What will happen if a question gets off-topic answers or comments?

Can someone else's answers or comments lead to the closing or locking of my question?

screenshot of lock dialog

4 Answers 4


"What will happen if a question gets off topic answers or comments?"

If you're getting mostly off topic answers/comments, chances are you have not phrased your question clearly enough leaving it open to misunderstanding.

If it's only one comment/answer that's off-topic, you could:

  • try to understand how the poster could have misunderstood you, then update your post to fix it
  • leave a comment to clarify (response to which may help pinpoint the cause of confusion)
  • let it be (or downvote if you think it's blatantly wrong)

"Will someone else's answers/comments lead to close or lock my question?"

No. Answers will not affect the judgement on whether your question should be closed.

If your question is closed as off topic, it simply means that it is not a good fit for the site. The reason for closure will be appended to the question as part of the close notice. For more details, see the FAQ.

If you really believe that the closure is not justified, you can first rephrase your question to try and address the apparent reason for closure, then submit a question here on meta explaining why you think your question is valid. If it is a valid reason, chances are you will get sufficient votes for the question to be reopened. If not, then take on board whatever comments you get and use it to post better questions in the future.

As for questions being locked, this is a less common and can only be done by moderators (see FAQ). Locking due to Off-topic comments (as highlighted in your screenshot) tend to happen when:

  • a flame war ensues
  • there is a gross misuse of commenting system for lengthy discussions (discussions should be done in chat instead)

In addition, for borderline questions there may be on occasions a dispute on whether a question should be closed; it ends being repeatedly closed and reopened and this will lead it being locked by a moderator. This will usually lead to a discussion on meta and the post may be unlocked once the dispute is settled.

In short, if a question abides to the guidelines, there should be no reason why it will be closed/locked as a result of the actions (comments/answers) of others.

  • 2
    Please don't confuse closing a question with locking a question. They are entirely different things.
    – JNK
    Commented Nov 16, 2011 at 13:17
  • Updated to cover locked questions as well.
    – Shawn Chin
    Commented Nov 16, 2011 at 14:12

What will happen if a question gets off topic answers or comments?


Will someone else's answers/comments lead to close or lock my question?

Most probably that will not happen. However, if there's a huge editing war/comment-flamewar going on, Moderators may intervene and temporarily lock the post in dispute while it gets settled - either using the chat system or here on Meta.


Can someone else's answers or comments lead to the closing or locking of my question?

If there is a big amount of off-topic comments, moderators could block the question to avoid more off-topics comments are added, but the question should be blocked for the strictly necessary time. Locking a question is done in an "emergency" situation, and it doesn't happen because two off-topic comments; it also depend from the type of comments.

The fact a question gets many answers could be a sign that the question is subjective, chatty or open-ended. In this case, the question could be closed because five users voted to close it.

  • what you mean by "emergency" situation? Commented Nov 16, 2011 at 14:49
  • 1
    I mean an extraordinary situation where something bad is happening (e.g. edit wars, flamed discussions which are marginally related to the question). What I mean is that moderators are not ready to lock a question after 10 off-topic comments; questions are locked in very specific situations where something really bad happens.
    – apaderno
    Commented Nov 16, 2011 at 15:38

No. That'd be pretty silly

Off topic answers will be deleted, but the question will remain. The same goes for comments.

The same applies for flags on a comment on an answer; if an off-topic comment is posted on an answer, the comment may be deleted, but the answer will remain.

  • The answers on this question are all backwards as far as rating is concerned :S +1 Commented Nov 23, 2011 at 11:53
  • 1
    -1 because yes, a mod can lock a question if it's generating a constant stream of off-topic comments / answers, for example a flame war, or a question which is getting a lot of people answering "I have this problem too!" -- see Sathya's answer Commented Nov 29, 2011 at 13:35

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