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On some Stack Exchange sites, 30 characters might be enough to effectively answer a question. Is this same limit suitable for a topic like Home Improvement? Would it even be possible to increase the number of required characters, on a site-by-site basis? Are there any good answers in the system that are at or near 30 characters?

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  • 1
    What if the answer is "Hire an electrician"?
    – BMitch Mod
    Oct 10, 2012 at 17:22
  • 3
    I wouldn't consider that a good answer. A good answer should include information describing why they should hire an electrician.
    – Tester101
    Oct 10, 2012 at 17:24
  • 7
    "Hire an electrician, or die!!!" Exactly 30 characters. Oct 10, 2012 at 17:43
  • 2
    I can't think of any "good" DIY answers that would fit into that length. This is not like SO where a line of code could be a complete answer.
    – JNK
    Oct 10, 2012 at 17:58
  • Often a question only asks what something is called. "Dishwasher air gap" is fewer than 30 characters. It seems downvoting is an acceptable way to handle answers that are too short. Oct 10, 2012 at 22:56
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    @ArgentoSapiens "Dishwasher air gap" is not a good answer. If somebody is asking what something is, it's better to tell them what it is, what it does, how it's used, and/or why it might be used.
    – Tester101
    Oct 11, 2012 at 11:18
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    @Tester101 my comment refers to questions about what things are called, not what they are, what they do or how they are used. Oct 11, 2012 at 15:20
  • Maybe this could be a more complex process. For example, if there is already an accepted answer, the limit goes up. If there is an answer with > x votes, the limit goes up. Etc. This might help avoid answers like this.
    – Tester101
    Oct 11, 2012 at 16:23
  • Related: meta.stackexchange.com/a/151616/146318
    – Niall C. Mod
    Oct 17, 2012 at 2:40

3 Answers 3

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30 characters can be too much.

Sometimes "yes" is all the answer needed. When the question is a yes/no question, for instance.

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  • Can you give some examples where the best answers is "Yes."?
    – Kortuk
    Oct 22, 2012 at 19:23
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    Yes. .......... Oct 22, 2012 at 19:27
  • I see the humor, but do you have any examples on the site of actually questions where the best answer would be a Yes with nothing else? If not "Best, at least a complete answer would be "Yes"
    – Kortuk
    Oct 22, 2012 at 19:28
  • I'm looking, I'm looking... Its rare but I remember one recently where the question was phrased in such a way that further elaboration on "yes" would be redundant. Oct 22, 2012 at 19:34
  • At the risk of being overly pedantic, I would point out that the original question did not ask for best or even complete, but simply "effective". (But I'm still looking) Oct 22, 2012 at 19:36
  • But he does ask for examples, which are often the best way to go about these questions, if you cant find a single good answer that is <40 characters then 30 character limit could be increased without harm.
    – Kortuk
    Oct 22, 2012 at 21:14
  • I do agree, and after going over page after page after page of questions, I couldn't come up with a single one where "Yes" was the best possible answer. Which is not to say that I don't think sometimes that a short yes/no style answer is at least "adequate". Oct 23, 2012 at 11:25
  • diy.stackexchange.com/questions/20238/… - HA! ;) Oct 26, 2012 at 0:15
  • No is a terrible answer there, the actual answer there is quite good, and did need to explain why and what could be done.
    – Kortuk
    Oct 26, 2012 at 20:52
  • en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_emoticons - read it, learn it, love it. Feed your sense of humor! Oct 27, 2012 at 10:06
  • I know ;) but somehow read over it. I think the proximity to Hi! tricked me.
    – Kortuk
    Oct 28, 2012 at 5:59
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I've seen a lot of question where the correct answer is "Sorry, that is impossible."

Which is hard to say in 30+ characters.

We can downvote or delete bad answers, no need to place arbitrary restrictions like 30 characters. It's really stupid to see sentences like "Adding some extra text to reach minimum character limit", which I have seen done.

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    "Sorry, that is impossible." is a terrible answer. Why is it impossible would be a good answer. Explaining what other options they have, maybe a next best solution, would be a good answer.
    – Kortuk
    Oct 22, 2012 at 19:19
  • @Kortuk sure, that's true. But I think if implementing this rule we will find situations where more length is required. In general, I think we are throwing away the baby with the bathwater by banning short answers just because some short answers are bad ones. I just don't think it's a very big problem, and think the proposed solution will have some negative effect. Oct 22, 2012 at 20:39
  • I am just saying you will never throw away a good answer with it, only passable ones at best.
    – Kortuk
    Oct 22, 2012 at 20:57
  • Since when are "passable" answers not good enough? What if nobody else has answered the question? Someone can always edit the "passable" answer to make it awesome. I already find it hard enough to get answers, just a few days ago I had to put a 400 bounty on stack overflow to get a single answer. His answer was lengthy, but he could have expressed it in three words and I gladly would have awarded the bounty. Oct 22, 2012 at 21:09
  • I am trying to say the worst you could lose is a passable answer, if that. I think your post already makes clear that we have different levels of quality standards so the fact you would accept a three word answer is not surprising and is something you expect to find on a meta site. :)
    – Kortuk
    Oct 22, 2012 at 21:13
  • Fair enough. You're right, I don't care so much about quality. I mostly only care about people's questions being answered (and avoiding duplicates/spam). I think bad answers should be edited/improved, not prevented altogether. Oct 22, 2012 at 21:16
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Sometimes, yes. To wit:

What is this rubber thing I found by the sink?

The answer is more than 30 chars but it doesn't have to be.

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