It is a bit discouraging to me when a user, especially one with high rep, answers a blatantly off-topic question. I don't at all begrudge them the rep earned by such an answer; I just feel it encourages more questions of the kind. But to each their own, I thought. People have their reasons; trying to be helpful is one of them, as is having a different opinion of what constitutes a blatantly off-topic question.
Also wanting to be helpful, I sometimes leave a comment and a link to ELL, or I'll just VTC. But sometimes I answer for my own reasons, and recently this comment appeared under such an answer:
Do you think this question is on-topic? I am curious to know why you would choose to answer a blatantly off-topic question? When you say "it really depends on the context", don't you think it is necessary to ask the Original Poster what he/she is asking?
I was a bit surprised. It doesn't feel to me that it's someone's business to tell other users what to do in so direct a manner. Knowing the commentor, though, it fit their personality, so...
But a few days later, I saw a very similar comment, also quite direct, by a different user admonishing someone else for the same thing. (It was a few days ago, and I can't remember the name to look for it. Searching by LQQ (Low Quality Question) would be too depressing.) But the tone was there, and I thought a bad example might have been set.
My question is, should this be encouraged as a way to deal with the problems we have here with LQQ? On the one hand, it's direct, and likely to make an impression on most newish users who commit this "infraction". On the other, it's kind of hostile and may create an atmosphere of rigidity.
This was addressed before in 2011, but maybe could use revisiting.
Alternatives to leaving such comments:
- consistently leave polite * comments on the answers (and wait for the slew of meta complaints)
- consistently downvote the answers, leaving a polite comment (and wait for the even greater slew of meta complaints)
- downvote the answers without comments (and wait for meta complaints we can close as duplicates)
- ignore and hope it happens with less frequency (knowing that new users always will take up the practice as they come across the site not knowing any better)
- VTC asap and hope the question gets closed before anyone answers.
Others? Suggestions? Opinions?
Edited to add: My position (which I thought was clear) is that I don't think it's my business to tell other users when and when not to post answers. I guess what isn't clear is the question, Is it anybody's business to do this? If it's not, should we flag such comments? (From the above list of options, my choices have been the last two.)
*It's great that you're interested in answering, but in general, answering questions that show no research (or whatever the close reason is), is discouraged on this site... please see (appropriate section of guidelines).