While there is a lot of talk about bad questions and how the reduce SNR and what we could do about people not asking bad questions lately, I was wondering about the role of answers in this game.
Specifically the role of answers to bad questions. While in a lot of cases it is understandably borderline and someone might have correctly guessed what its all about, I often see answers that are merely extended comments and guess. Or that answer the question more or less properly, but the question is clearly offtopic. Often already in the process of being closed. Heavily downvoted etc.
I think these answers actually encourage people to ask more bad questions. It seems that in a lot of cases the thought process is "Oh, there are these hardcore people that are yelling at me, but that one nice guy helped me, let me post another question again, maybe he helps again or some other nice guy".
Or does it not?
If it does, what should be the consequence for such answers? Downvoting, even though technically they are a good answer to that question, just as offtopic as the question? Add a delete flag reason for answering offtopic questions?
I find these answers especially annoying because in times where there is a new flood of crappy questions, and you try your best to explain to people why the community does not want this question in that way, someone with much higher rep jumps in and answers it and everyone will wonder "well, when you don't want it, then why answer it?" Also it seems that questions without answers get easier deleted when closed than questions with answer, keeping crappy content available for search.
So in the end -- under the light of building up a database of good ontopic Q&A -- do we want to get rid of offtopic answers as well, or are we more lenient if the answer is offtopic than when a question is offtopic ?