10
$\begingroup$

Currently I am trying to guide a user get to the answer of her/his question by asking successive questions. I believe this technique in general can be a good way to help someone learn, as opposed to giving a quick answer. However should this happen in the comments or in chat?

PRO: it shows a step by step guide to the answer

CON: the discovery process is mainly useful for the original OP

As an aside: this is assuming the final answer will be posted by one of us as the accepted answer, so people from search engines can quickly get the definitive answer if they want to.

edit: forgot the link to the question that sparked this question: Maximum Likelihood Estimation of winning points

| |
$\endgroup$
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Is the question at issue [self-study]? Can you link to the question? $\endgroup$ – gung - Reinstate Monica Nov 1 '16 at 16:06
  • $\begingroup$ Oops, forgot to add the link. The question here isn't self-study and it is debatable now if a direct answer wouldn't have been better here. But in general: does such a 'Socratic approach' belong in the comments or in the chat? $\endgroup$ – dimpol Nov 1 '16 at 16:11
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ A few guiding comments can be useful in particular circumstances (e.g. where you feel that the best answer might come from the asker), but outside of self-study (which is really for that kind of question - and which the linked question probably should be seen as) it's probably not the usual case. However, when it turns into an extended one-on-one it's heading more into "chat item" territory. The aim should be to end up with some form of answer, either from the OP or from the person giving guidance and hints (or failing that, from a third party). $\endgroup$ – Glen_b Nov 1 '16 at 20:57
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ +1 for asking; but my opinion is you shouldn't,because comments were designed to be temporary: i) they clutter the site (visually and statistically, the latter because some questions end up getting answered within comments leaving the Q officially unanswered), ii) remove attention from answers; and iii) can't be downvoted. It is much more important that a Q/A to be helpful for a broad set of the community than a specific user. The Stack Exchange site is about building a high quality repository of information, so we generally don't want to fragment it. $\endgroup$ – Andre Silva Nov 4 '16 at 14:31
  • $\begingroup$ If one still wants to provide a step by step approach the chat would be more appropriate, because the process of getting there would be very specific to OP, not the community. $\endgroup$ – Andre Silva Nov 4 '16 at 14:33
7
$\begingroup$

I think this question is , or at any rate the OP can benefit from its being treated as such; & it's preferable that this back-&-forth is clearly visible to anyone else reading it. The comments can always be tidied up into an answer when you're done—perhaps picking & choosing which parts of the discovery process may be of most general interest. It'll help deter people from rushing in with a full answer, & later on provide an good example of how to treat questions like this.

| |
$\endgroup$
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ I agree with this. Such comments shouldn't be in chat, they should be in the comments to the question. FWIW, I don't usually "clean up" the comments afterwards; I leave them as a permanent record of the process. $\endgroup$ – gung - Reinstate Monica Nov 1 '16 at 16:35
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @gung: I don't usually clean them up either - I was thinking in this case that if dimpol or the OP is going to write an answer it might consist of an idealized account of the process (no need to trawl through correction of typos & c.). But I was forgetting that only mods can see deleted comments, or even that comments have been deleted - so it's probably best to avoid giving the impression that self-study questions should be answered straight off. $\endgroup$ – Scortchi - Reinstate Monica Nov 1 '16 at 16:48
  • $\begingroup$ OK, given dimpol's special circumstance (not SS), it makes more sense. $\endgroup$ – gung - Reinstate Monica Nov 1 '16 at 16:59
  • $\begingroup$ FWIW, around the time you posted this answer, all the comments in the linked thread have been "moved to chat" by whuber. Cc to @gung. $\endgroup$ – amoeba Nov 1 '16 at 18:41
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @amoeba, I think the chat room gets frozen over time, but isn't deleted. So there is still some sense of a 'permanent record'. It's just less immediately visible to future visitors (which isn't quite as good, IMO). $\endgroup$ – gung - Reinstate Monica Nov 1 '16 at 18:57
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I've often been reluctant to move to chat, on various grounds: (1) if the discussion gets that long, it's typically unlikely that the discussion will converge at all (e.g. one or more parties remains stubborn on some point or other) (2) the discussion becomes much less visible and usually degenerates into a chat between two people. My disinclination is sometimes over-ruled by moderators, but a lengthy series of comments -- even if it doesn't converge -- often shows aspects of a thread not summarized or developed in any answer. $\endgroup$ – Nick Cox Nov 1 '16 at 20:34
  • $\begingroup$ I agree with this answer, including the deleted parts... Sometimes there's comments that are less useful to later readers (or later become less useful in the light of the discussion's development). I think comments should be tidied up wherever, and as far as it makes sense to do so, for the discussion to be folded into an answer (or the outline of an answer, where it makes sense to continue to only give guidance and hints). $\endgroup$ – Glen_b Nov 1 '16 at 20:53

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .