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Closing Etiquette: Why Do Some Answer and Close?

... and vice versa. I don't have anything more to say, just remove that paradox.


This happened earlier today so I'm inclined to think I'm one of the people you were talking about. (The "Programming language for the rest of your life?" thread?) I voted to close, but also posted an answer.

I posted a generically correct answer because it's pretty obvious that the question was gonna get closed in T minus 5 seconds anyway. While I don't normally think people should post on those questions, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to make such a simple correct answer.

Personally, I usually pre-empt the community wiki flag (like Marc) if I think the question will get wiki'd, but I've done it so many times in the past I wanted to treat myself to a couple extra rep points. :) C++ has been slow lately! :(

  • @GMan, you are one from the SO users that I appreciate. Yes, I saw that thread and the answer you posted is fine, it wasn't a joke. You post an answer and at the same time you deprive the right from other users to post an answer. That's not fair game. +1 and I accept your answer. – Nick Dandoulakis Sep 18 '09 at 8:48

It is a little irritating in some cases (depending on what they actually post), but I'm not sure it needs "fixing" as such; I've seen the two combined responsibly. My own pet peeve is when a 3k+ user posts a reply like:

This has already been discussed in this (SOFU) question.

rather than using a close vote. And even for a 50+ user it should be a comment IMO. Or maybe a "close as duplicate" vote should take less rep, since you are forced to qualify it with a related question... 1k or 500, for example.

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    I definitely agree with the whole "duplicate as an answer" problem, and I almost always will downvote those types of answers. – TheTXI Sep 18 '09 at 4:58
  • there other cases, like when it's the only answer, the user is joking and gets rep. – Nick Dandoulakis Sep 18 '09 at 5:17
  • We detected an invalid domain linked in your post. This is likely caused due to sample code not being in a code block. (this message will be automatically removed when the link is fixed) – Community May 14 '12 at 5:24

Why is it a paradox? Just because you feel that it should be closed does not mean that the community will agree with your vote. So if the question may not get closed and you can still answer the question, you might as well put forth a good faith-based effort in case it does stay open.

  • If you couldn't post an answer then maybe you'd think the vote to closing twice. – Nick Dandoulakis Sep 18 '09 at 5:04
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    No, i'd just think twice about posting an answer. – Shog9 Sep 18 '09 at 5:23
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    I guess it depends on what your answer is ;-p If it looks like it might go "wiki" (but remain a useful question), I tend to pre-empt the wiki flag on my answer, for example. If it just an off-topic question, I won't post ;-p – Marc Gravell Sep 18 '09 at 5:44
  • @Shog9, nice comment but I think that's a lie ;-) – Nick Dandoulakis Sep 18 '09 at 6:42
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    @Nick D: not at all. I rarely ever post answers to questions I vote to close as-is, and mark them CW when I do. Frankly, I'd rather see a bad question closed than gain rep for answering it. – Shog9 Sep 18 '09 at 20:51
  • @TXI: The question could get closed and re-opened as well.. answers remain – Brian Dec 10 '09 at 2:15

I disagree wholeheartedly.

If I find a question I can answer (praise the lord), I'll answer it. I'll probably do a little googling and extra reading to make sure my answer is correct, then I'll post it. By that time, I might find that three other people have voted to close as exact duplicate. At that point, I check the link and agree with them, so I vote to close as well.

Should I delete my answer? No. It is still a valid answer to the question and will possibly be merged into the other question if a merge takes places.

Or I come across a question that is blatantly offensive "I'm so Fng frustrated with trying to get XYZ to Fng compile. You're all bastards." So I edit out the profanity and character attacks, add comment that explains why, add a downvote, and attempt to answer the question as best I can. Then the OP rolls back my edit. At that point, I'd flag a moderator and vote to close for blatantly offensive.

Spam would be the same situation as the first problem. I might not realize it is spam when I am answering.

Basically, most people will likely try to answer a question if possible and then vote to close as a last resort.

If you see any abusive behaviour, you should flag it. But I think than banning answering/closing won't stop any actual abuse, and it would disallow completely valid courses of action.

  • if you can't vote there are hundreds of other users who can. Anyway, I respect your opinion even if I disagree. – Nick Dandoulakis Sep 18 '09 at 13:07
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    I don't see how your comment is relevant to my answer. – devinb Sep 18 '09 at 13:21
  • If by posting an answer you couldn't vote to close it afterward then other can and will do it. (Isn't this your concern? Being unable to vote to close a question?) – Nick Dandoulakis Sep 18 '09 at 15:27
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    @Nick: But why should I lose my right to moderate a question, simply because I felt I could answer it? I explained three perfectly valid situations where I answered a question in good faith, and now you're saying that my attempt to contribute the community means that I'm then not allowed to help clean it up. – devinb Sep 18 '09 at 16:17
  • ok, I proposed a stupid request, I admit it. – Nick Dandoulakis Sep 18 '09 at 22:20

I've voted to close and answered before, and the primary reason is that I want to give the user some help, even though the question is doomed.

Often I'll leave a comment instead, but sometimes the answer won't fit, and other times I feel the best spot is in the answer space, since that's going to be slightly more visible to a newbie to the site.

The only reason, so far, that has been given for NOT doing this is that one might gain rep, and then deny others the chance to do so as well.

Unfortunately it's a strawman argument - once the question is closed it's on the path for deletion, and once deleted it will no longer count towards your rep, which will change when your rep is recalculated. Some account for that fact by wiki-ing their answer so they don't have as much a rep loss later, but it doesn't matter whether it's thrown away immediately, or lost later during a rep recalc.

So there's no reason not the help the poster out, while also saying, "Sorry, this isn't the right site for this question..." It's not a paradox. It's not terribly rep-whorish. And there's no need to put in place a technical fix for something that is already handled very well by the existing mechanisms.


I will treat this as two cases:

  • Voting to move the question to another site: this implies I think it is a good question, and answering is OK. The more so as I have associated accounts on all the sites.
  • Voting to close without moving (NaRQ, SPAM, whatever): I think I answered one of these once. Can't recall why I thought it was a good idea, but I did mark my answer CW because I thought that gaining reputation on a questions that I felt did not belong would be wrong. An answer here might be appropriate if the asker seems to have a vast misunderstanding that needs to be corrected so that they will understand why the question does not belong. Mostly this can be accomplished in the comments, but there can be cases when they are a poor tool for the job.
  • +1 for "Not a Real Question" == "NaRQ" – Donut Sep 18 '09 at 21:16

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