Someone asks: Is X possible. I answer "Yes it is", with an offer to help further if they produce more details of their attempt and problems with it. In other words - a direct answer to the question as stated. Clear, correct and with first-mover advantage. :-)

A moderator converts my answer to a comment.

Shortly afterwards, someone else gives exactly my answer, adding a trivial example, and reaps all the glory.

Now I hate to be a points-tart, but honestly - that's not the role of a moderator. Is it?


OK - flippancy aside - my expectation was that the OP would respond, and that both the question, and my answer, would be improved. Until that process has had a chance to kick in, I think the moderators need to hold their fire. I could see that eventually downvoting/removing a poor question might be an option, but the hope surely is that we are a mutual improvement society!



When some asks "is X possible?" on a Stack Exchange site I've found what they actually mean is almost always "is X possible and if so how do I do it?" with the second unstated question actually the more important one.

At least some other community members read such questions the same way and the answer you left was flagged as 'not an answer' by one of them. In this light, and while as a moderator I agree it is best to use the lightest touch possible, I think converting your answer to a comment was a very reasonable action for Bart to take when he reviewed the flag.

For my part, if I had dealt with the flag, because you did answer the question the op asked I would likely have left a comment on your answer suggesting it would be better served as a comment on the OP's original question instead of as an answer.


The moderator in question (we shall leave him anonymous ;o) acted on the flag that was raised by the community, it was flagged as: not an answer.

Which in my opinion it indeed wasn't, the answer part was just "yes" and then came a comment. If your intention was to get the OP to respond, that's what a comment is for. With that action of converting your "answer" into a comment, you are still open to add a real answer. Plus at the time your "answer" was converted to a comment, the other answer was already there and it had already gotten votes, while yours didn't.

So the 0 votes plus the flag sounds like a clear indication of it not being an answer. Leaving it there would in my opinion send an incorrect message to the community (that it is okay to answer a question with another question or a low quality answer).

Perhaps the second answer given should have been an edit on your answer, adding the code sample there since you already answered it with a simple "Yes - of course you can.". But yeah if you can improve a poor answer and get nothing for it or add your own answer and get points for it...

  • Of course, many of your points are good. Still, (and the reason why I cast my meta question as I did) I really feel moderators should take a little more time before jumping to summary judgements. As I see it, the idea is for things to take their course organically, with the moderators there specifically to deal with situations that the rest of the community can't or doesn't deal with. Sure - so I fired off a very quick answer in my lunch break, but to get home in the evening and then find that in the meantime my answer had been poached and effectively deleted.... not great.
    – Dominic Cronin Mod
    Aug 14 '13 at 18:37
  • Yeah sure you are one of the users that would go to the trouble of actually updating your answer making it better, but in the meantime you still send out the message to other users that questions here are okay to be answered with just "yes", which devaluates the site. Aug 15 '13 at 7:39
  • Dominic, how long do you think we should wait to deal with flags such as these? On other SE sites I have seen the negative side of Moderators pulling the trigger too quickly (mostly on close votes on questions) without waiting for the wider community to have a chance to act on them but in some cases the question is how long is too long? Aug 16 '13 at 18:24
  • @GlennStevens On the occasion that triggered this discussion, it was a case of hours, which is far too short. As an indicator of a reasonable time-frame, I'd say the delay before you are allowed to put a bounty on a question would be more reasonable. At least wait until most of the people who check the site every day will have seen it. Also - beware of automatic flags - they are not the most subtle of things.
    – Dominic Cronin Mod
    Aug 22 '13 at 19:26
  • @DominicCronin if you would have left your answer as just yes, it would have gotten an automatic flag of being too short, but you didn't get that because you added a question in there. Please see the about section on how to ask for more information or clarify a question, it states, use comments. I also still don't see what your real problem is, you still have the option to answer that question, just because your original flagged "answer" was converted into a comment does not stop you from adding a new valid answer to the question, what is the harm? Aug 23 '13 at 6:12
  • @BartKoopman - I wasn't wanting to go over all this again, but if I must... My answer was an answer, not a comment, and the accepted answer was essentially an expanded version of mine. Yes - comments can be used to elicit improvements in questions. But this meta question was about the speed of reaction expected of moderators, vs. organic improvement by the community, so this really is a tangential discussion.
    – Dominic Cronin Mod
    Aug 23 '13 at 7:44
  • @DominicCronin your answer was flagged as not an answer, and I agreed with that flag. The first 5 words of your answer were indeed an answer, but would be considered to short to be a valid answer. I feel you found my action to be to fast and of too much impact, but yet up until today you haven't actually added your "edited" full answer to the question. So I would say that my action was justified, waiting 24 hours or more wouldn't have made much difference, other than perhaps giving ppl the idea that low quality answers were allowed, that's my main point here. Aug 23 '13 at 8:08

I'm adding more of an observation and rant (rantservation or obserant, up to you) to this.

Easy question promted easy "yes" "answers." I think moving a simple "yes" answer into a comment is a symptom of the original simple question, which might be okay coming from a relatively new user (and because it mentions UserData).

We Love Code!

The code was really the "answer" that was voted on. The fact that the API is both read and write seems like a preamble to me, though it technically answers the "can we?" question just like Dominic's original reply. Everyone loves code samples as objective, copy-and-pasteable demonstrations of expertise. My top voted answer is copy and pasted from API docs (as embarrassing as that sounds). :-P Luckily it's not my best answer or contribution.

I suspect that even when asking a functional question, adding some code and talking in terms of APIs will get more votes and responses than a purely functional question.

How to Handle Expert Users

Moderators should probably have a light touch but not hesitate to make minor adjustments while being conscious of the poster's familiarity with Stack Exchange and intentions. Changing a short "yes you can" answer into a comment might be "heavy handed" if done to a newbie. But what should we do to long-term Tridion forum users and frequent Tridion Stack exchange users? Should experienced "know better?" Dominic has (more than one) of the top posting user accounts on the old forum, btw. ;-)

I guess it depends if you hold those that know better to the same, lower, or higher standards.

But Dominic's nuanced point isn't whether his response should have been a comment (it probably should have been), but whether moderators should do it (and do it quickly). But then in practice that would be Bart-as-a-user telling Dominic to change his simple answer into a simple comment. Is it wrong to do that by taking the action as an admin? I don't know, I feel it should be okay but from personal experience just votes to close sting, even when I know and agree with them.

Maybe the first mistake was in answering the question... Bart points out we "can improve a poor answer and get nothing for it or add your own answer and get points for it..." I think there's also an incentive to leave a bad question alone, especially if we have a good answer for it ("no, don't close this yet, I have a good answer!").

I think the proper response to a closed-ended (yes/no) question such as "can I create users with the Core Service?" would be something like: "Welcome to Tridion Stack Exchange. Yes, of course you can. What have you tried?" as a comment or two.

I'm guilty of answering "bad" questions, though.

The concern, Dominic, that "Shortly afterwards, someone else gives exactly my answer, adding a trivial example, and reaps all the glory." In your deleted answer you did get the asker's gratitude as a comment. But neither (as of now) got an accepted answer. The point tart in you should respond with "well, please accept my answer then!" (moot with the "answer" now gone, though). ;-)

On sarcastic take-away is when in doubt, add code! :-)

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