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Basically, the title is the whole question here, but let's break it down just to clarify my intention. Is this considered acceptable when a question is unintentionally inviting answers outside the scope of the site?

For example, a very common case on Stack Overflow is a question asking how to achieve a specific task that many libraries have already been written to fulfill. If the answers it tends to invite are mostly links to those libraries outlining why the answerer recommends them, is the question still considered acceptable?

If so, then what about questions that are phrased to fit the scope, but intentionally (possibly even underhandedly), invite answers of this nature? Should they be voted closed anyway?

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    Just posting a requirement without any work is worth a downvote and a vote to close. – Won't Jul 7 '16 at 17:56
  • @Won't say the requirement is given, and there is evidence of work, but the commonly known answer is still just a tool or resource, which suggests that the asker might have been looking for those sort of answers anyway. What is that worth? – Patrick Roberts Jul 7 '16 at 18:06
  • Oh I dunno.. about tree fiddy? I dunno. Borderline. Use your best judgement on the individual case. – Won't Jul 7 '16 at 18:08
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For example, a very common case on Stack Overflow is a question asking how to achieve a specific task that many libraries have already been written to fulfill. If the answers it tends to invite are mostly links to those libraries outlining why the answerer recommends them, is the question still considered acceptable?

The fact that someone has posted an answer that utilizes a library doesn't really have any bearing either way on whether or not the quesiton is acceptable. It might be acceptable, or it might not be.

This is sometimes a red flag that the question might be Too Broad, if it takes a library to be able to complete the task, but the fact that it's possible to answer a question using a library doesn't mean the question is necessarily bad.

You also seem to be assuming that posting an answer that uses a library is somehow "out of scope" for the question. That's just not the case. It's not "out of scope" to solve a problem using a library, unless the question specifically states that it's not appropriate to use a library. If there is such a restriction in the question then the answer is out of scope, and that would mean that there's a problem with the answer in that case, not the question.

If so, then what about questions that are phrased to fit the scope, but intentionally (possibly even underhandedly), invite answers of this nature? Should they be voted closed anyway?

Are you asking if you should you vote to close questions that infer that they want answers to more than just answer the question, but to also do something else? This doesn't really make sense.

I guess the first thing to ask yourself is if the question they're inferring is actually an appropriate question. If it is, it sounds like the question would be improved by simply making the inferred question explicit, rather than inferring it. If it wouldn't be, then I'd be inclined to simply edit out the inference, and leave the actual literal question, assuming it's an appropriate question.

  • I apologize, I should have said that the questions tend to be low quality, not out of scope. It's considered bad practice to write answers which heavily rely on the link working properly, which I thought was part of the reason why asking for help looking for a tool or resource is out of the scope of SO. But again that was a specific example on a specific site, and I'm looking at the scenario more broadly here. – Patrick Roberts Jul 7 '16 at 18:00
  • And as for the second block quote, a really dumbed-down example of what I mean is someone could ask "How do I select a DOM element?" and the low quality answer would be "Use jQuery. It's the most widely used utility library and its main purpose is to do exactly this." In this case, the asker isn't explicitly asking for a resource, but it's commonly known that there are resources readily available to achieve that task. – Patrick Roberts Jul 7 '16 at 18:04
  • @PatrickRoberts An answer that just links to a product and contains no other information would be a low quality answer for that reason; to be a quality answer it would need to explain what product is being used, and how to use it to solve the problem. If that information is included, a reader wouldn't need to follow any link to solve the problem. – Servy Jul 7 '16 at 19:07
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    @PatrickRoberts In that case it's a bad question because it's poorly researched, not specific in what it's actually looking to do, and so it would merit closure for those reasons, not because one might use a library to solve it. – Servy Jul 7 '16 at 19:08

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