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Wondering about everyone's take on the following scenario:

Better workflow for ongoing site development

That question has been asked in various forms, numerous times. I've answered it uniquely twice, with one answer being quite lengthy & informative and linking to a video demonstration I previously recorded.

Both answers on that question link to answers on other questions. One of the two summarizes the topic a bit. The other - mine - is just a link (partly because I posted it from my iPhone).

My response was converted to a comment. The other left alone. Questions:

1) What criteria are we using in a case like this to determine an answer is not an answer? This was not a follow-up question. It was an alternate response to consider. (And we do need more answers per Area 51, right?)

2) At what point do "what is the best workflow for dev/staging/migrating sites?" questions become duplicates? Do we have a canonical question for that? Do we need one?

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Definitely for exact duplicates we should close the question as a duplicate. Feel free to flag any question you think is a duplicate and we will take a look.

In that scenario, your answer was borderline on being acceptable. Another user flagged it and after some thought I decided it's probably not complete enough to be justified as an answer (we try to discourage any answer which simply links to another page, whether that be on SE or another site). One line answers which are simply "check out this answer, it might help" (whether it's your answer or not) are better as comments. While Brendan's answer also linked to an existing question, he at least summarized it and added some of his own thoughts (and in addition there is no possible way we could convert a 3 paragraph answer to a comment even if we wanted to, there is a limit on comment lengths).

I think the more important underlying issue here is that this is exactly why discussion questions are discouraged on SE. They can never have one definitive answer, and therefore are always slightly different and never fully answered. Hence, we end up with questions all over the place asking slight variations on the same thing.

Quoting the FAQ:

If your motivation for asking the question is “I would like to participate in a discussion about ______”, then you should not be asking here.

I think this question in particular certainly falls into that category, so have closed it as not constructive. I think we should also close any further "what is your workflow?" type questions. These sorts of discussions would be better addressed by blog posts since they are entirely dependent on the unique requirements of the author.

Thanks for raising this issue on meta. I think it's important we discuss these sorts of things, as us mods are still learning as well!

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A good question Mark.

I just did a bit of reading on this issue on the SO Meta site, and it seems as though the general thinking is that if an answer on another question fully answers the current question, the current question should be flagged as a duplicate so mods can close it.

If the other answer does not fully answer the question (and hence, the other question is not an exact duplicate), and the current question's answer is simply a link to that other answer (without explain the gist of it, and/or adding further context), then it's a bad answer, which people can feel free to downvote, or edit to improve.

This to me seems like a sound rationale.

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