With the release of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, there has been an influx of questions on the board.

In this particular case, a user has simply asked for a story explanation of the metal gear universe. Not so simple, as it turns out, as there are many games - each with a very heavy cinema-based plot. Luckily, it appears to be a self-answer, and there was no required debate about the "broadness" of this question.

While the user has done a superb job, as far as I can see, they have spread their answer out over two separate answers. What should be done about this? Should the answers be merged, or left as they are?

I personally see a couple of potential issues.

An alternate answer between the two parts would add severe inconsistency, for one. While the user posts a link to the alternate part at the top, simply having a different answer between the two could make it difficult for some users to notice that they are two halves of the same answer.

Given that they are two separate halves, they also do not individually stand as "answering the question". I would argue that together, they do, which is good enough.

If one of the answers gets down voted significantly, this would become a "broken answer", as down voted answers do not appear to all users (AFAIK). I think this would be unlikely, due to the work put into it.

My question is, what should be done in the case of an answer that spreads multiple posts?, as opposed to "what should be done when the asker asks for multiple answers"

  • 2
    Actually, if an answer to the question can't fit into a single answer, it fits, "too broad" to a tee.
    – Frank
    Sep 5, 2015 at 14:46
  • @Frank, we know all is right in the world, because I disagree with you. Just because someone leaves an excessively long answer to a question doesn't automatically mean the question is too broad. You could give a much higher level view of the overall story of the game that would be much shorter. But definitely, in the case where people are bumping into an answer length limit (I didn't even know there was one!), they should at the very least do something to get their answer down to a more manageable size.
    – Sterno
    Sep 5, 2015 at 16:18
  • 5
    Having now looked at the source, though, my bigger issue with it is that it's basically a cut & paste of another web page. I'd much rather see an answer that gives a short, high-level summary and then links to source site for greater detail.
    – Sterno
    Sep 5, 2015 at 16:28
  • 1
    @Sterno In which case, that already exists, and this serves no purpose. And yes, I agree with the blatant copy and paste. It definitely needs attribution, if its going to stick around.
    – Frank
    Sep 5, 2015 at 17:04
  • 1
    @Sterno To clarify, I wasn't meaning that if someone tries to add a huge answer that's way too large, the question is automatically too broad. It's when the question requires that level to detail to properly answer it that a good hard look should be directed at the question to determine its scope.
    – Frank
    Sep 5, 2015 at 17:26
  • 2
    My biggest issue with this question is the copy-paste. I agree with Sterno, it should be a high level summary with links back to the full source. Other than that, what if the history is wrong? Who sifts through it to find the errors and fix them? This is a maintenance nightmare
    – Robotnik Mod
    Sep 6, 2015 at 1:06
  • And the question and answer have now been deleted.
    – Frank
    Sep 8, 2015 at 8:52

2 Answers 2


No, two part answers should not be allowed. The SE network is about specific, focused questions. If a question requires an answer that goes over the 30,000 character limit, that means its far too broad to be acceptable here.

The close text for Too Broad is:

There are either too many possible answers, or good answers would be too long for this format. Please add details to narrow the answer set or to isolate an issue that can be answered in a few paragraphs.

Emphasis mine.

Arqade isn't about general, wiki-type answers that just shovel an entire storyline at you. It's about specific problems a user is encountering. Learning an entire story is well outside that purview.


Copy-pasting this response I gave to Sterno in one of my answers of said post.

Chopping out some of the "less relevant" bits will prove a difficult task. One way to go might be to make one Q&A per game in the series, dividing it up into several different questions. And with those questions and answers spread out I could possibly just link to each and every question as an answer to this original question. This would mean that this page wouldn't be so info-heavy and would fit neatly into one answer.

  • 2
    This doesn't address the issue in the first place. An answer has to be contained in one answer. If you can't do that, its an extremly good sign the question is too generic.
    – Frank
    Sep 5, 2015 at 17:09
  • 2
    @Frank I think it does address the issue, because each story summary is only about a paragraph long, there just happens to be so many which causes it to become two answer's long. (and presumably with more game installments even more than 2 answers long)
    – Aequitas
    Sep 10, 2015 at 3:17
  • @Aequitas If a question requires more than 30k characters to answer, its too broad to be useful. We're not here for wiki-type answers that keep expanding. That's literally what the too broad reason is to be used for.
    – Frank
    Sep 10, 2015 at 20:46
  • @Frank While I'm not sure I agree with allowing these sorts of questions (especially this particular one) in general, I think this solution is probably the best and most SE-like answer for the problem. The asker has inquired about a subject that spans multiple parts of a series. The main issue raised surrounds the 30,000 character limit. If the question can be broken up into entirely separate questions - one for each part of the series, and each self-contained and fully answerable in well under 30,000 characters, how is that so wrong?
    – Iszi
    Sep 16, 2015 at 23:03
  • @Iszi That has the potential to be useful, but then has no bearing on being a multi-part answer on a single question. Which means there would be no issue.
    – Frank
    Sep 17, 2015 at 9:11
  • @Frank That's precisely what P1raten is getting at. Avoid the multi-part answer problem entirely by breaking the overly-broad question up into its distinct components. That way we serve the OP's needs while staying within the SE format. Now, whether or not the separated questions are appropriate for SE or on topic for the site would be a completely separate issue.
    – Iszi
    Sep 17, 2015 at 13:34