I have a helpful answer to someone's question, but someone else has put the question on hold. Is there a good way for me to communicate my answer to them without breaking SE rules?

For example, one option would be to post my answer in a comment. In this case I would be hoping that the questioner saw my answer before a moderator was able to delete it. This seems like a poor communication dynamic.

SE rules (for example here) suggest that I could "take any discussion to Role-playing Games Chat" which is extremely unhelpful because the person I'm trying to communicate with is probably not in the chatroom.

What I really want is a way to direct message the person who asked the question, but poking around their profile doesn't seem to reveal that as an option.

In this case the question I am looking at is How do I get stoic loners to cohere into a group and care about each other?, and the answer I want to give is "you can't resolve this in-character, you have to talk about it out-of-character" and a link to https://bankuei.wordpress.com/2009/12/19/a-way-out/. But I've had this problem before as well.


1 Answer 1


You wait until it's reopened. There is no other way that doesn't do harm to the site.

If the question can be fixed, it should be before answering. If it can't be fixed, it should not be answered on RPG.se because it doesn't belong here in the first place.

Questions can be fixed two ways: by the original asker, or—more rarely—by another user who "gets it" and can rewrite the question so that everyone can understand it better. (It is best practices to leave a comment after a radical edit asking the OP if it still says what they meant. It's also not uncommon for others to object to something they see as a change in meaning and revert it; in which case one may have to wait for the asker to clarify personally anyway.)

Either way, patience is important. No question is an emergency and can't wait, and must have an answer—no matter the quality—right now. The asker will come back and fix it if it's important to them. And if they don't care enough to return and fix it, it's better that it stay closed anyway.

If you think you understand the question, and you think that understanding of the question is on-topic for the site, you can fix the question yourself. That way, it can be opened so you can answer it.

Regardless, the question needs to be open to answer it. This ensures that answers undergo the scrutiny of peers via the voting system, which is vital to ensure the quality that makes RPG.se not just yet another noisy discussion forum. It also ensures that others have equal chance to write competing answers, which is also vital to our quality process. Any end-run around the closing process defeats the purpose of the site and is dealt with accordingly, which is why answers in comments are deleted on sight.

Aside, a direct-messaging system has been requested before and always denied. The founding purpose of Stack Exchange is that answers and questions are high-quality and available publicly. A system of personal messaging would not only hide useful answers, but also divert experts from putting energy into front-page answers. Everything about the main site is designed to force all user input to be focused on questions & answers, and to make people go elsewhere for any other purpose.

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ And as a note, answers in comments - in general but especially on on hold questions - should be flagged by community members and are immediately deleted by anyone with the rep to do it. Having them actively impedes fixing the question. \$\endgroup\$
    – mxyzplk
    Commented Sep 14, 2015 at 16:43

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