So I just asked a question on SO (its subject isn't really relevant so I won't link it) where I ask if a different approach to my problem would be more efficient with large amounts of data. However, there are probably other ways of tackling this problem so I was going to add to the end

If I'm totally off base here and there's a better way of doing this, please let me know

when I realized that's just asking for subjective answers. However, I don't want to end up asking an XY problem and don't want to avoid a great solution that's totally different. Are there any cases where it would be appropriate to ask for a different (and possibly subjective) solution or ways to protect against an accidental XY question?

My initial guess is that if the attempt is that terrible, the OP will be told so and if not and viable answers are given, its probably unnecessary but maybe others who are more active/have been here longer will know some edge cases

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    I'd say that users are indeed often frank enough to simply tell you you're off base and that there's a better way, should that be the case. – Bart Jul 30 '13 at 21:33
  • When a solution to a specific problem feels particularly inelegant, I don't think it's wrong to ask if there is a better/cleaner/more efficient way. – kiheru Jul 30 '13 at 21:35
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    To add to Bart's comment if you get "why are you doing this" comments, it is usually a sign that there is probably a much better way, but we need more info to determine that – psubsee2003 Jul 30 '13 at 21:36

I'd probably word it as "If I'm completely wrong, please let me know" as it's a little more to the point, and less subjective.

  • Yes, this would be fine. But I don't see how it's any less subjective. – Cody Gray Jul 31 '13 at 5:34

I do not think that there is anything wrong with this.

Of course, Bart is right: most users will tell you if they think you're doing something in an inefficient way, regardless of whether or not you ask them to do so specifically.

But I don't see how it could possibly hurt to request that specifically.

I realized that's just asking for subjective answers.

No, it's not. You're asking a very specific question already that (presumably) is not subjective or open-ended. Asking people who are answering that question for their expert opinion on if that is the best way to do whatever it is you want to do is not a problem.

Naturally, all questions have some degree of subjectivity. Even the simplest of questions, like "How do I default-initialize a variable?", has multiple answers, among which the respondents will have to choose. This does not inherently make the question problematic for Stack Overflow.

Our issue is specifically with questions that are too open-ended, have an unbounded number of answers or no answer that is clearly correct, and invite extended debate/discussion. What you've said here does none of that, so you're in the clear. We're not trying to prevent people from getting expert advice on specific programming problems. We're trying to keep the site from being flooded with irrelevant and useless banter. Please don't be too hung up on semantics.

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