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I saw Connect to my company's intranet LAN-only web site from outside with ssh tunnel on Stack Overflow. The question belongs on Super User, so I flagged it for that, and included that advice in the comment.

I got a comment suggesting that I should not have answered it all, and as "bonus" I got a downvote.

Hence my question. Was I wrong to answer the question in SO?

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4  
I don't think so. I do this all the time. –  Pëkka Sep 9 '11 at 11:55

4 Answers 4

up vote 6 down vote accepted

I tend to see answering and voting to migrate as two separate and distinct actions. If I see a question which should be migrated to another site, I vote to migrate it. If I see a question for which I can supply a helpful answer, I answer it. The two aren't mutually exclusive.

There is a certain sentiment among users that you shouldn't answer questions that don't belong on the site, and in many cases I can see their point. But to me the collective purpose of Stack Exchange is to generate good questions and good answers for the overall community. Moving those questions from one site to another is cleanup and maintenance, which is important but not so important (in my opinion) that it should get in the way of sharing knowledge.

If a question is of very poor quality, entirely off-topic, and in any of several ways a bad question, then you may need to ask yourself if providing an answer is in any way contributing to the community. For example, if a question is low quality because the person doesn't understand the material or barely speaks English then a good answer can still be very helpful. But if a question is low quality because it's just lazy or is just a rant without a real question then it's arguable that there is no good answer, so providing one isn't helpful.

But if it's a perfectly good question which just belongs on another Stack Exchange site then I see no reason why it can't be both answered and migrated. (Those who disagree may down-vote your answer, but I imagine the person who asked the question would still appreciate it.) It's not like the answer isn't going to be migrated with it.

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If you think it is going to be migrated, then it does not matter at all on which site you answer it, the end result will be the same.

It is an entirely different matter if you vote to close e.g. as duplicate or NaRQ. Cashing in on easy duplicates to gain some rep is frowned upon by many users.

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It's a grey area.

Strictly speaking you should have waited until the question was migrated before answering as the question might end up not being migrated. Don't forget that now migration needs 4 out of the 5 close votes it might not reach the threshold and will end up on the site as "off topic" but answered - not something we want. Konerak raises a valid point in his comment about answering encourages other users to just post on any site without thinking.

However, if you are sure that the question will be migrated fairly quickly then answering should be OK.

Also you shouldn't start your answer with "This belongs on Super User" ;)

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Going by the reputation, I thought the user is new so it was a polite advice. Are you saying I should not have started my answer with that or not put that in the answer at all? –  Miserable Variable Sep 9 '11 at 12:08
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@Hemal - You shouldn't have put it in your answer at all. You are drawing attention to the fact that you know the question is on the wrong site yet you are still answering it. –  ChrisF Sep 9 '11 at 12:09
    
"drawing attention to the fact that you know the question is on the wrong site" would be wrong if I thought answering it on the wrong site is wrong. But I need to quit this discussion because I have run out of my daily quota of saying wron :) –  Miserable Variable Sep 9 '11 at 12:13
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@Hemal - I wouldn't have down-voted you for that, but others might. That's all that I'm trying to say. –  ChrisF Sep 9 '11 at 12:14

No it isn't wrong. If you are pretty sure it's going to be migrated (it's just about to be migrated), just do it...

I'd however don't recommend to post answers on questions which could not be migrated to listed sites

  • ServerFault,
  • SuperUser,
  • Meta.SO,
  • Webmasters.stackexchange.com,
  • Programmers.stackexchange.com

you'll proably hit a lot of downvotes in this case

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