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I sometimes come across very short answers and since I didn't find a meta discussion about it, here we go.


Three examples:

1) What is the effect of locking a child in bathroom?

This question is about a 5 year-old child, who was locked into the bathroom by their teacher. This is one of the answers it received:

Effects of locking your child in the bathroom: Fear, anxiety, trauma and isolation.

This one already got an upvote.

2) How to cope with a crying infant in the car during short trips?

Answer

Could it be possible to limit car usage with child to barest minimum? Like going on foot or using public transports?

3) My 6-year-old has angry outbursts, possibly related to a newborn sibling. How can we help her?

One of the answers reads

Everything you're doing sounds perfectly fine. At that age angry outbursts are normal. Just be patient and in time they should subside.


The first example is really short and not backed up. The second one is more of a Try this approach. The third is the longest one (three whole sentences), but still very short. But they represent the spectrum of answers I want to discuss.

I have been active in another also somewhat more subjective SE site (IPS)*, so it made me wonder a bit that answers wouldn't be expected to be backed up (with either explanations, experiences, sources or a combination of them). Usually, answers are and there are plenty of excellent ones, so my surprise was even bigger.

I noticed that the Help Center says

Brevity is acceptable, but fuller explanations are better.

But when is short too short?

Are one-line answers acceptable on Parenting.SE?

(And if not, then what to do about them?)

*I'm not in any way trying to say that IPS compared favorably to Parenting. That's just to explain where I'm coming from and why I ask this question.

  • Sorry, I didn't see this meta question before I deleted that one-line answer! – anongoodnurse Mar 13 '18 at 17:34
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    @anongoodnurse That's fine, since I quoted it in full (wasn't too much ;-)).. – Anne Daunted Mar 13 '18 at 17:59
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    Now I have seen those other two answers - they are gone. Yes, flagging them for attention is ideal :-) – Rory Alsop Mar 13 '18 at 22:42
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You are correct in thinking that one-line answers - unless they are actually a decent (though very brief) answer - are not a good fit for any SE site. My deletion of the first linked to answer is evidence of that.

Usually we add a post notice to such answers if they contribute anything at all. If they are not edited, ideally after ample time, they will be deleted, ideally by down/delete votes from the community. It does happen.

I would flag these as "in need of moderator attention", then just add "VLQ". If there's a character minimum, write it out and store it somewhere so you can just copypaste it as the reason.

Sometimes sub-par answers stay because of optics. If I am one of the users who answered, I usually don't delete another user's answer, because it just doesn't look good. It appears to be an abuse of the mod hammer. (That is the case with your second and third examples.) In that case, it's up to other mods or the community to downvote or delete, though I may at times add a post notice.

In regards to the broader question

it made me wonder a bit that answers wouldn't be expected to be backed up (explanations, experiences, sources)

We love answers with sources. There's just no way to force users to give such answers. Parenting is subjective; even the "experts" disagree. Look at Dr. Spock, for example. A whole generation adulated him and followed his now out of fashion advice, and sometimes harmful, advice. Dr. James Dobson presents himself as a child-rearing expert, but I'd rather choke on a bagel than quote him. Studies have different results, and one has to have experience in how to evaluate a study before trusting it as a source, but it's better than nothing.

Health.SE requires sources, and is failing because of that requirement.

Each site has its own culture and 'rules'. Ours are fairly relaxed here, but one-line answers are not acceptable, unless they also contain the wisdom of Solomon.

I speak here sometimes as a moderator, and sometimes as a user. I hope it's not hard to see which is which.

  • I understand the sentiment you wouldn't want to delete a "rivalring" answer (even as a regular user I oftentimes had an inhibition to flag or even cast delete votes on borderline answers when I had also answered the question). So the other two examples would be flag-worthy? I didn't mean to imply that every answer needs sources, though they would be great, but at least some backing up (even if just one of the three) - I failed to make it clearer in my question but will edit it accordingly. – Anne Daunted Mar 13 '18 at 18:07
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    @AnneDaunted Yes, they are flag worthy. – anongoodnurse Mar 13 '18 at 19:18

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