Tit For Tat
Wikipedia formally defines "tit for tat" as an English saying meaning "equivalent retaliation".
It is also a highly effective strategy in game theory for the iterated
prisoner's dilemma. The strategy was first introduced by Anatol
Rapoport in Robert Axelrod's two tournaments, held around 1980.
Notably, it was (on both occasions) both the simplest strategy and the
most successful in direct competition.
An agent using this strategy will first cooperate, then subsequently
replicate an opponent's previous action. If the opponent previously
was cooperative, the agent is cooperative. If not, the agent is not.
This is similar to superrationality and reciprocal altruism in
Therefore, following the last paragraph quoted above, "tit for tat" can be, broadly speaking, applicable to the situation you describe in your question-
...used as a reply to a person who complaints about a poor answer
given to his/hers poor question. It says that the quality of the
answer is in relation to the quality of the question.
The FreeDictionary.com provides several definitions of this phrase-
- Repayment in kind, as for an injury; retaliation.
- an equivalent given in return or retaliation; blow for blow
- Probably borrowed from Dutch tip for tap, "blow for blow."
I would say all of them seem to fit in well with the situation you have in mind.