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I like to investigate when I find a question that is interesting to me, mainly navigating the man pages, since part of my journey in this site is learning. I can reach, after such investigation process, a certain understanding of what is needed to answer the question, but as I'm not an expert, I can issue an incomplete answer or a plain wrong one.

Sometimes this type of questions may have no answers at all. The result is that no information is registered in the site, specially if the topic is lacking users expert enough in the subject (allegedly).

This meta question arised when I bumped into this question: Is my firewall configured OK?. The question is about and , which seems to me that are topics that usually don't have answers, at least when they are complicated enough (TBD if that's a fair assesment). I searched about the subject and I glimpsed a possible answer.

So, taking into account:

  • The Q is possibly not getting answers.
  • Future readers won't have any information about the subject.
  • I can give an answer, but it can be wrong and/or lacking expertise.
  • The answer I give can provide some useful information.

What is the point of view of the community about such answers?

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    Interesting question. I recently failed to ask myself the same question, posted a reply to an old (~1.5 yr) unanswered Q, and... . Oct 4 at 17:23
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I think you are perhaps being a little hard on yourself.

Even as an expert, sometimes the most useful thing you can provide is the knowledge of what to type into google and which sources of information to piece together. Searching and filtering information are learned skills and often require a lot of personal experience to get right. Often having good Linux experience is enough to give you a head start on knowing where to look for the right information.

That's not to be confused with "let me google that for you" responses where you can pretty much copy-paste the question title into google and give them back the first result.

The bottom line here is if you can answer a question then please do.


If you are concerned that the your answer isn't authoritative enough, then you can of course say in your answer what you're unsure about. For example if you've not managed to test a solution yourself then you can say so. If you've had to guess at something then make it clear what points your guessing and what points you know.

If you've learned things from manuals, blogs, or other documentation then cite your sources. Stating how you know what you've learned doesn't make you look like a cheap hack, it makes you look like a talented researcher.


Finally if all you can give is a partial answer and there's nothing else available then it may still be the leg up the OP and future readers need to figure out the solution.

Don't fear someone else coming along after with a full solution and their's will get accepted over yours. *If your partial answer led to them finding the full solution, people often (not always) thank you for your work and up-vote your answer.

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    Knowing how to find, analyse, and consolidate stuff on the net is itself a kind of expertise, and a fairly valuable & uncommon one if the questions on this site are anything to go by. lmgtfy.com exists for a reason...
    – cas
    Oct 9 at 1:50
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    "Stating how you know what you've learned doesn't make you look like a cheap hack, it makes you look like a talented researcher." +1 for that alone. (The rest of the answer is good too.) :)
    – Wildcard
    Oct 13 at 2:43
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If you have taken the time and effort to produce a sourced answer, then it is an answer. It should be posted.

Your research may well be better than anything the OP achieved before asking. After all, if they had found a solution they may well not have asked.

You are not simply posting a LMGTFY response that may go to the VLQ list.

If you feel your answer isn't of the highest quality, no matter. It is still an answer, it may stimulate someone else to produce a better one.

In short, you are helping the OP and the community at large.

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    @schrodigerscatcuriosity In the worst case, the answer is wrong and you will learn something new if someone comments, whereas if you don't post you'll never know it better. That's a deal!
    – Quasímodo
    Oct 4 at 12:14
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    @Quasímodo Indeed. Learning is my main drive, and sometimes I'm just happy with what I learnt despite if I answered or not :-) Oct 5 at 7:38

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