This may be related to 'Stop answering close-worthy questions!', but I think it is sufficiently different to be asked separately.

A few times I have researched and answered a question, but when I go to press the 'Post your answer' button it is greyed out. I then notice that there is a yellow banner at the top of the page indicating that the question has been placed on hold. The banner was not there when I started to answer the question, so the question was placed on hold while I was answering. Because I am focusing on the bottom half of the monitor, I did not notice a change at the top. The inability to post an answer is quite annoying, as anything from 10 minutes to an hour of research and writing time is totally wasted. (OK, I accept that I learned something new, so the time was not 'totally wasted', but I still feel my effort has been devalued.)

Sometimes, before preparing an answer, I can see someone has indicated that the question has problems, (e.g. They may indicate that the question is a duplicate of an earlier question.) This leaves me in a quandary, should I start to prepare an answer or not.

If the question is subsequently closed, preparing an answer will be a waste of time. If the question is not closed and the question may not be answered, because other potential responders are also scared off, and the OP may not get an answer when one is available.

I usually try to resolve this issue by clicking on the links provided by the person who thought the question should be closed. If I agree with them, then I will skip that question and assume it will be closed. However, sometimes I will disagree that the question should be closed, For example, I may agree that the question is similar to a previous question but think that it is sufficiently different as to justify it not being closed. What should I do then? I usually start to provide an answer, hoping it will not be closed before I am finished.

I would like to tentatively suggest the following, as a step towards solving this issue. I am not a programmer, nor am I sufficiently aware regarding the systems used by SE to know if this is even possible.

  1. If someone has started to answer a question, before it is closed, then they should be able to post that answer.

  2. If the question is closed before the answer is posted, then no points will be awarded.

  3. If the question is subsequently re-opened, the points will be awarded. (I don't really care if they are or not, but I expect that there would be some people who do.)

  4. The OP will not be notified that an answer has been provided unless the question is re-opened.

  5. As at present, no-one can start to answer a question after it has been closed.

  • 1
    Keep in mind that one of the purposes of putting a question on hold is to prevent answers until the question is clarified or brought on-topic. I don't think a change that would allow answers to be posted on something the community has voted to close would be a good idea (although I think there is a very short grace period if you hit submit and the question gets closed at about the same time). We don't always agree on whether a question should be closed or not and I think ELL is pretty good about reopening questions if someone makes a reasonable argument.
    – ColleenV
    Commented Aug 26, 2018 at 22:07
  • The points are really a separate issue. Closure of the question doesn't affect voting on existing answers, it just blocks new answers.
    – fixer1234
    Commented Aug 30, 2018 at 3:27
  • @ColleenV Out of curiosity, how can someone with 4.5K and 3 months under their belt still be labeled a new contributor? Surely the rep is a reliable indicator that James is no longer a brand new newbie.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Aug 30, 2018 at 18:31
  • @Mari-LouA As far as I can tell, meta is considered a different site for the purposes of the indicator. It seems a little silly to me and I’ve mentioned it on the Meta post about the indicator meta.stackexchange.com/questions/314287/… Other folks have noticed too.
    – ColleenV
    Commented Aug 30, 2018 at 18:52

1 Answer 1


You describe a situation that most long-time contributors have experienced at one time or another. It's not particular to ELL, either – the scenario you describe can happen on any Stack Exchange. Unfortunately, when casting a close vote, there's no way to know if someone is in the midst of preparing an answer. Here on ELL, there have even been cases where one moderator was composing an answer and another mod closed the question before the answer was complete.

If you find yourself caught in this situation, I'd first recommend taking a hard look at the question and seeing if the close voters weren't onto something. Perhaps the question really should be enhanced before it gets answered.

That said, if you think a question is worth answering but you notice that it is accumulating close votes, you might consider submitting a partial answer. (You can always edit your answer later to furnish more details.)

If the question gets closed before you get a chance to submit your answer, you can also edit the question, if you're pretty confident that you understand what the learner was driving at. You could then vote to reopen the question. You might even flag the question to hasten its reopening, or plead your case here on meta.

As for your suggested fixes, those should be raised at the SE Meta site. You might want to read through questions like this one and this one to see if your suggestions fit under an answer to an existing question, or merits being a new question in its own right.

  • 1
    Here's another tip, a user who finds themself short of time but sees a question has two votes in favour of closure can start writing an answer, a couple of lines, post it, and then delete the answer. Only users with k10 rep can see deleted answers, and they might refrain from closing the question if they see the answer is potentially good. When the user returns, they can finish their answer and undelete their post. It won't matter if the question is still open or has been closed. And as you say, a good answer might even justify reopening the question.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Aug 27, 2018 at 19:59

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