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A number of questions on tex.stackexchange have been met with the comment that "only a single question should be asked at a time". If this desideratum were in the FAQ, that would give the concept more weight as a requirement.

Since it's not possible for a moderator of a particular site to modify the "boiler plate" of the FAQ (see this question and this answer), the change would need to be made "higher up". Thus the request for this recommendation to be added to the FAQ "boiler plate".

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Moderators can change the top part of the FAQ in the meantime. –  Anna Lear Feb 14 '12 at 18:02
    
Although mostly true, I think it's not quite that clear-cut. Closely interrelated questions are fine (they are explicating specific aspects of the problem). See also What do we do with multiple-question questions? –  ire_and_curses Feb 14 '12 at 19:37
    
@ire_and_curses -- the situation covered in the question you cited is only partly applicable to tex.stackexchange. there, a multi-question is usually a linked chain of problems; they are related, but they have different answers that can reasonably stand on their own in other circumstances. it seems that the situation on different stackexchange sites may be sufficiently different that one size doesn't fit all; i'm not really familiar with other sites. on the tex site, most posters, when requested to split questions, comply. but seeing the same request over and over is discouraging. –  barbara beeton Feb 14 '12 at 20:06
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2 Answers 2

up vote 9 down vote accepted

Very good idea. This is absolutely something that should be covered in the FAQ - along with a link to a Meta question on how to best fix the problem (because the real world situation where this is needed most is when a new user posts such a question, and their next question is bound to be "oh, sorry, what can I do about it?")

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Definitely. Chances are highly unlikely that a single question on SO will solve your entire work project. It's much more likely that it is a single stumbling block in a long list of chained objectives. But it's also very likely that, since one tripped you up, that another is lurking right after it. A lot of questions have one question answered, and end up with long comment chains as future problems get worked out, when in reality they should be 2-3 or more different questions. –  corsiKa Feb 14 '12 at 18:37
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While it is indeed a faq for some of the technical sites where one question spawns another often, I'm not sure it's something that is network wide. That's not to say the principle of "one question per question" is not network wide, because it most certainly is. But whether or not it's a principle that belongs in the FAQ may not be.

For example, this is probably not a big problem on Cooking. It's probably not a big problem on Sports. It's probably not a big problem on the language sites. So adding it to those sites' FAQs actually (slightly) lowers the signal to noise ratio, because problems that aren't really problems are being addressed.

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That's an interesting viewpoint - if it's indeed true that cooking, sports, and the language sites don't mind multiple questions in a question. I'm having a hard time imagining why - I'm not sure there is a fundamental difference between a programming question and a cooking question in that regard. Do you have some links to back up the claim? –  Pëkka Feb 14 '12 at 18:47
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This definitely doesn't apply only to technical questions. Focused, specific questions are the essence of our Q&A model. If multiple questions are combined into one, it's much harder for future visitors to find them helpful. They might only have one of the questions instead of all of them at once and they'd have to sift through answers to figure out what applies to them and what doesn't -- which is exactly what we want to avoid. –  Anna Lear Feb 14 '12 at 18:54
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I'm not ever suggesting that the concept only applies to technical questions. I am only suggesting that on sites where the problem is less prevalent it is perhaps not deserving of an entry in the FAQ. –  corsiKa Feb 14 '12 at 19:06
    
In fact, I tried to preempt the fact that my answer might be interpreted that way by stating "That's not to say the principle of "one question per question" is not network wide, because it most certainly is." –  corsiKa Feb 14 '12 at 19:08
    
the point made by @Anna that it's not easy for future visitors to find an answer is quite relevant here. it took me nearly half an hour to determine that this question hadn't been asked before; maybe i'm just not good at searching, but when the first search i tried had over 4,000 "matches", i nearly gave up. i did get the list down to 143 items, and slogged through that, but even then i had to actually read many of them to find out if they were relevant. a newbie will probably be even more inept. so framing of a question is important too. –  barbara beeton Feb 14 '12 at 19:19
    
@barbarabeeton I 100% agree with everything in Anna's comment. All I'm saying is just because it happens often on some sites doesn't mean it happens often on other sites. And if it doesn't happen often, it doesn't need to be in the FAQ. I don't know how anyone got the idea that I think multiple questions in a question are accepted anywhere or are a good idea. –  corsiKa Feb 14 '12 at 19:46
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