# Should we answer off-topic questions?

Moments ago, I saw this:

The question this was posted on is 100% opinion based + idea generation, thus making it clearly off topic. Should we answer off-topic questions (before they're put on hold/closed) if we know that they're off-topic?

I bring this up because while a new user may rush to answer a question straight away because it's interesting or they have an idea, I feel that this sets a bad example for future users - that even off-topic questions can receive answers.

Perhaps, as more experience users, we should refrain from answering obviously off-topic questions and start setting an example?

• Do you think a bit of context is worth including: that the user who left that comment is close to top 10% rep and went on to answer the question and then cast a close vote? In their defense, it's a weird period for the site, trying to hash out what's on/off-topic. Feb 12, 2016 at 4:02
• @nitsua60 It's exactly because the user was such high rep, posted an answer, and THEN cast a close vote that this caught my interest. I agree with Monica, that we should set an example and not answer questions such as the one in this case. However, this question was clearly off-topic from the get-go, so it's not really fair to use "trying to figure out on/off topic" as an excuse...
– Aify
Feb 12, 2016 at 4:10

I agree. We should model the behavior we want from others, and getting a bunch of answers for questions that should be put on hold doesn't set a good example.

If you know that a question should be put on hold -- whether it's too broad, off-topic, or something else -- please vote/flag and try to help the OP fix the problem (if possible). Or, if he has at least 20 reputation, invite him to chat where topics that aren't good main-site questions flow freely! That way the user gets the help he came here looking for, but we don't send mixed signals to our users.

I encourage you to also leave a friendly, helpful comment. Some "magic links" you might find useful (these work in comments but not posts or chat): [tour], [chat], and .

• Might also be worth bringing the question up in chat yourself, to get more eyes looking on it. The quicker an off topic question gets put on hold, the lower the risk of people wasting time answering possibly even the wrong question (if the edits needed change the question fairly drastically, as sometimes happens).
– user
Feb 12, 2016 at 8:17

Additionally to the otherwise good answer from Monica, one should avoid answering because, the more answer that questions gets, the more 'hotness' points it gets, thus has a chance to appear on the HNQ. And before it gets closed it has 1000 views, and 20 upvotes. And then closing it becomes more intimidating (it shouldn't but experience shows it does).

I am of course exagerating a bit, but nevertheless, as experienced users, we should do what we can to prevent that.