Sometimes a question may look highly suspicious that it might get closed, very commonly:

  • looks broken
  • looks hypothetical
  • unclear what OP is asking

These suspicions aside, what if you have a genius idea for an answer, that will surely help the OP, and be valuable for the community. Should you answer anyway? Quickly before it gets closed? Or should you refrain from answering? Why?


1 Answer 1


Do not answer questions that are likely to get closed.

Such questions are either not ready yet, or not suitable for the site.

A question that is not ready may be misinterpreted. You simply cannot know what the OP is really thinking, and your "genius" answer might very well be completely off the mark. Leave a comment, ask the OP to improve the question to avoid misunderstandings, and to improve the experience of all users.

A question that is not suitable for the site should get closed, hopefully without answers, to discourage other users from posting similarly unsuitable questions. Closed questions with answers cause all kinds of problems:

  • Crap questions with upvoted answers cannot be deleted. If a question deserves to be deleted, it would be good if we could remove them from the searchable content pool, and not be blocked by answers that shouldn't be there in the first place.

  • When users fix broken code in the question, sometimes they do more than that, and include improvements suggested by answers, invalidating those answers. Often all in one edit, so a simple rollback doesn't help. If an answer pointed out the bug that made the question broken, then the question cannot be fixed without invalidating that answer.

These examples are from today only, and surely there are more. Such problems are very common.

Please refrain from answering questions that are likely to get closed.

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ I think it's more okay to answer questions that may get closed as "unclear what you're asking". If you believe that you understand the question, go ahead and answer it the best that you can. It's not always that those questions will be improved. And what is unclear or not is quite subjective. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 27, 2015 at 13:04
  • 7
    \$\begingroup\$ @SimonForsbergMcFeely I agree with the sentiment, but if you believe it's going to get get closed for being unclear, then you must think it's unclear, therefore, couldn't answer it properly anyway. \$\endgroup\$
    – RubberDuck
    Dec 27, 2015 at 13:58
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ @RubberDuck: I agree with your sentiment but life is not that black and white. Just because user X thinks its unclear does not mean I think it is unclear. I have had 25 years experience and a description of a problem may hit me as exactly what happened to me 13 years 2 months and 10 days ago and thus problem and the solution are obvious and thus the best way to design the code is also obvious. That may not be true for somebody just out of college. As Simon said its totally subjective to the person reading it. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 31, 2015 at 16:22
  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ @LokiAstari if you think it will probably get closed, don't answer. If you think it's not unclear and shouldn't get closed, then go ahead and answer it. Whether it will be actually closed or not is beside the point. The point is to refrain from answering when you yourself see the question is problematic. \$\endgroup\$
    – janos
    Dec 31, 2015 at 16:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ @janos: I agree with your point. But I think RubberDuck has it wrong. Simon is pointing out just because others have votes as unclear does not mean I think it is unclear or think it will be closed. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 31, 2015 at 16:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ Maybe I misunderstood Simon's intent @LokiAstari. \$\endgroup\$
    – RubberDuck
    Dec 31, 2015 at 16:40
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ If you think a question might be closed as unclear, but you consider it clear enough to be answered, then I'd recommend editing it so that it's more clear to those with close/reopen votes. \$\endgroup\$
    – nhgrif
    Feb 27, 2016 at 14:43

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