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I have what I feel is a very good answer for question Summary of manyglm model objects running too slowly in R; can I speed them up?. However, this does look like a question for Stack Overflow, more than for Cross Validated. What should I do? Should I flag the question as off-topic and then answer once it has been moved to Stack Overflow? Or should I answer it here?

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This is often a delicate decision. Without purporting to survey all the possibilities, I note a continuum of situations here, in terms of merit of question (how far is it a good question answerable somewhere?) and appropriateness of questions (how far is it on-topic anywhere, on Stack Exchange or in other forums?).

  1. Even if there are votes to close or to migrate, the process may be slow and/or not converge to a decision (and those votes may not be visible or noticed).

  2. Even if a question is doomed as not being on-topic anywhere (e.g. by being too software-specific for CV, but also lacking a reproducible example, or asking for function or package recommendations, so predictably off-topic on Stack Overflow) writing an answer may still seem helpful. The hope is that the OP will learn something, even if it is mostly that their question needs more work. My decision on whether to answer often hinges on how a question seems really lazy, meaning appearing to be totally lacking in research effort.

  3. A question that is likely to be migrated will be migrated with answers, so the effort is not wasted. This is the most positive of these categories, as people can answer here in the hope that their answer will be a contribution elsewhere. This is often the case with software-based questions.

  4. On the other hand, a question that is re-posted outside Stack Exchange or deleted here could lose any existing answer, or even a link to them. The effort of answering may then be wasted long term.

A related issue is cross-posting both on Stack Exchange and on non-Stack Exchange forums, because dubiously appropriate questions often get cross-posted. I've seen the same question on three forums simultaneously. The defence is that posters are unsure about where best to post, but many people are careless of the waste of others' time often caused by cross-posting. The latter has been discussed on SE Meta but almost daily I write advice to be explicit about cross-posting anywhere.

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If a question is easy to answer, answer it. In so doing the OP is helped. Now, if it gets moved, deleted, modified, closed or otherwise traumatized, that does not modify your contribution to the OP's sanity, you will still have done your good deed for the day. Will you garner respect from that? Eventually, for enough answers, you will. Indeed, sometimes a good answer helps to protect the question, or it gets moved by a moderator to a duplicate question as an answer there.

Being off-topic a little bit is usually tolerated. Outrageous stuff tends to last only a few minutes on CV before it is expunged. Stuff in the middle, moderately off topic is anyone's guess. Sometimes the off-topic nature is ignored, sometimes not, depends more on the stochastic nature of the review process than on actual content.

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    $\begingroup$ Spam we need not discuss. If I understand your second paragraph, you mainly refer to comments, and not questions. So it seems off-topic here in a thread about answering off-topic questions. Comments can be appropriate as remarks on secondary details: whether they are worth preserving is a different question. Good comments often lead to clarification or correction, and can then be excised. I suggest you edit your second paragraph to make it more obviously relevant, or cut it altogether, as it doesn't strengthen the case in your first paragraph. $\endgroup$ – Nick Cox Mar 11 '17 at 12:07
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    $\begingroup$ @NickCox Representation and misrepresentation—including specifically by researchers, but also by health professionals, the police, judges, etc.—are never value-free. When I teach my intro epidemiology grad students, we get to different population measures of mortality. One such is Years of Potential Life Lost, which explicitly values dying young as worse—more mortal—than dying old. Some students are startled by an expression of value in a measure, until I point out that the crude mortality rate values dying young as just as lethal as dying old. All measures are value-laden. $\endgroup$ – Alexis Mar 11 '17 at 23:22
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    $\begingroup$ Carl, I hazard a guess that your outrage at "political correctness" may reference my contention in a different post that sex is not static… questions of statistical representation are challenging, and the ontological question "where did you get the definition of your variables from?" is a critical one, that always has an answer, even an answerer tries to hand-wave over the values creating it. If one does not grapple with questions like "what aspect of sex are we concerned about," the laws, health providers, border-crossings, and other policies that interpret representation will still ramify. $\endgroup$ – Alexis Mar 11 '17 at 23:26
  • $\begingroup$ @Alexis Not. Haven't seen your post. Nothing to do with you. The discursive problem is felt by the protagonists of personal gender self-identity and not those whose concept of ontogeny is phylogenetically generic enough to be applied to genotyping not-especially-sentient, lower life-forms. $\endgroup$ – Carl Mar 12 '17 at 16:04
  • $\begingroup$ @NickCox OK, examples deleted, frankly not only comments but it is pointless to elaborate, and less is more here. $\endgroup$ – Carl Mar 12 '17 at 16:39
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    $\begingroup$ Obfuscating post-modernist psychobabble is neither a critical assessment of the ontology of the answer to the question where did you get your variable definitions from, nor a critique of the statistical consequences of different forms of measurement. What are you trying to hide? $\endgroup$ – Alexis Mar 12 '17 at 20:51
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    $\begingroup$ @alexis You appear to be talking at me concerning a topic I did not broach, concerning something you misunderstood from what I said concerning a posted question that I am sure you would have voted to remove as quickly as I did. Moreover, my echo of the 19th century phrase ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny is etymologically proper and semantically exact. Please stop with the shadow boxing. $\endgroup$ – Carl Mar 12 '17 at 21:51

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