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User djechelin recently posted an answer I was given during a review session. I voted to close the answer as it was no explanation and mainly a link-only answer.

Please see the answer here: Print text when key pressed

The user also voted to close the question and still answered, which I think is rather odd. I don't see any reason why you should answer I question which you think is a duplicate. In the ensuing conversations via comments the user argued this has worked well before and there is an error in the system of SO. The user also mentioned he did get some bronze badges for it, so it should be ok.

I strongly disagree with this practice. To me it seems this answer doesn't add anything useful to SO and is a blunt misusage of an answer to get same badges. I'd like to have the opinions of community members about:

  • Is it bad practice to comment on questions you voted to close in such circumstances (Trivial question, already answer, answer he gave also in the comment)
  • Is it in general allowed to provide a link-only answer when this link goes to a SO-page?
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    Is this related: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/4283/…
    – rene
    Commented Apr 16, 2014 at 14:21
  • @random I don't think it is a duplicate, although clearly related. The linked answer is mainly about questions which do belong on anther size in the SE network, where I have some specific circumanstances given here (duplicate question, trivial answer). Also, I'd like to know if giving a link-only answer to SO-pages is considered good practice, which I outlined as question in the second part. Please reconsider opening the question.
    – dirkk
    Commented Apr 16, 2014 at 14:45
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    meta.stackexchange.com/questions/50358/…
    – random
    Commented Apr 16, 2014 at 15:09

2 Answers 2

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When you vote to close a question you're specifically saying that the question should not be answered. Answering it anyway is hypocritical, and should not be done.

The only valid situation, once upon a time, was before users could rescind their close votes. If a question was clarified/edited into a valid question from an invalid one, someone could still have a close vote on a question that they now feel is answerable. Now that users can revoke their close votes, even that situation isn't valid.

An answer that only links to a duplicate answer is simply an inappropriate answer. Link only answers are inherently of low quality for a number of reasons already, and when the post could instead be marked as a duplicate it makes it even less useful. Doing this is never going to be helpful.

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    It's ironic that you answered this question, and also voted to close it :P.
    – Matt
    Commented Apr 16, 2014 at 14:34
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    @Matt I couldn't help myself. It was too good to resist ;)
    – Servy
    Commented Apr 16, 2014 at 14:35
  • smite the hypocrite! :P Commented Apr 16, 2014 at 15:03
  • I think there is an exception: coming back (after answering) and voting to close as a duplicate (having become aware that is the case). Closing as a duplicate does not say the question is poor. (In this case the answer is a real answer, not just a link to the duplicate.)
    – Richard
    Commented Apr 16, 2014 at 15:36
  • @Richard In such a case either the posted answer is not valuable, and it can simply be deleted, or it is valuable, and the questions should be merged. If it's not valuable, or at least isn't adding value to the answers in the duplicate, then it's just drawing attention away from better answers. If it is adding value, then it should be in the canonical question where it will have more visibility.
    – Servy
    Commented Apr 16, 2014 at 15:43
  • I downvoted your answer per your answer. Seriously, this doesn't make any sense. You just proved to me that you don't agree with a word you said, am I missing something?
    – djechlin
    Commented Apr 16, 2014 at 15:56
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    @djechlin Yes, you're missing a sense of humor. Or you're missing the joke; one of the two.
    – Servy
    Commented Apr 16, 2014 at 16:20
  • Even if you posted it with humor in mind it's a serious, reasoned answer, and people are reading it now and taking its content seriously (even if the author's intent was humor). Plus it's going to be here for a long time as part of meta's long term repository of information, probably read before the dupe, if it's closed. Plus, we hate fun. (tl;dr: it's no sense of humor).
    – djechlin
    Commented Apr 16, 2014 at 16:26
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    @djechlin It was closed and then reopened, because this question is considered different enough to not be a duplicate. Did you not notice the lack of close votes on the question? And yes, the answer is serious, and it's meant to be taken seriously. The whole answer is not a joke; it just has a little joke tacked onto it for those paying close attention.
    – Servy
    Commented Apr 16, 2014 at 16:27
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It happens very frequently that I vote to close as duplicate, and another user posts a mediocre answer that gains a few upvotes, even the though answer is worse than the ones on the question that is a duplicate. And that is an awful feeling, like when a programmer is rewarded for writing a buggy library by hand, when you were diligent enough to find an existing solution somewhere.

Reputation aside, this is also a perfectly correct reaction. The real point here is creating quality content of course, and after finding a duplicate, the mediocre answers are displayed more prominently than the brilliant answers on the duplicate question. As such it made sense for me to post an answer with a link to the better answers on StackOverflow, above the crappy answers, and below the inconspicuous comment that says where the duplicate is. This is of course an extravagant kludge on SE's poor support for duplicates, but please don't make me furthermore copy and paraphrase the content on better answers already on StackOverflow to a duplicate question.

Importantly, most reasons I understand links are bad don't apply intra-SO. Namely, that they break (if links from SO to SO break we have a bigger problem... the only exception being a the question being deleted, but my closing as duplicate is a vote of confidence it's a quality question that won't be deleted.)

That's why this feature request is so essential. The occasional meta thread notwithstanding, the practice will probably continue as long as the incentives are bad.

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    You're describing people answering instead of closing as a duplicate, not people answering and also voting to close as a duplicate.
    – Servy
    Commented Apr 16, 2014 at 15:52
  • @Servy now you're implying it would be better to answer mediocrely even if I found the duplicate. That's what the incentives are anyway, which is why they need to be fixed. It's obviously better to answer for rep and close as duplicate of a good question with good answers than... just answer for rep.
    – djechlin
    Commented Apr 16, 2014 at 15:53
  • Both are bad behaviors, and they should both be discouraged. We shouldn't be encouraging, or allowing, some certain bad behavior just because there is some other possible behavior that's worse still.
    – Servy
    Commented Apr 16, 2014 at 15:56
  • Why not just closing as duplicate? I don't get it. Even if other answers are mediocre, this is mainly fixed when it is closed as duplicate as users most likely will go to the original question.
    – dirkk
    Commented Apr 16, 2014 at 15:58
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    @Servy Yes you should. That's called "the lesser of two evils." Meanwhile you should be haranguing SE to actually fix the problem. Honestly the result of this thread is probably just going to be my participating on SE less, because I really don't enjoy watching other people get rep after I find a dupe, and apparently my also getting that rep after I've found a dupe is being outlawed via this thread. That leaves nothing whatsoever I enjoy about helping questions with duplicates.
    – djechlin
    Commented Apr 16, 2014 at 15:59
  • So you equate enjoyment with rep? That's all that matters? Rather than focusing on the rep (as an end, rather than a means to an end) keep in mind that the real purpose here is to create quality content. Filling tons of threads with these answers isn't improving the site's quality, it's harming it. Yes, it would be nice to add incentives to encourage voting to close over answering known duplicates, but having everyone posting really terrible link only answers isn't a constructive way of going about doing that.
    – Servy
    Commented Apr 16, 2014 at 16:04
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    The rep system is a means to an end, not an end in and of itself. When you see users acting inappropriately you should lead by example and act appropriately, as well as encouraging others to do the same, rather than acting destructively just because others have done so.
    – Servy
    Commented Apr 16, 2014 at 16:10
  • @djechlin I really don't get why you are upset when other people get rep? I might understand that you care about your own reps, but why others? This does not affect you in any way, so why bother? In the end it is similar to money: I don't care how much others earn, I care about how much I earn.
    – dirkk
    Commented Apr 16, 2014 at 16:12
  • @Servy see edits to my answer. Turns out you're right, this doesn't even have to do with reputation; the system is flawed beyond that, since not posting an answer makes it far more likely that the crappy answers will be found instead of the original question.
    – djechlin
    Commented Apr 16, 2014 at 16:14
  • by the way: In this case the other answers didn't get any upvotes at all. So I don't see why this should apply here.
    – dirkk
    Commented Apr 16, 2014 at 16:14
  • @djechlin Sure, as I've said, there is plenty of room for improvement here, but if you want to improve the system you shouldn't be emulating the behavior that you're trying to discourage.
    – Servy
    Commented Apr 16, 2014 at 16:16
  • @Servy you mean like you did when you posted an answer and voted to close a duplicate to this question?
    – djechlin
    Commented Apr 16, 2014 at 16:17
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    @djechlin That was a joke. Apparently you didn't realize that, despite several comments pretty blatantly making that clear.
    – Servy
    Commented Apr 16, 2014 at 16:18
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    The link to the duplicate is above all answers anyway. I'm not sure I understand how posing annother link to the duplicate helps Commented Apr 16, 2014 at 16:24
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    You're presuming that people will not post actual answers, or not upvote the actual answers, just because you're doing this. I fail to see why that would be the case. You're also presuming that this answer should be upvoted, despite being a very low quality answer by SO's standards, meaning it shouldn't be upvoted.
    – Servy
    Commented Apr 16, 2014 at 16:25

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