Sometimes I or others ask a question which causes the reader to think why would he want to do that?. There are reasons and the question is usually legitimate. I and others often seem to get a lot of comments (which I don’t mind), and comments posted as answers (which I do mind), which do not even attempt to address the question and instead question the approach and provide zero insight on the actual question.

I am talking about the kind of question where the question is usually a few sentences, but a solid explanation of why the approach that leads to the question is chosen takes almost a full page of writing, and is irrelevant to the question itself. The issue seems to be well understood and there are various related questions on Meta, such as:

My question is not why this happens. My question is how can I formulate a question in such a way that this happens less.

To be clear, I am asking What can a question do to avoid getting answers that do not address the question?, in the context of well-meaning answerers who try to see an underlying cause.

Two questions with different approaches which should show what I mean:

  • 1
    That’s a question I wanted to ask a long time ago but never came around to do it, as I feel to suffer from the same problem. I suggest to term this the YX problem (in analogy to the XY problem). Some example questions of mine: 1, 2, 3.
    – Wrzlprmft
    Feb 20, 2015 at 6:38
  • 2
    Also, I must resist to the urge to post an answer to this along the lines of Why would you want to do that? Those people are trying to help you and solve your actual problem. just for being meta.
    – Wrzlprmft
    Feb 20, 2015 at 6:50
  • 1
    Why do people question every question?
    – gnat
    Feb 20, 2015 at 10:56

2 Answers 2


There's ultimately nothing you can do that will guarantee that the answers you get won't question your question.

You can reduce the risk of getting such answers by explaining the circumstances that led you to your question, or by declaring "Yes, I know that doing X implies Y and that it would be better to do A but I can't do A because B."

The two examples you give are problematic:

  • The first one is off-topic. The question is about a credit card transaction that happens to be a game purchase. It is not at its core a question about a game. I've witnessed on many occasion that people who answer off-topic questions do not feel particularly obliged to abide by whatever limits the off-topic question sets. In other words, the off-topicness of the question is not helping you.

  • In the second question, the details that led you to your situation are in fact relevant. You ask:

    As a foreigner, is there an Ombudsman or some consumer association like the BBB where I can send a complaint to, or do I need to go to court? And if so, which one?

    The fact is that, despite a later disclaimer in your question, you are asking for legal advice ("do I need to go to court?"). Whether your case would be better handled in court, in arbitration, through your credit card company, through an ombudsman, through a consumer association, or in some other way, depends on the specifics of what happened.


Just flatly list your out of spec or unusual conditions as bulleted requirements. That's what a user did in this question and after some discussion the community provided a resolution.

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