I'm still a teenager, and so I have less life experience than most people here, judging from what I know about the general Stack Exchange age demographics. However, if I've learned one thing in life, it's this:
Life is complicated. People are complicated. Interpersonal situations are complicated.
The ideal question here on Interpersonal Skills is probably going to be a little complicated. And that's fine! There are plenty of details that are needed for the question to receive high-quality answers. We shouldn't be afraid of long questions; after all, questions are supposed to provide enough detail to properly describe the problem and what the asker has done to try to solve it, if possible.
Complicated questions - of which we have many - beget complicated answers. Obviously, there is certainly a point at which an answer becomes unwieldy. Trust me, I've been there. But a good answer should address each aspect of the question, taking all the details into account.
To be honest, I'd be concerned if someone's not willing to take 30 minutes, if necessary, to read all the answers to a question (obviously, that's longer than optimal, but still). I can almost certainly guarantee you that the people writing those 12 answers together took, at the very least, 30 minutes to collect their thoughts and package them into something coherent. Heck, I've spent over an hour on a couple answers here, and they turned out really well. The answerers devoted a lot of time to helping a stranger online for free, to solve what may well be a tricky and important situation. Shouldn't the asker be willing to spend the same amount of time trying to understand them?
I'm not saying that just because someone gives you a treatise on your problem, you're required to read it. There's no legally binding agreement somewhere that says you have to - at least, I haven't found one yet.
As I said before, I sometimes write long answers.1 I never know for certain where precisely an answer gets too long. I think that the mentality of the writer determines whether it's overly complicated or not; if you go in trying to write a long answer, then believe me, it's going to feel long no matter what. If I had to estimate, I'd put that cutoff at around 10,000 characters.2 For comparison, the absolute character limit on Stack Exchange is 30,000 characters. Granted, if you reach that limit, then you're probably doing it wrong, but hey, I've been there.
At times, it's better to be complete than concise. You just have to know when those times are.
Number of answers
We have a problem. Specifically, we get a lot of questions on the Hot Network Questions (HNQ) list . It's been discussed before; a moratorium on HNQ questions was suggested. I've still got mixed feelings there, but for now, we're going ahead and keeping our questions on the HNQ list.
To be honest, getting a lot of answers to an HNQ question is natural. Is it good? Well, that's another issue entirely, and one on which people disagree. The HNQ has its ups and downs; what we can do is attempt to attack the problems. This includes
- Flagging answers that need to be flagged.
- Downvoting low-quality posts before they get too many upvotes.
- Commenting, of course.
and all the normal stuff we do to keep the site running. We just have to stay on our toes with these questions.
1 According to this query, I've written the 8th and 10th longest answers on the site so far.
2 That limit has been reached exactly once.