This is usually a sporadic issue, but today I found a question that really made me do something about it:

World with a different sun every day, and random days with no sun

The question per se is perfectly fine. But I noticed that many of the answers are multiple answers. Should something be done about it? I talk about answers like:

https://worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/a/75609/18136 https://worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/a/75467/18136

My issue is that these kind of answers includes multiple completely/largely unrelated answers that, I think, should be separated because they are independent.

What if I love 1 of them but hate the other 2? Should I upvote? Downvote? Do nothing?

The thing is, for me, none of the 3 actions above feels... right.

Should something be done about this? And why is people allergic to writing multiple answers to the same question? Is it frowned upon?

Note: Sorry if this has been discussed before, I've searched and couldn't find it.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I love fact-checking math. If the math doesn't look legit, I downvote, even if the answer is other wise good. I, personally, have no problem downvoting part of a question. I don't think you should be shy downvoting things that you think are wrong either $\endgroup$
    – kingledion
    Mar 29 '17 at 23:51
  • $\begingroup$ "I like part of the system but I hate part of the system." "The secret is to learn to love Big Brother." ;-) $\endgroup$
    – SRM
    Mar 30 '17 at 4:05
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ The temptation to answer this with multiple answers is almost overwhelming. ;) But good question. $\endgroup$
    – Mikey
    Mar 30 '17 at 21:53
  • $\begingroup$ Should we begin compiling a list of such answers? It could get outdated, but it would allow us to be analyzing the phenomenon. $\endgroup$ Jun 9 '18 at 4:09

I definitely agree that this is a problem. What I see that makes it specifically a problem is when one answer provides, say, solutions A, B, and C, while another answer provides A, C, and D. The answers are not duplicates of each other, but neither of them contains the 'full' answer.

To me, the ideal case is when there is one answer that contains all possibilities. That, to me, is why we close questions as being 'too broad': there are too many possible answers, so no single answer can contain all of them. The problem I see with this is that it's very easy to skip a possibilitiy, and once someone else posts it it would be mostly unethical to steal their idea and add it to your answer. Answer wikis are a possible solution, but that's more of an altruistic approach that I don't think we should expect most answerers to use.

The other option, as you mention, is to post a new answer for every possibility. To me, this seems like a great way to downvote/delete options that are wrong, or that have already been posted by someone else. It should also be easier to find the most community-appreciated solution. The problem with this, though, is that people tend to not look at anything other than the highest-voted answer, and the highest-voted answer might not actually be the one the OP finds most useful, which gets into issues with what should be marked as the 'accepted' answer.

Of the two options (list everything at once, hope you didn't miss one vs write a new answer for each), I think the latter option avoids the most issues in the short term. However, I worry that creating the assumption that for every point you wish to make, you need to make a new answer, is a dangerous move. I'd also be kind of worried about reputation farming (a two-part answer makes half as much reputation as two one-part answers). As I've said, I think a 'definitive' answer is ideal, but difficult to obtain, encouraging people to write multiple answers is only going to make definitive answers less prevalent.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I realize I might actually not be responding to this exact question, but rather to a related one that's been bothering me for a while. But I hope my response applies in both cases. $\endgroup$ Mar 29 '17 at 16:59
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Frame this quote: "That, to me, is why we close questions as being 'too broad': there are too many possible answers, so no single answer can contain all of them." $\endgroup$
    – SRM
    Mar 30 '17 at 4:06

Comments are usually more constructive than down-votes. So in this case, I'd up-vote the answer, but add comments describing why you disagree with some of the points.

No one can see who up and down-votes questions, so you won't be judged as being a hypocrite. There's nothing to stop you admitting to up-voting for the answer you liked before critiquing the other points.

I've avoided recommending a down-vote as I prefer to offer a route to a positive outcome.

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ The thing is I don't disagree with "some points", I disagree with whole sub-answers. The thing is the answer clearly states: "This answer is 3 separate answers", and I wonder: "Then WHY isn't it 3 separate answers?" $\endgroup$
    – xDaizu
    Mar 29 '17 at 10:40
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @xDaizu I encountered a version of this, where an answer had effectively two parts. One was excellent & really answered the question. The other dealt with another peripheral aspect of the set-up, but not covered by the question. I recommended the answerer delete the irrelevant section because this would improve the answer overall. I agree with Pete: use the comments to suggest how the answer can be improved even if this means making it into several answers. $\endgroup$
    – a4android
    Mar 29 '17 at 11:48
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    $\begingroup$ Probably because of the dialog that discourages giving multiple answer when you try to post a second one... which exists because SE is designed for questions with answers, not possible answers. $\endgroup$
    – SRM
    Mar 30 '17 at 13:19
  • $\begingroup$ Or, hold off on voting until the recommendation is addressed? You could also not vote at all $\endgroup$ Jun 9 '18 at 4:37
  • $\begingroup$ Similarly, you could suggest an edit which revises the portion of the answer that doesn't work. If someone is making a list of possible approaches to the problem, then the answer really deserves to be a Community Wiki $\endgroup$ Jun 9 '18 at 4:39

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