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I made the following partial answer a comment to the question "Word choice: to parent somebody?":

One can certainly parent with tolerance (and love, and kindness, etc). But the verb parent isn't ditransitive, so * parents his children values doesn't work, as @KateBunting pointed out.

With the backdrop of discussions about answers in comments in mind, I thought I'd ask the community what it considers to constitute a complete answer. Anything less than a complete answer would then be deemed a partial or incomplete answer, unsuitable for posting in the answer section.

  1. There is no linguistics support for the assertion that the verb parent isn't ditransitive, by which I mean parent doesn't license two 'arguments', unlike, say, take in "take (the car) (home)".

  2. There is no Ngram or other support that the phrase "parent with tolerance" works.

  3. Searching for and providing the support mentioned in #1 and #2 above seems to be a little over the top. However, I speak merely as an English language enthusiast, not a professional linguist.

  4. People who answer are supposed to be experts in the field, and those who ask are supposed satisfy the minimum entry bar of linguist/etymologist/enthusiast from the tour, so #1 and #2 could be considered mere background information that we can freely assume 'everyone knows'. However, one of the few actual experts has recently challenged that view: "The questions are mostly asked by clueless students of English (occasionally by native speakers, but mostly not), and the answers mostly come from them too." The observation rings true, and it influences what we consider to be an appropriate question, let alone a complete answer.

With the above as specifics for something concrete to reference, my question is: does the community consider my block-quoted comment above to be a complete answer? If not, what else is needed?

Item #4 might appear to warrant a separate question, but for the discussion on answer completeness to be meaningful, we need to consider the language proficiency of the participants. When we encounter 'simple' questions that appear to invite 'simple' answers, do we answer them at that level with a lower bar to 'answer completeness', vote to close/migrate the questions, or - since background knowledge can be hard to support - dig deep and pitch to the tour's stated audience? Note that I'm disregarding the option of posting the deeper question separately since that's just a combination of close/ignore + dig deep.

  • @JJJ EL&U doesn’t always follow wider SE norms. In particular, the EL&U community isn’t very accepting of partial answers in the answer section. This can be easily seen in the number of comments telling answerers to add links and so on, rather than just editing to put them in. – Lawrence Apr 8 '18 at 7:46
  • It is pretty vague what constitutes a 'complete' vs 'partial' answer. Anyway, your comment does give relevant answer-like information, but would seem pretty sparse as a full-fledged answer. I see no problem with it remaining as a comment or if you decided to extend it in an actual answer. And addressing all those points (which probably took way more time to compose than your original comment) would probably be welcome additions if you did make an answer. This seems like a lot of work to go to when you could just post an answer, whatever the arguments about complete vs partial. – Mitch Apr 8 '18 at 16:16
  • ...especially since it is a poor question, just proofreading. – Mitch Apr 8 '18 at 16:16
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    Sometimes I feel like an alternative answer, that has far more information than a comment warants, helps a question while not being "the best" answer. I would refrain from voting down a lesser answer if helpful , and sometimes vote up multiple answers. However, if someone puts a low effort post into what should be a very good answer and freezes other people out from making nearly the same but more complete answer, that is a problem – Tom22 Apr 8 '18 at 16:28
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    @Tom22 I don't understand how a low effort answer would prevent someone from posting a more complete answer. If an answer provides more detail, supports its assertions with credible sources, explains the answer in a different way, etc. why shouldn't it be allowed to compete for votes with the low-effort post? Having something explained in different ways can be helpful. If someone posts a laundry list of words for a SWR, does that really mean no-one can post a good answer for one of those words because it's "been done"? – ColleenV Apr 8 '18 at 22:49
  • @ColleenV It depends on the question type. I don't think it ~should~ prevent people, so I agree with you. – Tom22 Apr 8 '18 at 22:52
  • @Tom22 Good point, one that would be great as an answer, by the way :) ! After all, it's the answer that's important, so long as it is correct (which is the whole point of having supporting links and so on - to justify or 'objectively' support the answer's correctness). I wonder: is what we need a shift in EL&U culture to edit more substantially? – Lawrence Apr 9 '18 at 0:08
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At some point after I had collected several thousand points (I'm not sure how), I suddenly started to get in trouble for writing skimpy answers. Some individuals were not nice when pointing this out to me. Amazingly, I did not realize that many of my answers had been going to a queue of poor quality answers. The not-nice critiques said, "Someone with your rep should know better! Shame on you!"

So I revamped how I wrote answers, almost overnight. (Better late than never. I also learned about flagging.) Here's what I came up with for how to write a good answer:

  • I should back up my answer with some objective evidence. If I can't find any, then I should present logical reasoning. Technical terms used in the logical argument should be explained. Format into paragraphs, indented text, etc., for readability.

  • If I'm citing an authoritative source, I should include a relevant quote and a link and the name of the source (e.g. Cambridge Learners Dictionary). If I want my answer to look pretty, boldface plus hyperlink = authoritative-looking red text!

  • Under no circumstances should I cite Google's definitions, since we don't know where they originated, and we don't know when Google might change what it displays.

  • I should not, under fear of the wrath of Edwin (and I'm convinced he's right to insist on this), write an answer to an obviously poorly posed question that is about to get closed.

  • I should put myself in the shoes of the asker. If I intuit that the OP would benefit from an explanation of some related aspect, or from some usage notes, I should go ahead and add the supporting information, with examples as needed, written in a pedagogical yet respectful style.

  • If I have a bunch of words or phrases to offer for a word/phrase request, I should pick one or two to showcase and document. (Then it's okay to sneak in a few more words/phrases as brainstorming.)

Regarding what @Tom22 wrote about "freezing other people out from making nearly the same but more complete answer" -- if I think someone has written something correct but too abstruse to fix with a bit of collaborative editing, I will go ahead and write my own answer.

If I have supplemental material that doesn't fit into one or two comment boxes, then I write a supplemental answer, explicitly acknowledging the existing basically correct answer(s).

  • Google currently gets their definitions from en.oxforddictionaries.com (or some version that's really close to that). – Laurel Apr 10 '18 at 19:35
  • @Laurel - Oh. So am I allowed to quote google's definitions at ELU now? – aparente001 Apr 11 '18 at 0:55
  • Bullet point 2 still applies, but now you know the name of the source is ODO and how to get the link ;) – Laurel Apr 11 '18 at 1:23
  • @Laurel - Okey doke, thanks. – aparente001 Apr 11 '18 at 1:30
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    @Lawrence - Feel free to edit my answer. I'm not going to because I'm too confused. I see that Tom22 wrote it first, but then you put it in an answer. On the other hand, you made it Community Wiki -- my brain hurts. I trust you, if you want to fix it in my answer, please feel free. – aparente001 Apr 12 '18 at 15:42
  • ... Sauron, moi? – Edwin Ashworth Apr 12 '18 at 19:59
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Sometimes I feel like an alternative answer, that has far more information than a comment war[r]ants, helps a question while not being "the best" answer. I would refrain from voting down a lesser answer if helpful , and sometimes vote up multiple answers. However, if someone puts a low effort post into what should be a very good answer and freezes other people out from making nearly the same but more complete answer, that is a problem – Tom22

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