Being a bit worried about How to reply to someone who gets defensive when you ask them to do something? getting too much attention before OP is gonna clarify his question, I was wondering:

Assuming that OP will add the specific goal his question of "How to achieve that" is gonna be, what would be the correct way to moderate the answers that were given to the OP in the current offtopic state. As these 2 answers it got so far, I would at best classify as opinions backed up with personal experience. So what we do about answers to questions that in the first place (by my opinion/understanding) at best wouldn't even have received answers in this state?


2 Answers 2


(Personal opinion here).

To me, if you believe an answer is bad, no matter the reasons, you should downvote it.

Also, if an answer doesn't respect our quality guideline (for example, no back-up), you should flag it for review. It doesn't matter that the question was bad in the first place. An answer should be judged on is own merit, not in comparison of the other answers/the question quality.

Since we are talking about off-topic questions here, they might be edited and reopened at some point. When this is the case, what I personally do is:

  • Go back to the old answers
  • See if they answer the new, on-topic, question
  • If not, leave a comment "the question has changed and your answer is no longer answering it" and flag as "Not an answer"
  • But don't we have the policy here aswell, that OP's shouldn't be edited anymore if they received already answers, in a way that the edit would invalidate existing answers? That's the root of having posted this meta.
    – dhein
    May 23, 2019 at 10:53
  • 1
    @dhein If the question is off-topic in the first place, this rule about not editing the question doesn't apply (at least, that is my understanding). An off-topic question brings no value. Answers to an off-topic question bring even less value.
    – Ael
    May 23, 2019 at 10:57
  • 2
    @dhein that 'policy' is about 'chameleon questions': Questions that are otherwise okay, but are edited to ask about more/different things after having received an answer. It's not really applicable to questions that should've been closed to begin with. For answers to questions that are off-topic or too broad/unclear, Ælis is right: it's better to close the question, have it edited, then review those answers to see if they keep in mind added details or answer the new, on-topic question.
    – Tinkeringbell Mod
    May 23, 2019 at 11:29
  • @Tinkeringbell: Could you make an answer with that link in it? Would help me for future refference :)
    – dhein
    May 23, 2019 at 11:39

On the how to write good answers page, the help center says

Answer well-asked questions

Not all questions can or should be answered here. Save yourself some frustration and avoid trying to answer questions which...

  • ...are unclear or lacking specific details that can uniquely identify the problem.

  • ...solicit opinions rather than facts.

  • ...have already been asked and answered many times before.

  • ...require too much guidance for you to answer in full, or request answers to multiple questions.

  • ...are not about interpersonal skills as defined in the help center.

There are 5 reasons that a question can get closed, and all 5 of those reasons appear in this list as reasons that a question should not be answered.

So how do we moderate these answers?

With all of that in mind, we should moderate these answers the same way that we moderate other answers. If the answer is not helpful, downvote it. If it's not addressing the question, not backed up, or in some other way failing to meet our quality standards, flag it (if it's worth a flag it's also worth a downvote, so you should do that too). If you are flagging an answer, you should leave a comment.

For answers where the question has been edited

When the question has been edited from being a close-worthy question into one that should stay open, any answers addressing the original version need to be updated or deleted. You should use downvotes and flags on them as I've already mentioned. Additionally, you should leave a comment on the answer that explains that the original question was not a good fit for the site and has therefore been edited.

If you see an answer on a question that should be closed

Unfortunately, a lot of questions get answers even though they are off-topic, too broad, or opinion based. I have seen on a few occasions that someone will write a really good answer to an off-topic question that manages to address the on-topic parts of it. Most of the time though, answers to off-topic questions would not be good (specifically they wouldn't answer the question) if the question gets edited to be on topic. If you find one of these answers and the question hasn't been edited, you should downvote the answer and leave a comment explaining that the question is not a good fit, and therefore the answer will be invalidated if and when the question is fixed.

  • 2
    One addition to 'where the question has been edited': If e.g. 1 half of a question is edited out, do help people out by editing their answers as well, if you have the time. What's left might still need more details or back up, but it lets people know we are willing to help better than comments, downvotes and flags alone.
    – Tinkeringbell Mod
    May 24, 2019 at 10:05

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