For demonstration (not real SE questions):

"How do you pilot a hovercraft?"

is a subset of

"How do you drive a vehicle?"

Supposing the answers to the second question contain no mention of hovercrafts, but do contain some very broad principles that may be technically useful, but which are practically not very useful, would the first question a duplicate of the second?

If the answer is yes, and the answers to the original question are very weak with regard to applicability to the subset, is there anything the asker can do? My guess is to start a bounty (and give a description of the goal in the bounty). But that could have a downside in tainting the original (general) question with too much discussion about the specifics of the narrowly focussed question.

Any ideas?

  • 1
    It depends: do the two questions have the same answer? If yes, they're duplicates; if not, then they're likely not. – Cody Gray Jan 24 at 12:27
  • @CodyGray how about cases where the answer is technically perfectly correct, but too broad (i.e. lacks the specifics) to be usefully applied to the narrowly focussed question? – stevec Jan 24 at 13:00

If you're going to ask a subset question then ask a new question that references the existing broad question and explains why its answers don't suit i.e. they aren't specific enough. That's evidence of your research effort.

If possible find some other pertinent information. Are there no books or other information on driving hovercraft that you can read or have read? Explain why the information in there was insufficient or how you're still confused.

Do you have a hovercraft? Have you tried to drive it? Are you intending to buy one but can't because you're afraid you'll crash it? I.e. what's your motivation here? What makes this a practical problem that you need to solve?

  • The purpose of the hovercraft question is to show that a question can be a subset of another, but, also to hint at how a general answer will probably almost useless in response to very specific questions, even if it encompasses the specific question entirely. It's just an example I made up (I'm sure there are better ones, I'll add it if I find one) – stevec Jan 24 at 11:54
  • My answer applies no matter what the question i.e. concentrate on the differences, your research into the specific problem and why you want/need to know the answer. – Robert Longson Jan 24 at 11:55

Depends on how you do it.

Both questions are too broad. But assuming the former is valid

If you show awareness of the original question

"Hi - I've looked through the question on driving a vehicle."

Talk about how its different

This vehicle has a tiller and a thrust control, so many aspects of driving a wheeled vehicle seem to not work here.

Talk about your precise problem

I am trying to turn left, and the vehicle drifts while I turn, scaring off local wildlife, and nearly hitting a grumpy old gent in mittens

Ask the specific question you need to ask

How do I accurately and safely turn a hovercraft, mitigating its tendency to drift ?

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