I was lucky enough to get the update message "This question was closed, new answers will not be accepted" (paraphrased) while composing an answer to this question.

This is an extremely unpleasant user experience. If it were a conversation, it would be something like this:

A: So, tell me about your weekend
B: Actually it's quite a funny story.
A: Oh? Go on
B: Well, I met up with a few friends that I haven't seen for...
A: SHUT UP! Nobody wants to hear about your stupid weekend, we only care about work here.

I understand there are more than two people involved here, but the overall impression of the site as a user feels equally schizophrenic.

I feel like I at least ought to get some kind of warning that a question is being voted to close. Right now I get no signs at all, just a sudden message telling me to forget all about submitting that answer I spent a bunch of time carefully composing.

How do you think SO ought to handle this situation?

See also: Add an alert when answering a question that has at least a close vote as duplicate

  • 3
    If it's being closed by a moderator then you wouldn't get any warning anyway, it can go from open to closed on one vote.
    – Sam Cogan
    Commented Mar 2, 2010 at 11:07
  • 1
    may I quote from the How to Ask sidebar? "Whenever possible, link to the relevant questions, answers, users, or page on the site you're discussing." Commented Mar 2, 2010 at 11:16
  • 5
    I stand by my answer at meta.stackexchange.com/questions/20599/…
    – balpha StaffMod
    Commented Mar 2, 2010 at 16:58
  • Link or it didn't happen
    – juan
    Commented Mar 2, 2010 at 19:19
  • 1
    I think that answers that started being written before the question was closed should be accepted even after the question is closed. Commented Jun 7, 2017 at 10:45

3 Answers 3


You won't have this problem if you stick to answering questions that aren't going to get closed.

Yes, seriously.

There's some types of questions that have a high likelihood of getting closed, particularly right after being asked, and there many, many questions that will never get closed, ever. As you spend more time on the site, you'll be able to tell the difference (and once you hit 3k, you can join in the voting to close inappropriate questions).

  • 2
    Sure, but I still stand by my point that until one develops the ability to do that, this behavior provides a terrible user experience. How many people are going to just give up and stop trying to answer questions altogether? It's effectively a penalty (for making an admittedly wrong judgement call) far worse than being downvoted, since your thought gets silenced completely. Commented Mar 3, 2010 at 0:52
  • It's not always the case that I can see in advance which questions will get closed as duplicates. Just a few minutes ago, I was writing an answer to a question and it got closed as a duplicate by a gold badge holder. I found that really annoying. Commented Jun 7, 2017 at 10:51

There is a grace period between when a question is closed and when answers are no longer accepted.

However, if the question doesn't belong on SO, then your answer, no matter how awesome, also doesn't belong.

If it was a dupe, or if it is migrated, then you should copy your answer, and move it to the original question, or to the site it was moved to.

If the question is in contention, and you think it might re-open, then plead you case in the question comments and see if it can be fixed so it does belong, is reopened, and you can finally post your answer.

Beyond that, however, there's little else that can be done. As other suggest, you will eventually understand when a question is close to the line of belongs/doesn't belong and you can either ignore it until you are certain it's sticking around, or post a very quick answer, then edit it at your leisure (you can continue to edit existing answers once the question is closed, you just can't add new answers)

I agree that it's frustrating - it's happened to me once or twice, but it is how the site deals with these situations.

I don't think a notification will be added because if the question doesn't belong, neither does the answer, and all the notification will do is encourage people to post incomplete answers so they can edit them after closing.

  • 1
    You do agree that it's frustrating. What would be the harm in just letting me finish my answer and be on my way? In the real world, if you don't actually care what someone did on the weekend, you just smile and nod, then bring the conversation to a close as soon as possible. You don't just yell SHUT UP at them until they stop, that's plain rude. As they say, politeness costs nothing, which is especially true with an automated computer system. Commented Mar 3, 2010 at 6:36
  • That's true for person-to-person interactions. But if you're at an organized conference where everyone gets 2 minutes at the podium, then the conference organizers have the impetus to keep things on track and on topic for everyone. There's a period of time from when the question is posted before it's closed (sometimes minutes, sometimes seconds) while the organizers decide if it should be allowed to take everyone's time at the conference. If they decide it doesn't belong, then yes, THEY WILL CUT THE MICROPHONE and encourage those involved to listen on on other speakers who stay on topic.
    – Pollyanna
    Commented Mar 3, 2010 at 12:20
  • It can be frustrating to be on stage, talking to the group of people interested in your discussion, and then have the microphone cut mid sentence and the stage lights turned off. But if this is NOT done, then something worse happens - the conference becomes "Talk about anything because we won't try to keep people on topic" and a LOT of people leave because they aren't interested in these side-discussions that inevitably happen. If you feel the question is important to you, take it to another discussion site and post your completed answer there.
    – Pollyanna
    Commented Mar 3, 2010 at 12:23
  • @Tobias - Please refer to the FAQ: Questions that are deemed sufficiently off-topic may be closed by the community. When ... it is marked as closed [it] will no longer accept answers. The system is designed to focus very tightly on programming questions that can be answered objectively. Before you start a new answer, evaluate the question - "is this a programming question that can be objectively answered with a single answer, or is it not about programming, or is it a subjective question that invites a lot of discussion, but there is no single "right" answer?"
    – Pollyanna
    Commented Mar 3, 2010 at 12:28

Actually, there is seems to be some ways to answer even after question is closed, may be within some amount of periods.

Please take a look this question, its closed at Feb 26 at 6:47, and I could able to answer at Feb 26 at 6:48

  • That looks simply like an example of when some of the SO server clocks are out of sync with each other.
    – Ether
    Commented Mar 2, 2010 at 16:12
  • 1
    It's quite a time spread though: answered at 6:48:49 vs. closed at 6:47:10...
    – Ether
    Commented Mar 2, 2010 at 17:41
  • There is a grace period. See also: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/34725/buried-but-not-dead
    – Shog9
    Commented Mar 3, 2010 at 0:59
  • Here is one that had a gap of about half an hour. Commented Jun 13, 2013 at 17:05

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