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Toward the top of the FAQ on every Stack Exchange site it has this rule prominently highlighted

You should only ask practical, answerable questions based on actual problems that you face.

I was wondering if this is actually enforced, or if it even should be enforced. I have asked many questions out of curiousity, or sometimes just pure rep-whoring, that have been accepted by the community.

Are these actually a bad genre of questions that should be closed or even deleted? Is the "actual problems that you face" clause merely just a guideline that can occasionally be broken?

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Seriously though, the latest podcast happens to discuss this exact thing, in case you're interested. –  Pëkka Mar 7 '12 at 17:40
    
You're less likely to run into problems if you only ask questions about real, actual problems. Everything else is subject to the whims of the unwashed masses. –  user7116 Mar 7 '12 at 18:00
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Is this question about an actual problem that you face? –  Rosinante Mar 7 '12 at 18:41
    
@Rosinante No, of course not, this was obviously just a ruse to get more people to upvote my popular questions. –  Peter Olson Mar 7 '12 at 20:05
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Well, that's a practical problem. We all need more upvotes. –  Rosinante Mar 7 '12 at 20:26
    
My interpretation of that phrase is simply: You should only ask practical, answerable questions based on actual problems that you [or someone else could reasonably] face. –  Cody Gray Mar 7 '12 at 21:31

1 Answer 1

You should only ask practical, answerable questions based on actual problems that you face

is code for

Please don't ask chatty, bikeshed questions here.

In fact, the next sentence in the FAQ actually clarifies this:

Chatty, open-ended questions diminish the usefulness of our site and push other questions off the front page.

Encouraging people to focus on actual problems helps them ask questions that are not polls, "gorilla vs. shark," shopping recommendations, and the like.

I'm not going to go through all of your examples, but your first example clearly has practical implications for programmers.

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Trying to set up a "canonical question" might also count as a perfectly okay question about a problem that the OP does not in fact face. –  Josh Caswell Mar 7 '12 at 18:16
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Example canonical question: What is a NullReferenceException in .NET. –  John Saunders Mar 7 '12 at 18:51
    
My last example on the other hand, probably has very little, if any, practical implications for programmers. –  Peter Olson Mar 7 '12 at 19:38
    
@PeterOlson: You asked a legendary question; congratulations. And welcome to the debate we've been having about legendary questions for the last three years. Seriously, though, that question has substantial educational value for programmers, and people clearly find it interesting. –  Robert Harvey Mar 7 '12 at 19:43

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