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I see this frequently here: OP asks how to deal with a difficult social interaction, often one involving a degree of conflict, i.e. a situation in which one side wants something else than what OP wants.

Many answers, typically including the highest-voted answer, do not explain how the situation can be coped with, at all. Instead, they judge on what's morally appropriate or which party of the conflict is "in the right".

Sometimes OP's confusion partly results from not knowing what's morally appropriate, i.e. what can be expected from them. In this case, such an answer can contribute (sometimes significantly) to answer the question. But more often it doesn't. Consider this example, which practically amounts to:

  • Q: How can I dismiss a stranger asking for money?
  • A: You don't have to give them money!

The question isn't "can I dismiss a stranger?", but "how?". The approach thus doesn't answer the question. Since, however, in itself the answer is so obviously true, it receives the most upvotes. It is as if, when it comes to questions of morality or appropriateness, people want so badly to confirm what they think is right that they completely forget what the actual question is.

How can we deal with this? Should we consider these answers as off-topic (despite their high vote count)? Should we point this out in the comments? Should we provide some guidance on this issue in the FAQ? Or is it only OP's responsibility to point out that they are not interested in who's right in the situation?. My fear is, if we do nothing, the helpful answers will often be buried under high-voted but largely irrelevant truisms.

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  • Can you provide a better example. The one you mentioned does answer the question. There answer is say "Sorry, no." when asked for money. It may be extremely simple; but it's also a great way to deal with those people. The answer definitely could have used something to back itself up, but that's not what you're talking about here. – JMac Sep 29 '17 at 10:13
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    And the link above contains two other questions linked which seem to be treading very similar ground. Are all four questions duplicates of each other? Well, the examples cited are all different but the concerns expressed by the askers seem to belong to the same family. Are users really writing about interpersonal skills, and "how" to refine them? Or are many answers just handing out good old common sense advice? – user3114 Sep 29 '17 at 10:25
  • I'd suggest that @henning look at the questions, and their answers on meta and then, include statistics, if possible, and further examples in his post that will help me (and others?) understand better what is the real problem. – user3114 Sep 29 '17 at 10:27