I just asked a user to separate his two (otherwise good) questions (real-world use) into two separate questions (stack-exchange use). That is, he was doing a single task, and was wondering about two different aspects of it.

This rule can seem arbitrary to users, for whom it is natural to ask for all the help they need with a single task in a single "package". So I am always careful to explain some of the reasoning behind it when I do it. This explaining has some downsides: 1) it takes time, 2) it doesn't look as "official" when it is just a comment, 3) users couldn't have known about it even if they wanted.

My suggestion is to expand the text in https://cooking.stackexchange.com/help/how-to-ask with a heading of "only one problem per question" and explain a bit of the background. This is a low-friction solution (adding some more relevant text to an existing help page), can be linked when needed, and addresses the other concerns too.

  • I only have seen the possibility of edit on very few, site specific pages in the help center, such as the list of on topic questions. Pretty sure that's the exception, but if it is not, can you point me to a documentation of how to change it? – rumtscho Jun 27 '16 at 12:24
  • Are you suggesting that "be specific" is insufficiently specific? – Shog9 Jun 27 '16 at 16:53
  • 2
    @Shog9 yes, that's what I am suggesting. The multiple questions can be very specific and well-defined. – rumtscho Jun 27 '16 at 17:24

From what I have seen different sites have different tolerance levels to the asking of multiple questions in a question so a network-wide change to the help may not be desired by all communities, irrespective of whether I think it should be (which I do).

As an alternative to placing this information on the help/how-to-ask page which is not accessible for moderators to edit, you could do as we do at GIS Stack Exchange and:

  1. use the help/on-topic page (which is accessible for moderators to edit) to provide a link to a How to frame a good question? Q&A where the most upvoted and accepted answer mentions near its start:

the all important single question [you could embellish this to say much more.]

  1. reinforce it with Tour wording (which moderators can also edit) of:

Your most important question is important to us

Asking one, and only one, important question within your Question helps attract prompt and clear Answers.

Your other questions are just as easy to research/ask separately!

I actually think having this in the Tour is what really says that "one question per question" is one of the first things that we want new users to learn about focussed Q&A.

| improve this answer | |

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .