I have often come across questions that could given various different contexts or personal points of view be answered in more than 1 way.

When I do this my second answer is deleted.

Why is this? Surely any answer I give is perfectly valid in its own right as long as it is constructive?

  • 2
    Why do you want to give the answer in two separate answers rather than introduce (and contrast) both answers in a single answer? I can think of very few times when two separate answers from the same person would be more useful than a single answer that compares the two solutions to give the asker a broader choice on how to proceed.
    – jmac
    Jul 21, 2014 at 14:13
  • 1
    If the two options are completely different but may solve the problem for perhaps a different group of people each in their own right then they are quite rightly different answers for that reason, comparing your own answers within the context of answer is a bit like saying "well i think this fits but if not try this", and if I have 1 good idea and 1 bad idea think those ideas should be judged separately.
    – War
    Jul 21, 2014 at 16:46
  • 1
    So how should each group know which answer is appropriate for them? If you put them in one answer, and explain, "If X, Y, Z then Option 1 is best. If A, B, C, then Option 2 is best. Option 1 is ... Option 2 is..." then anyone who reads the post will quickly be able to determine which is the appropriate option for them, and will be able to make that decision more quickly than two separate posts. However, if you just want to know why your second answer on said question was deleted, that has a much simpler answer (and it has only happened once).
    – jmac
    Jul 21, 2014 at 23:55
  • 3
    I disagree, If 2 answers are presented as one then it is not clear which of the 2 options has value / is the better solution for the majority out there. This is especially applicable in those subjective scenarios. As a member of the community I want to see the question then the most relevant answer which would not be the case if the answer contained 2 options. It's up to the individual to determine what answer best fits their situation not the answerer of a question.
    – War
    Jul 22, 2014 at 10:11
  • 1
    Part of what makes a community like this great is the ability to have a general question that could fix multiple problems, this is also why there may be multiple valid answers to a question, given that each answer is essentially a declaration of a solution to a scenario within the context of that question. An answer should be a clear cut "this is what you should do" not vague try this, or this, or this as such answers to me are not helpful.
    – War
    Jul 22, 2014 at 10:13

1 Answer 1

  1. Questions that can have multiple answers that approach a problem from an entirely different angle are probably problematic themselves
  2. In the case of two answers that are applicable depending on the conditions, even if they are mutually exclusive, one answer is probably more effective for future readers, but splitting them up is okay if that is your preference
  3. In this specific case, you had one good answer, and one ... not good ... answer, so you probably should have stuck to the good one

Multiple answers likely indicate a problematic question

Why is it possible to provide multiple answers to the question? If there is a clarification question that can be asked to limit the amount of answers, that should be done before writing an answer. For instance:

Q: "Do I have to write a resignation letter if my contract is ending?" A: *"If you have no choice in the matter, you do not need to write one because the company is essentially forcing you to resign, but if you are voluntarily not renewing an offered contract, even if the old one is expiring, you should

Rather than giving two opposite answers, it may be more useful to ask in a comment, "Were you offered a contract renewal and you are going to decline it, or is your contract not being renewed at the choice of your employer?". If you find yourself thinking that there are more than one totally valid and good answers to the question, then you should probably take a second look at the question before answering instead.

Answers are better when grouped

As explained on Good Subjective, Bad Subjective, good subjective questions invite answers that explain why and how -- one good way to do that is to focus on explaining the thought process behind the answer(s) rather than just giving the conclusion. Take this question for example: Is it ever acceptable to round up my GPA on my resume?

Now I could provide two answers to this. One explaining that it is okay to round up, and explain why, and then make a separate answer for no, and explain why. But that only explains why I think each way, and doesn't provide any explanation of how the asker should make that decision for themselves. Instead I combined both perspectives in to my answer, and I think it is a better answer for it (disclaimer: I may be biased).

Maybe there are some corner cases where it is better to have separate answers. I cannot think of one in the time I've spent on Stack Exchange, but it's possible. If you do, feel free to provide two separate high-quality examples that meet the Good Subjective, Bad Subjective criteria.

That wasn't the case this time

You should have stuck with your undeleted answer in this case. I think you know why; if you truly want to discuss the details, I am more than happy to, but it really wasn't a great case to discuss multiple answers (link is 10k only).

To put it bluntly, even if that was your only answer on the question, I am relatively certain it stood a good chance of being deleted by the community without any mod intervention.

  • Quote: "Now I could provide two answers to this. ... and I think it is a better answer for it (disclaimer: I may be biased)." This is what I was trying to figure out but admittedly my example wasn't particularly good by comparison which didn't help. Explaining both sides of your view in 1 place was helpful but do you not feel that you presented your opinion rather than a choice for the OP?
    – War
    Jul 24, 2014 at 14:09
  • 1
    I explained why and how to make a decision -- how the asker (and future visitors) use that info is up to them. The opinion is at the very end where I say in this corner case I'd just leave it be, but for anyone who comes across, reading that should give them a good idea of how they should go about making their own decision. What makes you think doing it that way was more presenting my opinion than if I split my opinion up in two different answers in this case @Wardy?
    – jmac
    Jul 24, 2014 at 14:16
  • It was really a question rather than a statement, but given the subjective nature of the question in your example it seems that an opinion is what the OP was after so it made sense, but taking the approach in some situations comes across "do this or this because it's what I would do" rather than "you could do this or this and here is how I would determine which to pick ..." Does that make sense? maybe i'm just over analysing the wording.
    – War
    Jul 24, 2014 at 14:33
  • congrats by the way @jmac blog.stackoverflow.com/2014/07/…
    – War
    Jul 24, 2014 at 15:18
  • You're absolutely right that our site matter is a wee bit subjective at times @Wardy, and that writing style can definitely make stuff come across as personal opinion or personalized advice. That's definitely a separate issue I think from the multiple-answers one, and one that pops up no matter how you divvy up what you say. At any rate, thanks for asking about this, and I hope it's a bit more clear to you now.
    – jmac
    Jul 24, 2014 at 15:21
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    Yeh absolutely ... It was more of a curiosity thing than anything else, more so given that the only example I have is a pretty poor one compared some of the examples you have. It's good to get a second opinion on things like this and see what others think. It also helps me to think about how I might approach answering questions in the future to avoid having answers being deleted.
    – War
    Jul 24, 2014 at 15:29

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