For some reason this keeps happening on the EE Stack Exchange, but rarely (if ever) on Stack Overflow: I get stuck on something and pose a question that will hopefully solicit perspectives that lead to a solution, and there's some helpful troubleshooting but messy threads and weak answers. Here's my latest example.

Two questions:

  1. Am I just writing bad questions, or coming at it with the EE Stack Exchange with the wrong expectation?
  2. In the case of this particular thread, is it best to accept Lloyd's answer which helped me most in solving my problem (and might be best for future visitors), or should I create my own half-answer and accept it? I didn't dive down into why recreating a template solved the problem because I could happily move on, but I don't want laziness to prevail if there's a better practice.

Thanks for your patience, and please don't be shy critiquing anything I've said or done. I'm looking to be more constructive around here!

2 Answers 2


In the question you linked to your real code should have been posted initially. The more complete your question is, the more we can get our heads around what you're trying to accomplish/troubleshoot.

If none of the answers are the full resolution for your question absolutely post your own answer with all the details and vote it correct. In the end, this is all that matters.

I would also say EE folks are used to the forum model and are less willing to commit to an answer without knowing all the facts.

Also, EE questions are not always black and white... There are usually lots of ways to accomplish the same thing which creates a murkiness that must be navigated when trying to answer questions.

  • Thanks Anna. I agree about posting all code with that question, but often I try to distill intelligently where I can to remove sensitive bits and ease the burden of someone reviewing. I did oversimplify in this case, even though the problem was not a coding error as alleged. There's got to be a line between posting an SQL dump + giving dev access + NDA signing + etc and oversimplifying things to a point of obscurity. Maybe my familiarity with the forums is making the EE Stack Exchange a problem for me more than I realize.
    – Matt Stein
    Oct 29, 2013 at 21:40
  • 2
    Every question is unique so just have to use your best judgement. Don't be worried about messy threads... that's to be expected with EE issues. Also, Ellis Lab support may be a better fit for more complex issues where code privacy is important.
    – Anna_MediaGirl Mod
    Oct 29, 2013 at 21:59
  • I try to exercise good judgment. Often I don't believe I end up with unique problems, so Stack Exchange (formerly the forums) seems best since somebody else may benefit after encountering the same thing. I go directly to Ellis Lab with stuff that's headed in the direction of a bug report, but honestly I feel like that's where issues often go to die waiting. I'm not new to EE or the process, or even the Stack Exchange format, just this particular site. It feels messy, and I can't tell whether it's me, the nature of the problems, or both. Sounds like you're saying "both." :)
    – Matt Stein
    Oct 29, 2013 at 22:35
  • I think EE issues are usually messy. Best to error on the side of providing as complete a picture in your question as you can so folks can help. That's all you can do really.
    – Anna_MediaGirl Mod
    Oct 29, 2013 at 23:43

Further to Anna's points, I'd say try not just to dump your entire template into the question. It's not helpful when you're trying to answer a question to have that much unnecessary information. The first thing I want to do when I see a complete template like that is change something and see if it breaks/fixes it (which obviously isn't possible on SE).

You were right to try and distill the template down into the meaningful parts. The step you missed was to run that code and check that it was still not working correctly. If you can reduce your problem to the smallest possible steps/code to reproduce then it's much easier to see what's going on. Also, often during the process of trying to find the simplest possible code to reproduce a problem you will actually find the solution yourself.

  • 1
    "Also, often during the process of trying to find the simplest possible code to reproduce a problem you will actually find the solution yourself." It's humbling to admit, but I could stand to do a much better job at this consistently. I've aborted and self-answered many posts simply because forming a question is so meaningful, but lately I've shared the distilled form without testing it enough. Thanks for your comments, Adrian!
    – Matt Stein
    Oct 30, 2013 at 22:10

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