(Hats off to you for being honest in the interest of the site!)
if I have a bad question that I know is going to be downvoted and
closed, I should ignore that and ask it anyway
I absolutely agree with your observations, this has irked me for some time.
In fact, I'll go one step further and point out that:
Bad questions are ok
They most certainly shouldn't be, but bad questions are ok.
What? Why on Earth..
Because the site is run by us lot, the community, and if the community is divided in opinion and actions, whereby some of us answer bad questions, and some vote to close, then which side is right?
Worse than that, which side does a new user choose? Well, the one which gets them their answer of course, as per your observations!
So we have a really poor question about to be closed as off-topic. Someone answers it, upvotes the OP, and then continues to support the OP in comments and answer edits even after the question is closed as off-topic (this all does happen). In this scenario, the community is conflicted, and as a whole unit is effectively stating:
"Some of us allow this question - some of us don't".
Some time ago in a terrible question, which had something like 7 downvotes, I voted to close and politely mentioned to the OP why it was poor.
The OP then argued quite strongly that I was wrong, and even though their question had been closed since we started discussing it, they stated there were only some people on the site who think such questions should be closed.
The OP's argument was backed up by there being a couple of answers which were upvoted at least 2 score (so not just OP voting).
How can you argue with that when it is precisely true? The users who answered and those who upvoted the answers all agreed the question is ok to be on the site - otherwise they wouldn't have answered or upvoted.
I know the answers can be from users just wanting to help, and I've done that once or twice myself, but only when the OP is decent and just trying to learn. The question wasn't lazy or OP being demanding, they were just new and trying to learn etc.
Answers also come from new users trying to get rep, and I have sympathy for them.
However, neither scenario means we should turn a blind eye to poor questions being allowed and answered.
What can we do?
I'm not sure what we can do about it. I've seen various proposals to combat poor questions, and I have racked my brains for months thinking of a solution which stops users getting answers to bad questions. But I have yet to think of or see an idea which would work well, certainly not without punishing anyone in some way.
And no punishment is needed, we just need to stop users from getting answers on bad question so they have to post a better question to get answers - and then other users see this is the way the site works.
The problem is, every solution I have thought of causes an undeserved outcome to users.
For example, when a question is closed as "unclear" or "too broad" (maybe other reasons) then any user who posted an answer loses their rep from the answer (rep is reversed - positive and negative votes).
This has the advantage that it caters for users who just want to answer to help the OP even though they know it's a bad question and will be closed, and combats users just wanting rep regardless of question quality - they get nothing.
But then we risk people not answering, even possibly decent questions. And, while it's very unfortunate, it is a fact that for users to gain rep there does need to be an allowance for those answering lower quality questions.
If we limited answers to only good questions, it's arguable that there is not enough questions for everyone to answer and gain rep.
(I don't know if that is true, but it's certainly an important consideration.)
But such caveats is why I won't make a feature request for that or even something similar.
But we do most certainly need some way to:
- Hinder bad questions from even being asked
- Stop bad questions from having answers
- Show in general that bad questions are actually not welcomed here
and will not work - they are closed, no answer given
- Show that to get an answer, you simply have to ask a good question
There might be a simple solution lurking in someone's mind.
Or perhaps the fix to this requires something more complex, like various different outcomes to OP and answerers from a bad question which is closed.