Research and cross-check
The most important element of your answer is whether it’s correct (or it gives good advice). The best way to make sure your answer is right, or that it gives the best advice, is to do research.
Check what resources online have to say. Bulbapedia, Serebii, Smogon, etc. are reputable websites maintained by knowledgeable people. You can also use forums and videos, but they may be less trustworthy; use your judgement. If you’re not sure, you can see whether different sources have the same information (and when they don’t, mention it in your answer/comment).
For strategy advice, it’s good to get a full perspective before asserting that your idea is the absolute best possible. Especially for competitive Pokémon, there are usage stats and discussion boards you can use to see what other people are doing. Even if you don’t agree with what you read, it’s good to acknowledge it, so people reading your answer get the bigger picture.
It can be hard to find an answer for some questions. In that case, you might find this post useful. It links many resources – some relatively obscure – that can help you answer tricky questions.
Make sure you link back to the pages where you found your information, especially if you copy content from it. More detail on referencing is below.
Solve the underlying problem
Most questions are motivated by some problem or goal that the asker has. If you can recognise this, you can give a holistic answer that addresses the underlying issue.
For example, a person might ask whether their Pokémon’s ability will change upon evolution. A simple answer would say yes or no, and give a source. However, a better answer might explain the mechanics behind the answer. The underlying problem is that the asker doesn’t know how abilities work – you can address that, so they don’t have a similar question again.
Having said the above, it’s worth remembering: quality over quantity. It is possible to give too much extra context or include info that isn’t wanted. Try to imagine somebody reading the question later: what would they already know? What do they need to know to get the full picture? Actionable tips and tricks tend to be good, while random trivia tends not to be. Try not to bury the main point in a wall of text.
If you’re sharing information that isn’t well-known, then you should give a reference that shows the information is correct. A guide for when and how to reference is available here. If you sourced the information yourself, then you should explain how you did that, so people will trust you (and can see for themselves if they want).
If you’re sharing your opinion or giving strategy advice, make sure to justify your answer. Give reasons and explanations, plus opinions from other sources to support the answer. Do what you can to show that you’re expert in the topic (or you’re informed by experts in the topic). If you’re not an expert in the topic, then it may be better to leave the question for somebody else to answer.
Please write to the best of your ability. It’s easier to follow answers with correct punctuation and spelling. Writing properly also makes you sound trustworthy. You don’t have to be perfect: just clear and precise.
Answer good questions
Some questions are poorly written. They might be lacking context, or they might be very tedious to answer. They might lack a clear problem or goal (as discussed above). Save your energy for questions that are explained precisely and written by people with a genuine interest.
If you see a question that isn’t very good, you can leave a comment instead. You can ask the person for extra context or tell them what parts are unclear. This will improve the question, and it will improve the answers too, because good questions tend to get more considerate answers.
The lowest quality questions will be removed by staff.
Keep a good attitude
If you answer questions often, you’re likely to make a mistake or have somebody disagree with you. When that happens, please respond politely (and in a way that will help other people).
- If the person is misguided or you disagree with their opinion, then you can explain why. This could be useful to other people who thought the same thing. You might change something in your answer so that it’s clearer.
- If you know that your answer is incorrect, then you can change it or remove it. Be mature about this – if somebody critiques your post or your idea, they are not attacking you personally (and you should not attack them personally).
It is a good idea to detach your emotions from the things you post. This will help you focus on sharing useful and accurate information, instead of arguing or “competing” against other people who posted answers.
Other people might leave comments on your answer. They might have follow up questions, or they might point out inaccurate info in the answer. You should be interested in this, so you can potentially change the answer to be more useful.