Today I answered this questions:

How to establish boundaries with a roommate without confrontation?

Until now, 9 hours later, 28 people up-voted my answer. This tells me that at least 28 people understand it and like this answer.

But now some users with high reputation tell me in the comments I should improve my answers to follow some rules. Is that really necessary?

Sometimes short answers and direct answers explain all there is to explain. It is really not necessary to add lots of extra information. In this case >25 people understand it but some users pretend they don't understand it or it's not according to some (their?) rules.

I think the idea about this website is to get answers. And answers which people understand. Rules help to explain the idea about this Q and A. I don't think we should spend lots of time to follow certain rules to the letter. It does not make the answers better and it's frustrating to get such requests.

Why should I (we) add more details if "everybody" understands it already?

Edit: I added to my original answer an excellent comment from IMil. I think that's how this community should work. One users writes an answer and another user improves it. Thanks IMil.

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    Please explain how "it doesn't make answers better". That question specifically says that the OP doesn't want to be confrontational. Right now it's literally not answering the question because it doesn't explain why the OP's choice to do this in a non-confrontational way is either a bad idea or won't work. – Catija ModStaff Mar 29 '18 at 12:27
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    but moderators complain ?! 2 users have asked something, it doesn't mean your answer is bad or misunderstood. And rules defined by the community are better when followed, don't you think? I don't mean to be rude, but I don't get your "rant" here... – OldPadawan Mar 29 '18 at 12:46
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    You can't fight this, let it go. Core users of IPS are on a health-kick to improve the quality of the site by leaving these "helpful" guidance notes on answers that don't fit the plan. I've been a victim of this technique and I've learned that basic common sense just isn't enough. IPS has lost track of the fact that the site is here to help people. – user1722 Mar 29 '18 at 14:11
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    @Snow Yeah, that isn't what this site is for. No SE site is here purely to help people. We're here to ask and answer questions. Failure to answer the question is unacceptable. – Catija ModStaff Mar 29 '18 at 14:25
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    Yeah, I think that says it all, thanks. – user1722 Mar 29 '18 at 14:30
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    @Snow : you're a high-rated user at TWP for instance. You know for sure that guidelines are very helpful. They should be (patiently) taught, (kindly) reminded, and, if needed, (nicely) enforced. A comment is just for that: ask / help improve. I was reminded by someone (some days ago) that I had made a mistake with editing a question (spam / offensive). Great! Thanks to them :) no big deal. We have many rules, and some are not known, or forgotten... – OldPadawan Mar 29 '18 at 14:32
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    @Snow according to our help pages comments should be submitted 'if you want to : Request clarification from the author; Leave constructive criticism that guides the author in improving the post or to add relevant but minor or transient information to a post'. I thought the second covered the comments left on Edgar's post pretty well. I'd much rather leave a comment that gives someone the information they need to bring the post into scope for the site than start flagging which just pushes things off onto diamond mods. – Spagirl Mar 29 '18 at 15:15
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    @Spagirl That's fine. But you also need to keep in mind how those comments are viewed by the person you're leaving them for. I've said before that these comments don't do anything to improve the questions/answers - they just make people not want to contribute further. I've had comments like this left for my answers in the past and it made me feel like I was back at school again. – user1722 Mar 29 '18 at 15:21
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    @Snow if that is your issue, that's unrelated to this. If there's an issue with the comments people are leaving in an effort to effect improvements to a post, bring it up on meta. I doubt you're alone. – Catija ModStaff Mar 29 '18 at 15:29
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    @Snow I spent a fair bit of time writing my comment to Edgar, I was striving for a conversational rather than admonishing tone. Even if I didn’t achieve that, To me it’s less ‘back at school-ish’ to have feedback from another member than to get flagged or vtc’d. – Spagirl Mar 29 '18 at 16:21
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    From a purely selfish standpoint, you should add the details because it might get deleted without them. It's already happened multiple times, even on older upvoted answers, because some users have been going back through posts and flagging things that "don't meet our current quality standards". Once flagged it goes into the queue and/or gets mod attention. – Em C Mod Mar 29 '18 at 16:25
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    @Spagirl and others: Don't you realize that some of your comments are just annoying and not helpful? I like to browse the questions and answers here and it seems some people like to answer lots of questions. And other people like to comment about "improving" the answers. I know some questions and answers really need improvements and they should be commented or flagged. But other answers are maybe not perfect but fine the way they are. Just keep them like that without annoying comments and use your time for something more important (like writing good = useful answers). – user8838 Mar 30 '18 at 0:05
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    If they're not perfect, they can be improved. Comments are intended and used for suggesting or requesting particular improvements. You don't like the suggestion, say so or ignore it. You don't like the request, say so or don't implement it. You don't care either way, scroll the page further. There's no issue here except the one you're making of it. – Nij Mar 30 '18 at 8:41
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    Do you deny that it could be improved? No? Then why do you find it a problem that some people have gone out of their way to read the post, understand the post, think about the post, and take yet more time to compose a comment identifying areas they believe it can be made better in? You're not required to read those comments or act on them, but don't pretend they're a problem caused by the comment writer instead of your own inability to deal with criticism. – Nij Mar 30 '18 at 10:14
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    @Snow To wit, would you prefer any answers that don't actually address the question are deleted as not an answer without further comment? Because that's the alternative to these comments. – magisch Apr 5 '18 at 11:40

First: It´s not Moderators that complain, its other users. I was one of them.

Second: You are reading the polls wrong. Just because you have 25 points does not mean everybody understands it. Could also be 100 up votes and 75 down votes - leaving you with a large part of people that could not make sense of your answer. You can see the actual amount of up/down votes if you click on the number.

Third: Your answer did not stay in the scope defined by the author of the question. As such you should demonstrate especially good reasoning why you think that the author errs at his stated goals. At last you are not the the one who has to live with the outcome.

Remember this site is about answering question on specific interpersonal skills, not about question the authors motives and make choices for them. Also keep in mind that there are very different cultural backgrounds and what is applauded in one part of the world may get you in serious trouble in another!

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    I agree with your about the cultural background and obviously the OP is the one who has to live with the outcome if she choses to follow my answer. About the up and down votes: I checked that before I commented here. The current count is 74 up and 6 down. I interpret this that more than 90% understand my answer. In my option 90% is more than enough. – user8838 Mar 30 '18 at 0:24
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    It is not only about understanding your answer. I understood your answer and downvoted. Most of the time I like your answers and contribution to the site but to me, you didn't answer the question here but rather express your opinion about what she should do regardless of some constraints she expressed. Plus we're not all able of "stopping being nice", as you said. Your answer's score showed that many think your approach is better but since it's not what's been asked for, you might explain why it is so. Thx for being so active on IPS! – avazula Mod Mar 30 '18 at 6:46
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    @Edgar Minor note about the voting (without regards to the quality of your answer one way or the other; I haven't read it): This question hit the Hot Network Questions list and, thus, was affected by the "HNQ Effect" that tends to massively skew voting, especially on the smaller sites. When a question hits HNQ, it tends to draw a lot of attention from users from around SE (especially SO,) who, because of the association bonus, have enough rep to upvote, but not enough to downvote. – reirab Apr 3 '18 at 4:28
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    So, even if, hypothetically, 50% of the people who wanted to vote on an answer wanted to downvote, it still might end up with 90% upvotes, as the majority of the people reading the question are able to upvote, but not to downvote. This is not as much of a problem for questions that don't hit the HNQ list, as they're mostly visited by site regulars who have enough rep to vote either way. – reirab Apr 3 '18 at 4:30

Ultimately your question boils down to asking "Should I follow the rules?"

Yes you should follow the rules.

Everyone is expected to follow them. A key feature of the rules on this site is that they should be consistently applied. I don't see why because your answer has garnered a few upvotes that it should be treated differently.

Upvotes aren't a good metric for the quality of a post. Most of them come from users who are attracted to this site through the Hot Network Questions feature. These users are new to the site and haven't taken the time to read through meta and learn the rules and conventions of this specific site. They see an interesting question, and upvote the answers that they like.

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    @D.Hutchinson I don't know if there's easily-accessible data to prove this - there might be; I'll do some digging - but it's a phenomenon that's well-recognized across the network. – HDE 226868 Mar 29 '18 at 18:33
  • Should it be necessary to read all the rules and possibly all meta discussions to write "good" answers? I write "good" like that because it seems some people think an answer is good because it follows certain rules and if it does not follow those rules it can't be good. Others, like me, look for good answers in the sense that they give good advise for a certain situation - even if they don't follow all the technical rules. Should we, the users, should make this site famous for keeping the rules or for good (= working) answers? – user8838 Mar 29 '18 at 23:39
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    @D.Hutchinson easy proof, we don't have 28 active regular users on this site – spiral succulent Mar 29 '18 at 23:42
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    On other SE sites like SO or AU, when your answer doesn't match the question asked, it is not well-received, gets downvoted and even gets flagged or deleted sometimes. Why should it be different here? Why couldn't we accept that sometimes we didn't answer the question but rather expressed our opinion about what should be done? We're humans, folks. These things happen. – avazula Mod Mar 30 '18 at 6:51
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    @avazula : I agree with you. But I also agree with Catija, Snow, and, to many points, Edgar and Spagirl. Just to name a few. And that's make me mad :) Yes, we should explain frame challenges in our answers because it doesn't "exactly" answer OP, yes SO is TFGITW when it comes to DV if you're not exactly on track, yes we should (?) comment (or not) about the answer, but without sounding child-ish or back-to-school-ish. But it's difficult, because , here, at IPS, we deal with a much more human part than technical/legal/historical/name-it-al part. Human Being, Feelings, are different. 1/2 – OldPadawan Mar 30 '18 at 7:16
  • 2/2. That's why we should (have to?) be extra careful when it comes to dealing with people's feelings. Anytime with talk, we can add tone. Writing is different. Like people and their understanding... – OldPadawan Mar 30 '18 at 7:17
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    @OldPadawan What’s TFGITW? I’ve googled but it only brings me back to people using it on SE/SO. – Spagirl Mar 30 '18 at 10:49
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    @Spagirl : The Fastest Gun In The West :) on SO, it's often used to complain about people who act (DV / VTC ... or even answer -> bad, but 1st in line to attract UV, then many edits to have it "on the line") before anything else. – OldPadawan Mar 30 '18 at 11:11
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    I agree. I came to the question being discussed from the "hot network questions" section and that brought me to this meta question here :P – Silencer310 Mar 30 '18 at 18:56
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    @OldPadawan I'm not quite sure what you're attributing to me? I (personally) think that the answer should be deleted because it fails to answer the question. The current version of the answer is not a frame challenge because it does not explain why the OP's choice is wrong. – Catija ModStaff Mar 30 '18 at 21:31
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    @Catija : to you? That you're right when you enforce IPS policy on that one. I agree with the ones who said "delete" because of the lack of explanation on the frame challenge. I agree with them who said it's clear enough ( personally, I like the answer but not the way it's "written" ). I understand the comments, why they were written, and also why they were "badly received". No one is really wrong here IMHO, so we kind of twist and turn and twist etc here, makes me mad :) – OldPadawan Mar 31 '18 at 4:37

I was one of the people who voted to remove your answer and noted that in a comment.

I'd suggest that there's a difference between advising on a course of action and providing guidance as a result of the question. Quite frankly, if I were locked out of a space I pay rent for, I'd probably pound on the door until it opened. And I wouldn't be happy about having to do so.

However, the answer provided isn't an answer to the question. I'd submit that the response is the exact thing that the poster wasn't looking for. OP wanted to do this with a minimum of confrontation - pounding on the door at night is, in my opinion, a large confrontation. Feelings will run high on both sides.

I accept that the answer received a lot of upvotes and I congratulate you on that. Obviously that made sense to many people. But, and this is the only reason why I felt the need to make this decision, it didn't guide OP on the course of action they decided to take - be it right or wrong.

Your activity on IPS is appreciated; please don't take what I'm saying as a criticism of you. I needed to really consider what I said and what I say here and look forward to seeing more activity from you in the future.

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    Thanks for your frank answer. I am perplexed about this part: "it didn't guide OP on the course of action they decided to take - be it right or wrong" Do you really suggest we should help to find OPs to find an answer even if we know the answer is "wrong"? If you don't mind I like to discuss this on meta. Please let me know if you or I should raise this issue. I think this is really important. I wouldn't want to give people answers which I know are "wrong" - even if the OP asked for them. – user8838 Mar 31 '18 at 0:32

The trouble is, the "everybody" who saw your answer as the obvious solution did not include the OP. Your profile suggests you are a full-fledged adult who has been out in the world for at least a few years. You've had varied experiences negotiating that world, probably including a few different kinds of living situations. That likely describes most of the SE network's user base. With that kind of context, your answer does, in fact, seem very obvious—almost self-explanatory.

But now, as they say, "explain it to me like I don't know anything." Imagine you're talking to a very young adult (right around eighteen years old). I've never lived anywhere but with my parents, and I've always had my own bedroom. I'm now, for the very first time ever, living with a stranger. What's more, I am terrified of conflict of any sort. In a choice between fight and flight, my first instinct is always flight (and that's usually only after appeasement fails). To ME, "just fight it out" doesn't make sense at all—that's exactly the outcome I want to avoid!

That's essentially the position that the OP was in, with a little creative interpolation. From the question (bolding mine):

  • [T]his is my first semester in college where I'm having a roommate

  • I was at a loss of what to do in this situation, so I simply left

  • So far, I haven’t raised this issue with her, but I am wondering what the best way [is] (without being confrontational).

How are you going to convince such a person that your solution is correct? The OP doesn't know you and doesn't have your life experience, so if you want the OP to see your point of view you need to explain where you're coming from. That's the step your answer omits.

Bottom line: The people who instantly understand your solution don't need your answer because they already know it, and the people who do need your answer won't be convinced without some explanation, so even though your basic premise might be correct you haven't actually helped anyone.

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    Great explanation. This also explains why such answers can get high scores: there are surely lots of people on SE who have had similar life experiences, so they'll +1 without needing explanation. But that doesn't mean OP - a person who is asking because they lack interpersonal skills - will understand why "everyone" likes the answer. – Em C Mod Apr 26 '18 at 19:02

I think the bottom line is that this site seems to have a non-obvious rule/guideline that's presumably known to the moderators and meta community here, but perhaps not known to (or perhaps even not agreed with by) the wider user base - hence the slight difference in opinion.

I'm quoting this version of it from the current top answer to What is the difference between not answering a question and posting a frame challenge?:

Here is what I see necessary for a good frame challenge on IPS:

  • A clear explanation of why the author disagrees with the frame of the question.
  • A presentation of an alternate frame
  • An explanation of how the new frame will solve the OP's problem.

I think that's good advice for writing an answer that has the best chance of being helpful to the OP - and to me it seems that it's not advice your answer followed, at least not before the edit.

However, it isn't going to be obvious to everyone that this is a rule, because not every user of the site will have gone into meta and read it; some who have might not feel that it is yet an agreed-upon rule; and the SE site doesn't really make these kind of meta decisions clear to people who answer questions.

I'm very new to the site so I'll refrain from any opinions on whether this is necessary a big problem, or what the solutions (if any) may be, but I think it is the primary reason for the apparent disparity in reception of your answer between the mods/experienced users and the broader user base.

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    I agree 100% with this being the root of the issue. I'm going to drop a comment down here for anyone else reading (not necessarily to argue), but this is a beta site.. meaning rules are in flux. If you want to not get "moderated", it's best to try to be active as part of meta, and help shape the site. Otherwise, you can anticipate that your posts may not always fit guidelines (even if they would've at an earlier point in time)! – Jess K. Apr 6 '18 at 21:19
  • @JessK. I just want to point out that "beta" really doesn't have anything to do with it. All SE sites experience some amount of shift on what is and is not accepted, and the rules (and meta discussion) adjust over time. But yes, I couldn't agree with you more of the importance of participating (or at least monitoring!) meta! – Beofett Apr 11 '18 at 19:03
  • @Beofett The "beta" aspect plays a really critical role in understanding that this site is more likely to be in flux than any other site. A site that is out of beta will still experience shifts, yes, but not radical undertakings on what is in/out of scope (whereas a beta site is much more likely to do so). But I think we're still all in agreement here. :) – Jess K. Apr 11 '18 at 20:24

I've seen fairly often on SE sites that someone will give an answer in which they reject all or part of the premise of the question, and others will then declare that this "doesn't answer the question" and should be deleted or altered so that it accepts the premise.

I'm sorry, but I find this position absurd. Sometimes the only valid answer to a question is to explain why the premise is invalid. Perhaps you've heard the joke, "If Jesus was Jewish, how come he had a Puerto Rican name?" (Which I will proceed to ruin by analyzing it.) If someone asked that as a serious question, surely the only valid response would be to say that Puerto Ricans are borrowing the Jewish name, not the other way around. To insist that any answer must accept the premise of the question and somehow explain how Puerto Ricans came to be living in first century AD Palestine would just be ... wrong.

In any given case, you might, of course disagree with someone who rejects the premise and say that the premise is in fact valid. Most of the time, I think that would best be done by giving a different answer. Comments that say, "I disagree, instead I think the right answer is ..." shouldn't be comments, but alternative answers. I suppose a comment explaining why you think the premise is valid could be appropriate.

On an unrelated issue: Saying answers should be "well sourced" on an Interpersonal Skills site seems to me a very unreasonable demand. Well-sourced how? Is a poster supposed to present a mathematical theorem to prove that his solution is correct? In some cases one might be able to quote a study by social scientists, but, (a) such studies are usually highly debatable, and (b) that kind of evidence only seems to be demanded when the moderators disagree with the answer.

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    Good answer! I like to point out some answer and comments are just deleted - and sometime deleted within seconds. Others have no possibility to even consider them if some moderators (only one?) deletes comments and answers too fast. – user8838 Apr 5 '18 at 23:50
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    What you're referring to is often called a "frame challenge". There's actually an existing policy and guideline for posting a frame challenging answer. There's nothing wrong with a well-written frame challenge, but frequently poorly-worded answers just ignore the premise, or come across as dismissive, belittling, or insulting. – Beofett Apr 6 '18 at 0:31
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    @Beofett Well, sure. Any attempt at an answer can be poorly written. A direct answer to a question could be dismissive, belittling, or insulting. – Jay Apr 6 '18 at 1:28
  • Backing up an answer does not necessarily mean some sort of academic research. Often the best answers draw on the personal experiences of the person answering. We aren't saying that you need to write an article for a peer reviewed journal, just put a little bit of effort into explaining why your answer works. – Rainbacon Apr 6 '18 at 4:39
  • @Rainbacon Sure. Which I would think most of the time is going to mean, at best "I tried X in a similar situation and it worked" (or "... and it was a disaster so that's why I say don't do it"). More often, it's going to be "If someone tried X on me this is how I would react" or "Based on my general knowledge of human nature, this is how I think it would work out". What more evidence could one give? – Jay Apr 6 '18 at 13:19

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