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Our faq is all about asking questions but there is no topic on how to write good answers.

For new user it may be helpful to find (or to direct them to) some guide on what we think is a good answer.

Maybe even more important, we need to make transparent what kind of answers we feel are bad, i.e. will be downvoted or may even be deleted.

Please give us your opinion so that hopefully we can then direct new users to this discussion here and include the results in our faq.

  • Well, for starters, our good and nice answers, as far as the total number of votes is concerned. Which is not to say that popularity alone constitutes quality. But it helps narrow down the pool of possible candidates to look at. – RegDwight Jul 30 '11 at 16:42
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One utility we do have is our How To Answer page, which details a nice selection of tips for a generally good answer. New users are also forced to read this when posting an answer that is mechanically identified as low quality, and if they persist to post without changing it, that answer will also be flagged for moderator attention to keep an eye on.

The important thing is to also pay heed to the tooltips we have on the voting arrows. They say that an answer is (not) useful, and (not) clear. As such, a good answer should be identified as useful and clear, while a bad answer is absent of those qualities.

  • Usefulness can be judged as to how well the answer actually solves the question. Is it helpful to people, or is it just snarky? Does it have enough evidence to back up its claims, or does it sound so insubstantial that you can't trust it? Does this answer make the internet better, or is it better off that no one reads it?

  • Clarity can be judged as to how easy it is to understand the answer's content. Is it clear what the author's solution is, or is it mixed up or masked in a bunch of tangents and non-sequiturs? Is it legible, or are there numerous grammar and spelling issues that make it impossible to read? Overall, is it an answer you can understand, or is there extra information that it lacks to solidify its presence as a good answer?

These should be the basic guidelines for judgment of answer quality. From that, if your site has any particular aspects that are important to focus on, then that would be important to highlight as well.

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