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I asked a question recently, and the only answer only says "yes, why not", questions why I wanted an answer to my question, and told me to do something else instead. It's not helpful at all, and worse, the answerer is now mad at me for some reason.

Granted, I was quite willing to accept a "no solution currently exists", but this isn't about that. I am no longer interested in salvaging the question.

What can I or should I do about someone who isn't willing to answer a question because they think their own opinion is superior?

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Don't vote that answer up, don't mark it as accepted. If it's really really wrong and not just trying to help you solve your problem in a way you might not have anticipated, vote it down.

In general, people answer questions because they think that the answer they have is "superior". If you don't agree, that's fine and there's no reason to escalate.

If it's the only answer you get, treat it as you would any question you ask where you didn't get a complete answer. Add a bounty if you like.

If the answer you don't like is getting really voted up, or there are multiple answers all in the same vein, it may be time to consider a little harder if the question can be improved.

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    Note that downvoting requires 125 rep. – Bernhard Jun 30 '13 at 18:42
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Hmm, I've got some thoughts that won't answer the exact questions you've asked here, but, ah, might be relevant? I'll try and keep it clean. A couple asides 'first' *.

In the backwards order I'm writing this, I've laid out some things that are fairly case specific. Let me sum up some points that will hopefully be useful to a broader audience, and might be an answer you're looking for. I'm basically in agreement with @mattdm, with a couple further details/emphases.

  • 0) Don't 'do something about someone', deal with the answer. Politely - you're the one asking for help. Whether or not it's OK for SE folk to suggest that a questioner hasn't done his searching first, it's a bit worse to suggest that an answerer responding to your specific question is the one being lazy / 'not trying'.

  • 1) If it's really off-topic / telling you to do something you might want to downvote it. If you go that way, you should definitely leave a comment (seperate from any other comments) explaining the vote. You should probably leave a different comment first explaining the problem, and give the respondant the chance to improve it (or remove it). I'd say this should be somewhat rare, unless the answer is really spamming/griefing, or factually incorrect (maybe even then - like, in case you mis-judged).

  • 2) Ignore it / treat it as a non-answer. Nothin wrong with that. Probably the easiest, sometimes the best.

  • 3) Engage, politely. Ask the person to improve their answer, specify what you see as the problem.

  • 4) Introspection, perhaps most importantly, eg, the last part of mattdm's answer. I feel (obviously, I think) this applies in your case. OK, the answer wasn't upvoted, but there were several comments in the same vein, as the answer points out. Furthermore, the answer tries to tell you what's wrong with your question, including offering some specific suggestions to improve it. You chose to ignore those (not implement them anyway). Your question still hasn't been answered. Are you sure the problem was with the jerk who gave a useless answer?

  • 5) Consider if your question is in the right place - if it belongs on this SE, or on SE at all. I'm not saying that your question doesn't belong here, to say that would not be an appropriate answer, and I believe SE takes an inclusionist view (eg, that it's fine to have specific/niche/difficult questions stay here, even if they go unanswered for a long time) ... buuut the question that I guess you were trying to ask seems to be something really specific. So, I don't want to say the question shouldn't be here, but from your perspective it might be more practical to ask in the Mint fora. If you're still working on this, once you figure it out you can post an answer to your own question, which might be useful for someone else.

(semi-relevant?):

  • The answer didn't tell you to do something else (although it did present several alternative things you could do.)

  • Your statement re "think their own opinion is superior" doesn't seem justified. The answer provided a brief answer, some related thoughts, and told you that a more detailed question is needed for a better answer. I actually don't see anything that's strictly opinion there (granted I'm biased).

  • Telling someone he 'didn't even try' might cause him to be 'mad at you for some reason'; obviously it wasn't a very satisfactory answer, but that was acknowledged in the answer itself (which asked you to provide more detail / a better (clearer, more precise) question). Also, downvoting without an accompanying comment.



*'first' (but down here because it won't be relevant to anyone else):

  • I think we both raised each others' dander, more than necessary. I wasn't trying to offend you, and I'll assume the same of you. I probably, at least, used a tone that was unnecessary and unproductive - sorry.

  • I'm not trying to say that my answer is a good one, much less that you should accept it. As I'll detail above, I did have a reason for posting it, but I'm not claiming to be an 'expert at SE'.

-- If I could've, I probably would've posted as a comment instead of an answer.

  • I'm pretty sure that I posted another comment there, that got deleted. I think it was after I got an explanation-less downvote which I assumed came from you. I don't remember exactly what I said, but I remember thinking afterwards that it (my deleted coment) might've been unpleasant in tone (sorry), but did have a practical point.

-- (I saw this (meta) question a while ago, and thought about writing this answer, but decided to just let it go. ... But now I'm procrastinating from something else. And hey, maybe it'll make us both better SE-users/communicators.)

  • I saw the question after seeing quite a few others that were similarly (at least in my opinion) poorly constructed questions. So maybe there was some annoyance-buildup that unfairly spilled over.

  • Y'know, since we're on Meta now, if you still have the comment you mention in your comment of Jun5, go ahead and put it here. If you've read through my points here and considered them, and your points from that aborted comment still stand ... tell me, I can take constructive criticism.

So, with that said ... (back to top)

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    Whew! Goodness, I need to get a life ... – hunter2 Jun 26 '13 at 10:32
  • You just (16 hours ago) posted on the question this is about. You should know that a good answer was submitted, and from that answer you should have realized why yours was unhelpful. For the record, I don't have enough rep to downvote you. And that bit about making us better users... perhaps I reacted to you wrong. – Wutaz Jun 27 '13 at 3:28
  • Two upvotes on the response, one on "I need to get a life". Hmm ... – hunter2 Jun 27 '13 at 10:01
  • @Wutaz - On the latter - noted; I didn't (don't?) have the rep to comment, or I would've just done that in the first place. And yeah ('better users'), I'm not a troll. Re the former - well, I see another answer. If it's 'good'/gives you what you wanted, accept it. If you say it's a better for you, it is - great. TBH, I don't see how it is much better at answering the question as you posted it, nor how it shows mine to be unhelpful; this could be partly because I still feel the question is .. sub-optimally written, shall we say? – hunter2 Jun 27 '13 at 10:50
  • ... Although, as I think I've acknowledged a few times now, I'm not saying that my answer was very helpful, much less better. // Do you see how my "suggested edits" (from my Jun 6 edit) would, at least, improve the precision of your question? // As I said in my recent comment, I don't see how a VM is better than a Live-USB; if it is for your case, this would have been a way to clarify what you want. (Yes I realize the chicken-and-egg nature of that, but if you thikn about why you find a VM satisfactory, but not a live-system (possibly with state-saving) or simply pre-fetching packages .. – hunter2 Jun 27 '13 at 10:56
  • .. then maybe there would have been a way to describe that (the goal/condition you wanted, that now makes a VM a better answer). // I will say this - as Anthon said, VMs can be useful tools, and are a good thing to practice/study. I'd say Live-OSs are, too (even if it's not the right tool here, they're more capable than I think you think. – hunter2 Jun 27 '13 at 10:58
  • The original OS continues to run. While installing a booted system, live or otherwise, nothing else can be done. That's why I asked for a solution that will run in the old OS. As for Anthon's answer, I can't test it yet, and it seems akward to accept an answer that I haven't been able to use. I'm getting to it. If we continue this, I think we should do it in pm or the original question. Before we invoke too much Rule 25/Rule 26 here. – Wutaz Jun 27 '13 at 15:54
  • ['Conceivably useful / might belong on meta'-] I think you should accept his answer, then. If you're going to try it, it answers your question. If it doesn't work, you can either comment/ask him to help you through the VM way, or post a new (more detailed, precise) question. Going from MNSHO, not a rule I can cite. ['Not so much'-] Yeah, I can see that (although I focused on the wrong part of his answer at first). I still see problems (that I'd call relevant), but it's getting pretty hair-splitty. 'If we continue ..' - yeah, agreed. 'If' is up to you; either way is fine by me. – hunter2 Jun 28 '13 at 3:26

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