Follow-up to: Should we answer questions that are likely to be closed?

I recently encountered a question that basically asks how to defraud companies. The OP was "asking" if they could apply for a bunch of remote jobs, not really do the work, and collect 2 - 3 months of salary before they're fired. I put "asking" in quotes because its premise is so obviously ridiculous that I'm pretty sure that we're being trolled, but in any case, several people gave (good) answers explaining why that's a terrible idea. My question is, should we even take questions like this seriously enough to answer them in the first place, or should we just downvote, flag them as Rude/Abusive, and/or vote to close? What's the proper way to handle this kind of question?

(Note: unlike my previous question, I'm not just asking about questions that are merely off-topic - I'm asking about questions with obviously ridiculous premises, such as how to defraud companies).

  • 3
    I believe that "Do not feed trolls" principle fully applies in such cases.
    – PM 77-1
    Commented Jun 13, 2021 at 1:12
  • I'm not entirely sure that this is a troll. I read recently about someone who supposedly did this and made quite a bit of money. This person may be wondering if what happened was legit.
    – forest
    Commented Jun 15, 2021 at 2:25
  • 1
    Fraud is often a crime. So the question is basically asking to break the law, which is surely against the ToS for Stack Exchange. Commented Jun 15, 2021 at 12:18
  • 1
    Don't assume such things never happen. In a company I worked for, we once had a contractor who applied for two different full-time on-site contract positions, in different departments, working on different floors of the same office building. Having been offered both jobs, he accepted both of them and was not found out for several months. (And the reason he was found out was not because he wasn't doing the work required by both of his "employers.")
    – alephzero
    Commented Jun 16, 2021 at 0:45
  • @alephzero I'm not assuming that it doesn't happen - I'm saying that it's such an obviously bad idea that if someone asks us about it we shouldn't even take the question seriously. Incidentally, what did end up happening to the contractor once they found out about it? Commented Jun 16, 2021 at 1:52
  • workplace.stackexchange.com/questions/174189/… seems to have an obviously ridiculous premise. Let's see how it is handled... Commented Jul 1, 2021 at 19:44

3 Answers 3


Flag for mod attention, downvote, and vote to close and/or delete.

Answering bad questions - troll questions for sure, and anything where the poster does not really have that problem - is not helpful. If someone really has a related real question later they should post it, and clarify it, and provide useful vote/accept activity - all of which tends to a good question and good answers, not a bad question and random answers. Hoping to later find droppings of gems in the answers to a troll question is a waste of everyone involved’s time - answerers, commenters, later site users searching for good answers to real questions.

  • 5
    I would perhaps update to "Vote down, vote to close or delete, flag for moderator attention if necessary". Down and close votes are the key places to start with questions like this because they also make it more obvious that a post is problematic. The limited number of people who can delete questions also can't do so unless the post is scored negative.
    – Lilienthal Mod
    Commented Jun 12, 2021 at 8:10
  • 2
    Edited to include that, good point.
    – mxyzplk
    Commented Jun 12, 2021 at 21:44

The criteria should not be, how stupid is the OP, or how ridiculous assumptions he made, but can the question be objectively answered, and will the answer profit future visitors.

The question can be stated as, how the companies hiring for remote position prevent from being frauded. And the answer is, that either they hire for contracts, where they can pay only for results, or in case of the actual employment, they protect themselves with the clauses that requires the acceptance of the employer to take a side job.

As stupid and annoying the trolls can be, never underestimate their potential to point the real problems.

  • 1
    I up-voted because I agree that stupid/ridiculous should not be reasons to close. First, they are subjective. Second, free speech trumps almost anything, and silencing people is morally wrong by default. However, I think that the specific example given by the OP should be closed, because it asks for advice for performing an illegal activity (at least in most regions fraud is illegal).
    – obe
    Commented Jun 13, 2021 at 16:31
  • 3
    @obe I think that most people would agree that the example I gave is an objectively ridiculous question. Also, I don't agree with the free speech argument - by that logic, we'd have to accept almost any content from almost anyone, which we don't. Commented Jun 16, 2021 at 1:56
  • 1
    @EJoshuaS-ReinstateMonica (1) sorry, while i agree about closing the fraud question, i don't think it's "ridiculous". it may be considered a ridiculous act to ask a question about how to fraud people on stack exchange, but i don't see what makes the question itself ridiculous, (2) i meant free speech within the boundaries of what SE's objective rules permit. and IMO there can't (and shouldn't) be a rule against stupid/ridiculous because they are too subjective. when i say "free speech" in this context, i essentially mean to not silence people merely because what they say annoys us.
    – obe
    Commented Jun 16, 2021 at 8:55

As stupid and ridiculous as many questions may seem to some of us more seasoned, they may not seen as obvious to others.

My standard approach to troll posts is to look at Poe's law, and realize that nobody has a troll detector, then answer them honestly. If there are any lewd or salacious bits, we edit them out.

It sets up a win-win-Win

Win: we can assume good intentions, and not second guess everyone

Win: We take away the trolls' fun, as the goal of trolling is to cause discord

Win: If someone is considering something as ill advised, we can advise them against it

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