In a recent question someone both VTC (vote to close) based on "require a goal we can address" and answered.

That seems inconsistent to me. Is it proper to both VTC and answer.

  • which came first? Feb 7, 2017 at 18:56
  • 1
    @RichardU I don't know the time their vote was cast. I don't get why it would matter.
    – paparazzo
    Feb 7, 2017 at 18:59
  • Just wondering, as if if the person answered first, and THEN voted, they may have just rethought the subject, but if someone VTC and THEN goes on to answer, that's just strange. That's why I asked. Feb 7, 2017 at 19:04
  • see also Closing Etiquette: Why Do Some Answer and Close? at MSE and over 20 questions linked to it
    – gnat
    Feb 7, 2017 at 20:59
  • I've sometimes answered a question only to later find out it's a duplicate. In that case I'll vote to close and, under some circumstances, suggest merging. Feb 7, 2017 at 23:10
  • @MonicaCellio How does that relate to close and VTC as "require a goal we can address"
    – paparazzo
    Feb 7, 2017 at 23:31
  • @Paparazzi I was responding to "Is it proper to both VTC and answer." Feb 7, 2017 at 23:34

6 Answers 6


I think it depends a lot on the specific question. There is a balance between trying to help (which is why we are here, right?) and trying to keep the site helpful (which is why other people come here)

We close/remove bad questions, because we want to keep the site true to its goal of being a good resource for people with certain issues. More clutter and more vague questions means it becomes less effective in giving you the information you need.

On the other hand, we answer questions because someone has an actual problem that they want solved.

Sometimes, we both realize that the question does not really belong here and that we can answer it easily and help out the OP. In such cases, it's possible to both VTC and answer it. It helps the asker with his issue, and flags the question for being improper for the site as a whole.

  • You can help with a comment. Answer and not answerable are inconsistent.
    – paparazzo
    Feb 7, 2017 at 21:54
  • Not all VTC reasons are "cannot be answered" though. Some are just "Does not belong here"; they still have answers.
    – Erik
    Feb 7, 2017 at 22:11
  • Please refer to the stated question
    – paparazzo
    Feb 7, 2017 at 22:12
  • 1
    If this is very specifically about the "requires a goal", I think that should receive some more focus. I thought this was about vtc in general.
    – Erik
    Feb 7, 2017 at 22:13
  • And I am OK with your answer - in general. Just clarifying.
    – paparazzo
    Feb 7, 2017 at 22:14

Your question was triggered due to the activity on this question (How to negotiate salary with an extremely unprofessional in-house recruiter?) as I can infer from your comments there. The "someone" you are referring to is me since I have both answered and voted to close. The close vote was a honest mistake, no malicious intentions here.

I will explain what happened in this specific case.

  1. I upvoted the question, because I thought it was a good question. (I cut the OP some slack for the somewhat rantish tone.)
  2. I answered the question.
  3. I shared the question in chat, predicting (correctly) that it would make it to HNQ.
  4. I discussed the question in chat for a bit. The comment clearly suggests that I was (somewhat) defending the question.
  5. I revisited the question, and found 2 close votes. I got curious to know what close reason people have voted on. I expected the close votes to be on "duplicate", but was instead surprised to see them on "off topic". Surprised at this, I entered the off-topic submenu.
  6. For some reason I cannot recall, I decided to re-read the meta post concerning "require a goal we can address". I mistakenly touched the radio button instead of the link, and hit the 'Enter' key before I realized my mistake.
  7. At exactly this moment, I got distracted by someone who needed my attention at home. I did not realize the accidental close vote I had cast.
  8. I revisited the question after dealing with the distraction, and edited to remove the meta-information by the author, still oblivious to the close vote I had cast.
  9. I went to bed immediately afterwards.

In the general case, though, I would certainly find it a bit strange to answer a question and also say that we need a goal to address (regardless of the order of those actions).

However, the real issue here is the system allows it, and some people have bent over backwards to absurd extents to defend similar strange features, as seen in the answers to my own question here: Why can I vote to both reopen and delete a question at the same time?


I don't recall ever having done so, but should the issue ever arise, I could see doing so if I felt that I could help the person, but still feel it doesn't fit the requirements on the board.

If, for example, someone is lost and needs some guidance on what would clearly fall under "advice on what to do". I might still impart some advice before doing a VTC. The user will get to see the advice, and use it, but it won't clutter the board.

While we do need to maintain standards, I assume that the primary reason most of us are here is to be of service to others.

  • Not intended as argue but advice and move on is probably better done with a comment. I did not vote you down.
    – paparazzo
    Feb 7, 2017 at 21:47
  • @Paparazzi no worries. Feb 7, 2017 at 22:19
  • If we had the ability to cancel/change our votes this conflict would happen less. Also remember that votes may be based on earlier forms of a question.
    – keshlam
    Feb 8, 2017 at 1:14
  • 2
    @Paparazzi I would still prefer advice to be posted as an answer so that bad advice can be downvoted. That is not possible with comments.
    – Masked Man
    Feb 8, 2017 at 6:27
  • @keshlam you can undo close votes now and anytime a post is edited, it allows you to change your up/downvote on it.
    – enderland
    Feb 10, 2017 at 1:38
  • Thanks,; I'll have to figure out how to do that
    – keshlam
    Feb 10, 2017 at 3:02
  • @keshlam I think you just try closing again and it shows a "Retract close vote?" option.
    – enderland
    Feb 10, 2017 at 3:17

Closing an answer effectively just prevents it from taking up more time from the users on questions that are a bad fit.

A user who is already on the question might as well offer a short solution if they can, but at the same time, the right thing to do is to VTC a question that doesn't fit.


I did this today.

I want to help OP, but I also believe that the question is Off-Topic for the site. In my opinion the question should be closed, but until it is I still am trying to help OP solve his/her problem. As a consequence, I both answer the question and Vote To Close.

  • Thanks @gnat. That is certainly relevant, although it seems contrary to the spirit of the site. Obviously I disagree, and I think that answer is based on an incorrect assumption. Namely, "It is even dangerous to say: go here, Google for that, because next time, they will do the exact same and eventually get what they want." I have not seen this come to fruition here at the Workplace. Not for the question I answered yesterday, and not in general.
    – Lumberjack
    Apr 26, 2018 at 12:25
  • helping people as a spirit of the site is sometimes considered backwards...
    – gnat
    Apr 26, 2018 at 12:35
  • @gnat The Workplace is not Stack Overflow. Specifically, this site doesn't suffer from the hordes of help vampires in the same way that Stack Overflow does. Advice from Stack Overflow typically translates poorly to many other sites (including this one). May 15, 2018 at 2:21

I don't feel strongly about this but I feel it is improper for both VTC and answer.

One it is inconsistent and two you answer but then vote to deny others the option to answer.

  • Is it improper for you, or improper for anyone? Is this something you feel should be enforced on other people? For me I agree it is improper, to vote off topic, or narq, and then post an answer. But it is one vote and there is a good chance many times the question will stay open, so posting an answer is not that big of a faux-pas May 1, 2018 at 9:27

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