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I've noticed that several questions on Stack Overflow are closed, and therefore closed to new answers, despite being somewhat popular (with at least 500 views). This means that users can't post new answers to these questions, even if they found them interesting or useful. Instead of depriving users of the ability to answer these questions, should users be allowed to post new answers to these closed questions?

Are any users (above a certain reputation threshold) allowed to answer questions that have been closed, and is there any justification for preventing Stack Overflow users from attempting to answer closed questions?

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    Err... the whole point of closing a question is to prevent further answers. Also votes are different on meta
    – Doorknob
    Commented May 29, 2013 at 2:13
  • @Doorknob Still, I don't understand why users are prevented from answering closed questions - why should anyone be deprived of the opportunity to answer a useful or interesting question? Commented May 29, 2013 at 2:17
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    @AndersonGreen Because the question doesn't belong on the site. Otherwise, it wouldn't have been closed in the first place.
    – yannis
    Commented May 29, 2013 at 2:18
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    This post doesn't make sense. Closing a question has only two effects: preventing new answers, and allowing deletion votes to be cast on it. Given that, can you explain what effect you think closing should have instead? Or are you asking why questions are closed at all?
    – jscs
    Commented May 29, 2013 at 2:37
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    Don't forget that downvotes on meta are not only about quality of a question but also might be a disagreement on what is said Commented May 29, 2013 at 3:38

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I don't want to sound overly dismissive, but preventing new answers is sort of the point of closing questions.

A closed question is either unsuitable for the site altogether or needs improvement before it can fit in well.

In the first case, if we allowed answers on any questions posted ever, we would not be any different from, say, answers.com or Yahoo! Answers. Those sites sure fill their respective niches, but what sets Stack Exchange apart is the focused Q&A on specific subjects. If any question could get an answer, what would be the point?

In the second case, folks posting answers before a question is clarified or edited also proves to be problematic. If/when the question is edited, the existing answers often no longer match the new question and things just get progressively more confusing from there.

If a question was wrongly closed, the solution is to get it reopened (via flagging or casting a reopen vote and going through the review queue where others might do the same), not making closing meaningless.

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  • I think it's fair to be overly dismissive of my question - the question that I asked was extremely pointless, and I certainly deserve downvotes (i.e., a bad reputation) for asking it. Commented May 29, 2013 at 2:29
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    @AndersonGreen How did you go from 'Why is my question being downvoted?' to 'My question deserves to be downvoted' in less than 20 minutes?
    – Patashu
    Commented May 29, 2013 at 3:07
  • @Patashu Someone explained why my question was downvoted, so I realized that I deserved a bad reputation for asking the question. Commented May 29, 2013 at 3:39
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    @AndersonGreen I'm just a bit worried is all. It's a sign of low self-esteem to reply to a rhetorical boilerplate 'I don't want to be seen as offensive' header as though it was literal. :) Everyone asks dumb things, but that doesn't mean you are dumb or should act like you are.
    – Patashu
    Commented May 29, 2013 at 3:52
  • @Patashu I usually perceive downvotes to questions as a form of punishment or ridicule, since it appears that downvotes are intended to lower a user's reputation (and therefore lower their self-esteem). Commented May 29, 2013 at 4:18
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    Votes change reputation sort of as a side effect, @AndersonGreen; their primary (intended) purpose is marking content as either good or bad. The point of reputation, though, is to indicate the overall quality of a user's contributions; thus, votes affect reputation. (On Meta, votes are often also used to indicate "I agree/disagree with your premise and wish to subscribe to/burn your newsletter", although there's disagreement about whether that application should possibly only be used for feature-requests.)
    – jscs
    Commented May 29, 2013 at 4:26
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    @Anderson Green I don't perceive them that way. On Stack Overflow, when I get downvoted, it's like a jolt to say 'hey, you messed up this time, you should look at what you wrote to see if it's as accurate as you thought'. It's not shots fired against the writer, but the content. The downvote reputation penalty only exists as a psychological incentive + to keep really REALLY bad contributors from gaining any rep. On top of that, votes are different on meta stackoverflow, even if an idea is good or thought out downvotes can mean 'I don't think this should be implemented'.
    – Patashu
    Commented May 29, 2013 at 5:16

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