Is it bad etiquette to answer a question with lots of downvotes?

This question was prompted by the SO question How to get line->next in Python. OP clearly hadn't done much searching for a solution but also seemed looking for a solution to the wrong problem. If a question is one of those "write this code for me" questions, I don't answer, but I thought this was more ambiguous than the number of downvotes suggested.

Was I out of line to answer? How should I decided whether to answer in similar cases in the future.

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    If you think it's worth answering, and you still feel that way after considering that the community may have a point in downvoting the question, it's always okay to answer. IMO. – Pekka Sep 2 '12 at 2:49
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    See my answer here, I think it applies, from an etiquette perspective it would be quite unreasonable for anyone to berate you for posting a thorough answer. That said, if you look at the original version of the question you'll notice that it had a very forum-y nature and that might explain some of the downvotes. – yannis Sep 2 '12 at 2:57
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    Plus if your answer is good enough you could get a Reversal Badge – psubsee2003 Sep 2 '12 at 8:55

Did you downvote the question? Did you think it was a bad question? Since you answered it, you probably didn't think it was all that bad. The number of votes on a question represent what the community thinks about a question, but not what you think. Therefore, don't feel like you need to "follow the crowd" or jump on any bandwagons. Do what you think is best.

If the question is really that bad, it will eventually get closed and/or deleted. It also may get edited and improved; hence, it may actually get more upvotes in the long run.

Thus, providing an answer to a question is never a bad thing, as long as the question and its answers can help future visitors.

As a suggestion, since you answered the question, consider upvoting it yourself. I generally upvote every question that I answer, especially if my answer is accepted or upvoted. Reputation is the only currency here, and without questions we cannot have answers. Good luck!

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  • Those questions were probably rhetorical, but... No, I didn't downvote, and I thought the question was OK at best but not awful. – Matthew Adams Sep 2 '12 at 3:10
  • Lol, yes they were rhetorical @MatthewAdams :) But I think you see my point. I generally downvote questions that can't be answered, are ridiculous, or are asked by help vampires who ask too much from our community. Good luck! :) – jmort253 Sep 2 '12 at 3:16
  • I probably answer as many questions I downvote as those I upvote. The tooltip says _"This question does not display any research effort". If the question doesn't I downvote; that doesn't mean I'm not willing to give the OP their answer. – ben is uǝq backwards Sep 2 '12 at 12:08
  • @Ben - If it displays enough research effort for me to answer, I don't downvote. I downvote if I have to reach down the OP's throat and painfully pull out all of the details with a series of time-wasting comments. If there is enough information there to quickly answer the question, I don't downvote. If I downvote, it's because the question wasted my time, not by being "beneath me", but my requiring me to sit and try to get all of the details out of you that you should have included in the first place. – jmort253 Sep 2 '12 at 18:54

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