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I was wondering what is considered good form for answers for mathematica@stackexchange and consulted the FAQ. It is quite thorough in explaining what makes for a good question, but does not provide a lot of guidance for what is considered a good answer.

Because of how compact Mathematica code can sometimes be, sometimes the best answer is a one-liner, but it seems that those responses usually go in as a comment. On a recent question (Apply a Function Pairwise) I notice the commenter was encouraged to put in the comment as an answer and did so with a little background too which also seemed quite appropriate.

It seems that a code example is almost always a good idea in an answer, so is a little background info, especially for basic questions.

Apologies if the suggestion to flesh out the FAQ with suggestions for answers is covered somewhere I haven't yet discovered :)

(I notice I can't post this with the tag 'faq' so trying something else...)

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  • The general thread for the FAQ discussion is here, but don't worry about moving this. It is perfectly fine to open new questions to discuss specific cases like this. Btw, the discussion tag is the correct one. The faq tag is moderator only, and is used for posts that are considered "official" community faq material – rm -rf May 11 '13 at 18:30
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    Well I almost never upvote an answer that has only code and no explanation. – Ajasja May 11 '13 at 20:25
  • The format of the FAQ is fixed by StackExchange, so we can't put a great deal of detail in there, add new sections, etc. The best we can probably do is to discuss it here and then make official whatever conclusions we might arrive at. As for me, my criterion for a good answer is simple: if I learned something, it gets an upvote. Others have different criteria, of course, so arguably the most direct approach is to look at what qualities are shared by highly upvoted answers in general. – Oleksandr R. May 12 '13 at 4:38
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    @OleksandrR. We can edit the first section and can add "fake" sections as well. They look just like a normal section, except that you can't link directly to it (the anchor points to the parent section). If the benefits outweigh this minor inconvenience, I'd be happy to create a new section. So if you have some general points to add, please feel free to post it as an answer (at least to get the ball rolling). – rm -rf May 12 '13 at 23:35
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    FWIW: there's an entire page dedicated to writing good answers. New users are linked to this from a bit of help text that pops up above the answer form: i.stack.imgur.com/KcRsL.png – Shog9 May 14 '13 at 5:21

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