On some Stack Exchange sites, 30 characters might be enough to effectively answer a question. Is this same limit suitable for a topic like Home Improvement? Would it even be possible to increase the number of required characters, on a site-by-site basis? Are there any good answers in the system that are at or near 30 characters?

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What if the answer is "Hire an electrician"? –  BMitch Oct 10 '12 at 17:22
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I wouldn't consider that a good answer. A good answer should include information describing why they should hire an electrician. –  Tester101 Oct 10 '12 at 17:24
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"Hire an electrician, or die!!!" Exactly 30 characters. –  The Evil Greebo Oct 10 '12 at 17:43
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I can't think of any "good" DIY answers that would fit into that length. This is not like SO where a line of code could be a complete answer. –  JNK Oct 10 '12 at 17:58
    
Often a question only asks what something is called. "Dishwasher air gap" is fewer than 30 characters. It seems downvoting is an acceptable way to handle answers that are too short. –  ArgentoSapiens Oct 10 '12 at 22:56
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@ArgentoSapiens "Dishwasher air gap" is not a good answer. If somebody is asking what something is, it's better to tell them what it is, what it does, how it's used, and/or why it might be used. –  Tester101 Oct 11 '12 at 11:18
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@Tester101 my comment refers to questions about what things are called, not what they are, what they do or how they are used. –  ArgentoSapiens Oct 11 '12 at 15:20
    
Maybe this could be a more complex process. For example, if there is already an accepted answer, the limit goes up. If there is an answer with > x votes, the limit goes up. Etc. This might help avoid answers like this. –  Tester101 Oct 11 '12 at 16:23
    
Related: meta.stackexchange.com/a/151616/146318 –  Niall C. Oct 17 '12 at 2:40

3 Answers 3

30 characters can be too much.

Sometimes "yes" is all the answer needed. When the question is a yes/no question, for instance.

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Can you give some examples where the best answers is "Yes."? –  Kortuk Oct 22 '12 at 19:23
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Yes. .......... –  The Evil Greebo Oct 22 '12 at 19:27
    
I see the humor, but do you have any examples on the site of actually questions where the best answer would be a Yes with nothing else? If not "Best, at least a complete answer would be "Yes" –  Kortuk Oct 22 '12 at 19:28
    
I'm looking, I'm looking... Its rare but I remember one recently where the question was phrased in such a way that further elaboration on "yes" would be redundant. –  The Evil Greebo Oct 22 '12 at 19:34
    
At the risk of being overly pedantic, I would point out that the original question did not ask for best or even complete, but simply "effective". (But I'm still looking) –  The Evil Greebo Oct 22 '12 at 19:36
    
But he does ask for examples, which are often the best way to go about these questions, if you cant find a single good answer that is <40 characters then 30 character limit could be increased without harm. –  Kortuk Oct 22 '12 at 21:14
    
I do agree, and after going over page after page after page of questions, I couldn't come up with a single one where "Yes" was the best possible answer. Which is not to say that I don't think sometimes that a short yes/no style answer is at least "adequate". –  The Evil Greebo Oct 23 '12 at 11:25
    
    
No is a terrible answer there, the actual answer there is quite good, and did need to explain why and what could be done. –  Kortuk Oct 26 '12 at 20:52
    
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_emoticons - read it, learn it, love it. Feed your sense of humor! –  The Evil Greebo Oct 27 '12 at 10:06
    
I know ;) but somehow read over it. I think the proximity to Hi! tricked me. –  Kortuk Oct 28 '12 at 5:59

I've seen a lot of question where the correct answer is "Sorry, that is impossible."

Which is hard to say in 30+ characters.

We can downvote or delete bad answers, no need to place arbitrary restrictions like 30 characters. It's really stupid to see sentences like "Adding some extra text to reach minimum character limit", which I have seen done.

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"Sorry, that is impossible." is a terrible answer. Why is it impossible would be a good answer. Explaining what other options they have, maybe a next best solution, would be a good answer. –  Kortuk Oct 22 '12 at 19:19
    
@Kortuk sure, that's true. But I think if implementing this rule we will find situations where more length is required. In general, I think we are throwing away the baby with the bathwater by banning short answers just because some short answers are bad ones. I just don't think it's a very big problem, and think the proposed solution will have some negative effect. –  Abhi Beckert Oct 22 '12 at 20:39
    
I am just saying you will never throw away a good answer with it, only passable ones at best. –  Kortuk Oct 22 '12 at 20:57
    
Since when are "passable" answers not good enough? What if nobody else has answered the question? Someone can always edit the "passable" answer to make it awesome. I already find it hard enough to get answers, just a few days ago I had to put a 400 bounty on stack overflow to get a single answer. His answer was lengthy, but he could have expressed it in three words and I gladly would have awarded the bounty. –  Abhi Beckert Oct 22 '12 at 21:09
    
I am trying to say the worst you could lose is a passable answer, if that. I think your post already makes clear that we have different levels of quality standards so the fact you would accept a three word answer is not surprising and is something you expect to find on a meta site. :) –  Kortuk Oct 22 '12 at 21:13
    
Fair enough. You're right, I don't care so much about quality. I mostly only care about people's questions being answered (and avoiding duplicates/spam). I think bad answers should be edited/improved, not prevented altogether. –  Abhi Beckert Oct 22 '12 at 21:16

Sometimes, yes. To wit:

What is this rubber thing I found by the sink?

The answer is more than 30 chars but it doesn't have to be.

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