Stack Exchange "How do I write a good answer?" has the following section:
Pay it forward
Saying “thanks” is appreciated, but it doesn’t answer the question. Instead, vote up the answers that helped you the most! If these answers were helpful to you, please consider saying thank you in a more constructive way – by contributing your own answers to questions your peers have asked here.
While I understand the meaning of the header and mostly understand the meaning of the whole section, I had a discussion about interpretation of the emphasized "it doesn’t answer the question" phrase with my friend.
My friend treated that as "we should not say 'thank you' in our answers". My original interpretation was like "…but just saying 'thank you', per se, doesn't aid (or aid not so much) in resolving other questions from the question flow". But then I started to doubt: why did they used "the question" (instead of, for example, "a question", "any question", "other questions", "questions in general" or etc), does it mean that they refer some aforementioned/implied question? (That would break my interpretation.)
- Is my interpretation correct?
- If yes — what are reasonable explanations for using "the" in that case (what aforementioned/implied question does the text refer)? If no — what should be the correct interpretation of the "…but it doesn’t answer the question"?