35

Option 3: Answers may be made in comments where the question is off-topic but we still wish to help the asker. This seems to be standard practice; we try to be helpful.


21

UD is a source that is written by amateurs, and rated by amateurs. I've used it from time to time, but it's best when supplemented with other examples. As for whether or not the UD is an "acceptable" source, that depends on the nature of the question. For example, suppose the O.P. is asking something like: What's a good slang term for a person who ...


20

Option 6: Partial answers may appear in comments and may be used by anyone who wishes to post a complete answer, with the understanding that mods may still delete the comments at a whim, without notice. This represents the least overhead in terms of 'extra rules everyone must know' because it pretty much stays true to the way Stack Exchange has been set up. ...


18

Urban Dictionary can be a resource for slang phrases that are not in traditional dictionaries. However, it is not at all an authoritative source, since it is mainly an entertainment site. For questions not specifically about slang or obscure phrases, if you can find another source, it would be better to do so.


13

I hope it will be helpful if I list the main problems with comment answers. Any proposed solution can be evaluated against them to see how it holds up. Someone has helpfully numbered these problems for easy reference. The numbering is just for reference and does not imply an order of importance. Comment answers cannot be community edited or peer reviewed. ...


12

ELU is for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts -- in other words, specialists. Specialists have their own jargon, and they use it routinely to communicate clearly and succinctly with one another. Among ELU users, you are likely to see jargon that includes abbreviations such as AmE and BrE. Rather than asking these specialists ...


9

A question asking for people to coin a word is out of scope for this site. A coinage in an answer might be in scope, depending on how well-reasoned it is. If the answer is a coinage which follows naturally from the way the language works, such as your example "samsaraphobia" which follows from the common practice of sticking "-phobia" on new things people ...


8

In the big picture, answers that merely repeat existing answers aren't good for EL&U. Intentionally duplicating someone else's answer and relying on a higher site reputation score to poach votes from the earlier poster would seriously transgress against the site's rules and against the collegiality of this site. I don't think I've ever seen it happen ...


8

One-word answers are definitely not acceptable. (In fact, the software doesn't even allow them). A question that is formulated in a way that seems to call for a one-word answer may need some improvement. For example, if you are unsure what kind of answer the questioner really wants, you might post a comment asking for more detail about the problem or vote ...


8

I upvoted Andrew Leach's "Option 3" answer, but I wanted to go into more detail about the comment-deletion policy that I think makes the most sense. I think there is a difference between the "temporary Post-It" ideal of what comments on Stack Exchange sites should be and how they actually function in practice, and I don't see as much value in trying to ...


7

If you've come up with an answer, even a partial answer, it's better as an answer so it can be peer reviewed. If it isn't really even a partial answer, but it would help the asker do more research, it's better as a comment.


7

(Don't know what this adds to @MetaEd's excellent answer, but here goes.) I really don't think this is a problem (at least it's never been raised in meta before.) Some background might help to understand the pushback*, the downvotes, and the range of opinion. For years, EL&U has been struggling to be a site for "for linguists, etymologists, and ...


6

UD is a great source. A quick scan of the definitions give you a reliable definition of the term. Moreover, it also provides variant definitions, and the up/downvotes give you an idea of how many people would accept those definitions. Note the wisdom of crowds. The crowd is rarely wrong. (E.g. The audience on Millionaire has been right 95% of the time - much ...


6

I'm not the downvoter, but I will wager a guess that perhaps they felt that your answer was too brief and didn't provide any background or explanation, particularly when compared with CopperKettle's answer (which was posted half an hour before yours). Yours basically just asserts "Yes, it's grammatical and common"; the other goes into detail about what it ...


6

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 ...


5

Taking an idea from another answer to make a better answer would be good as Meta-Ed mentioned, but it should also be noted that we disallow exact duplicate answers. While an answer that compiles other answers would not be an exact duplicate, it would be very similar in principle if you have nothing to additional to contribute of your own beyond what was ...


4

If your answer is not bringing something new to the table, then you aren't doing anybody any favors by attempting to siphon off some rep. When I see duplicate answers, I will only upvote the one that has the earlier timestamp. Sometimes I will also leave a message to the duplicate-poster (especially if they are new) indicating that an answer should have ...


4

I appreciate the sincerity of your question here and of your desire to contribute useful answers to EL&U. As you note in your comment to Hellion's answer the official EL&U guideline for casting a downvote is as follows: Use your downvotes whenever you encounter an egregiously sloppy, no-effort-expended post, or an answer that is clearly and ...


3

When I see near identical answers posted, I will leave a comment and direct the answerer to the post that contains the same answer. If the answerer does not edit his or her post, (obviously I wait a bit) then I will flag it. I may even vote to delete it. Two or more identical answers are pointless. But if the later post contains information, shows some ...


3

If you decide to take an idea from another answer, that’s acceptable as long as you properly credit all work by others that you include in your post. There’s detailed information in the site help about how to give credit. During the period of time when a question is actively being worked on, write the best answer you can and leave others to do the same. ...


3

Here is one (admittedly contrived, legalistic) argument that can be used to excuse the practice of answering some questions in comments. Suppose that somebody, in good faith, asks a reasonable question concerning English language and usage (broadly understood), but the question, interpreted in the most obvious way, still does not belong to this site. The ...


2

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 ...


2

I am very interested in the meanings and origins of words and phrases—and yet I think that I've used Urban Dictionary as a reference source in my answers exactly once, in response to the question What does “fleek” mean and when was it first used? And even then, I was more interested in investigating the theory that an Urban Dictionary user was the original ...


2

Urban Dictionary is like Wikipedia - super cool for certain words or certain kinds of research, but very unreliable and flaky. Some of the definitions are brilliant and witty, others utterly stupid. Political terms are especially thorny; they're a great way to separate conservative visitors from liberals. ;) Urban Dictionary should generally be used in ...


1

Although I do not take Urban Dictionary too seriously, it certainly is a great resource for non native speakers, specially when trying to understand slang phrases.


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