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I ran across this answer posted on a question so simple and direct the title says it all:
What is the D-shaped icon next to my USB-C port?

I've tried to capture the essence of the answer in the following quotes:

let me elaborate a little on why it's [the D-shaped icon] necessary. The USB C connector is the biggest mess I have seen in computing connectors.


Here are a few things it [the USB C port?] might or not be capable of...
be very glad you have at least some indication of what your port is capable of. You do not always have that luxury:

enter image description here

It's literally anyone's guess what are these ports capable of.


They really, really should have provided some way to clarify this mess but they didn't.
USB C is a brave new world.

Seriously? How does this answer the question of what the D-shaped icon is?

The only thing between me an a 1000 lb. NAA flag is the fact this post currently has 140 net up votes and had to have been seen by a lot of experienced Super Users given that it was posted on a Hot Network Question.

  • You summarized away the part where he says that it's the DisplayPort icon and that that is the indicator in question. Technically, that would make it in answer, given the scrutiny you seem to be looking for. Regardless, 140 people liked the answer, so what would be the goal here? – Der Hochstapler Apr 27 '17 at 14:54
  • @OliverSalzburg Yes, I see where he says The icon mentioned is the DisplayPort logo. This is the only part of the answer I see that directly addresses the OP's question. If this were posted by itself, the community would delete it as duplicating the accepted answer (which was posted a day earlier). If we remove this bit from the answer, we're left with an extended commentary on the problems with multi-functioning ports and poor labeling, a list of things USB C ports can do, and some ideas on how the situation could be improved. – Twisty Impersonator Apr 27 '17 at 17:17
  • @OliverSalzburg Sorry, I neglected to answer you 2nd question. The goal here is to better understand how we handle questions that some think may not answer the question, irrespective of the number of votes received. If votes is all that matters then my question of course has no value. – Twisty Impersonator Apr 27 '17 at 17:31
  • ~140 people apparently found the answer useful. This probably falls into the category of "that's why there's both vanilla and chocolate ice cream". – fixer1234 Apr 27 '17 at 20:41
  • Yes; The fact it received that many votes means it deserved that many votes. If you disagree issue a downvote – Ramhound Apr 27 '17 at 23:33
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This list is the key:

Here are a few things it might or not be capable of—but only one at a time:

  • charging the device itself with 20V / 3A.
  • charging a connected device with 20V / 3A.
  • provide a DisplayPort 1.4 signal—you need a passive adapter. The icon mentioned is the DisplayPort logo so it's rightly used to clarify a little the chaos USB C is. You still can't tell whether the port is 1.3 or 1.4 capable though.
  • provide a HDMI 1.4b signal—you need a passive adapter. Perhaps the HDMI logo will be used, perhaps it won't.
  • provide a Thunderbolt 3.0 signal which is PCI Express + DisplayPort 1.2 + USB 3.1 Gen 2 + USB Power delivery multiplexed into a signal served over the same connector using more expensive active cables. Typically a lightning bolt is used but guess what? That's not a requirement.
  • provide USB 3.1 Gen 2 aka 10 Gbit/s speed USB. Some motherboards will give you USB C connectors carrying USB 3.1 Gen 1 formerly known as USB 3.0 signals at 5 Gbit/s just to have more variety because clearly there is not enough of that.
  • there's MHL, too.

A direct answer is there, in the third bullet point: the icon in question is the DisplayPort one. There's also a decent amount of extra commentary -- both in the list and outside -- which does admittedly obscure the part that is the answer, but that could be corrected with some editing.

In general, additional information is allowed as long as it's relevant and doesn't distract from the important parts. Answers that only duplicate another existing one have no value, but answers with extra background are helpful too, provided they can stand on their own. (If they're just an expansion on something someone else said, a comment would be appropriate.)

Also note that the question was on Hot Network Questions for a while; that tends to inflate voting far beyond normal levels.

  • 1
    The answer prefixes this as a list of "capabilities" as evidenced by the introductory phrase "a few things it might or not be capable of". I must reject the idea that a "D-shaped icon" is capable of any of these things. So the answerer must be explaining what USB C ports of capable of, which I posit is an answer to another question. It's as though the OP asked "Why is my keyboard layout named QWERTY?" and the answer says "QWERTY keyboards are capable of sending keystrokes to your computer." – Twisty Impersonator Apr 27 '17 at 17:07
  • It says in the 3rd bullet "The icon mentioned is the DisplayPort logo", which is exactly what the accepted answer said one day sooner than this post. Hmm...so does all of the additional commentary justify keeping the answer for this bit that does indeed appear to attempt to answer? – Twisty Impersonator Apr 27 '17 at 17:22
  • @Twisty I've edited my response to be more clear; thank you. Purely duplicitous answers don't add value, but as long as an answer is self-contained and provides new information, it can stand. – Ben N Apr 27 '17 at 19:06
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(Disclaimer - I posted a competing answer and as such in this situation I've mostly left that answer in the hands of my fellow mods.)

I'd admit, on its own, it was a little ranty. On the other hand, it gave a good chunk of context my answer lacked and a ton of useful information outside the immediate context.

I felt it was useful and worth keeping as such.

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