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Always interested in offers/projects/new ideas. Eclectic experience in fields like: numerical computing; Python web; Java enterprise; functional languages; GPGPU; SQL databases; etc. Based in Santiago, Chile; telecommute worldwide. CV; email.

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What do People Want on StackOverflow?

From: andrew cooke <andrew@...>

Date: Sun, 15 Apr 2012 12:08:52 -0300

I have just been contemplating
http://stackoverflow.com/questions/10158669/extract-variables-from-python-string-template/10158783

My solution is simple and direct; the "correct" answer uses a more complex
interface for no reason.

Why was my answer not selected?  My best guess is that it looked too simple;
the other answer had a reassuring (although pointless) function - it looked
more "professional" or more "complete".

The underlying problem is that someone who is asking for help does not always
understand enough to identify what is useful in the replies.

I was on the other end of this phenomenon here -
http://sourceforge.net/projects/choco/forums/forum/335512/topic/5175878 -
where I was asking for help using a package that I don't understand.  One
reply made an obscure (to me) reference to double counting, which I could not
understand and ended up ignoring.  It was only when a later reply gave an
explicit example that included double counting that I began to understand what
was implied.

This cannot be avoided, I suspect, but I can at least try to recognise when it
occurs and, perhaps, revisit advice once I understand more, in the hope of
extracting further information.

Andrew

PS And I am currently editing a paper of Paulina's, which gives another
viewpoint.  To me, her paper repeatedly forgets to explain what particular
facts mean - to signpost the "direction" of arguments.  It is very hard to
"think down" to the level of someone less expert than yourself.