There are many questions on this forum that have been commented on and answered, only later to be voted "on hold" and then subsequently closed. Reasons for holding are irrelevant. The issue is that good people have devoted their precious time to answering, sometimes at considerable length. Some of these examples have several answers, each with multiple comments that might overall comprise 10+ unique contributors.

Some might consider it as a slap in the face to then be told by the chattering classes that their contributions are useless and better deleted. Whilst a question remains unanswered, then a hold vote is fine for whatever reason. If a question is held due to being too broad or off topic after people have posted answers, how can it be voted such? Remember that's just one bunch of guys' opinions vs another bunch of guys' opinions, yet time and effort has been expended in answering and commenting. The comments themselves contain significant useful knowledge. Unless you're listing the digits of pi, then other's opinions are as worthless as mine.

I'm not quite sure of the solution, but respecting the multiple member's efforts might be a start...

  • 8
    \$\begingroup\$ This is a pointless rant without examples. \$\endgroup\$
    – Matt Young
    Apr 13, 2017 at 1:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ It's a defence of the many contributors who have had their time and effort wiped out when fully answered questions have been deleted. Can you understand that principles do not need examples? I recognise your name. You've had your contributions deleted too. What do you think about that? \$\endgroup\$
    – Paul Uszak
    Apr 13, 2017 at 1:47
  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ Creating an answer does not magically turn a bad question into a good one. The community reviewers are evaluating the question on its own merits, and whether or not there are answers plays a relatively minor role in that. Plus, there are users here that are happy to jump on a topic that's dear to them and expound at length at the slightest provocation. They might be better served by creating a self-answered question instead of latching onto a poorly-written one. \$\endgroup\$
    – Dave Tweed
    Apr 13, 2017 at 1:55
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    \$\begingroup\$ Last month I came in on Monday to have a program I worked on for almost a year cancelled. It's mildly annoying, but I'm not bothered by it. An answer I write here matters a few orders of magnitude less. Occasionally something you put effort into will get cancelled/deleted/made obsolete or have the scope changed. \$\endgroup\$
    – Matt Young
    Apr 13, 2017 at 2:01
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ You should not consider that closing a question is a punishment. At least, certainly not for the answers already there. As long as the content stays there (closing a post doesn't delete it), this is not wasted effort. And people can still vote, so you can sill get rep points from such answers, if that is what you're after. Closing is just a way to tell people who want to help others: "please look at other questions that are more on-topic", so this site doesn't get flooded with crap. \$\endgroup\$
    – dim
    Apr 13, 2017 at 13:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ As of this post, the mean reputation of the participants here is 64,000. All have been prejudiced against my question (6 down votes). So far I seem to be the only one defending the people who actually answered. That's interesting, but what could it mean? \$\endgroup\$
    – Paul Uszak
    Apr 13, 2017 at 13:29
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ @Paul: Downvotes on meta only mean disagreement, unlike on the main site where they mean you're a living brain donor, you smell bad, and imply various relations between your mother and the 3rd fleet. Note that no rep is gained or lost when others vote on your meta posts. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 13, 2017 at 15:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ disagreements are best left in comments, the point merit system has no value to me unless void of value with serious flawed technical errors, not just the few who "don't like it". minor errors ought to be handle in comments, not flag down and run away in anonymity. if take the time to judge anyone, take the time to put it in writing and don't close with giving the Op the time to correct the flagrant errors. I understand your rant and had once been victimized by many arrogant mortals who felt they know better with far less experience. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 17, 2017 at 18:43
  • \$\begingroup\$ In Meta, downvotes mean you disagree with the post's proposal (in this case, it's an implied proposal not to close questions that have gotten an answer). They don't mean they think it was wrong to ask the question. \$\endgroup\$
    – The Photon
    Apr 18, 2017 at 23:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ FWIW I've had two questions closed after I answered this week. No big deal. If it bugs you, learn to recognize which questions will be closed and don't answer those. \$\endgroup\$
    – The Photon
    Apr 18, 2017 at 23:24

2 Answers 2


The main point you are missing is that closing questions is about the question, not the answers.

People that write bad questions must not get the desired result (a good answer), else they will be back doing the same again. Even worse, it shows others that writing crappy questions works. We don't want a site with a bunch of crappy questions, even if sometimes they have good answers.

Unfortunately, all too often there are wannabes that can't resist looking smart and answer bad questions. They don't care that they hurt the site for a little personal gain. This is why we have the close mechanism. If 5 users with enough rep agree (or one mod), others are prevented from answering a question. It's unfortunate that this is necessary, but experience has shown that it is. Your question is further proof that it is, and even that closing is sometimes too late to prevent rewarding bad questions.

Yes, it's frustrating when you write a good answer and the question gets closed. But, there are some things you can do about that:

  1. Don't answer bad questions. Especially after you've been around here a while, you get reasonably good at recognizing questions that will probably be closed. In fact, then you can help the site and contribute your own close vote.

  2. If you are thinking "Oo oo, this is something I really want to respond to!", first step back and take a deep breath. Carefully evaluate the question. If you think it might get closed, write your own question, properly, and then write your awesome answer.

  3. In some cases, if the question is bad because of non-English-speaking wording, for example, you can edit the question to fix it, then write your answer. Another example might be changing something too broad into a narrower more answerable question.

    However, this should be done sparingly. The problem is that this still rewards the OP for a bad question. They dump slop here and get the desired result. We really don't want that happening.

    If a question is bad because it exhibits sloppiness, lack of attention to detail, uses text-speak, or in any other way is disrespectful of the volunteers here, do not fix it. Let it die a natural death, which of course includes not answering it. Don't edit it because that deprives others of seeing the OP's bad attitude. That is relevant information others might want to take into account in how or if they answer the question, downvote it, or vote to close it.

Think of it this way. Every time you write a answer, you are betting your time on the quality of the question. If you don't want your time wasted, don't answer bad questions.

Every once in a while, you will think a question is OK and others close it anyway. It happens, learn from it, then get over it. If you really want to preserve your work and think it's a valuable contribution to the site, write a good version of the question yourself, then copy your answer to it. Self-answering is allowed, even specifically mentioned, in the site rules.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Good points all. \$\endgroup\$
    – Paul Uszak
    Apr 13, 2017 at 13:18

There are many questions on this forum that have been commented on and answered, only later to be voted "on hold" and then subsequently closed.

Please read this: What does it mean if a question is "closed" or "on hold"? Getting a question closed means that it is off topic or a few other reasons like a duplicate or if the answer is unclear. Closing a question:
1) Does nothing to the answers that people have already written
2) It does prevent further answers from being created
3) And I believe it makes the question not searchable, google picks up questions, why would you want the world to see bad ones?
4) Realize that the moderation system comes from years of experience with SE, the system works and is put in place for SE's goals.

Reasons for holding are irrelevant. Reasons for holding are relevant, there are reasons why the moderation system was put into place by SE. It works and if it doesn't work you can always talk to a moderator or get it re-opened. Users ask bad questions, it is just plain wrong for people to barge in here and expect an answer to their question with doing little or no work and\or writing a bad question. Bad questions lead to needless discussion. A lot of the closed questions have much discussion about clarification of what the OP meant. Yes there are some people who do not follow the 'be nice' policy, if its a really bad comment then flag it or talk to a moderator.

From the help center:

What types of questions should I avoid asking?

First, make sure that your question is on-topic for this site.

You should only ask practical, answerable questions based on actual problems that you face. Chatty, open-ended questions diminish the usefulness of our site and push other questions off the front page.

Your questions should be reasonably scoped. If you can imagine an entire book that answers your question, you’re asking too much.

If your motivation for asking the question is “I would like to participate in a discussion about ______”, then you should not be asking here. However, if your motivation is “I would like others to explain ______ to me”, then you are probably OK. (Discussions are of course welcome in our real time web chat.)

To prevent your question from being flagged and possibly removed, avoid asking subjective questions where …

every answer is equally valid: “What’s your favorite ______?”
your answer is provided along with the question, and you expect more answers: “I use ______ for ______, what do you use?”
there is no actual problem to be solved: “I’m curious if other people feel like I do.”
you are asking an open-ended, hypothetical question: “What if ______ happened?”
your question is just a rant in disguise: “______ sucks, am I right?”

(The above section was adapted from MetaFilter’s FAQ.)

Some subjective questions are allowed, but “subjective” does not mean “anything goes”. All subjective questions are expected to be constructive. What does that mean? Constructive subjective questions:

inspire answers that explain “why” and “how”
tend to have long, not short, answers
have a constructive, fair, and impartial tone
invite sharing experiences over opinions
insist that opinion be backed up with facts and references
are more than just mindless social fun

For more detail, read about our guidelines for great subjective questions and blog post about how real questions have answers.

If your question is about the site itself, please don't ask it here. Visit our meta-discussion site, where you can talk about things like what questions are appropriate, what tags should be used, suggest a feature, point out a bug, or generally discuss how this site works.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Have I misunderstood the system? Your point 1 - Are closed questions never deleted if they have answers? And how does that releate to your point 3? \$\endgroup\$
    – Paul Uszak
    Apr 13, 2017 at 11:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yes 1) Closed questions are not deleted at all, if they show up in the low quality bin (they and been flagged as low quality) they might be deleted 2) SE questions and answers are always high on the list in google searches \$\endgroup\$
    – Voltage Spike Mod
    Apr 13, 2017 at 14:43

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