I have seen several questions on SO communities that are closed as 'off-topic', yet have popular answers.

Negating points for such questions (as well as removed questions) would remove the incentive to answer an 'off-topic' question quickly to harvest points and then vote on closure to prevent others from challenging or reducing those points democratically.

Evidence of gaming the current system:

Just a thought.


Yes, answers on closed questions (including off topic) still generate rep if the answer hasn't been converted to Community Wiki (I tested this on this answer and saw the user's rep increase and then decrease when I negated the vote).

Rep for these questions should not be negated. Frequently very old questions can be closed as Off Topic, a good example of this is How do emulators work and how are they written?. The answers on this are good and offered in good faith, the question was considered on topic when it was asked. Are you proposing that the author of the highest voted answer lose almost half his 24K rep because the question was later closed as off topic?

Has the system been gamed in this way?

Without a doubt it has.

Should a broad policy be implemented that affects everyone including those who are not gaming the system?

No it shouldn't.

I've personally given answers before voting to close. Just because a question is off topic it doesn't mean I cannot help that user, and it doesn't mean they had any clue their question was going to get closed, they asked in good faith.

Why is your suggestion unnecessary?

We already have an easy and targeted way to deal with this. The best way to handle gaming is to either:

  • down vote the answers that are obviously trying to "game the system" / "rep whore" (call it whatever you like). Once they enter negative vote territory they can be deleted. This has the effect of only punishing the individual who was trying it on.

  • cast a delete vote on the question once it is closed. When the question is deleted the answers are too, and the votes from them are removed.

  • I understand your position, but I'm not sure I agree with it. Once you close a question, your answer (and hence points) can no longer be challenged. If I wanted to game the system, wouldn't the best strategy be to vote every question I answer as 'off-topic' so that my answers can't be challenged in an open and democratic fashion? As painful as it might be, removing 24k points might reinvolve the top answerer into arguing whether a question truly deserves 'off-topic' status? That discussion might motivate more consideration than the relatively 'invisible' process as it stands. Jun 30 '14 at 17:40
  • @LarryKyrala While you might not be able to leave a new answer or comment, you can still down vote if the answer deserves it, that can be a sufficient "challenge" to it. I'm not sure any other method of challenge is necessary.
    – slugster
    Jul 1 '14 at 0:15
  • I think the issue of an answer deserving a downvote may be independent of voting to close a question as off-topic. Off-topic questions may be wildly popular (hence the on-going controversy in closing them). So it would be unlikely that anyone would downvote all answers pedantically because the question had been closed as off-topic, hence it's not really any kind of deterrent to votes to close. Voting to close costs points, but points can be made by answering questions and then voting to close. If the net gain from such action is greater than the cost, there may be an incentive for abuse. Jul 2 '14 at 2:59
  • @LarryKyrala I really think you're starting to split hairs. "Voting to close costs points" - no it doesn't. You've also missed the obvious - while an existing answer might get up votes, it could equally get down votes. "Off-topic questions may be wildly popular" - you've missed the boat on these - they started out on topic and only became off topic years later as the direction of the site changed a little. I think you've failed to really show that there is an issue or that people have gamed the system in a systemic or non-trivial way.
    – slugster
    Jul 2 '14 at 3:14
  • I'm sorry, you're right. Voting to close costs time and requires status, not points, however that only strengthens the argument that there is insufficient penalty for voting to close. There is a general ongoing confusion among users as to why questions are voted 'off-topic'. This is sufficient evidence that the process is not transparent enough. Jul 3 '14 at 13:33

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