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In short, it would be useful to allow posting answers for questions that are within the "on hold" period.

If need be, and probably wise, the ability to do so could be linked with an appropriate privilege.

The reason I bring this up is because I was just about to post an answer to a question when it was closed - this one actually, which is already well on it's way to being re-opened anyway. It was quite annoying as in this case I have wasted my time posting an answer, to what in my opinion (and yes I know not everyone will share my opinion) is a valid question.

I could wait until the question is re-opened but that causes the following problems:

  1. It may never be re-opened, and some closed questions deserve to have an answer

  2. It annoys me when I waste my time typing an answer and can't post it because it has been closed within minutes, by users who probably don't understand the question to start with

  3. In the event the question does get re-opened then it might be too late by then. For example, if the question I linked isn't opened in the next 30 minutes I will be gone for the weekend, my notepad answer lost, and I will likely forget about the question when I am next on SO. So the OP doesn't even get the answer they deserve

Now I know a lot of question are closed for a good reason, and we probably don't want answers posted on those, but the reality is that users with enough rep to post answers to "on hold" questions will know when it is appropriate to post based on experience.

Also, you only get the 5 day "on hold" window until the question is fully closed anyway - at which point I would agree enough time has passed to say definitely no more answers, no matter how much rep you have.

EDIT: The question I linked has just been re-opened. But naturally this isn't going to be the only instance this applies

  • 1
    What would be the point of putting questions On Hold if you could still answer them? – JonW Apr 11 '14 at 15:32
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    The entire point of putting questions on hold is to prevent exactly this. – fbueckert Apr 11 '14 at 15:32
  • @JonW: I guess you didn't read my question then... I listed my reasons – musefan Apr 11 '14 at 15:32
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    @musefan: I did. It seems to indicate that it would prevent high-ish rep users getting annoyed if they could still answer Off Topic questions. – JonW Apr 11 '14 at 15:33
  • @gnat: How is that a duplicate question... I am not even asking a question – musefan Apr 11 '14 at 15:34
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    @musefan Well this question demonstrates that you don't actually understand what it means for a question to be on hold. – Servy Apr 11 '14 at 15:34
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    dupe question explains exactly why what you ask for is not allowed – gnat Apr 11 '14 at 15:34
  • @JonW: If you read them, then why did you ask me? And I knew you would all focus on point 2... I am not really that concerned, but I do feel bad for the OP who doesn't deserve to go unanswered – musefan Apr 11 '14 at 15:35
  • @Servy: It means it's closed, for now... but not irreversibly – musefan Apr 11 '14 at 15:36
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    OK how about this situation - question is put on hold for being too vague. While it's on hold you go an answer it anyway, but the OP has been editing it to make it make more sense. When he edits it his question now means your answer doesn't make sense anymore, so that just makes everything confused. – JonW Apr 11 '14 at 15:36
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    @musefan, your answer to that question begins with It's not clear what your functionality will be, but... and contains terms like perhaps, depending on what you need, or have a Google of that. It might be a hint the question was too vague to be answered in the first place. – Frédéric Hamidi Apr 11 '14 at 15:38
  • @musefan Exactly. If the question is appropriate, and should be answered, then it can be reopened, and then answered. If it doesn't get reopened, then it generally means it shouldn't be answered. And if it didn't have problems, it generally won't have been closed in the first place. – Servy Apr 11 '14 at 15:38
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    see also: What is important about closing questions "A question that has no answer is easier to fix (make on topic, narrow the scope, fix the XY problem, remove polling nature)... " – gnat Apr 11 '14 at 15:38
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    @musefan So the question is clear despite your answer specifically opening with the statement that it's not clear. Really? You're sticking with that? – Servy Apr 11 '14 at 15:47
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    @musefan It's easy to provide some answer to an unclear question. it's generally not possible to provide a good answer to an unclear question. Your answer, due to the lack of detail in the question, cannot be complete. The question needs to be clarified with specifics so that a quality answer can be provided. – Servy Apr 11 '14 at 15:55
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The reason we close questions is so that they can't get answers. We don't want to accumulate low quality answers to questions that are not a good fit for the site. If a question was closed erroneously, it can be reopened.

Now I know a lot of question are closed for a good reason, and we probably don't want answers posted on those, but the reality is that users with enough rep to post answers to "on hold" questions will know when it is appropriate to post based on experience.

No, the reality is that there are quite a few users with high rep that will answer just any question that they can answer irrespective of whether the question should be closed. I've seen some really iffy stabs in the dark on unclear questions from people with high reputation.

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    Yes. People can (and do) easily get high rep in the first place from answering easy, yet off topic questions. – JonW Apr 11 '14 at 15:38
  • OK, that's a fair point, I have also seen this happen. Though sometimes they stab in the right direction. I have myself been able to answer questions that most deem "unclear", but they are clear to me. A counter suggestion would be to disable upvotes for on-hold answers.. then those just looking for the quick rep will have no benefit. – musefan Apr 11 '14 at 15:39
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    @musefan If you think you understand then comment, asking if that is what the OP means – Richard Tingle Apr 11 '14 at 15:42
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    @musefan If the question is clear enough to you then help clarify the question through edits and comments, and vote to reopen it, so that it can be answered. Rather than answering an unclear question clarify it so that everyone can understand it, rather than just you. – Servy Apr 11 '14 at 15:43
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    I love the irony of this answer being posted to a closed question. – Servy Apr 11 '14 at 15:44
  • @RichardTingle: And if the users say "yes, that's what I mean"? I still can't answer, and a comment box is not suitable for a good answer – musefan Apr 11 '14 at 16:03
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    @musefan then edit to clarify and vote to reopen – Richard Tingle Apr 11 '14 at 16:03
  • @Servy: The point is it's not just me that understands it, the problem is that people who don't understand the technology are too quick to assume it's unclear, presumably just because it's short and doesn't include code – musefan Apr 11 '14 at 16:04
  • @Servy Even better if someone had used the mobile post-after-closing issue – Richard Tingle Apr 11 '14 at 16:05
  • @RichardTingle: It doesn't need clarification, its fine the way it is – musefan Apr 11 '14 at 16:05
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    @musefan Then the post can be reopened just the way it is. If it really is a good and clear post without problems, it won't have trouble being reopened. The fact remains that the vast majority of closed posts are closed for a reason; they shouldn't be answered. The solution for dealing with the occasional mistaken closure is to reopen it, not to allow answers to closed posts. – Servy Apr 11 '14 at 16:06
  • @RichardTingle You can do that on the main site too, it's just a bit easier to do on the mobile site by accident. – Servy Apr 11 '14 at 16:07
  • @Servy That is absolutely not possible wink wink – Richard Tingle Apr 11 '14 at 16:08
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It may never be re-opened, and some closed questions deserve to have an answer

But most don't.

It annoys me when I waste my time typing an answer and can't post it because it has been closed within minutes, by users who probably don't understand the question to start with

True, but is that really a big problem?

So the OP doesn't even get the answer they deserve

Not necessarily. Someone else might answer it, or you may decide to answer it after all.

Also, what about duplicates? If what you are suggesting is implemented, then users could go find all duplicate on-hold questions, rephrase the answers on the duplicated question, post that as an answer, and get a lot of reputation with little to no effort.

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  • And the bad ones wont get answers... nothing lost there. Not a big problem getting annoyed, but just another useful benefit from the feature. Unlikely in some more specialized areas - which are prone to be closed due to a lack of understanding by voters as opposed to being an unclear question – musefan Apr 11 '14 at 15:42
  • @musefan Can you please give an example of a question that was closed due to a lack of understanding on the closer's part, but wasn't reopened later? – The Guy with The Hat Apr 11 '14 at 15:44
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    @musefan No, poor quality questions that meet the closure criteria that aren't actually closed do get answers. They get low quality answers that aren't very helpful due to problems in the question such as a lack of information, clarity, ontopicness, etc. If these problematic questions actually didn't get answers, there would be no need to close questions in the first place. We close questions to stop people from trying to answer them, because they would if we didn't. – Servy Apr 11 '14 at 15:49
  • @TheGuywithTheHat: Not off the top of my head.. like I said, I forget about them and therefore don't go back to check on them – musefan Apr 11 '14 at 16:11
  • @Servy: I think there is more behind why we close questions... hence we have a massive close queue. Questions now days get closed too quick, it laziness. Rather than vote down and seek to clarifiaction to improve the answers, or understand what is being asked, it's just close and move on – musefan Apr 11 '14 at 16:13
  • @musefan That's entirely valid. Users are not obligated to improve low quality questions. At the end of the day it is the responsibility of the author to improve the questions. People can help if they want, but it is entirely appropriate for them to indicate a problem using their votes and then move on. The shear volume of crap that SO gets makes it simply impossible for the community to fix up every crappy question that's posted. And your suggestion to just allow people to answer those crappy questions makes it worse; as it encourages them to come back and post more crappy questions. – Servy Apr 11 '14 at 16:17

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