Some answers on this site are kinda thin on the "why" it works. Sometimes its obvious and does not need an explanation, sometimes the explanation is there but sometimes its missing.

The questions here usually go like "how to do X" and an answer "Do it like this" would technically answer the question.

Now I have the feeling that an answer coming from a lifehacking expert should contain a "why" as well so the rest of the world can not only learn what works but also why it works and apply that knowledge to other similar stuff.

  • Are you proposing unexplained answers be deleted, or just be handled through the typical means of answers that aren't great... a downvote?
    – Sterno
    Dec 10, 2014 at 18:00
  • @Sterno I don't have a preference of one over the other. Its just that I want to have a link to point to in comments on answers of the "missing" type. Like: "Here on Lifehacks we want answers with explanations please add one." - Its just that I'm uncertain if the rest of the community thinks the same as I do or if "it works" is enough. Dec 10, 2014 at 18:08
  • Well, if all you're asking for is if downvoting is appropriate, asking on Meta is an exercise in futility. Downvotes, like upvotes, do not need to be justified, and often make things worse when you try to. It's when you're trying to get things flagged or deleted that you need meta to back it up.
    – Sterno
    Dec 10, 2014 at 18:10
  • 1
    @Sterno I don't think so. When Software Recommendations was in its private beta it helped a lot to flesh out whats a "good" answer and whats not. When we went public we had reference points for the new users to point to. Dec 10, 2014 at 18:13

3 Answers 3


Simply put, if you don't give people a reason to believe you, then they shouldn't believe you. You should be working to convince the asker that your answer is the correct one, and writing only a short statement is a poor way of doing so.

If an answer is only one or two sentences and nothing more, then in my opinion it should be at the very least ignored for being poor quality. I've written more on my reasoning here, but basically there's always more to write, so only writing one line show a lack of effort.

If there's a correct answer that you think is too short, and you can expand on it. It's totally okay steal bad/mediocre answers to make better ones. Not only is it their own fault for not taking the time to write a good answer, but the risk of getting downvoted because of a better answer can appear later on, creates incentive to write good answers first.

  • +1 I like your post on Pets, very read worthy! Dec 10, 2014 at 18:15
  • 1+ I agree a lot of answers are not researched.
    – Pobrecita
    Dec 13, 2014 at 19:42
  • I disagree that short answers are always bad. No doubt, in the majority of cases they are, but sometimes something just obviously works and explaining it in further detail is either impossible or treats the reader like an idiot. See, e.g., this answer or this one.
    – Wrzlprmft
    Dec 26, 2014 at 16:30


  • 5
    cheater... this answer is so darn short ;)
    – Vogel612
    Dec 10, 2014 at 18:48

If you are asking whether or not such answers should be downvoted, that's entirely up to you. I've never seen a successful meta policy on a StackExchange site that specifies whether or not answers should be downvoted. It is unenforceable. But personally, if an answer doesn't reasonably describe why it would work, and such a thing isn't obvious, then I'd probably downvote it and leave a comment requesting clarification.

However, as mentioned, we need no Meta consensus for that.

If you're instead asking whether such answers should be flagged or deleted, I would state that no, they shouldn't, except possibly in the case of answers that are trolling and actively harmful. For instance, if someone asks How to remove ice from a windshield and I leave an answer that says "Dump a bucket of black paint on it", well, not only does that not explain how it would work, but if someone is foolish enough to attempt it they'll be in for an unpleasant surprise.

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