in reply to
On Answering Questions
Something a good friend taught me that a mentor taught him: When faced with a question he'd often pause for a moment then ask, "What problem are you trying to solve?"
I'm on both sides. Sometimes questions are specific and warrant a specific answer. Other times you need to ask, "What problem are you trying to solve?" Often you can tell the latter type of question by the complete lack of context surrounding it.
Related tangent: I personally believe it's worth asking (maybe several times) the questioner to elaborate. Often by having to formalize a question in writing, the questioner arrives at the answer himself. It's the same reason programmers should provide high level docs. to their interfaces.