The question Will Scotland require a space agency? Is there one in the works? was insta-closed, but not before one of the closers also wrote a well-received, fact-based answer to it.

I find the logic behind voting to close a question because one believes that "answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than on facts, references, or specific expertise" while simultaneously answering it without expressing an opinion to be faulty.

My sense is that people sometimes reflexively VTC because they sense that an opinion could be expressed in an answer, while forgetting the primarily part.

But I see simultaneously closing and answering a question potentially self-serving; it could be seen as trying to create a situation where one's answer is the only one that will appear, or at least to minimize the possibility that others could post better answers as happened here: this vs this.

So I've asked here in meta to see how others feel about insta-answering/closing, or even the insta-close itself, on slow and otherwise cooperative SE sites. On this site at least it is common to use comments to make helpful suggestions to improve questions or express concerns about potential problems.

No doubt in the various metas of the nearly 200 SE sites, some as old as a decade, this has been discussed several times. But most SE sites evolve a sense of community and there will be differences on practices. Space Exploration SE has a very well developed sense of community, so ideally answers would be those of the community here, rather than an old link from an unrelated site.

edit: aforementioned answer is currently in "deleted status"


I initially interpreted your use future tense in the question to apply to the near future, as in New Zealand creating a space agency while the Electron launch site was built. Your (deleted) comments on my answer revealed you were looking for speculative answers on a hypothetical separation of Scotland from the UK.

Closing a question isn't the punishment you repeatedly claim it to be, instead it's an opportunity for the question to be improved while saving other contributors from wasting time answering a question that is going to be changed.

  • $\begingroup$ Closing blocks everyone else from answering. Leaving a comment also provides an opportunity for the question to be improved $\endgroup$ – uhoh Nov 28 '18 at 13:46
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    $\begingroup$ ... until the question is improved and re-opened. This is what the mechanism is for. $\endgroup$ – JCRM Nov 28 '18 at 13:47
  • $\begingroup$ Posting an answer while requiring a change in the question at the same time is a second conflict in logic. $\endgroup$ – uhoh Nov 28 '18 at 13:50
  • $\begingroup$ I see that the answer is currently deleted; let's see what other thoughts are expressed on the topic. $\endgroup$ – uhoh Nov 28 '18 at 13:52
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    $\begingroup$ The question I thought I was answering was not overly problematic. It was only after your comments on my answer, and your answer to your question that I realised the intent was not as I envisaged. I left my answer in place, as I believed the question could be made more clearly near-future -- which it remained a valid answer to. $\endgroup$ – JCRM Nov 28 '18 at 13:54
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    $\begingroup$ From a moderator perspective, I have to agree with JCRM here - closing for improvement is essential to keep quality high. Remember closing is really putting on hold. It only becomes closing if the required edits aren't made. $\endgroup$ – Rory Alsop Nov 28 '18 at 15:15

In general, I would not answer a question I believed to be likely to lead to mostly opinion based answers.

However, trying to be helpful I have provided answers and simultaneously voted to close questions for being off-topic or unclear, and would consider doing so for a too-broad.

The answer you gave to the "where did the water come from?" question was a very good answer to the "what is this object?" question that wasn't asked. While I upvoted that answer, it isn't a very good answer to the actual question. It's an example of how poor questions can generate good answers.

Your answer did provide better examples of the reflective nature of the object, and "The wet appearance [...] is an artifact of reflection and interpretation" was a much better explanation than my "it's a highly reflective surface, not a typical card surface" so I deleted the quick answer I put in place to help the asker understand his mistake.

I still think that question deserves to be deleted, as it was based on a false premise; or moved to a stack more equipped to answer questions about human perception. However your "good answer to a question that wasn't asked" makes that something I wouldn't want to happen. An insta-close would have prevented that conflict.


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