The standard /help/promotion page includes the following:

Avoid poorly-written questions. Posting a well-written answer under a poorly-written question just makes your answer look worse.

IMHO this is incorrect: I have found very helpful answers to poorly-written questions.

It's also unhelpful advice for the communities I frequent: Often a good answer shows how the question can be edited to be more clear and on-topic. I.e., a good answer can help save a bad question.

And finally, it doesn't inform a reader "how to not be a spammer" – which is something that merits a clear, authoritative, and easy-to-find help page to which we can point new users.

2 Answers 2


In my opinion, that's good advice, not bad.

This is said under "tips for writing well-received answers" on a page that is "How to not be a spammer". It's saying that it's easier to have an answer be well-received if it is posted to a good question. That's all it's saying.

It's not saying that it's impossible to write a good, well-received answer to a poorly written question. Of course there are counter-examples where there are well-received answers on poorly written questions, but having an answer be well-received is less likely, and usually harder to accomplish, when the question is poor. At a minimum, a poor question is more likely to be closed and deleted than a good question.

While the advice might not be applicable to all questions and answers, it seems like reasonable, useful, accurate, and helpful advice most of the time to users who are already having a problem with "How to not be a spammer", which is the focus of that page.


I interpret this advice a bit differently by reading between the lines and looking at the positive nudging that's going on. If a user ends up on that page, it's probably because somebody said their posts look like spam and suggested they read up on it (because few people would look through the help and go "Hrm, I wonder if I am a spammer...").

I see two things happening here – the first is the presumption of innocence. That's why it talks about posting well-written answers, even though the vast majority of people who are directed to that page probably aren't posting the highest quality content. It also has a positive nudge – great answers go on great questions, so seek out the good questions!

The second thing I see happening is just as subtle. If you got to that page because somebody suggested your posts are looking a little spammy, the suggestion to seek out well-written questions for your definitely-not-spam-but-very-well-written-answer is to show some discretion. Spammers just post stuff everywhere. But if you aren't a spammer, you can pick and choose what questions get your answer! So prove to all the haters that you're not a spammer by choosing to answer only the best questions with only your best content.

All told, I think the advice is solid and it is written from a position of "You're totally not a spammer and here's all the great things not-spammers usually do."

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