As I'm sure we're all aware, answering a low quality/low effort question that, according to the community standards, ought to be closed, is frowned upon. Reasons cited tend to include
- It encourages further low quality participation when answers are provided for so little effort,
- It makes the questions harder to delete when the question has positively-scored answers,
- Answering such questions is unseemly; it's considered Rep-Farming.
The people doing the frowning tend to be the caretakers of the site, who see maintenance and curation of a collection of quality mathematics questions as the primary function of the site, and who contribute their time in order to keep this goal of MSE alive.
I mean no disrespect to such people, and I have no wish to interfere with their goals, but my primary joy on MSE is helping the individual users. (I am trying to do the review queues more often, but it will never be what keeps me coming back.)
Sometimes this involves helping people who have not put effort into their question, whose questions are not sufficiently objective or clear, or sometimes, people who are just not confident enough to venture any of their thoughts because they are too anxious about their own mathematical abilities.
Since I don't want to make more work for the caretakers, I'm thinking about adopting a policy of answering select low-quality questions with a community wiki answer. The questions which I answer would be up to how generous I'm feeling, and conditional on whether I really believed that they were having serious troubles that they struggle to articulate properly.
I have two examples here and here. The former has no context or effort demonstrated, but the user themselves seems to have a history of asking good questions, and I figured that not putting an attempt was probably some measure of dispair. The latter is a poorly-formed question, which I elected not to vote closed, since I think it is just clear enough, but I suspected people would want to close and delete.
As I understand, making the questions community wiki solves problems 2 and 3, but does nothing for 1. Although, bear in mind that I wouldn't do this for most low-quality questions that come my way, only the ones that meet my internal criteria. My questions are:
Do you agree that this is a good compromise? How do the caretakers feel about this?
Are there any other unfortunate side-effects to this that I haven't mentioned?
Edit: As this discussion is still getting some traffic, let me amend slightly. As Quid points out in the comments below, this does not help option 2 at all, which means the idea of answering using Community Wiki is completely without merit (except that it protects me from accusations of Rep-Farming).
With that in mind, what would be good to know is if there is a better compromise. Is there a way for willing answerers to help the people who, for whatever reason, can't write a good question, while having a minimal impact on the caretakers?