Today we've got this question:

How should I say "I want to leave a band"

IMO this question is clearly off topic and belongs on Interpersonal Skills.

Should we be posting answers to this question, or so many similar questions that we think are off topic?

It's nice to give an answer if you have one, and maybe you'll get some points in the process, but by answering you are encouraging people to post off topic questions.

What's your opinion on this?


3 Answers 3


The simple answer is no. This has been reiterated multiple times on the main Stack Exchange meta.

Answering off topic questions encourages more - partly because google will continue to send people this way for off topic questions if they get answered.

Simply vote to close as off topic. If there is a better site, please let them know (and leaving a note to mods as to where the question should be migrated to helps us - we do migrate quite a few questions every month) but remember it is bad form to migrate crap (the example is unlikely to be welcome on IPS in its current form as far as I can see, so I have closed with guidance to the OP to check out IPS and their help pages)

  • How about giving an answer in a comment on the question, (while mentioning it's off topic) if it's a good, well thought out question that just happens to be off topic? Sometimes I do that.
    – Stinkfoot
    Mar 9, 2018 at 18:03
  • 2
    @stinkfoot - that is probably worse. It still encourages people to ask questions that are off topic, and it is answering in a comment. There are various posts on meta.se on this exact topic.
    – Doktor Mayhem Mod
    Mar 9, 2018 at 18:34
  • @Stinkfoot Unfortunately, when a new user asks a question, our site doesn't really make the fine details of what's on- and off- topic here obvious. So when a user has spent their time asking a reasonable question about music that happens to be off-topic, we owe it to them to be helpful, even if that might mean giving a concise 'answer' in a comment (while of course also pointing them to the on-topic page). If we don't like that state of affairs, then IMO what we need to do is lobby to change the way the site works so that new users are taken through the on-topic page. Mar 10, 2018 at 8:24
  • 1
    @topomorto - that's my thinking as well. Like you, I do sometimes give answers in comments, to good, but out of place questions. But our Mod doesn't agree... I agree that unless you ensure that people know exactly what the nature of the site is, we shouldn't be going according to 'the letter of law' for newcomers that show sincere interest.
    – Stinkfoot
    Mar 10, 2018 at 8:28
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    @topomorto that's the challenge we have. From a Stack Exchange perspective we shouldn't do it. It breaks the model and has negative outcomes. As someone who does like helping people, finding a way to do that is tricky.
    – Doktor Mayhem Mod
    Mar 10, 2018 at 8:39
  • The stack exchange model can sometimes be its own worst enemy, IMO - but it's something that can always evolve, and (like other religious books) be interpreted in different ways. The new user experience is one area where there can be problems. Mar 10, 2018 at 9:57

I don't think that we should be answering questions that are off-topic. Of course, there may be some disagreement about whether a particular question is off-topic.

Personally, if I think that a question is off-topic, I will flag it (I don't have the rep to vote to close yet), but I won't post an answer to a question that I consider to be off-topic. I am also reluctant to upvote answers to off-topic questions (though sometimes I do upvote such answers when they seem particularly good). I usually leave a comment when I flag a question as off-topic, and if I think that the poster might be able to salvage the question I try to nudge them in a productive direction. If I see that the question has been fixed through edits I will retract my flag, or occasionally I just change my mind and retract the flag.

Sometimes I will answer a well-meant, but off-topic (in my opinion) question in the comments. I am a little ambivalent about this; on the one hand I feel like I shouldn't be providing an answer at all as this just encourages more bad questions, but on the other hand it is hard to stifle the desire to help someone with such a question. Answering with a comment rather than an actual Answer seems to be a compromise, but I don't always feel good about it.

  • 1
    As per my comment to stinkfoot above, we can't always blame new users for asking off-topic questions - in these cases, I agree that human decency requires that the desire to help is considered alongside the 'site rules'. Mar 10, 2018 at 8:30

One of the selling points of Music.SE is that it is a well-organised site, and that aim is helped by keeping things on-topic. So, no - we shouldn't be answering off-topic questions.

Before voting to close, it may be worth considering:

  • Is the question really, definitely off-topic, even if interpreted charitably? For example, your example question is not a million miles away from Etiquette of Quitting a Band - asked by a moderator on this site, no less.
  • Might a small edit to the question be enough to bring it back on-topic? If so, might a comment suggesting such an edit be friendlier than an immediate close vote? Such a comment can always be followed up with a close vote if not responded to.
  • Does it seem, to you, a good question, and appropriate to the spirit of the site? If so, you're allowed to think that the site's on- and off-topic policy (as decided by its members) might need to change!
  • if a question is borderline, might the aim of neatness be served better by just giving an answer that can serve as a canonical answer for future such questions?

Ultimately, the site exists to help people. In some cases, voting to close questions may achieve that aim - but as Dr Mayhem says, we can still try to be helpful, even when closing questions.

  • 2
    Etiquette of Quitting a Band is also off topic. I just flagged it :-) It should probably go on Meta as a general reference, if not migrated to the Interpersonal relationships site. If I think something is reasonable but off topic. I post an answer/comment and flag it. Editing in such cases always runs the risk of changing the basic intent of the OP, so I decline from doing so.
    – Stinkfoot
    Mar 6, 2018 at 5:03
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    @Stinkfoot I agree that editing someone else's question in such circumstances risks changing the intent - hence my suggestion to recommend an edit to the OP. They are then free to act on that if they see fit. Mar 6, 2018 at 7:29

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