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I am a new member. Can I answer an unanswered closed question? If so, how? I have an answer for a closed unanswered question

migrated from english.stackexchange.com Jun 4 at 22:02

This question came from our site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts.

  • I've moved your question to Meta because it's a question about the site, not about the English language. You don't say which question it is, but the reason for closure (given in the close banner) is important. – Andrew Leach Jun 4 at 22:07
  • Is there a blank box saying Your Answer above the blank box? If there isn't, there is no way for you to answer the question. All you can do is put a link to the question in your question here, and maybe there will be enough interest to reopen it. – ab2 ReinstateMonicaNow Jun 4 at 22:12
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    No, I’m sorry. The function of closing questions is to prevent posting answers. The idea is that the Q is flawed and that the OP has to repair it to meet the site’s standards before it can receive answers (so we can ensure the answers also meet the site’s standards). We’re a bit nitpicky around here, because we live in fear of becoming the next Yahoo! Answers. – Dan Bron Jun 4 at 23:20
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Welcome to the website. You might want to take some time examining our help center. Click the question mark icon on the upper right-hand side of the screen and you can find it. In it there are a few of relevant such as What Does it Mean if a Question is Closed. Navigating website policy can be rather complicated, though, so let me give you a tour of most things you should know about closure:

First, the short answer is that questions that are closed or on hold can not be answered. There is an exception for people who had already started writing an answer on our website before the question was closed, if they submit their answers in a timely enough manner, but if you first encounter a question when it was closed or have to reload the page, then it can not be done, unless it is reopened.

Questions are closed when enough privileged users who have 3,000 reputation points, or sometimes moderators, believe that a question should be closed for one of a few established reasons. These include not being asked clearly enough for prospective answerers to reliably answer, outside of our established scope, when it has already been asked, it violates objectivity guidelines or if it happens to be too broad for the format. If you are wondering what is too broad, think that a comprehensive answer should be somewhere between a couple of paragraphs long to maybe a page's worth of information, depending on the nature of the question and how many answers it is likely to get.

We here at English Language & Usage only handle subjects expressly listed in our scope of Word Choice and Usage, Grammar (with a restricted meaning), Etymology (history of words’ development), Dialectal Differences, Pronunciation (phonetics and phonology, dialectology), Spelling and Punctuation.

Also, we will not handle certain subjects, even if they fall under that scope: First, note that we we have local research standards aimed at prohibiting questions that are too simple. We do not perform generalized proofreading; you have to explain what part of a sentence is problematic. We do not do literary analysis or criticism. We do not handle naming questions. We do not translate for you. We do handle some homework questions, but only pursuant to certain conditions.

Closure is not generally meant to be permanent. It is meant to be a status that puts a question on hold. We hope for questioners to address most problem by editing the questions if it can be brought back into scope. In these cases, closure is usually meant to stave off problematic answers that might not be productive towards answering the question.

If questions are not reopened then they are supposed to be candidates for deletion. Deletion rarely ever comes, and we might keep an off-topic question if it has some vindicating purpose, but that is supposed to be the general principle. We have an automated script to help remove some questions from the backlog to help with the task though.

Sometimes questions are inappropriately closed. If after studying our policies you believe that to be the case, there is some recourse to have it reopened described in the another help center subject about closing What if I Disagree with the Closure of a Question? How Do I Reopen It? Those guidelines are also helpful for trying to get a question reopened if it was closed appropriately, but edited to remedy whatever problems it had since then.

Finally, code of conduct violations have more severe repercussions than mere question closure, so above all try not to be rude.

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The way many people here approach that situation is to put the answer in a comment.

To do this you need to have 50 reputation.

You could also improve the question and try to get the question reopened.

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    Actually you have to have 50 rep to comment. It might also help to say how to get the question reopened. – Andrew Leach Jun 5 at 7:32
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    -1. I have no problem (personal view) with using a comment to give a brief correct answer to a bad question before it’s closed, but I think doing so after a question is closed undermines the purpose of closure and sends the wrong message to the OP. I would seriously consider flagging for mod attention such misuse of our site. – Reinstate Monica Jun 5 at 12:25
  • It is not something we're really supposed to do in any case. The commentary box warns against it, and so do the help center's commentary guidelines. Much of the Stack Exchange system is predicated on sorting content where it belongs. An answer belongs in the commentary box just as much as a question belongs in the answers box, which is to say not at all. It's especially bad when the question is closed because if the questioner thinks they have a satisfactory answer, they may lose all motivation to try and work with us to reopen the question, and we get left with the remains of a dead question. – Tonepoet Jun 5 at 12:50
  • @Tonepoet - It doesn't get removed automatically after a month? – aparente001 Jun 5 at 13:40
  • @aparente001 The help center suggests that auto-deletion only happens for questions that have an aggregate voting score of zero or less. Otherwise they still linger around, awaiting further human review so that it does not accidentally delete something which may be of value. We have tens of thousands of closed questions built up over the years. Granted, many of those are answered, but still. – Tonepoet Jun 5 at 13:47
  • @Tonepoet - I wonder what the approximate proportion of net positive closed questions is. I was guessing less than 5% but maybe that's way off. That's not to dismiss your concern. However, I would like to understand the scope of the problem better. – aparente001 Jun 5 at 13:55
  • @aparente001 The exact numbers are pretty easy to get with avanced search options: We have 28,381 undeleted closed questions as shown by my last comment. 13,939 of them have a score of at least 1, meaning the bot will not automatically delete them. Out of those 2,044 are unanswered. I have no way of knowing how many of those are worth saving though, except if I review them all personally though. – Tonepoet Jun 5 at 14:04
  • @Tonepoet - Those numbers help me understand your concern. But I was wondering about a different number. Not sure if one can get it with precision, though. – aparente001 Jun 5 at 14:06

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