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I often come by questions that are closed because of lack of context, but that still have good answers. It can be questions that contain nothing more than

What is this integral $\int \ldots dx$?

or similarly, which are reasonable to close, but that one or more people still gave a good answer to before the question was closed.

When an open question has a good answer, I am less inclined to close it, and when a closed question has a good answer, I feel more inclined to reopen it for three reasons:

  • Since the OP has already received an answer, it is less likely that any further context will be provided.
  • Out of respect for the time put into the good answers.
  • The answers are a nice addition to the material of MSE.

Is it ok to reopen a question without context, or even a poorly asked question, if it has good answers?

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    $\begingroup$ There is too much variation in the cases to give any kind of blanket guidelines. If you search the meta you will find that this theme has been discussed on a number of occasions. Either explicitly or as a by-product of another discussion. No consensus emerged. Many veterans of the site feel that a good answer does not give any kind of immunity to a bad question. Many other veterans do take the presence of a good answer into account when deciding how they vote, but still draw the line somewhere. Yet others feel quite strongly that good answers should be saved more often than not. $\endgroup$ – Jyrki Lahtonen Feb 26 '16 at 18:40
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    $\begingroup$ The one advice I can give is to post your suggestions in the thread dedicated to such requests. We collect opinions of more users there, and many reversals have taken place. $\endgroup$ – Jyrki Lahtonen Feb 26 '16 at 18:43
  • $\begingroup$ @JyrkiLahtonen thank you for your comment. I believe I'm in some version of the last group. Since there is no consensus, I will rely on wisdom of the crowd in the reopen votes that I participate in (and will use the meta-thread when appropriate). $\endgroup$ – Mankind Feb 26 '16 at 20:28
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    $\begingroup$ Welcome to that thread. The more opinions we collect the better. For the record I did downvote your proposal. I am in the camp thinking that pretty much any definite integral should stay out (unless the question is about learning a technique). Those have been automated. Wolfram Alpha can do most, and it even has this "show steps" feature. Too many so called nice answers are from posters perpetually sitting in an exam. Few answerers actually try to teach how to approach the problem. $\endgroup$ – Jyrki Lahtonen Feb 26 '16 at 20:35
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    $\begingroup$ @JyrkiLahtonen thanks for giving the reason. Just for the record, I didn't mean my post to be a proposal, but rather a question about if reopening a question based on the answers to a question instead of the question itself is alright. Per your comment, there appear to be different practices, and I will try to make an assesment from case to case. As for e.g. definite integral (and derivatives, that also fall into the group of having automated solutions) I agree that spewing out a long calculation without the whys and hows does not constitute a good answer, but I feel this is a broader problem. $\endgroup$ – Mankind Feb 26 '16 at 22:18
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    $\begingroup$ To elaborate on the last sentence in my last comment, a lot of answers does technically answer the question that has been posed, but does not address the confusion, lack of knowledge or addresses how they came up with the solution in their answer. I think this can be said about a lot of problems, and not only integrals, even though I get what you say about them being automated. But anyway, I am getting off-topic, and this has probably also been discussed in other posts. $\endgroup$ – Mankind Feb 26 '16 at 22:22
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    $\begingroup$ Understood. For the record: I don't know how widespread my thinking is in this issue. Also, I try not to let this attitude show when I'm moderating. Before I was elected it was easier to simply ignore such questions. I still try, but cannot always, when the regular users do not reach a consensus :-/ $\endgroup$ – Jyrki Lahtonen Feb 26 '16 at 23:14
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    $\begingroup$ Well, you can try to edit the question to make it better. And then vote to reopen. There are probably some other related discussions on meta, here are two I was able to find quickly: Editing someone else's question to add context and Under what circumstances is it appropriate to delete a question that has received a good answer? $\endgroup$ – Martin Sleziak Feb 27 '16 at 9:17
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    $\begingroup$ Also related. $\endgroup$ – Cameron Buie Mar 2 '16 at 12:40
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    $\begingroup$ From the second link Martin Sleziak gave, I recommend reading quid's answer. $\endgroup$ – Jonas Meyer Oct 23 '17 at 1:57
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Generally, my opinion is "No."

You've got a bad question with a good answer. What do I think you should do? Downvote the question and upvote the answer (and vote to close if necessary).

  • Since the OP has already received an answer, it is less likely that any further context will be provided.

This is unfortunate, and the most we can do here is discourage these questions by downvoting them and voting to close them faster than the answerers. In some scenarios, this is good, in some, this is bad. There isn't much we can do about it.

  • Out of respect for the time put into the good answers.

This is why closing a question does not affect the answerers (unless it prevents you from answering in the first place, which is not the question being asked).

Honestly though, if you wanna give an answerer some respect, you should upvote their answer. That's what the voting system is for.

  • The answers are a nice addition to the material of MSE.

Closed questions are not removed from MSE. Deleted questions are, at least to the common eye. So reopening the question will not have the intended affect here of providing 'a nice addition' to MSE, since it never left in the first place.

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    $\begingroup$ Besides closing the question, one can also edit the question to make it better. That's probably what I would do if the answer is really good. $\endgroup$ – user99914 Oct 23 '17 at 1:11
  • $\begingroup$ And please someone correct me if i am wrong. it seems that closed question are more difficult to search. $\endgroup$ – user99914 Oct 23 '17 at 1:13
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    $\begingroup$ "Closed questions are not removed from MSE. Deleted questions are..." Closing a question can be a step toward deletion. Reopening a question is a good idea if the thread is considered worth keeping. I am skeptical in general about the helpfulness of threads that have "good answers" to terrible questions, but as Jyrki indicates opinions vary widely on that. $\endgroup$ – Jonas Meyer Oct 23 '17 at 1:13
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    $\begingroup$ @JohnMa To the first comment: There is only so much of an extent one can edit the question before one steps over a line and starts making assumptions as to what the OP meant and didn't mean. $\endgroup$ – Simply Beautiful Art Oct 23 '17 at 1:15
  • $\begingroup$ @JohnMa To the second comment: I've no experience that closed questions are harder to search for. In the majority of cases, closed questions which I am searching for may be found in my current tab, if you are searching for questions you yourself closed. $\endgroup$ – Simply Beautiful Art Oct 23 '17 at 1:17
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    $\begingroup$ @simply if the op already abandoned the question, I won't care much about what they think. All I want is to have better question/answers in the site. $\endgroup$ – user99914 Oct 23 '17 at 1:20
  • $\begingroup$ @JonasMeyer Generally speaking, I do not think most closed questions take that step towards deletion. In most cases, closed questions are deleted by the sweeper, an automated process. Given good enough answers, they do not get deleted. For the rest of the closed questions, I believe very few get deleted. The step from closed to deleted is not a simple step, and for good reasons. $\endgroup$ – Simply Beautiful Art Oct 23 '17 at 1:21
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    $\begingroup$ @JohnMa I will advise you to read up on How much editing is too much? Note that it is fairly outdated and may not apply. $\endgroup$ – Simply Beautiful Art Oct 23 '17 at 1:25
  • $\begingroup$ @SimplyBeautifulArt By design they are ready for deletion with usually only 3 votes needed by high point users. Being closed (other than as duplicate) signals (to many at least) that they are not appropriate for the site unless improved, so while most of them aren't being deleted at any given time, each of them is a potential target for deletion, and the moderation habits of site users can vary over time. Reopening, especially with improvements if possible, removes them from being "on deck" for deletion. $\endgroup$ – Jonas Meyer Oct 23 '17 at 1:33
  • $\begingroup$ @JonasMeyer False. Usually, the question needs to be closed and have sufficiently many downvotes on it, so many of these sorts of questions cannot be voted on for deletion. $\endgroup$ – Simply Beautiful Art Oct 23 '17 at 1:34
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    $\begingroup$ @SimplyBeautifulArt: No. Here is a reference. Here is a quote from that reference: "Users with reputation ≥ 10k ... can vote to delete questions that have been closed/on-hold for 48 hours. It takes three votes to delete; more if the question is popular, but ten votes at most." "Popularity" requires a presence of many upvotes on things, not just an absence of downvotes, and it doesn't prohibit deletion, just makes it take more votes. $\endgroup$ – Jonas Meyer Oct 23 '17 at 1:38
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for the link, @SimplyBeautifulArt, though like you said it is a bit outdated. And just like 99% of the meta post, there is no definitive conclusion there. $\endgroup$ – user99914 Oct 23 '17 at 1:42
  • $\begingroup$ @JonasMeyer Hm, strange that it was not mentioned there. Since you have the privilege unlocked, I'd suggest you attempt to vote to delete a closed question with positive score that was asked within 24 hours. Perhaps someone else has a better reference for this... $\endgroup$ – Simply Beautiful Art Oct 23 '17 at 1:44
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    $\begingroup$ @SimplyBeautifulArt: What wasn't mentioned there? What more reference do you need? You can look at this question deleted a few hours ago with a score of zero, and with positive score answers. I don't know what 24 hours has to do with it. $\endgroup$ – Jonas Meyer Oct 23 '17 at 1:48
  • $\begingroup$ @JonasMeyer Ah, I take it back. One must wait 48 hours to vtd, unless it has sufficiently low score. I was mentioning things such as this question, which is on hold, but cannot be voted on to be deleted. $\endgroup$ – Simply Beautiful Art Oct 23 '17 at 1:48

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