Kindly see certain answers (there may be more than this search string returns) of the following format:

We need a dump to see more. please download this reg file from my SkyDrive:

http://cid-128fc518635be2dc.skydrive.live.com/self.aspx/.Public/MS%20Foren/Registry/WER%5E_Explorer_full.reg

and make a double click on the file to import it. If you can't do this, run regedit.exe and import the registry file there!

When the Windows Explorer crashes, Windows Error Reporting Service creates a dmp file under C:\Localdumps. Please upload the dump file (compressed 7z or RAR to reduce the size) and I take a look at the dump with the Debugger, maybe I can see the cause.

As we all know, SU is a Q&A site, not a forum. Keeping that in mind I don't see so-called "answers" such as the one above worthy of being anything more than mere comments. If comment space is inadequate, the instructions can always be posted to pastebin and linked to. By itself a request for a dump file with a promise of further debugging does not constitute an answer.

As far as I can see, no-one has taken him up on his offer, and it's not really surprising since who wants to download and execute a file uploaded by some stranger, even a supposedly well-meaning one? (Before someone says that the REG file can be checked first, how many normal users would be able to figure out what it does?) Also, AFAIK crash dump files may contain passwords and other sensitive information that was in RAM at the time of the crash, so I don't think it's a great idea in any case to let just anyone take a look at them.

Thus when the question poster quite rightly chooses not to take up such an offer of help, the dangling "answer" is utterly useless and helps neither the OP nor any future readers who are there since they're facing the same issue. Therefore I think all such "answers" should be removed and people should be told in no uncertain terms to post these only as comments.

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Nothing personal against the poster; just that I've seen him post these more than once now and felt it was time to clarify this issue once and for all. Oh, and I didn't go flagging all such "answers" because others may not agree with me, so thought it best to discuss here first. –  Karan Jan 1 '13 at 23:53
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Wouldn't flagging these as Not an Answer achieve this? –  Paul Jan 2 '13 at 9:07
    
I certainly agree with @Paul, that's what I do when I see posts that don't provide an answer. None of flags have been rejected by the moderators so far. –  TFM Jan 2 '13 at 9:19
    
@Paul, TFM: That was my initial reaction too, but since I saw that there are a series of similar posts (it seems to be a default "answer" to any BSOD-related question) I thought it best to discuss the issue first. I'm not sure whether old answers simply disappearing would result in a notification to the poster, plus they might not realise why it happened in the first place. –  Karan Jan 2 '13 at 16:18
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One problem is that low karma folks aren't allowed to add comments, they are only able to post answers. Some folks (moderators? Sorry, I really don't know Stack-ese jargon) have the ability to convert answers into comments. They should use that. –  Foo Bar Jan 10 '13 at 15:28
    
@FooBar: That was mentioned and discussed below. The person in question had 2K rep at that time. As for others who don't have commenting privileges here, that's no excuse. Earning a measly 50 rep points by contributing on the site is hardly all that difficult. –  Karan Jan 10 '13 at 15:34

2 Answers 2

up vote 17 down vote accepted

You're absolutely right. If the answer's sole purpose is to request further details, then it should have been a comment.

Examples:

Please foo that bar and then post the results.

Can you try yaking that baz in your preferences? Does that work?

As @Paul mentioned, simply flag those posts as not an answer. We'll check, delete the posts, or migrate them to a comment instead. No big deal. That being said, if there's a repeated pattern of a user posting half-baked answers that don't provide a solution (instead of commenting), we'll probably let them know through other means that this is not acceptable.

Read more about that: When is an answer eligible to be flagged as “not an answer”? What to do?


Of course, if the answer actually explains what to do with these results, then that's a different story. As you correctly observed, our posts should be useful to visitors with the same issue, so there might be no possibility to interact with either the OP or the person answering the question.

So, something like that would be okay:

Please foo that bar and then post the results. If you see this and that, this means you need to change these settings there and restart. If on the other hand they show that blah blah, the error is caused by magic unicorns et cetera.

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Of course, I agree that if there are concrete suggestions as to what must be done next and not just an offer of help, the answer makes sense to future users as well. Which is where I felt these "answers" fell short. –  Karan Jan 2 '13 at 16:12
    
"That being said, if there's a repeated pattern... we'll probably let them know through other means that this is not acceptable" - So what's the final verdict here? Are you (the mods) gonna handle this or do we go through and flag each one that fits the bill as "Not an answer"? –  Karan Jan 2 '13 at 16:13
    
Well, let's act on individual cases. I didn't check all the answers of the user you mentioned in the question because I didn't have the time to. Note that some of these "answers" simply might not fit a comment format (too much text, too much code), so it's a tough call on deleting those. –  slhck Jan 2 '13 at 18:33
    
All right, of the ones that have not been deleted since yesterday I flagged one and left a comment on another since it was borderline (like you said, included some code but that was only to generate a dump/etl file, which he wanted to take a look at). –  Karan Jan 2 '13 at 18:48
    
@slhck What if the poster's rep wasn't high enough to allow them to post a comment? –  Kruug Jan 4 '13 at 19:16
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@Kruug Well, the poster should then focus on answering questions that can be answered without the need for further details. Once they gain enough reputation, they can then post comments wherever they like. We can't offer a "migrate-to-comment" service for users who repeatedly post non-answers and hope we'll migrate it as a comment for them. –  slhck Jan 4 '13 at 19:26

I know I've left comments as answers before as well. Not sure of the user's rep in the original post, but I did this as I did not have the required rep to make a comment.

What I would recommend is that everyone is able to comment on a question, no matter their rep. This allows them to actually ask for more information to help them build their rep instead of waiting for another user to come along with higher rep, post the comment, and essentially steal the rep of a new user.

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Comments don't undergo the same review process as "real" posts. This would open up the possibility for spam, and it'd allow users who know nothing about the Stack Exchange system to flood the sites (think about "Same problem!", "Help please!"). Stack Exchange is very opposed to such a change (rightfully so, IMO) –  slhck Jan 4 '13 at 19:25
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The user referenced in the OP has almost 2k rep. –  Daniel Beck Jan 4 '13 at 21:19
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". . . steal the rep of a new user." It's a laudable sentiment, but comments don't generate reputation. The reasons for the Stack Exchange policy are well-documented elsewhere. –  Jonathan Garber Jan 4 '13 at 21:44
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I think what @Kruug means is that when you are a new user, you can't post comments and get additional info without posting an answer, and then an experienced user can comment, get additional info and answer, 'stealing' the potential rep you could have earned. While this is true, in my opinion, you can still post a useful answer for most (quality) questions and offer to help more if needed / provide debug steps in the very same answer if you know something about the subject. You can then edit the answer anyway. –  tricasse Jan 9 '13 at 8:26

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