7

I'm aware we discourage list questions, and list answers, but if I choose to include a long list in my answer, can I?

This question is what sparked my interest in the ruling, if you click on the wiki link, you'll see that showing the asker the list of commands would create a long list indeed.

1
  • For that question, the list would be off-topic. The asker didn't ask for a list of commands.. Any answer that answered "Can I do X?" with "Here's a list of everything you can do" would get a downvote from me.. Feb 10 '14 at 1:16
11

The problem with list answers is that they can get really long and hard to navigate/read. Whenever an answer can be found in a list (someone looking for a specific command), it's best to extract the single entity in the list rather than post the entire list. When the answer is "no, because it's not on the list of commands" or something to that note, simply saying that the command doesn't exist and perhaps providing a source (as you did in your answer) is enough for an answer in my opinion.

Including a list in your answer is okay to a certain degree. Long lists, however, are hard to read and can often include extraneous data. Take for example a question asking about Minecraft commands. Posting the list of commands as an answer for every one of these questions is unacceptable in my opinion. Users will rarely need the entire list to solve their specific problem and posting the list is a lazy catch-all that leaves all the work to the user ("It's in there somewhere, you go find it").

If you do choose to use a list, be sure that it is

  1. Necessary - the answer requires a combination of commands or the asker has several different options for a solution.
  2. Concise - the list contains as few entries as possible and still adequately answer the question. Don't include unnecessary information and things not pertinent to the question at hand.
  3. Supported - good lists are "answers with lists", not "list answers". Your answer should not consist solely of a list of compiled data. Explain the list and, if necessary, give an example (e.g. "Using this command and that command, you can do the following..."). Don't make your list do the answering for you, it's a supplement not the whole meal.
4

Yuki did a good job of summarizing nearly everything I think on the subject. But, I have a few additional points (I ran out of room in the comments . . .)

I agree with your choice not to post an entire Wiki on the answer. Our job in this type of case should not be to re-create the wiki, but rather direct the user to the proper information source.

If the list can be summarized, do so. It's rare that the answer requires the entire list, but typically 2-5 items off of the list. You can easily say: "The following headers on the list are helpful, the list itself is located at this link . . ."

If the answer absolutely requires a long list, then so be it. This is especially true if the list is something you've created de novo, and it cannot be linked to anywhere.

You must log in to answer this question.

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