An answer (since modified, this is the version which got templated) I recently gave had the following template added to it:

We're looking for long answers that provide some explanation and context. Don't just give a one-line answer; explain why your answer is right, ideally with citations. Answers that don't include explanations may be removed.

My answer had included a word to use ("fuming"), a link to Wiktionary, a quoted definition of the word, and a quoted example usage.

There was no comment explaining what in particular was missing, no indication (at least on the mobile web site) as to who added it (presumably tchrist based on the post history of the question), and no link to a question on meta describing what to check for.

Searching meta for "context" didn't get any hits about the "answer lacks context" template.

  • 3
    I'm not actually fuming, it is just a reference to the answer in question.
    – Golden Cuy
    Commented Jul 19, 2017 at 22:23
  • I am going to sound like one of those androids in Blade Runner, but I have seen answers with high upvotes such as yours lost like tears in the rain i.e. deleted. And only recently, a question that had 68 upvotes has been undeleted. So... to appease TPTB, and keep at bay any argument in favour of deleting your answer; add a thought, or short explanation which helps personalise the answer.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Jul 20, 2017 at 4:41
  • I'm using "moderation" because I can't find a better tag to describe notices. I'm not complaining about a particular act of moderation per se.
    – Golden Cuy
    Commented Jul 20, 2017 at 8:49
  • Well the title is effective, but a bit ambiguous... despite the disclaimer in the comment. Your question here on Meta is spurred because either you don't agree or understand why your answer received this banner/template/guideline (whatever). But the message itself tells users what standards the site, as a whole, agrees on. It's all written in the banner what to "do".
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Jul 20, 2017 at 8:54
  • @Mari-LouA I've changed the title.
    – Golden Cuy
    Commented Jul 20, 2017 at 8:57
  • Now you can disagree with the assumption that the answer consists of one line, and I'll be in agreement with you, but returning to what I said earlier, questions with as many as 68 upvotes, and an answer that earned 72 upvotes were deleted. And neither of them were copy & pasta posts. So there is a little confusion, contradiction, and anything else you can think of that begins with "con"
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Jul 20, 2017 at 8:58
  • I'd just note that considering your dictionary quote says "to feel or express great anger" and the question is about sitting "in quiet anger", it's fair to ask how those statements fit together. In this case I'd say the dictionary isn't specific enough... Commented Jul 20, 2017 at 13:13

2 Answers 2


It is a four word answer: “Fume is another possibility.” Kudos for properly crediting the work of another author that you relied on when you wrote it. All it lacks is the comprehensive explanation and/or supporting facts which would help future visitors understand why it is the best (or a good) expert answer. This is what the template is getting at.

As for articles on the site which clarify the template, I can point you in two directions. First, the following help pages:

  • how to answer”, which describes what's meant by providing context, including: “fuller explanations are better”, and “please add context around the link so your fellow users will have some idea what it is and why it’s there” (emphasis mine)
  • deleted answers”, which describes some reasons a post might be deleted, including: “barely more than a link to an external site”

Second, at meta, the relatively recent question posted by a moderator about the specific problem of one-line answers to single word requests, “On deleting low quality single-word-request answers”. Here the issue is that the mod queue repeatedly gets clogged with disputed low quality flags over one-line answers.

  • 2
    "Kudos for properly crediting the work of another author that you relied on when you wrote it." - sarcasm isn't helpful.
    – Golden Cuy
    Commented Jul 19, 2017 at 22:20
  • Are there any posts on meta explaining what is comprehensive explanation and/or supporting facts, or examples of them?
    – Golden Cuy
    Commented Jul 19, 2017 at 22:25
  • 1
    No sarcasm intended. I write answers with future visitors in mind. I wanted to make clear to future visitors that the template had nothing to do with inadequate citation in this case.
    – MetaEd
    Commented Jul 19, 2017 at 22:27
  • 1
    @AndrewGrimm I've mentioned several existing articles that I hope are responsive to your request for posts on meta.
    – MetaEd
    Commented Jul 19, 2017 at 22:46
  • The final link appears to be talking about answers that don't have citations, a definition and an example.
    – Golden Cuy
    Commented Jul 20, 2017 at 3:38
  • 2
    From the Q in that last link (italics added): “Most of the time these don't meet our requirements - they are not linked to a dictionary definition and explained.” And from one of the highly-voted answers: “An “answer” that doesn't include actual reasoning behind it explaining why this or that suggestion applies, preferably with actual references and citations properly document, is Not A Real Answer.
    – 1006a
    Commented Jul 20, 2017 at 4:18
  • 5
    I disagree that it is a "four word answer". Quotations count as explanation. There is a huge difference between "Fume is another possibility" without anything else (the kind of answer that “On deleting low quality single-word-request answers” talks about) and "Fume is another possibility" followed by an explanatory quotation.
    – herisson
    Commented Jul 20, 2017 at 5:39
  • 4
    There is conflicting information, and guidelines. On the one hand, users have always been urged to supply support and references for their answers, for a myriad of common sense reasons. On the other hand, there are respected users who disdain citations from dictionaries, and quoted passages from references, calling them copy'n'pasta (copypasta) answers. So what is it? Cited sources and references or personal individual answers based on one's spoken English dialect and how coherently they may write?
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Jul 20, 2017 at 9:10
  • Personally? I'm waiting for Sven Yargs to come back from his holidays and write an answer that everyone can agree on. I am presuming the man is on holiday... he's been missing for some weeks now. Come back, Sven!!
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Jul 20, 2017 at 9:14
  • @Mari-LouA Agreed. The users here are divided. Some want answers in our own words - but how can we beat the definitions provided by dictionaries?!
    – NVZ Mod
    Commented Jul 20, 2017 at 9:33
  • 2
    I've voted against this answer because it's at odds with the broader context of its sources. How to Answer for example states that the reason for these suggestions is so that the answer remains independently useful in the event that the website goes down, and the meta-topic addresses posts without even so much as a dictionary definition that use filler to defeat the minimum letter count, with the top voted, and hence policy setting, answer by Sven indicating that this post meets the very low minimum requirements. This is to say nothing of all the other stuff that's hidden on elsewhere meta.
    – Tonepoet
    Commented Jul 20, 2017 at 12:46

It's not that your answer lacks explanation per se, but that some people argue that your answer should consist of mainly your own words to make it an expert answer, which I agree with, but in my opinion, isn't mandatory every time, because knowing where to look and what to suggest itself require a level of expertise anyway.

The solution to this I think is to limit answering to only those SWRs that actually require this expertise to identify words that fit the bill, instead of attempting every single request, because most of them are too broad and the possible answers can go up to 20 or 30.

  • I don't know...the truly obscure answers to SWR questions seem to me to really benefit from some extra context and advice about things like connotations and register that often don't show up in dictionary definitions. On the other hand, if there are several obvious plausible answers, I want an explanation from the answerer for why this word makes sense in the face of all the possible alternatives. I don't know that I would ever upvote an answer that is fully available with the combination of a thesaurus and a dictionary. Cont.
    – 1006a
    Commented Jul 20, 2017 at 6:05
  • The exception is really new users; I will upvote a first or second answer based on a decent suggestion and a definition, but I also leave a comment suggesting a bit more explanation/commentary (and appropriate citation, if needed, which is frequently the case for new users). Trying to take that approach with all such "quickest googler in the West"-type answers would be a full-time job, though, and more experienced users are probably just going to be annoyed, anyway.
    – 1006a
    Commented Jul 20, 2017 at 6:08

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