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I answered a question which was then closed as off-topic. The answer was up-voted, so deemed interesting by someone. I'm wondering what should I do with my answer now. Should I delete or keep it? It's not a problem to lose reputation for that.

This question is similar to another here on meta, except in that case it was about an answer to a question flagged as duplicated. The accepted answer there makes perfect sense, but it doesn't in the case of a question being closed as off-topic.

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I would leave it. If the question is deleted, it takes the answer with it, no harm done. If it stays, it has at least a (somewhat?) useful answer, better than no answer even if off topic. –  Daniel Fischer Dec 17 '12 at 17:42
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Just don't get in the habit of answering questions you know to be offtopic just to try to get in before it's closed. If you didn't realize the question is offtopic (or will be closed for any other reason) then leaving the post is acceptable. –  Servy Dec 17 '12 at 17:48
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Take the rep and run. Too many other users don't give you your due, so let situations like this even things out. –  Chris Gerken Dec 17 '12 at 18:24
    
@Servy Good answers to bad questions are actually encouraged. –  bytebuster Dec 17 '12 at 23:47
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@byte Good answers to bad on topic questions are one thing, good answers to off topic questions are a different matter. –  Jeremy Banks Dec 18 '12 at 6:05
    
@bytebuster It depends on the reason for closure. When a question is closed as off topic or not constructive it means it has a possible answer, but the site has determined that it's not appropriate to be asked here because asking/answering those types of questions causes more problems than they solve. For an exact dupe, NARQ, or too localized, it's at least less of a problem to have an answer on it. As to the mention of the badge, being heavily downvoted is much different than being closed. –  Servy Dec 18 '12 at 14:33

2 Answers 2

up vote 7 down vote accepted

If you realize that the question is clearly off-topic you should delete your answer.

Posting answers to off-topic questions encourages people to post more off-topic questions because they may expect to get results. Even if the question is deleted later, the questioner already has what they wanted. This is bad. If I see an answer to a clearly off-topic question I will downvote it to encourage the answerer to delete it and not to reward off-topic questioners in the future.

If the question is closed but it's only a little off-topic or you don't even agree that it's off-topic, then it's okay to leave it.

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Leave it. So long as your answer is itself a good one, there is no harm in leaving it in the system, even on a closed question.

Bear in mind that closed questions may not stay closed forever. If the question is improved somehow, it might become eligible for re-opening. In that case, your answer would still be useful. Unless, of course, the question was edited to such a degree that your answer no longer applies, but that's another story entirely.

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