It is an amazing phenomenon that makes me wonder how the human race has survived this long - yeah 'answering off the point'. WTF does that mean?
It means like when you ask somebody a simple question you get an answer that does not address your enquiry. Or you ask a question of someone and you get all manner of information that was not relevant to the question - as if the other is trying to second guess where you might be heading, and head you off.
So here is an example:
Me: So, when was it you came to realise that that was the case?
Other: My mother died. Then we had to go up north. It was complicated because she was suffering with cancer. The whole family was distraught.
Me thinking: What the bloody hell did I ask you? It's a flipping easy question 'when' like in bloody when. Why the heck do I want to know about your mother? Do I know when she died FFS!?
Me [being stiltedly polite]: I'm sorry if I interrupt you, I didn't quite get when it was you came to realise that that was the case?
Other: Oh it was after the explosion in Ealing Station.
Me thinking: FFS - How am I know to when there was an explosion in Ealing station? Am I supposed to ask, 'Give me the date and time when you came to realise that that was the case!"
Look, I'm sorry if anyone disagree's with me but the simple and rather clear answer to the question could have been something like, "It's difficult to recall exactly...it was summer of 1997...probably around June...yes it was most likely to be because the days were very long..that's when I came to realise it was the case."
Now that is a more on target answer, because it gives me a reasonable timeframe in response to the question. For God's sakes, this is English..we are human beings...we're supposed to be sentient..this is the 21st Century - else I'm an entity from another timeline!