I want to ask in in "general" manner, but I would like to refer to this specific example. Just please don't get hung up to much at the "other" problems the question poses. Mainly I'm concerned about the lack of research, an answer should have been easily found buy using any search engine (e.g. using "difference windows 10 editions").

So here's my question/main point: Is it worth writing an answer if a question was (possibly) badly researched and an answer is provided through comments? (Or suggesting to the OP or comments author to write an answer, since I don't want to take credit for answers I didn't provide)? I feel like the community would benefit from the question was actually answered by an answer and not a comment.

In my example: the OP did put thoughts into it, and the question wasn't "badly" asked (beside the fact that it wasn't restricted to one problem). I think it would have taken less time to put the question into a search engine then to post it in SU. So I don't know why the OP didn't do any research (for whatever reasons) or just did research on SU or just didn't mention the research he did (e.g. because the sites he found didn't give him the information he needed).

So I'm looking at it from a different angle. When I look for different tech problems I often get referred to other pages then SU because they just have "wordings" that fit the keywords I use for my research but don't provide a sufficient answer. So in general I agree, "bad questions" should be closed (e.g. off topic) because they will lead to a decay of the community/quality. But I don't know if "badly researched" questions do have the same negative effects for example if the questions just wasn't asked on SU yet. So I not sure if I would consider a badly researched question a bad question. Again although goes against the "common agreement on SU" I wonder if SU wouldn't benefit form those questions and the appropriate answers.

  • I'm not certain how long to wait for allowing a comment to be converted to an answer, but some SE communities have comment converter accounts for that specific purpose but I'm not certain about doing it on a poor question that is likely to be closed. Check out this profile.... superuser.com/users/915298/the-greedy-comment-converter LOL Commented Nov 5, 2018 at 4:57
  • nice one, pitty it's quite lazy ;) (only two answers...)
    – Albin
    Commented Nov 5, 2018 at 9:08
  • I would be glad to chime in on this. From my perspective, it is always somewhat of a judgment call. In this particular scenario, it wasn't just "(possibly) badly researched." It seemed to be an instance where the OP had posted in Super User without doing any research at all. As a result, it was a safe bet that the question was going to be closed. However, since I have a very large collection of computer-related bookmarks, I posted one that could potentially help. Since the size and scope of the information was rather large, I didn't want to devote a lot of time writing an equivalent answer.
    – Run5k
    Commented Nov 5, 2018 at 17:01
  • Additionally, I think that it can establish a very bad precedence when we submit a formal answer to questions that are overtly bad. For example, this question was rather blatantly off-topic, but far too often someone will submit an answer. At the very least, that can help encourage new users to write similar queries when they genuinely don't know any better regarding what is off-topic. Beyond that, it is at least a borderline inappropriate way of fishing for more reputation points.
    – Run5k
    Commented Nov 5, 2018 at 17:12
  • @Run5k thanks for you're insight. Mostly I agree. I put additional information into my question to get my point across. I would be interested if you have any additional insights.
    – Albin
    Commented Nov 5, 2018 at 19:23
  • ofc, free rep🔥 Commented Nov 8, 2018 at 15:45

4 Answers 4


This really comes down to a judgment call, there isn't a single right answer for all cases.

Sometimes, the right search terms aren't as obvious to one person as another, so it can't hurt to cut the OP some slack, even if they don't refer to their search attempts in the question. The linked question doesn't seem like one of those cases. There are endless routes to finding product feature information.

I would consider this example off-topic as a request for shopping assistance. It doesn't explicitly ask for a recommendation, but product features and feature comparisons suffer from the same short life that makes product recommendations off-topic, and product information isn't a computer problem to be solved.

That aside, consider whether an answer can add value. The link in the comment provides a full comparison in a simple chart. Just a link to the chart isn't an answer, and simply embedding an image of the chart in an answer post doesn't add value (it might even be considered plagiarism, or at least a low quality answer).

One way to add value would be to get input from the OP as to what isn't clear to them by asking for clarification in a comment. If they respond with something specific, the question can be improved and the issue can be addressed in an answer.

If they don't respond, or like in this case, they indicate that the link was all they needed, you would need to assess whether there might be general confusion among other readers that could be explained in an answer to add value to what's in the link. In this case, the Microsoft marketing people have already done a pretty good job of anticipating questions and providing clear information.

If we can't add value to the information that is readily available, and easily searchable, online, it suggests that it isn't a good question for the site.

But for a question that would benefit from an answer, I would approach it like this:

  • If the comment is really an answer or almost an answer, or there is really just one answer and the comment is the gist of it, suggest that the commenter turn it into an answer. Give them a day or so. If they don't post an answer, feel free to do it yourself, and include appropriate attribution to the commenter.
  • If the comment is just a hint, or there are many aspects that can be covered in an answer and the comment doesn't touch on them, go ahead and post your own answer without waiting. Decide whether to recognize the commenter based on how much your answer relies on the same information they suggested first.
  • thanks for your insights as well. I take with me (as a main point) that you (personally) don't disagree on my point that "badly researched" questions can have a benefit to SU. By now I agree my example isn't one of those. In addition you came across several points I didn't consider or at least they opened up a good direction to further evaluate the issue for myself. Also thanks for your suggestion on how to approach the author of the comment, sounds very reasonable, I think I'll adopt that procedure. Thanks again.
    – Albin
    Commented Nov 6, 2018 at 0:26

If you think a question is either so bad that it should be closed or is a duplicate of a question that has already been answered, you should flag it. Otherwise I believe it would be useful to provide an answer.

If the answer you believe to be correct has already been provided in a comment on the question, then I think it would be courteous to give the commenter some time to answer first. However if they don't do so, you will be helping by posting your answer (and mention the commenter when you do so).

  • Thanks. The question itself is good, but badly researched (just putting "difference windows 10 editions" in any search engine give you already plenty of answers)... would you consider that enough reason to close? And if so how does the community benefit from closing such a question?
    – Albin
    Commented Nov 5, 2018 at 3:41

I'm going to just stand as Devil's Advocate here for a minute...

< #fakenews > Microsoft just released Windows 11 !!!

"What are the versions of Windows 11 available for consumers & enterprise, and what are the differences & benefits of each?"

Getting in early with a good canonical QA can make all the difference & can be a benefit to SE overall.

Asking 4 years later is "zero research" & deserves the scorn it receives.

  • Not sure I understand, why should a question "become bad" after a specific(?) amount of time? Or more specific, why doesn't it benefit the SE anymore?
    – Albin
    Commented Nov 7, 2018 at 7:32
  • After some time it becomes tautological. The research has already been done & similar answers are everywhere.
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Nov 8, 2018 at 10:39
  • 2
    That argument doesn't fit the main goal of SU: creating a knowledge base
    – Albin
    Commented Nov 12, 2018 at 14:30

Come on, help someone out! You don't have to take the time to write a full answer, you can leave a quick note in the comments leading him on the right path to the answer.

What if someone has the same question? By answering the question now you can save a duplicate from being created later on.

  • 2
    Not sure, how this is answering my question?! Some elaboration would be helpful.
    – Albin
    Commented Nov 6, 2018 at 0:33
  • He probably means that answering such questions could help any number of people stumbling in from search-engines and such. While a locked unanswered question, simply wastes space on servers, AND the time of people who look for answers instead of posting half-assed questions.
    – svin83
    Commented Feb 9, 2019 at 6:11

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