Whether we like it or not, SO is enabling lazy users:

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Lousy question, then somebody delivers the goods.

We need to block the answer box totally, once a question is downvoted a lot. Just allow commenting only!


Do I have to refrain from thoroughly answering a simple (but decent) question for fear of seeing my work deleted?

  • 4
    What if someone improves the question? They will have to wait an age (or forever) for the up-votes to outweigh the down-votes before an answer can be posted. Or, the OP will keep asking the same question again and again, because they know they can't receive answers. Commented Nov 1, 2013 at 16:22
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    But then how would anyone get the Reversal Badge?
    – Taryn
    Commented Nov 1, 2013 at 16:24
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    @bluefeet They would post the answer before the question was downvoted enough?
    – Servy
    Commented Nov 1, 2013 at 16:24
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    @Servy That would be difficult if answers are prevented in the first minute. Sometimes a good answer to a bad question could still happen after the 1st minute.
    – Taryn
    Commented Nov 1, 2013 at 16:26
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    I was gonna downvote this, but I didn't want to prevent anyone from answering it. Commented Nov 1, 2013 at 16:33
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    Come along, upvote back to -3, post answer, downvote question
    – random
    Commented Nov 1, 2013 at 16:35
  • @JohnnyBones- Downvotes on Meta only mean amicable disagreement , So I feel fairly OK. Well for now Commented Nov 1, 2013 at 16:35
  • @random - lol well, yeah that's a way :P Commented Nov 1, 2013 at 16:36
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    Trying to show the answerer the error in his/her ways, it's not going too well. Commented Nov 1, 2013 at 16:45
  • @Dukeling - And I totally understand it. Even the "why" we'd rather status quo. I'm just pointing out stuff here ;-) Commented Nov 4, 2013 at 19:14

3 Answers 3


You know, sometimes all it takes to get the context needed to improve a smelly question is a great answer from someone that was able to decipher it. If we can avoid putting a question on-hold entirely by some great surgical edits, that's definitely preferable.

Remember, it's not just about the OP getting their answer, it's about the quality of questions and answers we warehouse for future visitors to find. If we can hit the quality spot quickly, sometimes with the help of a great answer, then I don't see a problem - everyone wins.

When that's not possible, then we put questions on hold and let the OP know what they need to fix. Sometimes folks have a heightened sense of urgency that they need to escape, and that process can help.

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    But what if we could have the great answers without the bad questions (i.e. great answer to good / great questions)? The only way to get there (as far as I can see) is by not answering the bad questions at all. Then, over time, the average question quality should increase. Commented Nov 1, 2013 at 17:13
  • @Dukeling An great answer to a bad question is better than no answer to no question. I doubt that there will be an increase in average question quality. There will always be new users who just don't know how things work around here. Commented Nov 1, 2013 at 18:08
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    @SimonAndréForsberg Yes, in the short term we might lose some great answers, but we should be looking to the future - ideally we'd have the exact same questions, just asked better (and, while we're talking ideally, many self-answers too). And note that more than enough of the bad questions are asked by users who aren't all that new. Commented Nov 1, 2013 at 18:42
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    You're right, it's not just about the OP getting an answer, but I think you may be discounting the OP aspect too much. Whenever a no-effort question gets a good answer, it teaches the asker that effort is unnecessary (at least sometimes). If there are also a bunch of comments telling the asker to write better questions, the asker will learn that they're "all bark and no bite." We absolutely want to have great answers around for future visitors; quality equals value. But we also have an interest in developing good behaviors while discouraging bad ones, for long-term site health.
    – Pops
    Commented Nov 3, 2013 at 3:24

This is what closing is for. Questions that we don't feel should be answered should be closed not (just) downvoted. The question you showed would qualify for closure.

If you don't have enough rep to vote to close, then you can flag the question for closure to direct those who can to that question.

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    I don't agree this is a good feature, but I'd like to point out that closing probably doesn't serve the purpose that Adel is looking for. In as much as the lazy questionee often gets their answer before any closure takes place. Commented Nov 1, 2013 at 16:26
  • @Duncan Sometimes they do and sometimes they don't. If you have a proposal to help address that and ensure close-worthy questions are closed before low quality answers are provided, I'd love to hear it, but making downvotes equal to close votes (which is essentially what this proposal is saying) doesn't seem like a good solution in my eyes.
    – Servy
    Commented Nov 1, 2013 at 16:28
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    This question should not be answered by it's own proposal. Commented Nov 1, 2013 at 16:30
  • Excellent! Let's add to the 81K backlog! EDIT: 89K. I guess it's been a week since I checked... Commented Nov 1, 2013 at 16:31
  • @JohnnyBones I'd much rather have a long backlog of probably close-worthy questions than have an empty queue and lots of close-worthy questions that I can't find easily. Discouraging people from flagging (appropriately) is just burying your head in the sand and giving you better metrics for the same quality of content, not actually making the site better.
    – Servy
    Commented Nov 1, 2013 at 16:34
  • There's enough edit hogs here looking for their +2, I think if a good answer comes along then the question should be edited so that it's added to the repository. No need to nuke the question and add to the queue, just fix it. Encouraging people to go flag-happy isn't making the site better either. Commented Nov 1, 2013 at 16:37
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    @JohnnyBones As has been determined by the site over quite some time, very poor quality questions generate very poor quality answers. They very rarely generate quality answers. The close reasons are designed specifically because those types of questions simply won't generate quality answers until they are improved. Allowing the posting of poor quality answers is harmful, not helpful. Of course, it takes some understanding of the site to know what should be closed, and what left open, hence the 3k rep limit on closing, rather than just using downvotes.
    – Servy
    Commented Nov 1, 2013 at 16:40

Optimize for pearls, not for sand it the motto of StackExchange.

While I strongly agree that help vampires should not be fed, there are other reasons for downvotes as help vampires. And there are cases, where the poor question has resulted in some excelent question, which is easily googled - a pearl!

What's more, such pure question may be edited, making it more clear and precise, but the downvotes remain as long as they are not matched with enough upvotes. Blocking answers would make even such questions a helpless case.

The best way to enforce "do not feed vampires" policy is to delete spoonfeeding questions as fast as possible. The posters of the answers would therefore lost their reputation, that they've expected so easily to earn - discouraging them for future spoonfeeding.

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