Many answers are long, maybe including some cut and paste of some online dictionaries. I find this annoying, and usually I don't bother reading answers that do not go straight to the point. Should answers be more concise? Should users encourage a bit shortness of answers?

I see my vision is not shared by many and I respect that. On the other hand many other SE sites have usually shorter answers. Long answers are good for native French speakers, but not for learners that really don't need a lecture on the nuances of the French (which is still interesting but not always useful). It would be interesting to have some statistics on the length of accepted answers compared to that of all the answers on FL&U.

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    I'd emphasize how right you are not to bother reading it all if you're not interested. But I'd rather have the answers posted for the interested people, and therefore be long and detailed. tl;dr : Read that only. Oct 13, 2012 at 9:32

2 Answers 2


I strongly disagree. Good questions don't call for one-line answers. Longer answers are more interesting. I always appreciate answers that go beyond the bare minimum and provide context for the asker's problem. You're free to not read answers you consider too long, but I do encourage answerers to provide citations, discuss local usage, study usage frequency, explain etymology, suggest alternate wordings, or anything else that may be relevant to the question.

Large copy-pastes from dictionaries aren't always useful, and take care not to violate their copyright. It's usually more appropriate to select the information that's relevant to the question, a lot of the added value in the answer will be to target the information and contrast with other sources.


Simple questions that do not call for knowledgeable or expert answers should not belong to FL&U, (e.g. asking for a translation or a simple grammar rule that can be found on an online dictionary or FSL site). So a good Stack Exchange question often calls for a not so straightforward answer where an explanation is needed.

I agree of course that answers should not contain copy-pastes from dictionaries, not just for copyright reasons as Gilles says, but also because a simple link to wikipedia (or any other CC attributed source) should be sufficient, thus leaving the reader free to click -or not- on the link. Anyway if someone copy-pastes from an online dictionary we know it because sources must be referred to. (A question of ethic that should be dealt with in the FAQ ?)
When the source is a written document from a bookshelf of course one has to include the necessary information, but there again, the source is (or should be) clearly identified.

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