I don't know, maybe I'm somehow strange, but I must admit that answers which begin with

  • What are you trying to achieve?
  • What are your reasons for asking this?
  • Why you are asking this?
  • (anything similar)

are really, really annoying me. Especially, when given by users with quite high rep.

I'm asking because I have a problem and I need an assistance in solving it. Is that hard to understand?

Many years ago, someone wrote that he or she finds answers which point him to "Let Me Google That For You" rude, offending and arrogant and he/she want such questions to be banned in SE.

I can say exactly the same about answers which start by asking me why am I asking. What can I do with them? Can I flag / downvote / comment them or do I have to learn how to live with them?

Also: Are there any other people, strange like me, who also find such answers rude and annoying?

I'm asking about answers. Comments with "Why you're asking this?" are out of scope for this question.

Plus: I'm asking about answers, that after above mentioned question does not actually contain any valuable answer -- for example something like: "What are you trying to achieve? I think you're trying to kill a mosquito with a cannon. You don't need this. Instead, all you need is this..." and here comes a bunch of code lines with actually doesn't answer the question.

A good example you can find in mentioned question. OP's asking about covering a div element with another div and as one of answers he/she gets something like "You don't need to cover it. You can simply hide it". Effect is maybe the same, but solution has nothing to do with the actual question.


Asking you why you are asking a question is not inherently rude. You are asking people to volunteer their time answering a question of yours. It is absolutely legitimate that they ask about the context of your question if they feel that some information is missing from your question. You know, so that their time, which they are donating, is used most optimally. One such situation is the famous XY problem. Someone asks how to do something but their reason for asking is based on a prior misconception. It is better to address the misconception rather than the misguided question.

This being said, the proper place to ask such question is in a comment.

If people post "Why are you asking this?" and similar sentences as an actual answer and that's their whole answer, or they continue their answer with sentences that are comments, rather than an answer, then their answer should be flagged as "not an answer".

If someone opens an answer with a question for the asker and then follows with what is an actual answer to the OP's question, then "Why are you asking?" (and the like) could be edited out of the answer. Don't get into an edit war though.

You give a specific example where the answer does not specifically tell the OP how to do what they wanted to do but provides a solution that achieves the same effect. As I see it, handling such answers really depends on what your standards for good answers are. Note first that the answer is in fact an answer, so should not be flagged. As I see it, a solution that achieves the same effect as what the OP wanted but does it in a way different from what the OP was considering is a useful answer. It is often the case that someone stumbling on an issue thinks that doing A will solve it while ignoring that doing B would solve it just as well.

  • Thank you for your answer. Please, have a look at example in my updated question. I don't address comments and I'm actually talking about an answers, that are trying to change context of a question. – trejder Dec 10 '14 at 12:22
  • 1
    Ok, I was mistaken about the scope of your question. I've updated my answer. – Louis Dec 10 '14 at 12:44

I have a very different reaction to such answers.

I think an answer should consist only of statements, and not more questions.

To me answers like you describe can start to make a Q&A become reminiscent of a discussion forum.

If clarifications are needed the place to ask them is as comments rather than within an answer.

I often re-write questions at the beginning of answers into statements simply by making them assumptions.

For example:

What are you trying to achieve?


I'm assuming you are trying to achieve ...

Doing this creates a foundation for an answer rather than letting an unexpected answer to an ill-placed question undermine it.

I would have no issue with a downvote on an answer that starts as a question for that reason alone. If someone is answering, to me it seems an odd time to be asking anything.

  • There's nothing wrong with rhetorical questions... – John Dvorak Dec 10 '14 at 12:44
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    @JanDvorak unless you only think you know the answer to them :-) – PolyGeo Dec 10 '14 at 13:06

They perhaps should be comments rather than answers, but the reason they are asking is to clarify why you are doing this.

If that is all they consist of, flag as not an answer.

It may be that there is a much better way, or the way you are wanting to do it is invalid, or perhaps just that your question is not clear.

Saying you are asking 'because you have a problem' doesn't help at all. Does your question detail where you want your end goal to be? If not, update your post.

It is not a problem with those asking - they are trying to help, and volunteering their own time to help you.

You need to stop getting infuriated, and realise it is up to you to explain your reasons. Then people will be able to help you.

  • Thank you for your answer. Please, have a look at example in my updated question. I gave "I'm asking, because I have a problem" sentence only as an example of my feelings. I never actually write something in a response to an answer or comment with "Why...". Plus, I'm not getting that infuriated, as it may sound from my question. I'm trying to estabilish some kind of rule, how to deal with such answers. – trejder Dec 10 '14 at 12:24

First, you should evaluate whether or not the answer is at least trying to get the OP beyond their problem. If all it's doing is trying to get more information from the user, then you should flag it, and a moderator can convert it to a comment.

If it is trying to help the OP. Even if it's not taking a path that the OP originally wanted to take, then that doesn't necessarily make it a bad answer. If you want you, you can edit the answer so that it's phrased in a less uncertain way.

In your example, you can simply delete the "question" in the answer.

If you're just trying to hide the data why don't you just:


For most people, even though your question isn't answered directly, if your core problem is solved, then everything has turned out great. Some of the best answers I've consumed haven't answered the question directly.

  • This question for instance, was about accessing a network share, but the thing that ended up working for me was using a web service instead.

  • When I wrote This question I was trying to use my datacontext like a view model, and the part of the answer that helped me was the part that suggested that I just use anoter object for that.

  • Even though the answer to This Question actually answered the question, the part that actually helped me the most was the part that said "But closing a Metro app is not recommended. It is usually suspended."

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