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On receiving an answer to a question, it can sometimes be useful to ask for more details or clarification from the responder. Is that OK, and if so where should that be done? Example (silly, for illustration only):

Question: "How should I pronounce Buddhism?"
  Answer: "Boo-di-sm, and not Buh-di-sm"
Followup: "Thanks, and what about syllable emphasis. Is it BOO-di-sm, or boo-DISM?"

My assumption is that it is OK to do this and should be done in the comments below the first answer, but I was wondering if that's seen as a problem because it may morph the Q&A form into a discussion, which AFAIK is discouraged on SE sites.

Is that correct?

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It depends on how related your follow-up question is to your original question.

In your example, I think that your follow-up question about syllable emphasis is a "sub-question" of your original question "how should I pronounce Buddhism?", and so you should post it in the comments. Likewise, in any case where your follow-up question is necessary to clarify some unclear details of an answer or to get a more complete answer, you should post it in the comments.


On the other hand, consider a different example:

Question: "How should I pronounce Buddhism?"
Answer: "Boo-di-sm, and not Buh-di-sm"
Follow-up: "Thanks, and also, what's the etymology of 'Buddhism'?"

In this case, I would say that your follow-up question should be a different question. Even though the etymology of "Buddhism" is very closely related to the pronunciation of "Buddhism", these are fundamentally different questions. In this case, you should post your follow-up question as a new question.

I think it would also be appropriate to comment on the original answer with something like "Thanks. By the way, I posted another question at [link] which is related". This is helpful for everybody, because this makes the linked question show up in the "Linked" section of the sidebar, and thus helps connect people (including the answerer) to questions that may also be of interest to them.


I'm sure there must be some good posts about this over at Meta.SE, but I haven't been able to find any. If you find any of them, post them here - every site has had to deal with handling follow-up questions, so we may as well draw on their wisdom where possible.

There are a number of posts about "chameleon questions" and so forth, but those are more written for the benefit of an answerer who has to deal with a misbehaving asker, rather than for the benefit of an asker who isn't sure what should go in the comments and what shouldn't.

  • Thanks, I'll look at Meta.SE (already read the chameleon link -- first reaction "Aw crap! Am I Mort!?" :-) ) and report back if appropriate. But I think your overall summary sounds sensible. I'll note that as I prepared my original question I initially had the followup as "Thanks, but what I was really asking about was syllable emphasis..." In other words, it was less a followup and more me compensating for lack of precision in the original. Based on your advice, that's clearly something to be handled within the original thread and not worth a new question. – tkp Jun 22 '14 at 21:33

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