In a recent question about what to call words made of other words, one particular answer is just a one liner. Amazingly, it currently has 8 up-votes. I downvoted it because the length of the answer was of just one line. I requested that they write an entire answer here on english.stackexchange. Their answer just provided a link to wikipedia.

Here is the entire answer:

They’re called compound words.

Does this answer follow the guidelines of ELU?

Someone started arguing that the answer is okay and later I found that the same answer received one more up-vote.

Update: Answer has been updated by the user: user240918 with reasonable explanation.

  • 6
    Experienced users should know to close such questions rather than write 1 sentence answers to them. Apr 9, 2019 at 6:24
  • 1
    Regarding the "suspicious" votes, apparently the question got into Hot Network Question. I kind of believe most upvotes were done by users from other SE sites (who can only upvote but not downvote due to the association bonus).
    – Andrew T.
    Apr 9, 2019 at 8:49
  • 4
    The short answer hits the nail on the head and provides a relevant link. so it does answer the question. Having said that the post could be easily improved adding more information on the usage of compound words, for instance.
    – user 66974
    Apr 9, 2019 at 9:19
  • The question is closed and downvoted now, as it should have been from the beginning
    – Dan Bron
    Apr 9, 2019 at 11:53
  • @DanBron How is the question closable? The answer really should be augmented though.
    – Mitch
    Apr 9, 2019 at 12:07
  • 1
    @Mitch The close reason is given on the question, if you’re curious.
    – Dan Bron
    Apr 9, 2019 at 12:09
  • 3
    @DanBron Sure, I read already the close reason before asking you. It seems like closing for not showing research is being legalistic. You might as well call it a rule then rather than a guideline if you're going to be so literal minded.
    – Mitch
    Apr 9, 2019 at 12:21
  • 3
    @Ubihatt The answerer edited it to add detail. I think it's fine now.
    – Mitch
    Apr 9, 2019 at 14:19
  • 5
    You're right, it needed more detail, but your comments could have been much politer. Just remind the answerer of the standards, downvote, and move on. "Is this the standard way to answer?" and "well it is apparent that you are not aware of EL & U guidelines. So, please stop snapping back" (no one was being rude to you) are unnecessarily rude and unfriendly, and considering your treatment of me the other day, this seems to be something you should work on in general. Apr 9, 2019 at 18:44
  • 2
    @Ubihatt Your comments on the answer varied from incomprehensible (the first one) to rude. I gave the answer an upvote because it was a perfectly good answer that met all the prissy requirements of the website.
    – user323578
    Apr 9, 2019 at 18:52
  • 1
    @Ubihatt "Their answer just provided a link to wikipedia." That is a lie (even before the question was edited).
    – user323578
    Apr 9, 2019 at 18:53
  • Related Meta question: meta.stackexchange.com/q/156941/273494 with an answer by Tim Post
    – ColleenV
    Apr 10, 2019 at 17:29

1 Answer 1


In general answers in any subnet of SE should follow some specific guidelines. These should also be a must read (or even better a forced read) for every user.

I personally for example didnt even read them at all (neither did I bother to even look them up).

To answer the initial question: There is nothing inherently wrong with one line answers (as long as they are not unarguably wrong content-wise) (for example the programming sites of SE have masses of oneliners just because there are often questions being asked that are simple / trivial enough to be easily answered in one sentence or line (of code). Although providing atleast one full (ever so short but full) sentence as an answer should be minimum-requirement. Especially for single word request questions this is in my opinion acceptable as long as the word in the oneliner is most definitely acceptable to be common knowledge. In contrast more unusual, old, very creative or outright obscure answers should be as always be very well explained / documented.

As a summary and food for thought think about the following somewhat related question: What is the minimum acceptable length for a Ph.D thesis?

One answer one of my professors gave me on that was the following story: The shortest thesis he's aware of comes in at ONE (1) A4 page! How is that possible? The thesis was written by a mathematican and was a proof for some really old and (in the math-scene) well known (until then) unprooven theorem... And that proof took the math guy in fact all the time of study on the subject. Then the mathematic-notation, in a short and concise manner maybe even using specially just for the purpose defined symbols do the rest in shrinking everything down. And as long as it was either self explainatory from an algorithmic point of view or as long as the math guy could explain it during the approval session everything is fine.

  • 5
    There is nothing inherently wrong with one line answers (as long as they are not unarguably wrong content-wise) You haven't been here long, have you? I can tell. For newcomers, it's perfectly acceptable to produce brief answers, but a good answer usually contains some explanation, some supporting evidence and reliable references. Simply saying "compound words" doesn't cut the mustard, even there was a link. In a comment, I suggested that the user supply a summary because, whether we like it or not, one line answers often do get deleted in the name of standards.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Apr 9, 2019 at 23:32
  • 4
    Once the OP supplied that brief summary I deleted my comment(s). Then someone else added another reference, which improved the answer immeasurably but I thought it improper. The author seems to me perfectly capable of writing a good solid answer. BTW One word answers only belong in comments when the question is clearly off-topic, and that question is off-topic. If nothing else, it should have been migrated to ELL
    – Mari-Lou A
    Apr 9, 2019 at 23:32

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