I was just posting an answer to a question and realized that I didn't actually have a full solution to the problem. I'll often start typing/formatting my answer as I work on it, and occasionally, I'll get very close to the solution and something doesn't quite work. The answer still provides insight to a solution method, and is at least a starting point for the asker. My intention in actually posting this as an answer is that feedback from others usually "completes" the solution.

Since what I've posted doesn't technically answer the question when it is first posted, I assume this isn't allowed. Do others see this as my essentially using a "placeholder" to later complete the solution?

I know that this discussion exists, but I think this is slightly different. I'm not immediately intending to finish up the question. Rather, I'm hoping to open a dialogue that will result in an answer that is educational to both the OP, and myself.

The question/answer that sparked my worry about this: WeatherData for the 15th day of each month

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    Re: "I'm hoping to open a dialogue". The SE sites differ from forums mainly in that dialogues are discouraged here. You may use the chat, and eventually the comments for that kind of interaction. BTW I don't see any problem in incomplete answers as long as they are constructive and help to solve the issue – Dr. belisarius Jul 1 '13 at 13:13
  • I think the constructiveness aspect is probably the most important. I'll gladly upvote an answer that doesn't completely solve the problem, but still offers some nontrivial insights, and I gather that is somewhat consistent with the spirit of SE sites. What won't be acceptable are trivial restatements of the question or discussions of unrelated problems--very few answers are posted like this and most come from new, unregistered users. Rules here are not especially strict, so if you apply usual academic etiquette, I doubt if anyone will look twice even at a technical policy violation. – Oleksandr R. Jul 3 '13 at 1:42

I often see answers prefixed with statements such as "This is a partial answer" or "This is not a complete answer", etc. I have posted such answers myself. I haven't seen any comments complaining about such answers, so I conclude they are permitted.

I think it best that anyone giving a partial answer note that it is partial and explain why it is still worth posting.

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    Yes, in many ways, a partial answer is superior to no answer. Even an incomplete answer can provide insights. – rcollyer Jul 2 '13 at 12:44

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