I think one problem with our current system is that people can come here and post poor quality, off-topic, or homework questions etc. Normally these are closed fairly quickly, but often in the mean time an answer is posted (particularly annoying with homework questions I think). Ultimately this means the person who posted the question (OP) ends up getting an answer despite not conforming to the biology SE system. Examples:


Dominant and recessive epistasis

In the first the question is clearly off topic and shows poor research effort, yet the poster still gets an answer. In the second the question is so poorly written and lacking essential information to make it useful to anyone, but the answer posted seems to (somehow - kudos Remi.b!) answer it. For the former I think there should be no answer given because it is off topic, and the OP will not learn to stick within the guidelines of bioSE. For the latter I think the OP will not provide the required edits because they have the answer they wanted, so there is no reason for them to clarify. Overall I think this prevents the improvement of questions and fails to discourage poor quality & off topic questions properly.

My suggestion is a new feature, the ability to hide answers (pre-emptively, before any answers are posted) for high rep users. A high rep user (>2000 points?) could see such questions and hide answers to the question for 24/48 hours... I imagine the following progression, with three possible outcomes:

  • A single close nomination from a high rep user will hide answers.

  • Answers can still be given but will only be visible to other high rep users, and the person that posted the answer, for the hiding period (perhaps 48 hours - most questions that close are closed within that sort of window, and it gives time for the OP to come back to it).

  • Unregistered and <2000 rep users will see a message along the lines of "This question has a hidden answer because the question is off-topic or fails to meet the guidelines of biology SE. Please edit the question to comply with biology SE guidelines."

  • If after 24/48 hours the question is closed the answer will remain hidden until it is reopened.

  • If the question is not closed the answer will become visible.

  • If the OP or another user edits the question to comply with bioSE guidelines before the 24 hour expiration, the post is referred to the review section, where a high rep user can reveal the answer if the edits deal with the problem.


2 Answers 2


What you are proposing would have to be changed at SE level not community. Something along these lines has been proposed on other sites and meta. These request end up as declined.

What you want is to change the behavior of the users answering. You can write comments to users answering expressing your displeasure and downvote if their behavior of rewarding bad questioners continue. There are users on Math who do this downvote answers. By doing this, they can have the question deleted when the answer(s) is/are 0 or negative score. This way the answer loses there rep. Hopefully they will then learn from constant loss of rep for answering poor questions not to answer these questions unless the OP takes an active role in participating correctly.

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    $\begingroup$ Additionally: Most people who ask poor/stupid question never edit them. So this is simply wasted time. Close these questions, give a proper comment about it and if nothing happens, they will get deleted eventually. It's no loss. $\endgroup$
    – Chris Mod
    May 14, 2015 at 12:50
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    $\begingroup$ I think the behaviour you describe at MathSE is terrible, and the kind of wise-ass, let-me-educate-you behaviour that should be avoided (unfortunately common at some StackExchange sites though). It also sounds like the downvotes on answers are only used to "educate" the answerer, and they are not based on the quality of the answer (which they should be). [..cnd] $\endgroup$ May 15, 2015 at 10:40
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    $\begingroup$ [cnd...] It should also be noted that whether a Q is off-topic is a judgement call by the community as a whole. To therefore start downvoting answers before the question is closed, simply because you think that the question is off-topic comes off as self-righteous to me. $\endgroup$ May 15, 2015 at 10:46
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    $\begingroup$ @dustin I honestly apologize if you were offended by my comments. I was assuming that you described behaviour that you had seen at MathSE, but, judging from your response, it seems like something you do yourself. My comments were meant to critizise the behaviour you describe, not you as a person. And I didn't know that "we had an agreement not to associate with each other" - from what I know, we've had one single "argument". If I would have stopped associating with all friends and acquaintances that I've ever had an argument with, I wouldn't have many people left to interact with. $\endgroup$ May 15, 2015 at 15:08
  • $\begingroup$ I now realize that the bold 'you' in my second comment might come across as confrontational and directed at you personally, but it was intended as an indefinite 'you', hypothetically describing any person that is acting along the lines you describe (i.e. downvoting answers because they feel that the question is off-topic). $\endgroup$ May 15, 2015 at 15:16

I think the main reason for the closing/deleting of questions is to discourage help vampires.

These people waste the time of the entire community by asking poor or ridiculous questions, and therefore they should be discouraged from doing so.

However, I feel that going to the extent of downvoting or hiding otherwise perfectly fine answers is going a little too far. Any downvotes or deletes should be targeted solely at the question, which is the root of the problem.

While I would not personally deign to answer one of the poor question that you have noted, the downvote system is sufficient to discourage help vampires in my opinion, and going to the lengths of downvoting or hiding answers would similarly discourage users who may be benefiting the community.


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