I've been thinking of writing this for a while. It doesn't happen frequently but, yes, it happens: a user answers a question and also votes to close it.

Though not forbidden by the system, I think that such kind of behaviour is bad in two ways:

  1. It confuses the questioner, especially when they are new to the site: how come that this expert user thinks that my question is off-topic, too-broad, whatever and answers it anyway?
  2. It might give the message that, yes, the question is off-topic, too-broad, whatever, but the user who voted to close answers it anyway to get a few more reputation points.

Should we thus discourage such kind of behaviour? If yes, could we actively discourage it by commenting with a boilerplate comment? E.g.,

Please, avoid answering a question you voted to close. See this meta discussion.

  • 6
    To add to your arguments: Many reasons for closure (too broad, unclear, depending on individual factors, primarily opinion-based) exist only or in parts because such questions cannot be reasonably answered within our format. If somebody answers such a question and votes to close, this either means that the closure was invalid or the answer is not good.
    – Wrzlprmft Mod
    Commented Mar 24, 2018 at 9:29
  • @Wrzlprmft I would suggest that "the answer is not good" is often in those cases "the answer is a reasonable attempt given imputed information".
    – Fomite
    Commented Mar 24, 2018 at 21:01
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    @Fomite: But if we can make a reasonable attempt to answer the question, why close it in the first place? After all, the main point of closing is to prevent answers.
    – Wrzlprmft Mod
    Commented Mar 24, 2018 at 21:59
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    @Wrzlprmft An attempt to still try and be helpful?
    – Fomite
    Commented Mar 25, 2018 at 6:36
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    @Fomite One can vote to close and comment to be helpful, or can direct the user to the chat, but answering and voting to close is incoherent. Commented Mar 25, 2018 at 6:46
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    @MassimoOrtolano I think it’s incoherent for some but not all close reasons. For example, an off topic question might be worth closing but you might also happen to know the answer.
    – Fomite
    Commented Mar 25, 2018 at 6:58
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    @Fomite That's not a good reason to answer, or we will end up answering questions about all sorts of topics just because someone knows the answer. As I argued in the above question, this kind of behaviour generate confusion, it delivers several wrong messages (see? Answer if you know the answer), it weakens the action of closing, and it generates more incoherence in people's voting behaviour. Commented Mar 25, 2018 at 7:06
  • @MassimoOrtolano Not saying it’s good, saying it’s not “incoherent”.
    – Fomite
    Commented Mar 25, 2018 at 7:10
  • 5
    @Fomite: Right, but if you can actually provide an answer that is more helpful to the user than the close reason, you should re-think whether the question needs to be closed or whether you can edit it to make it a good fit for the site. Many close reasons exist exactly because we cannot provide a helpful answer to the respective questions. Of course, this is not always the case, e.g., if a question is outside our thematic scope, in which case I see no problems with answering the question as long as you are sure that the question is a good fit elsewhere and flag it for migration.
    – Wrzlprmft Mod
    Commented Mar 25, 2018 at 9:12
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    @Wrzlprmft How do we measure the usefulness of the close reason, though? I've often seen a question closed or put on hold because an answer to the question is in another Q&A. But the actual question in that other Q&A is meaningfully different; related, but reasonably viewed as distinct. One of the answers just happens to also be a really good, complete answer to the new question. In what sense is "an answer to this already exists" useful? It's technically true, but someone who looks at the questions alone may be frustrated by how the questions are different and never look at the answers. Commented Mar 29, 2018 at 12:28
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    @Wrzlprmft I don't mean to say that I don't understand such closures. I'm just using it as an example of how closures that are, by site mechanics and intents, perfectly justified need not necessarily be useful in the eyes of all askers and visitors. Sure, we can't please everyone all the time. But what if you see a question which you know has an answer elsewhere, but are convinced it would not seem to many like the answer to it is in the indicated place? Perhaps then you both vote to close and answer. Commented Mar 29, 2018 at 12:41
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    I'll also note that the reverse sequence of events has happened to me (I think). I think a question is on topic, not a dupe, and that I can answer it. So I do so. Then someone else points out a dupe, or a good reason for why it's off topic. I'm convinced, so I add my vote to close. Commented Mar 29, 2018 at 13:45
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    @JessicaB: What about the big duplicate indicator we slap on such questions?
    – Wrzlprmft Mod
    Commented Mar 31, 2018 at 12:56
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    @zibadawatimmy See Jeff Atwood's take on duplicates. The upshot is we don't need to be (shouldn't be) overly stringent with dup-closing. If you think the question is different enough from the "duplicate" that further explanation of how the answer fits is needed, it's probably different enough that it doesn't need to be dup-closed.
    – R.M.
    Commented Apr 1, 2018 at 0:47
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    @Wrzlprmft If I was a new user and saw a question labelled as duplicate, and went to the duplicate to find it was a different question, I'd be pretty confused. The point of this site is not to produce answers, it is to produce question-answer pairs.
    – Jessica B
    Commented Apr 1, 2018 at 6:38

3 Answers 3


I'd say the best behaviour is to vote to close and wait. This doesn't confuse the question asker. And when the question is reopened, you can slightly adapt the answer and submit.


I can support "Please don't answer if the question is obviously poorly posed" as a guideline, as long as it isn't enforced blindly as a hard and fast rule.

You say that it doesn't happen very often. I tried to find some examples with careful googling ("closed as unclear what you're asking by" OR "closed as off-topic by" OR "closed as too broad by" academia stackexchange). I couldn't find any closed questions where the same person voted to close and answered the question. (Although I have occasionally written an answer to a question that was clearly poorly posed, e.g. https://academia.stackexchange.com/a/107357/32436.)

Could you post some links to some examples that concerned you?

I'm a bit more bothered when I see a high-rep participant contributing an answer which gets wildly upvoted, and dozens of people getting involved in very involved discussions, while the answer gets closed. This suggests that we have more work to do as a community to get on the same page about when to close questions.

Also, I think it would be helpful if we put together a set of canonical questions or common questions. Benefits:

  • Easier for askers to find the information they need.

  • We'd see fewer questions that are variations on certain basic themes.

  • It would be easier to close repetitive questions.

We already have some questions and answers that would be candidates for such a tag (although they might need a bit of adjusting).

Some possible topics:

  • How does funding work in country X
  • How do I go about changing fields
  • What should I do if the professor seemed agreeable to something but is not responding to email now
  • How do I strengthen my application to grad school given such-and-so weak areas
  • 1
    Since you ask, a recent example is this one, where, incidentally, you answered and voted to close: academia.stackexchange.com/q/62176/20058 But it's a phenomenon I observed over the years, I'll try to find other examples if necessary, but I didn't want to single out anyone. Commented Apr 2, 2018 at 2:22
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    We also have already a fair number of canonical questions, a list can be found here: academia.meta.stackexchange.com/a/3825/20058 Others can be added but it's not the point of this discussion. Commented Apr 2, 2018 at 2:29
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    @MassimoOrtolano - Well, that wasn't the point you intended when you brought up the problem. // Thanks for the list, that is really helpful. // In that example I contributed clarification about process and terminology, which I felt fit better in an answer than in a comment. I raked in a total of one vote, so clearly the motivation had nothing to do with reputation. // I voted to close approximately two weeks after the OP accepted an answer. All in all, it doesn't seem like a significant problem -- but I don't mind you using my answer as an example. I fact I linked to another such one. Commented Apr 2, 2018 at 3:26
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    I really don't understand what the canonical questions part has to do with my question, which is about a specific issue. If you want to propose other canonical questions, the usual process is to ask first on meta (one meta question for each proposed canonical question), wait to see what the community feels about it, and write a draft in case of positive response. See also past inquiries under canonical-question. Commented Apr 2, 2018 at 14:55

I would argue there can be circumstances where answering and voting to close together makes some sort of sense. There are many questions asked that are not really suitable for this site, but it is clear that the OP is hurting. Answering could be a way of pointing them in the right direction, which achieves its purpose in a short timescale (long enough for the OP to read it), while longer term the question will be deleted.

  • 2
    AFAIK, if there are upvoted answers, the question cannot be deleted or it's not deleted automatically. As I said in other comments, one can point the OP in the right direction by commenting. These, yes, are temporarily and don't prevent the deletion of the question. Commented Mar 31, 2018 at 13:05
  • Jessica's answer explains the motivation that I, for one, have experienced when doing this seemingly contradictory action. Generally it's not for the one or two votes I might get -- it's to help OP out, without having to write comment, continuation and continuation. Example: academia.stackexchange.com/a/107357/32436 Commented Apr 1, 2018 at 4:09
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    By the way, @MassimoOrtolano, when I've seen this occur, more chances than not, no voting occurs on the question or the answer, one way or the other. Commented Apr 1, 2018 at 4:10
  • @MassimoOrtolano I for one, and I suspect many others, do not have all the details of what allows/prevents what stored in my head.
    – Jessica B
    Commented Apr 1, 2018 at 6:33
  • @aparente001 It's not that I don't want to help OPs out (I'm here for that reason, after all), I'm suggesting that one can help the OP and avoid the drawbacks of such kind of behaviour (answering + voting to close). In fact, in addition to comments, there is also the chat, where several people have been helping people with off-topic questions for a long time (e.g. the OP of the question you linked has enough rep to chat). I don't understand this reluctance at using the alternative means that SE provides for such cases. Commented Apr 1, 2018 at 16:37
  • @JessicaB - Could you rephrase that? You lost me in that last comment. Commented Apr 1, 2018 at 19:09
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    @aparente001 She's probably saying that she cannot recall what prevents or what allows the deletion of questions and answers on SE (or, more generally, what actions or states prevent or allow other actions or states). For what concerns deletion: meta.stackexchange.com/a/5222/300001 Commented Apr 1, 2018 at 19:26

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