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I saw a question that went into a lot of detail on a concept and then asked whether that description was correct. The question post ended in asking a number of additional questions about the topic. What is the problem with such question posts?

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  • I think this would be a good candidate for the meta frequently-asked-questions list.
    – Hannah Vernon Mod
    Jan 4 at 16:12
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    Good idea, I have added the FAQ tag. I wasn’t even aware of that one. I think I have a few other candidates
    – Murch Mod
    Jan 4 at 18:27

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Bitcoin Stack Exchange is a Q&A platform. We are aiming to collect information on as many different topics as possible. However, not every explanation works best for every user, and not every answer post comprehensively covers a topic. This is why the site is designed to allow multiple competing answers on each topic. Other than a forum, those answers do not form a thread in a fixed order, but are presented in order of usefulness via the feedback of users.

A question post that contains a long-form description of a concept and then asks "did I get that right" is not a question, it is a request for proofreading. Posts of this style interact poorly with many mechanics of the website:

  • Responders are pushed to focus on the misconceptions of the asker rather than explaining the concept itself since the topic does not pose an open question.
  • It is a lot of work to comprehensively respond to all aspects of the question post, since there may be multiple different misconceptions in the asker’s description of the concept.
  • Often answers focus only on the misconceptions they find most important. This makes it hard to compare answers.
  • Responders are often tempted to quote large parts of the question and answer in-line. This wastes site visitors’ time by making them read the question text multiple times, when they really are looking to further understanding of the concept.
  • It is hard for other readers to assess whether an answer is complete.
  • It is infeasible to close such a topic as a duplicate, because most topics focus on one issue, and no one topic will cover all the questions featured in a last of questions.
  • Because answers contain scattered information about various details of the concept in which the asker erred, the topic provides little benefit to other site visitors beside the asker

What would be a better approach as the asker?

  1. A good question focuses on a single topic and provides the minimal sufficient context to pose an open question about it: the asker should distill their question post down to one open question and only keep the context necessary to understand the actual question.
  2. Find or ask a question on which their long-form description of the concept fits as an answer. As Cunningham’s Law states, "the best way to get the right answer on the internet is not to ask a question; it's to post the wrong answer". Posting an answer still gives other users the opportunity to provide feedback and corrections in the comments of the answer post, but gives other users the option to respond to the question themselves.

What should a potential responder do?

  1. Don’t answer requests for proofreading or topics that ask a multitude of questions. Vote to close and provide guidance how to ask instead.
  2. If you do want to answer, ask a better question and answer that instead.
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    The /TLDR - "Don’t answer requests for proofreading or topics that ask a multitude of questions. Vote to close and provide guidance how to ask instead." is spot on IMO.
    – Hannah Vernon Mod
    Jan 4 at 16:03

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