I've recently gotten into answering question that I find really interesting, and sometimes feel my answers aren't quite as eloquent as some of the other amazing answers I've received to questions that I've asked.

For example, I just answered this question with a rather lengthy answer, but it feels....sloppy to me.

Am I overthinking this (as I tend to do) or are there ways I can further improve my answer quality?


1 Answer 1


I think the answer you linked to is one of your best answers, and got upvotes from me and a couple other people, it looks like. I skimmed over some of your other answers, and some things immediately spring out at me about this one:

  • You used block quotes, but in the right places. Sometimes, other people can say things better than we can, and a nicely inserted quote can really make an answer fit together, especially if it gets to the point. You did that well here, with several answers. On the other hand, I feel that this answer of yours, which is almost entirely a block quote, should contain more original writing, as I commented on the first revision. I personally like to read answers where people have tailored the writing to the question, which always makes the answer more focused.
  • You correctly formatted links. You added links in lines as part of sentences, which really lets the answer flow. I know users on other sites who never do that, and it makes the post a lot harder to read. Sometimes, you can list references at the end - I've done that, and I think it's okay - if you won't want to distract your readers. But inline linking can be handy. On this answer, though several of the sources stick out like a sore thumb. Sometimes this is unavoidable, but in such a case, I'd advise moving them to the end and showing which section they were used for, or figuring out a way to incorporate them into sentences.
  • You used emphasis correctly. Some people feel the need to use all caps in places, WHICH COMES ACROSS AS SHOUTING!!! Using *, **, and # are much better and are the preferred markdown on Stack Exchange. Do continue to use them in the future . . . but not gratuitously.

I don't think there's anything egregious about the answer, and certainly not the length. Some folks - myself certainly included - write longer answers on average, up to and reaching the 30,000 character limit. That can be quite a toll on readers, and I try to keep things much, much, much shorter. I've gotten a bit better at being concise, but it can be tricky sometimes. When you write along answer, it can of course feel sloppy and disorganized.

The answer you were concerned about seems fine to me, but you might feel it's still a bit messy. Writing an outline is always something you can do - and something I've done on my longer answers, writing the headings and introductory things before I start the actual answer. It takes a bit of time, but you feel good once you've finished. Another thing I try to do is to write a short answer that covers some main points, then rewrite it using that as a skeleton, to add all the necessary details. But you don't need to worry too much about that; your answers are generally of a nice length.

Finally, don't worry about votes. I mean it. The first question you linked to landed on the Hot Network Questions List, meaning that people across the network saw it and viewed it and voted. That's why my answer there got 42 votes. But that answer is not - if I may disagree with you - one of my more amazing answers, and I mean that. The HNQ list really screws up voting. I do have a list of about five or ten answers I'm the proudest of on Worldbuilding out of all that I've written, and none are in my top 14 most upvoted answers. 15th, yeah, although that one was a bit wrong, but still. Unless you get a bunch of downvotes accompanied by people pointing out errors, don't compare the merits of one answer with another based on votes.

It's not always, I find, accurate.

  • $\begingroup$ I find it funny that you talk about being concise in this verbose answer but basically this is what I was going write. $\endgroup$
    – James
    Dec 20, 2016 at 19:50
  • $\begingroup$ I'd like to add to the voting thing. The only good comparison is your answer against other answers on the same question or on questions with a similar number of total views - and even then the earlier an answer was posted the bigger advantage it has. $\endgroup$
    – Tim B
    Dec 21, 2016 at 9:29

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