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Some questions that are asked get down votes. Is it okay to answer the question then or are you supposed to just leave it be?

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    $\begingroup$ I would point out that there's a badge for providing a highly-voted answer to a poorly-voted question. $\endgroup$
    – user61527
    Feb 2, 2014 at 19:15

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Short version: Use your judgement, and read the comments on the original question.

Long version: It depends. Sometimes questions get a downvote for pretty much no reason whatsoever, or because someone doesn't like the asker, or for any number of reasons. If the question seems well-intentioned and on-topic, and you can write a good answer, then I think you certainly can and should do so.

Now if the question is receiving multiple downvotes, that generally indicates that there's something seriously flawed in the question, at least to a few users. It could be that the user has a history of trolling, or is unresponsive to comments on previous questions (e.g. people who post numerous homework problems without any context or details - from the trends I've seen, they might have one or two questions neutrally received, and then the downvotes start*). Now there is a badge specifically awarded for giving a highly voted answer to a negatively voted question, so it's not explicitly discouraged. So in the end, I think the question one needs to ask is:

Does providing an answer to this particular question improve the website, and will it be useful for future visitors?

And then proceed accordingly.

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  • $\begingroup$ Nice answer. I wonder if forum could (perhaps in software) mandate down votes to require some sort of explanation why. This could help avoid leaving asking person in the dark why question gets down vote. $\endgroup$ Feb 10, 2022 at 12:43

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