If I see a question that, in my opinion, is off-topic for this site, should I answer it? Can I answer it and then vote to close it?
This has been covered before a few times on meta.SE:
- Should I answer off-topic questions?
- Is it bad to answer off-topic questions, knowing they are off-topic?
- Answer a question, then closed because off-topic. Delete my answer?
If you believe that a question is off-topic, you should not answer it. If you have some information that might help the OP, you can leave a comment, but refrain from posting an answer. The reason is that we don't want to encourage off-topic questions. That is why questions deemed off-topic and closed do not allow new answers.
If you believe that a question is on-topic, feel free to answer. If it later ends up getting enough close votes from other users to be closed, you do not need to delete your answer.
What you should never do, however, is answer a question and then vote to close it. If you believe the question is off-topic, you should never have answered it. This practice can be seen as an abuse of the high-rep voting-to-close privilege: Writing an answer and then closing the question ensures that there are no other answers competing with yours for up-votes.
I worry that we're a little quick to shut a question down immediately. I see plenty of examples where there is a warning that the question as written is off-topic, but I think it's okay to wait a bit or otherwise encourage changes that will make the question answerable and on-topic.
I have answered off-topic questions when I think they have potential to be altered in a way that they could become on-topic questions. I won't ever complain if the questions and the reputation disappear. I do like to leave it to the OP to modify the questions because I don't want to hijack it into the question I want to answer, but there are times when I've also stepped in with an edit.
I just answered and voted to close. I understand that this is against the convention and even noted so, with my reason for bucking the convention in this case, on this question https://money.stackexchange.com/questions/60775/leveling-the-playing-field-legal-tax-avoidance-for-individuals-just-like-the-b
(I would also say, to the extent that Ben Miller linked back to this Meta question in his comment, the SE links here are about off-topic questions - The question that I answered is definitely ON-topic and was closed b/c of breadth. The rationale provided here doesn't really apply directly, but I take the spirit of the point.)
My thought on this topic is that SE really has two choices for how to handle this:
- Decide that this is a rule, in which case the site could easily enforce it by preventing someone who has voted to close from answering (and vice versa), or
- Give a general guideline but trusting users with sufficient reputation to exercise judgement on potential exceptions.
They've currently done #2 (either explicitly or implicitly). For those who disagree with that decision, it seems like a "feature" request that should be made at the SE level, not a topic to discuss specific to money.