I was looking through questions on the home page, and I noticed this:

Does entanglement not immediately contradict the theory of special relativity?

Now, it's obvious from the way the poster posed his original question that the top answer is going to make almost no sense to him whatsoever; it's far too in depth and technical (there are ways of answering the question that are more Feynman-like).

Yet for someone who already knows a bit of physics, the answer is going to be too shallow. There's nothing new there that a graduate student, or even most undergraduates wouldn't know (possibly the no-go theorem).

So... who is the target audience of this answer? I must admit; it's well written and looks like a lot of thought went into it. I'm just confused who is going to get value out of it.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ The only person who can really answer that is the poster of the answer. Unless you're asking something more general than about that one answer, but in that case I'm not sure I see what it is... $\endgroup$
    – David Z
    Apr 15, 2013 at 0:24
  • $\begingroup$ I did. (nine more characters) $\endgroup$
    – MBN
    Apr 15, 2013 at 10:31

1 Answer 1


When I'm writing an answer I'm conscious that the answer is going to be read by lots of people over the years, so it isn't just an answer to the OP. Of course the answer needs to answer the OP's question, but I generally try to provide as broad an answer as possible to increase its interest to other people as well.

In addition, I think there is a limit to how simple you can make an answer. Quantum physics is hard, and if you try to answer at too simple a level you end up being misleading or you fall into the it all happens by magic trap that too many TV documentaries fall into.

I'd probably agree that Ben Crowell's answer to the question you link was too advanced to be easily understood by the OP, but the answer and the comments to it would at least provide a starting point for the OP to do some reading around. Not answering is a far bigger sin that writing too hard an answer. Whether Ben's answer was too complicated is debatable, but it's far better that he answered than if he had shrugged and moved on.

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    $\begingroup$ +1, in addition Ben's answer may be useful to other people than the OP, who read the question and its answers too and who can stomach a bit more complicated texts and therefore maybe like and appreciate it. $\endgroup$
    – Dilaton
    Apr 17, 2013 at 11:08

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