I have recently noticed a trend in the answers on academia.se to question the situation about which OP is asking because not every single detail is provided, instead of answering what is being asked.
Most recent examples from a few days ago include:
- The question asks what to do about clearly offensive clothing worn to class as a TA or other person of authority
- Some answers, instead of answering, argue that the OP is easily offended, or that what was offending to her is not offending in general
- The question is asking if it is ethical to design admission criteria according to a certain statistics their research revealed (it is a bit of a controversial admission criteria). (example)
- Instead of answering, some answers were suggesting that the statistics and the research they did must have been wrong and the results are not valid. (example)
These are just two more recent examples. I know when I was asking a question lately, I was sure to cover all my bases (e.g. explicating that everything was done ethically and in good will) to avoid answers questioning my motives and methods, since I saw this kind of non-answers prevail and even be the most-upvoted answers often.
I understand that questions asking clearly unethical things, such as How do I best cheat on the admission process, or something similar, should not be answered, but this is not the case I am talking about.
One other thing is that people say "if you do not want to disclose the details, there is something wrong or unethical in your methodology, because you don't want to disclose the details." I understand the need for anonymity, or the wish to generalize, so I don't think this is a good trend
While some of the opinions might be valid in case the OP really made a mistake, those kind of answers still do not answer the question actually asked, and it is not our place to question the facts presented.
Yet, the community seems not to be condemning those kind of answers very strong: neither of the examples I linked to has negative score (one has a positive one!), even thou, (and, please, correct me if I'm wrong), they do not actually answer the question.
Do we really want to collect such answers?
And, as a secondary questions, what do we want to do with such answers that already exist? Should we flag-delete them? We could wait for the down-votes to push them sufficiently down, but especially on a bit controversial questions, those answers seem to get support from part of the community because of their attitude towards the controversial issue in question, and not because they actually offer an answer.