There was this question "How do I determine temperature and pressure rise whenever mols of gases are added in a isolated room?" that I attempted to answer - but in the end I found myself in a roadblock where everything I felt was necessary was not in the problem statement.

Other answers seem to have gotten positive votes, so I really do not want to change that question because its answers with positive votes reference the original question definition.

I tried to reference a couple Chemistry Stack Exchange Meta articles to arrive at a solution as what to do.

From the post Reviving old questions or asking a new one? it states:

An answer is too complex for you to understand. Some answers cannot be simplified. You should try to understand the underlying concepts. Post a comment asking for additional information or clarification. Be prepared to study additional material by yourself. If you still have trouble understanding the answer, you are most likely able to point exactly to the point where you have difficulties to understand. Craft a new question, again providing enough context to understand your problem. Make sure to differentiate it sufficiently from the other query.

I feel that the initial question does not have everything stated to reach its goals, and it is very difficult for me to reinvent the question in the answer that I provide, since I am then trying to read the mind of the original question author, which is utterly pointless in the case that the original question author has some unknown initial perception.

In short, if I cannot understand the question because details are missing then I cannot provide the answer with the necessary detail also.

I found this link Is it ok to move a follow-up question I included to another question by a different user? from which I quote:

The preferred way to deal with follow-up questions is to actually ask a new question, linking to the original question for context. In this way both questions stand on their own and do not invite confusion. In that sense, rolling back the question was the right course of action.

If I had come about your question, I would have preferred to direct you to this preferred way via a comment, so that you would have the chance to post the question yourself. Karsten chose a different approach, of just separating the questions for you. I am sure he just wanted to help you out and make it easier for you. I think it is fine as no information is lost, albeit it is somewhat uncommon. Then again, these situations are uncommon in and of themselves.

This quote seems to indicate that, "The preferred way to deal with follow-up questions is to actually ask a new question, linking to the original question for context."

I was thinking of writing the new follow-up question with a link to the original question and also the addition of the necessary information that I feel is required to properly answer the problem.

The current approach that I am using (trying to answer the question that is missing the necessary detail) is making the answer much longer than necessary (than if the question had all the necessary detail) and also way to difficult to understand in the context of the original question, since some parameters have to be added to the question outside of its original context, reducing also its relevancy for those who are imagining a different starting point.

I also found this reference Are answers that only contain hints to be considered answers or not? with the following quote:

Personally I think that answers should be more than just a hint, but not all hint answers are terrible or not actual answers.

An answer should be complete enough to explain the methodology, the concept, the background, etc.. An answer that fails to do that is not helpful, and as a result I down-vote them. If such answers in the long run create more questions and a comment discussion, then it is ill-fitted for our format.

If they are the only answer on a closed question and effectively prevent the deletion of such a question (that is likely not helpful) I would argue to delete them regardless of some reputation losses. I am against deleting them as a standard go-to method.

The difficulty that I am encountering with this, "An answer should be complete enough to explain the methodology, the concept, the background" is that the question is not complete enough to determine the "methodology, the concept, and the background"; yet the question is still interesting enough that some answers try to fill in the gaps by implicitly modifying the question somewhat and providing interesting answers (which I feel should be encouraged).

Given that there a few upvoted answers already specifically tied to the exact quote of the original question, it seems to me that the best route is for me to start a new question that has a link in it to the original question and to be specific as to what was missing to start out with. After that, I can also attempt to answer it!

What does the community think is the best approach in this situation where the question needs addition detail to properly answer?

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Why not to make the OP to add to the question the clarifying/elaborating section, based on suggestions/request for clarifications? Then the new or updated answers can explicitly refer to this question update. $\endgroup$
    – Poutnik
    Commented Aug 16, 2023 at 11:41
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ ...or if the OP is inactive/you have any additional queries, you are always welcome to ask a follow up question. I did it few times. Here is one example: chemistry.stackexchange.com/questions/155582/… where I converted my commented query into a separate post. Some will provide you hints in your new question and that will help you post a self-answer or you can get an answer as well. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 17, 2023 at 7:41
  • $\begingroup$ In general, if question lacks details and/or clarity, it shouldn't be answered, so it gets closed. Normally OP should edit it, but if OP doesn't oppose, it could be reworked by others. $\endgroup$
    – Mithoron
    Commented Aug 19, 2023 at 21:19

1 Answer 1


What does the community think is the best approach in this situation where the question needs addition detail to properly answer?

One member of the community (me) thinks that the approach varies depending on your goals.

The incomplete question raises a question you want answered

If you have a way to complete the question in a way that is interesting to you, research the site to see if there is an answer already. If not, ask your question, referencing the incomplete question. This gives you a clean slate to ask your question, and you don't have to make assumption about what the OP of the incomplete question intended to ask.

You want to help the OP get an answer

Check when the question was asked and when the OP was last seen (by clicking on their icon). If the question is new, encourage the OP to add the missing information. If you have the privilege to do so, vote to close to prevent folks from answering before it is clear what the question is, and be ready to vote to reopen once the question is complete.

You want to improve the quality of the site

Vote to close the question, adding a comment what is missing. After a couple days pass without edits, you can try to edit it yourself, and try to reopen it. Mostly, though, this is too complicated and not worth it.


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