Meta Stack Exchange is where users like you discuss bugs, features, and support issues that affect the software powering all 158 Stack Exchange communities.

What is meta?
Here's how it works:
  1. Any Stack Exchange user can ask a question
  2. The community provides support, votes on ideas, and reports bugs
  3. Your voice helps shape the way Stack Exchange operates

I am very active on and I see there many questions that are either off-topic, un-constructive or simply a request for copy/paste code samples.
My first reaction is obviously to flag and then to place a comment reminding the user what questions to ask or to be more specific, etc...
These questions are usually down-voted fairly quickly and in most cases closed and even deleted, however, many new users looking to up their rep wont hesitate to answer.

What would be the best way to discourage users from answering a question that clearly should not be answered (in its current form) ?

Update: Would it be acceptable to down-vote such answers (even if they are valid) and include a comment explaining why this question should not have been answered?

share|improve this question
I think this has been asked before (the updated portion at least). The consensus from the community was "not really". For me personally, on any really obvious bad question that needs to get closed I will downvote an answer by someone with enough rep to VTC. – JNK Jan 9 '12 at 13:56
VTC => vote to close? – Lix Jan 9 '12 at 14:00
yes. I think answering obviously terrible questions encourages the asker, even if we do close it. "My question got closed, but this high rep user gave me an answer!" – JNK Jan 9 '12 at 14:01
Okay, I see the logic behind your decision. It seems that everyone has their own (valid) protocol to deal with such situations. – Lix Jan 9 '12 at 14:04
Lix - true, it's a personal preference to a certain extent. You votes are yours to do with as you please. The common thread in all the responses though is to vote to close those questions. I also downvote them as there are heuristics that disallow people to ask once a certain threshold has been passed, and one of the criteria it uses are downvotes. – JNK Jan 9 '12 at 14:06
up vote 6 down vote accepted

Vote to close. When I see votes to close, I think twice before answering. Sometimes I still give an answer because I disagree with the reason to close, but in other occasions I actually add my vote to close.

share|improve this answer
Good suggestion - as soon as I have enough rep I will definitely start with close votes :P. In the meantime - I was referring to newer users that are looking to up their rep by answering anything (they feel) that they can. For more experienced users this problem is less of an issue as they will acknowledge the low quality question and act accordingly - flag, vote to close, down-vote... – Lix Jan 9 '12 at 9:37
The issue with this is the problem of "new users looking to up their rep wont hesitate to answer". Viewing close votes requires 250 rep, which means that most new users won't see close votes. – Yawus Jul 10 '12 at 15:54

Would it be acceptable to down-vote such answers (even if they are valid) and include a comment explaining why this question should not have been answered?

No, absolutely not. The question might suck, but people are still entitled to spend time to give a good answer. Crappy questions can still attract great answers. You should only down vote answers on their technical merit and accuracy, not on the quality of the question. Just remember that you are not the sole arbiter of the worthiness of a question and/or answer, that is a community responsibility.

I understand your pain, but your best option is to use your close votes (as already mentioned by Daniel), or use your moderator flags if it is particularly bad. Another alternative is to edit (or suggest an edit) the question to make it better - don't be afraid to do this if it helps and can save the question from oblivion.

share|improve this answer
thanks for your input - note taken :P – Lix Jan 9 '12 at 10:30
A further indication that there is value in giving good answers bad questions is that there is a badge devoted to this: Reversal ( Good answers shouldn't be downvoted just because their question is bad. – Daniel Daranas Jan 9 '12 at 10:36
didn't see that badge :P thanks once again. – Lix Jan 9 '12 at 11:09
-1 - I do this and will continue to do this on answers that are posted by people who should be voting to close instead of posting easy answers for quick rep. Downvoting doesn't indicate that you think you are the sole arbiter of worthiness but it DOES indicate the answer is not useful. To me, encouraging people to ask bad questions does just that. – JNK Jan 9 '12 at 13:57
@JNK's - did you read my answer properly? It was about downvoting an answer because the question was bad. I said you should downvote answers based on their merit, if that is what you are doing then I have no issue with it. – slugster Jan 9 '12 at 21:46
I will downvote "correct" answers on bad questions - don't encourage bad questions! – JNK Jan 9 '12 at 21:53

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .