I've seen several instances where two or three answers are very similar (though having materially identical content) but receive a different amount of votes. Ignoring the advantage that goes to earlier posters, there must be a difference in the discourse of the answers in order for them to be rated differently.

In such a case (and after the voting dust has settled) is it acceptable to ask for a critique of the answer on Meta using a link the question/answer?

To be clear I'm not asking about reviewing the factuality of one answer versus another, since that should be dealt with in the question itself. I'm interested in examining the "votability" or appeal to the general public. I think that if this was done in good faith by myself and others, the quality of the answers on this SE would improve as a result.

Also, I'm interested particularly in the case of a poster asking for critique on his/her own answer rather than the nomination of other. However, within that scope I wonder if it is acceptable for the request for such a critique to include a review of all answers to a given question. Maybe a pro/con?

  • Quality and votability are not the same thing. Increasing the votability of an answer might lead to a decrease in quality. That's not the way the system's supposed to work, but no system is perfect. – Peter Taylor Jun 5 at 9:39
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    IMO, the material content of a post determines its quality and the discursive content of a post determines its votability. I've got an associates in fine art photography, a bachelors in imaging science and a decade of experience designing and building advanced cameras. At the risk of sounding arrogant, I have no concern for my ability to contribute materially excellent content. The "communication" thing is, however, outside my area of expertise. That's why I'd like help with the discursive (votability) quality of my posts. I want us to make votable answers that are technically excellent. – PhotoScientist Jun 5 at 16:09

There's certainly no problem in posting a meta question or even asking in the comments of your own post (or another) for feedback from other users. Chat can be another good option for asking for feedback. The goal is to have the best quality answers we can, so if you are looking for help improving your post quality and/or understanding more about what makes posts better in general, I certainly think it would be in the interest of the site to discuss that.

That said, it's possible that people won't always have and/or provide answers to your questions about it, but I don't think it hurts at all to ask nicely for more insight. You'll generally get the best response if you make sure it's clear you are looking to improve.

In such a case (and after the voting dust has settled) is it acceptable to ask for a critique of the answer on Meta using a link the question/answer? ... However, within that scope I wonder if it is acceptable for the request for such a critique to include a review of all answers to a given question. Maybe a pro/con?

When two or more answers are close but there exists a difference that you can't lookup you can first resort to comments for each answer to permit the person whom took the time and effort to redeem any possible shortcomings.

When it remains a neck and neck race resorting to the Meta is an acceptable place to clearly explain your issue with the answers (and take your additional up or down votes).

It goes without saying that SE isn't a forum for discussion and that doubling the efforts or working around 'comment is not for chat' could result in a ban. That said, we're a friendly bunch here and a bit of chat in the comments is better tolerated than on some other SE sites.

Self promoting (advertising) your answer isn't good, soliciting assistant to improve your answer is great. You ought to do the majority of the work or someone else might as well write their answer.

It was my initial assumption that answers would be posted - and then those answers would be critiqued by others who may have similar answers (if they chose to contribute) but who also had small, but unique, additions. This would lead an answer to be edited and the revisions would cause it to include anything seen as needed by others and it would get better with each revision.

After spending a few months here, I have realized that this is not the case. People often post like answers as opposed to commenting on another, and even if comments are made, the likelihood of someone editing their answer to include additional detail seems low. It seems out of place to edit more info into someone else's answer as well.

This doesn't necessarily seem to be a problem, except whereby questions become wiki's. In that case, I think it would be better to have an all-knowing, all-encompassing answer.

As for nominating your own post for review - I don't see a problem with it per se, but don't know what value it would add outside of the normal comment system already in place.

  • I hadn't realized it when I asked but this is pretty much exactly why I am curious. The only feedback I see is when posters try to disprove each other. Granted that does actually tend to cause revisions to the material contents but it still provides little insight into preferences regarding the discursive quality of a post.l – PhotoScientist May 31 at 2:28
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    I often get comments I incorporate into edits of my answers. You may not see it because usually those comments are then deleted. It's also the case that sometimes suggestions are met with defensive responses; in that case, it's easier (and better) to provide an alternate answer than to argue. – mattdm May 31 at 22:10
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    I agree that editing more information into an existing answer should be used sparingly. We generally use personal voice in answers, rather than striving for an encyclopedic terms, and so adding to an existing answer risks infringing on that. – mattdm May 31 at 22:11
  • I think we agree pretty closely then. In particular, the facts of a question do often seem to get commented, refined, updated, etc... The comments don't often tend to address the subjective qualities of the post, aside from a bit of spelling pedantry that pops up now and then. I'm not asking for a complete style guide but my searches for "what makes a good SE post" found little result so I thought that asking for a critique would be a good way to find out. As to people not wanting to waste their time on it, Then they will just ignore the question :) – PhotoScientist Jun 1 at 16:47
  • what makes a good SE post: The best way to get a feeling for that is to compare the highest-voted answers with other lower-voted answers for the same question. Looking at the answers to the top ~50 questions ought to give a great sense of what is valued here vs. what could use improvement. – scottbb Jun 1 at 19:57

In such a case (and after the voting dust has settled) is it acceptable to ask for a critique of the answer on Meta using a link the question/answer?

Yes, absolutely. That's one of the main purposes of Meta.

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