Proposition: The targeted reader of an answer isn't necessarily the OP who asked the question and therefore a general answer may be appropriate.
Background: Some commenters (and down voters) object if an answer is much more general than the question calls for or even orthogonal to the question. I write such answers quite often, and while the down votes don't disturb me, I wonder if some clarification of the purpose of an answer and of this site generally would be useful.
My belief is that the purpose of this site goes beyond just helping the person who posed a question. For that, any simple mailing list would be sufficient. It seems to me, however, that this site wants to be (claims to be, actually) something more, giving guidance to people who visit in the future and who may have related, but not identical questions.
For this reason, I believe that an answer that isn't directed at the OP, but gives background information and guidance to others is entirely appropriate. In particular, If a student has some particular issue in dealing with some administration, then in the future a person who has some control over changing administrative policies might read a thread and use it to design a better system. Having too-narrow answers won't really give the necessary guidance, I think.
I sometimes label my "beyond the horizon" posts as such, but not always. But a lot of readers, even some who have been here a long time and have accumulated quite a lot of rep, seem to object to such things.
As an example, see this post, for which my answer is clearly of this sort. Clearly beyond the horizon. In fact, I wasn't directing it at the OP, as tried to say so in the post. Some commenters, however, seem to think that such answers that don't directly address the OP's needs are entirely inappropriate.
I can, of course, stop writing such things, but I think it would do damage to the site overall. I wonder what the community consensus is on this issue. It isn't a reputation issue, for me, but rather one about how the site is perceived, which affects the kinds of questions and answers that will be given. If it is only narrowly viewed, then it will be less useful IMO than otherwise.