I recently posted a question for a here on meta, in which I offered a possible solution to a problem (I've deleted the post, since I missed seeing a clear duplicate question). However, the first comment on that post mentioned the XY Problem:

Before someone hauls out the X-Y problem, what problem (use case) are you trying to solve specifically?

Yet it would seem to me that the XY Problem is invalid for any question.

That is, the [EDIT: now old version of the] stats on its info (bold added):

Proposals for new features on the Stack Exchange network, or requests for a change to an existing feature.

You have an idea for a new feature to be added, or for a change in existing functionality. Great!

Your question should contain the details of your proposal, including a justification of why the new feature is needed and/or how it can improve the community. Basically, prove to the administration that they should spend time developing your feature.

Yet the XY Problem is generally against the question being about the "proposed" solution:

The XY problem is asking about your attempted solution rather than your actual problem.

Based on the [EDIT: original] tag information, should not the tag be used in most cases specifically for proposed solutions? And is this not antithetical to issue the XY Problem argues against for most SE questions, and so the XY logic not apply in these cases?

That's not to say that what the XY Problem answer also states:

always include information about a broader picture along with any attempted solution

is still not valid for a , but based on the [EDIT: original] wording, such tagged questions should have one expecting a proposed solution in them as the focus.

[EDIT: Addendum—while I've clearly had a number of downvotes by people considering this question as not researched/clear/useful, because of this Q & A, the tag information has been updated to be more clear about the fact that a feature-request should still generally not be offering a solution in the question, as much as defining the problem one thinks a solution is needed for; then any solution one has is best put as an answer to one's own question. So while I still do not know why all the negative votes, I'm glad a positive contribution came from this.]

  • Not sure why the downvotes; what can I do to make this question more clear or useful, since I have outlined the conflicting points between the tag description and the XY Problem assertion? If this is not a useful question, then I might as well delete it also ...
    – ScottS
    Apr 3 '18 at 23:41

Stating what problem you're trying to solve is a vital component of a feature request. We generally do not entertain requests which just come at us with "I want this implemented" with no real reasoning why. It's very important to explain the problem behind the solution in order to foster discussion in the community and explore other options, because believe it or not, your solution may not be the best one.

I've seen this happen countless times, where users come and suggest something without explaining the underlying problem. That feature is ultimately rejected, usually because it's just a bad idea. But once the problem has been explained well, there's often some other solution that would solve it in a much simpler and more effective way, and it actually gets implemented.

If you haven't explained what problem you're solving, then no one can really propose alternate solutions because they don't know what they're trying to solve. And then sometimes there's even the case where you've incorrectly identified the problem - you thought something was causing an issue, but it was really something else. It's impossible to know that happened if you didn't include the details of the problem anywhere.

In fact, not all feature requests do have a proposed solution. Sometimes they are just identified problems that severely impact the community, and they're requesting the community or staff come up with some solution to solve that problem. That's a perfectly valid feature request, and there's nothing wrong with requesting a change when you don't know what change should occur, but rather just know some change needs to occur.

Also keep in mind that the tag wiki there is a very basic explanation of the tag. It is by no means the ultimate guidance that must be strictly followed. There's a lot of room for improvement there - just needs someone who wants to flesh it out more.

  • In fact, How do I participate in Meta and not die trying? suggests exactly that: "consider whether your question may be phrased better as a question and an answer". Apr 3 '18 at 23:31
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    @SonicWizard So it seems the feature-request wiki should not steer people to be giving "proposals" within the question itself, but rather to only give statements of the problem they want solved or enhancement they would like to see, with any "how" that they see to solve it to be relegated to an answer to one's own question.
    – ScottS
    Apr 3 '18 at 23:56
  • Well, at least this whole process allowed for more lucid information on the feature-request tag, which maybe will help future requests to be better formulated.
    – ScottS
    Apr 4 '18 at 20:54

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