but I'm short on time. – JNat Nov 20 '14 at 20:06
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This is a common problem. Comments are meant for clarification and improvement for the question, if you choose to answer in the comments, you take the risk of someone actually posting it as an answer.

If you see someone answering in a comment, especially if they don't migrate it to an answer later, feel free to answer yourself.

Of course, it still needs to be a detailed answer, include plot points, images and anything else that might improve the quality of the answer.

  • Regarding your last paragraph: definitely; the lack of good, detailed answers is why this issue bothers me so much. – Torisuda Nov 13 '14 at 1:05
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    As much as I want it to be a detailed answer, writing one would take too much time. While it doesn't take much time to throw in a template answer, finding the exact episode/chapter and cite them takes 30 minutes to hours. – nhahtdh Nov 17 '14 at 15:19
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    @nhahtdh In my view, even a template answer is a big improvement on a one-line answer hidden at the bottom of a string of comments. Even an answer with the title and a link to our tag wiki would be a big improvement. – Torisuda Nov 19 '14 at 23:38
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My vote is for community wiki.

  • 1
    That was my first thought too, but the community here didn't seem to have any solid guidelines on when to use CW like Math.SE does, and SFF.SE never seems to use it either. Maybe we can all have another discussion about how to use community wiki. – Torisuda Nov 13 '14 at 1:06
  • I agree with this. If the user who really found the answer decides to show up later on and post an answer, the CW can always be deleted and credit given to the due user. – JNat Nov 17 '14 at 11:39
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Thanks to everyone for your input. I'll summarize the points made so far. As @Madara Uchiha says, if someone finds the answer and then posts it in a comment without writing a real answer, we should feel free to write our own answers. As @JNat said in comments, we can write a regular answer or a community wiki answer, as suggested by @ton.yeung. If it bothers you to get reputation for an answer you didn't write, use community wiki; if you don't have a problem with that, write a regular answer.

Either way, the most important thing is that the question gets answered. As @nhahtdh brought up, it's quick to put up a template answer with a link to Wikipedia, but it takes much longer to track down which episodes/chapters had the exact events that the OP refers to. But even a template answer is better than a title hidden at the bottom of a comment thread, so as long as the template answer contains some of the points from the OP's description, we shouldn't be afraid to slap one up so the question has a real answer. And of course, if you're cruising the site looking for something to do, you can edit the answer to add more detail.

  • @nhahtdh Sorry for that brain malfunction and thanks for editing. – Torisuda Nov 26 '14 at 21:51

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