I have asked a couple expert level questions and I want expert to answer them. But I have had comments on a couple of them asking me to explain the terms used. I think it might be a bad idea to explain them within that question for a couple reasons. 1) It takes the focus away from the actual question and 2) it seems more appropriate for a question like "what does a stopped contact in agility mean?" to be asked all on its own than try to include the term definition within the question that is asking a higher level question. One the beginner level question has been asked then the expert questions could provide a link back to the beginner question in case a newbie is trying to understand it.

This seems to be the pattern for the more successful sites. For example, in a question about how c# polymorphism can be slightly different from polymorphism in Java we wouldn't ask them to explain or even provide a link to what polymorphism is.

I think we should let the questions stand as they are for a little bit. For the ones that I ask and we don't have an expert on yet I'm working on finding the experts and seeing if I can get them to participate. But if we dumb it down they won't see it as a place for them to get answers too and they won't come back.

4 Answers 4


If somebody asks a question in the comments that's a viable question, they should probably be encouraged to ask it as a real question rather than getting you to answer it as a part of your question. We have a number of questions such as:

I read in this question/answer that [insert topic here] is good for [pet type here], but I don't understand what exactly [topic] is. Can somebody explain what this is and how I could find out more?

Those are great questions for learners and we want learners to get expert answers as much as we want experts to get them too.


While I appreciate that you want expert answers, it is important to remember that we also want the information to be easily accessible to the wider Internet who might stumble across it, either as part of the community or from a search engine.

I think adding clarity and explanations also helps the experts as well, as it also ensures that everyone is on the same page, and the information is available and understandable.

I am not sure "dumbing it down" is comparable here to Stack Overflow or other programming environments. I suspect giving the information will only enhance things here rather than take away from them.

If we don't explain it, we risk alienating people who want to be involved, as the bar of entry is too high and we risk becoming a closed cliquey community instead of one who welcomes anyone and their questions.

  • I don't think everyone needs to understand everything. Questions about aquarium maintenance sometimes use such words that a rabbit owner might not understand, and I can't see why they should understand those. Mar 6, 2014 at 10:32

I think if someone doesn't understand a term, and they ask what it means, then a comment giving a short explanation (or even just a link to an explanation) is a good way to give some extra information that might not be relevant in the question body itself.


Most agility terms will be familiar to even the beginners once they have started training agility. There's no reason to explain these to people who keep aquarium fishes.

Herding (with dogs) has terminology that I can't follow even though I like everything under tag. Herding is interesting though, but I don't feel offended if strange terminology is used there. To me it is a sign that says "we know what we talk about here." And I respect that.

Make a question about terminology, and have created for this purpose. We'll get more questions and answers on the site, and search engines will direct more traffic here because of those questions. A win win.

  • thanks awesome idea... that's what I started to think with the agility terms too... I'll just add some definitions.
    – Beth Lang
    Mar 4, 2014 at 7:56

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