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Closing Etiquette: Why Do Some Answer and Close?

The question was voted to close as a duplicate, one of the voters also answered the question. Sometimes, the question is completely off-topic (example) but still quite answerable, other times the question is a duplicate (example), sometimes it is low quality but one of the close-voters also takes a stab at it anyway (example <-- not sure at time of writing if the answerer did vote to close, but he/she could have).

I guess my question boils down to this: if you are voting to close, does that not imply that the question could/should not be answered?

EDIT And to expand upon that: you answer a question, someone else flags as a dup, which you agree with and also do. Should you remove your answer, being as you have now marked the question as "invalid"? Move your answer to the linked duplicate question (since the idea is to build canonical q/a pairs)?

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marked as duplicate by Chris, Pops, jonsca, Bo Persson, Toon Krijthe Aug 2 '12 at 22:09

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

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For dupes, it's often that the answerer doesn't realize it's a dupe until someone else casts that first close vote and leaves that automatic "possible duplicate of X" comment. Then the answerer adds his/her close vote. –  Mysticial Aug 2 '12 at 7:42
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For migrate votes answering makes total sense. –  Flexo Aug 2 '12 at 7:43
    
@Mysticial - Fair point, but then if you see the CV after you answer and agree with the CV, should you remove your answer? I would guess not, but then that seems contrary to voting to close. Updated question. –  Chris Aug 2 '12 at 7:45
    
Of the times that it's happened to me, I usually just leave it. There's no harm in leaving it there. Nor have I ever been downvoted because of it either. –  Mysticial Aug 2 '12 at 7:47
    
Don't forget that someone might have cast a "migrate" vote, answered it, and in the end it was closed with a different reason. The voter might not even see this final 'verdict'? –  Nanne Aug 2 '12 at 8:16
    
also: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/4283/… –  Nanne Aug 2 '12 at 8:17
    
    
Thanks for the answers, and the links, cv-pls –  Chris Aug 2 '12 at 19:01

1 Answer 1

up vote 6 down vote accepted

The point of voting to close a question is first and foremost to prevent it from receiving answers while it's being improved by the asker. Closing is not a permanent state, but in many cases questions remain closed because the asker never returns and tries to improve the question.

I have found myself voting to close questions and then coming back to provide an answer while the question is still open. Sometimes it's been because I miscalculated the question and ended up being the only close voter and other times it's been because the question was interesting, I knew the answer, and wanted to help.

If you're doing this, ask yourself why you're doing this. If your goal is to help someone with a problem, then it's likely to be more acceptable than if your goal is to try to get an answer in purely for the reputation score.

With that said, if the question is overly broad or too vague or can't be answered, don't try to answer it. Your answer most likely won't be any good, and you'll only attract negative attention from the community.

If the question could be improved, and you answer it before it's closed. Be prepared to come back when it's reopened and edit your answer based on new or changing information in the question; otherwise, you may attract downvotes and unwanted attention.

Let me put it this way: If a question wasn't supposed to be answered after you cast your close vote, surely the Stack Exchange developers would have thought to disable the answer button in order to prevent such actions.

Should you remove your answer on a dup:

If your answer repeats things already said, try to think of some edits you can make to improve it or differentiate it from the pack. If you're just repeating what is already said, then you can remove it.

On some duplicates, if both questions have valuable answers, a moderator may merge the answers from one question with another. So don't remove your answer unless it's not adding value.

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IMO, I think few users seem to understand that a close vote is not final, which makes the close vote final, in essence. –  Chris Aug 2 '12 at 8:08
    
@Chris - This is where Summer of Love concepts can help break this barrier and coach new users on the meaning of question closing. On some beta sites, higher rep users coach new users on how to improve their questions. We should do the same on Stack Overflow. Yesterday, on Project Management Stack Exchange, I used chat to help a user edit his question. It got some great answers as a result. –  jmort253 Aug 2 '12 at 8:10
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@jmort253, unfortunately, so far all attempts to 'rebrand' closing have been resisted... –  Benjol Aug 2 '12 at 9:15

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