I just typed out a fairly long answer to a question, so it took a little while. When I tried to post it I found I couldn't. I refreshed and found the question had been voted to be placed on hold due to being too broad.

A couple of one liner answers had been added before the hold came into effect and I noticed one of them, after another refresh then became a much more detailed answer. I then noticed it was by one of the users that had voted to place the question on hold for being too broad, which of course prevents further answers.

I wonder if it's a contradiction to allow people to answer questions and vote to close / hold them? Surely supplying an answer is stating you think the question is worthy of remaining and therefore should be open to attract further answers? Have I misunderstood this? (I'm new at contributing rather than just gleaning help from the site, so go easy!).

  • Gaming the system. Did you flag the question as a conflict of interest? – Gayot Fow Feb 12 '14 at 16:57
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    This has always bothered me as well. I feel that it is a tactic for some users to gain rep while limiting other users ability to gain rep because once the question is closed, no more answers are accepted. I really think that if someone votes to close a question, any answer they submitted should be automatically deleted without any option to undelete. I feel that we should always be looking at questions that are on-topic and answering those, and simply ignoring questions that are off-topic. – Anil Natha Feb 12 '14 at 16:58
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    So long as questions that are off-topic are allowed to have answers, posters of off-topic questions, and shady members are going to continue to game the system rather than focusing on keeping the site on topic and focused based on the guidelines outlined in the help center. Basically, take the incentive away for answering off-topic questions and the problem will slowly go away and members will hopefully begin to pay attention to what types of questions are on-topic and which aren't. – Anil Natha Feb 12 '14 at 17:01
  • @AlE. You are right - thanks, made interesting reading. – Kate Feb 12 '14 at 17:02
  • @GarryVass I haven't but will. Should I just flag it as 'Other' and describe or is there a specific way to flag as conflict of interest? – Kate Feb 12 '14 at 17:03
  • Flag other and explain conflict of interest – Gayot Fow Feb 13 '14 at 0:27

I don't think it is necessarily gaming the system. I've done it a few times, and I don't give any craps about reputation, even a little. I get nothing by "beating" you in rep score, no gain by preventing you from earning rep. I don't really see what motive someone would have for behaving in the way you suspect they are. To what end do I block you? What do I gain from that?

Often, my decision to answer is with this mindset: the question is going to be closed for a technical problem, be it a near-duplicate, wording, "what did you try", etc. I can see it is a broken question, I can see close votes happening, and I vote to close too. At the same time, I am a human being, and there is another human being on the other end of this series of tubes who just wants to get something done. I empathize, and if I can take 60 seconds of my time to help them out, I do.

The question is possibly going to stay there for reference for some time, whether I answer or not, and it is going to be a honey pot for certain Google searches by yet another human being who just wants to get something done. If my brief answer can help them out, I feel it is time well spent.

When I'm on the hunt for answers, the last thing I feel like doing is clicking around the administrative banners of some Q&A site trying to find the person who had the good luck to ask their question in a way that garnered approval from the community. Sometimes the process works fine and the duplicate question, for example, is linked to a good dupe. Sometimes, the question is closed as a dupe and links to another question that is closed as a dupe, which in turn links to a question that was closed as a dupe and has a crappy answer.

In the end, I don't think it hurts anything, and I think it helps justify keeping closed questions around at all. If you believe it is a tactic to shut other users out of earning rep, I suppose you can take it that way; for my part, that's never my intent.

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  • Thanks for your viewpoint. I won't deny there is definitely an element of rep to this, but it's also about providing the asker with a good answer. As you say, there is a human at the other end and the question could become a honey pot for Google searches. I therefore find it contradictory that we would allow a quick answer to remain, but prevent a potentially better answer from being supplied. – Kate Feb 12 '14 at 17:29
  • But I agree that it isn't necessarily gaming the system - there are bound to be examples as you suggested where that isn't the case. – Kate Feb 12 '14 at 17:31
  • I've answered a couple bountied questions that should have absolutely been closed. I even voted for them to be closed after the bounty was awarded. Since those types can't be closed (through voting), I felt I might as well answer, since they're going to be around for at least the next seven days. – Geobits Feb 12 '14 at 17:59

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