User All has been asking a lot of questions. I am starting to get the feeling that they fall under the

you are asking an open-ended, hypothetical question: “What if ______ happened?”

part of don't ask. In particular I am thinking about this question

Who should recommend applicants for administrative positions?

While I think the topics in general are okay, the questions just seem to be a little bit off. I think the question would be a lot better quality if the person who asked it was actually applying to be a Dean.

Do we want to do anything to discourage the asking of question like this? Do we want to encourage All to ask different questions?

2 Answers 2


I share your feeling about these questions, although as aeismail said, they are not too hypothetical to be closed right away. However, I'm mostly annoyed by the fact that most questions look like the introduction of a paper rather than a genuine question. They somehow have the form "let's all agree that X is true", followed by "Why is it the case?" or "How to deal with X?".

For example, How long the curse of bad education remains in academic career? states that transcripts are always asked, which is not true, they are sometimes asked. Similarly, Why is headhunting uncommon for academic positions? states that academic recruitment is only application based, which is true in some cases, but not always.

In general, I'm curious about the motivation behind all these questions. Clearly, the user is not currently facing all of them, and it would be surprising that All faced them in the past (or similar situations). I think that each question is OK as such, but as a whole, it brings a bunch of vague questions, but I don't know if there is much we can do about it.

  • If there's enough of a groundswell, action can be taken. But so long as users are treating the questions seriously, that's the community decision, and we should respect it.
    – aeismail
    Sep 28, 2013 at 13:44
  • 2
    @aeismail: It can be difficult to interpret what treating the questions seriously means. When a question is based on a false premise or misunderstanding, people may answer primarily to refute the premise. When I've done that, I don't intend it to indicate that I value the question itself. If it's based on a common misunderstanding, then publicly correcting the misunderstanding may be valuable. On the other hand, some beliefs are just not widespread or plausible, in which case the main purpose of answering is to prevent the question from spreading new forms of misinformation. Sep 28, 2013 at 18:01
  • Like I said in my answer below, though—if you feel the question is based on a false premise or shouldn't be asked, then you have the downvote/close buttons available. Until there is a consistent voting pattern against such questions, the moderators can't peremptorily say "You can't ask that here."
    – aeismail
    Sep 28, 2013 at 19:04
  • @aeismail I wasn't asking for the diamond mods to do anything. I was trying to see what others thought.
    – StrongBad
    Sep 28, 2013 at 20:15

They don't quite fall under that category—yet. However, if you start to feel that way, the solution is to downvote those questions and vote to close them.

  • I am starting to feel that way, but I am not sure what my problem with them is or if it is just me.
    – StrongBad
    Sep 28, 2013 at 15:22

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