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The question was of the "do my homework" type, showing no effort to solve it; but it was clear enough and had a definite solution. A good answer attracted several downvotes, presumably to punish the poster for providing any answer at all to such an "undesirable" sort of question.

My own take is that a downvote to an answer officially means "this answer is not useful". But clearly a correct answer is useful to the OP and to anyone else interested in the question. I don't see that "this answer is not useful" means "this answer is good but tackles a question posed in a way that we don't like on this site". I would think that downvotes to the question, for not showing research effort, would be enough to tell the OP to add such indication the next time.

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    $\begingroup$ It seems your argument would just as well apply to the question. My downvote on your question by the way is in the spirit promoted by you. $\endgroup$ – quid Feb 4 '17 at 16:30
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    $\begingroup$ My personal answer to the title question is just no, no, and... let me think... no. We should presume good faith in answering and never downvote a solid mathematical content. But I learned this opinion is not very shared, and I made peace with that: many users prefer the "behavioural" line over the "mathematical" line. I do not agree with them but I understand their point of view. $\endgroup$ – Jack D'Aurizio Feb 6 '17 at 21:00
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    $\begingroup$ The problem with such answers are that they encourage future copy paste homework "questions" of which there are already far too many. $\endgroup$ – Qudit Feb 7 '17 at 1:38
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    $\begingroup$ @Qudit: that is exactly the "behavioural line" I was referring to. Too many PSQs might lead to a loss of overall quality of MSE, I agree. On the other hand, a certain amount of PSQs is unavoidable, since MSE provides a really good, kind of unique service for dealing with mathematical hungriness. The source of disagreement in my case is the claim we need to downvote answers in order to prevent a PSQs apocalypse. In my opinion, to downvote bad questions is enough to prevent such disaster. I might be wrong, of course (that always applies), but that is my point. $\endgroup$ – Jack D'Aurizio Feb 9 '17 at 21:53
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    $\begingroup$ @JackD'Aurizio Well in my opinion, there are already way too many PSQs on math.SE, but efforts to discourage them via downvoting and flagging seem to be futile since they often get high-quality answers before they can be closed. I doubt that we would see many PSQs on here if posting them was not such a quick and effective way to complete one's homework. $\endgroup$ – Qudit Feb 10 '17 at 6:18
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    $\begingroup$ What does PSQ mean? $\endgroup$ – John Nov 8 '17 at 20:28
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You and everyone else in the Community can vote up or down (with the appropriate reputation), so perhaps the notion of "deserve downvotes" ought to be tied to a discussion of what ends of Math.SE will be served.

I assume those who cast downvotes on "good answers to bad questions" are sincere in wanting to improve the site, possibly by discouraging future Answering behavior of a similar kind. I think you are advocating for a different approach, and while yours seems a rational alternative, I don't try to dissuade folks from exercising their voting privileges.

Of course it is possible that someone could write an interesting post in answer to a bad Question, with some room for doubt as to whether the Answer really addresses what problem the OP was trying to raise. I might be tempted to downvote such an answer, especially if there were requests for clarification pending under the Question. My point is that "this answer is useful" is to be taken in relation to the particular Question being asked.

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