I'm going to use this as an example, but it's only one amongst many. Specifically, she already cites 1794 in her question, so I figured you can't rehash that date (relating to the Jacobins) in your answer. If she's not satisfied with 1794, then evidently (?) she wants a different answer. So, my question is, when is it OK to simply elaborate on a partial answer already provided in the question, and when is it redundant?

3 Answers 3


You try to give the correct answer. Whether that answer has been discounted by the asker is kind of beside the point. Except that an explanation of why you disagree might help you to get the answer accepted.


I would advise against repeating a suggested answer if all you intend to do is spite the dismissal. However, in some cases answering the question with its own answer may help.

The main point of answering a question is to help the questioner and future visitors interested in the question solve whatever problem that they are experiencing. Sometimes a dismissed answer may be a good answer if you can address the reason it was dismissed.

In some cases the questioner may misunderstand some of the vital circumstances regarding his or her problem, and in that point you can try to clear up the misapprehension so that they can realize why the dismissed answer is correct. In other cases the questioner may have good comprehension of what they know, but remain unconvinced by inadequate evidence, in which case you may be able to allay their doubts with more thorough proof that it is the correct answer.

If a question provides a dismissal, but does not explain why it was dismissed, I would probably advise closing the question. Closure prevents people from posting answers which are useless, at least until a point in time when a better answer can be pondered.

If you wonder why such a question should be closed, there are actually a few reasons: It may be a sign of inadequate research, suggest that the question is primarily opinion based, or at the very least make the underlying source of the problem unclear, and hence unable to be addressed. In these cases, choose the closure reason that best fits the circumstances, and maybe leave a comment explaining why a rationale for the dismissal should be provided if you can helpfully articulate your precise concern.

However, it is also important to properly parse the question, and I suspect that your example is not a good one to address the concern because I see nothing to suggest that the questioner intends to exclude either of those possibilities. Annie Chen merely provides a pair of conflicting answers to demonstrate that the answer to the question is uncertain, so any date would be a valid answer if it can be proven to be the first usage.


The answer provides information not given in the question and it was the first answer, so I assume that's why it was accepted by the OP.

This site (unlike other sites, such as Skeptics) doesn't technically require an answer to have any sources, so the answer doesn't require any further moderation. You can, however, take one or more of the following actions:

  • Downvote the answer
  • Upvote other answers you like (if any exist)
  • Post your own answer

(I don't particularly like answers that don't give a source, so in this case I did the third option: I posted my own answer with sources.)

  • 1
    1. Doesn't require sources? On the contrary: I repeatedly see "Cite your sources" under answers. 2. I guess I assumed she had seen the Jacobin connection bec. she mentioned 1794. It's just never clear to me what's an acceptable answer vs. a redundant one.
    – Wordster
    Oct 15, 2018 at 23:03
  • 3
    @Wordster 1) People on this site definitely like sources, but such comments are really only requests. On Skeptics, answers without sources are given a [citation needed] banner, then are usually deleted if they're not edited. 2) It's not clear what OP was reading, but some sources are woefully vague. (I remember Google would show a graph of the etymology with minimal info, but they don't seem to do this anymore.)
    – Laurel Mod
    Oct 15, 2018 at 23:13
  • @Wordster It's a murky issue. Strictly speaking all of the express provisions of the network's general P.O.B. policy are aimed directly against questions, but we have the policy because we would rather not have P.O.B. answers. I think the concept is that closed questions are supposed to be deleted anyway, so it's a waste of time to answer a question that should be closed since its answers will be unpublished and the rep. gains reversed, but I know of no direct enforcement provisions against answers lacking evidence. To the contrary, "partial answers" are actually encouraged in the help center.
    – Tonepoet
    Oct 17, 2018 at 11:00
  • @Wordster That's because you do swr's all the time. Oct 17, 2018 at 13:07
  • @Tonepoet: Sorry, no idea what POB means here (looked thru a list of 39 acronyms).
    – Wordster
    Oct 18, 2018 at 21:00
  • @Araucaria: I don't understand what swr's have to do with it.
    – Wordster
    Oct 18, 2018 at 21:05
  • @Tonepoet Please, please, stop making stuff up like that. Closed questions are EXPRESSLY NOT meant to be deleted. Please, please stop. Oct 18, 2018 at 22:04
  • 2
    @Wordster In other types of answer you can use evidence and demonstrate what you're saying. But in swr's it's just your opinion if you don't provide sources. Sources are your only evidence. And for swr's it's only a fingertip away, so it's just rude not to. Doesn't work that way for phonology, ponetics, syntax, etc. Oct 18, 2018 at 22:08
  • @Araucaria As much as I would like to oblige you, I can not comply with that request because I can not stop what I have not started. Closed questions should be deleted according to a few members of upper management. Now would you show me where it expressly states otherwise, as you claim, or redact your own false statement, please? Also, P.O.B means Primarily Opinion Based, Wordster. It's a network-wide question closure reason,
    – Tonepoet
    Oct 18, 2018 at 22:42
  • @Tonepoet You've linked to a post by one mod who says that ideally, off-topic closures should get deleted. Not dupes, for example. Oct 18, 2018 at 22:44
  • @Tonepoet See SE founder's castigation of knee-jerk deletion here. Oct 18, 2018 at 22:56

You must log in to answer this question.

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