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I've read several questions here about whether a certain question is too hypothetical. A nice rule of thumb I read at one of these was that in a not-too-hypothetical question (i.e. an acceptable question), it should be possible for OP to supply additional details if queried.

That's somewhat helpful but a bit more guidance would be helpful. I need to read some non-gray-area hypothetical questions that were closed or should have been closed.

If you can't find any specific examples, then it's okay to make something up (if it's realistic).

This came up as I was reading some of the questions written by a medium inexperienced participant who recently posed a Meta question about participation by non-academics. I realized that I don't have any personal experience yet evaluating hypothetical questions to determine whether they're well posed.


Edit to provide context. I was trying to decide whether How to deal with consequential rounding errors when verifying the works of others? was on topic. I noticed that Help says To prevent your question from being flagged and possibly removed, avoid asking subjective questions where … you are asking an open-ended, hypothetical question: “What if ______ happened? but I also realized I don't know how hypothetical is too hypothetical. I read some Meta material about this, so now I have the theory (see above), but without some practical examples showing where to draw the line I don't feel confident about determining when to vote to close because of being too hypothetical. Guidance would be much appreciated.

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    I think that any ruling on 'too hypothetical' would be a very special case of 'ensure that questions are an actual problem you (or someone else) have or had', which I think if not a rule, is a strong recommendation already. So, I don't see what you will gain with gathering these examples. – Discrete lizard Apr 1 '18 at 11:24
  • @StrongBad - I had missed the first of those three, so thank you. There, ff524 discussed an instructive example question. This was a tiny bit helpful in that I had a chance to see an example of a question that ff524 found too hypothetical. (I agree. For starters, since when can one flaunt federal, state and/or local laws and ordinances when on the campus of a public university?) But the question is open. It has no close votes. It had wild up and down voting with a current net vote of -3. The question was written by you. This... – aparente001 Apr 2 '18 at 19:50
  • .. has ended up confusing me even more. // Look, in the classroom, when a student says, "Could we see some examples, please? I think that will help me understand this concept better," wouldn't most instructors share some examples? Pinging also @Discretelizard. – aparente001 Apr 2 '18 at 19:55
  • @aparente001 using my super mod tools (which might be available to others), I can see that all the close votes have aged away. – StrongBad Apr 2 '18 at 20:04
  • @aparente001 Well, eh, as far as my comment goes, I very much doubt StrongBad actually seriously considered teaching naked. Hence, the example you mentioned can be closed as 'unclear what you're asking' (maybe another close reason?) with the rationale that this isn't an actual problem that StrongBad is facing. Does that make things clearer? Otherwise, it would help if you're more specific about your confusion. – Discrete lizard Apr 2 '18 at 21:12
  • @StrongBad - Thanks for explaining. – aparente001 Apr 2 '18 at 21:15
  • @Discretelizard - Do you think it's too hypothetical to pass muster? I'm going to go vote to close, let's see what happens, maybe this will give me better clarity about what's closable and what isn't, based on this criterion. – aparente001 Apr 2 '18 at 21:16

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