10

Usually, Stack Exchanges deal with "questions about an actual problem you have faced." However, I can see Interpersonal Skills being well-suited to questions that:

  • Deal with a situation you think may happen and want to be prepared for,
  • deal with a general etiquette or empathy question that happens in various ways, or
  • deal with a problem that you see others facing in life or in fiction and are curious about.

Do hypothetical questions suit this site? Where do we draw the line?

As an example, this question seems inspired by fears around proposals and popular portrayals of them in the media. Should it be on-topic?

  • Usually, Stack Exchanges deal with "questions about an actual problem you have faced." This is not really true for a lot of sites. Typically Worldbuiding, but also Scifi, movies for example. But I get your point. – TGar Jun 27 '17 at 20:06
  • Hypothetical questions do not work here(SE). They become discussion items where ever little piece is nitpicked and discussed and no good solution comes about. – BACKPFEIFENGESICHT Jun 27 '17 at 20:27
9

I personally don't think so, and definitely not this early in the beta.

It's easy this way to use all possible questions that could come here, resulting in a high initial question rate, but then causing it to drop as there are no more opportunities for new questions. At least while it's in private beta, we shouldn't be striving to get as many questions as possible, let's just focus on our current, real life questions, and work on answer them well.

Even then in the future it's always better to hear a problem from someone currently in that situation, that way more accurate and consistent details can be added, rather than trying to make a story out of it.

If anything the votes on the post can help paint part of the picture as to how others are responding to it, I'm sure a real life situated post may perform better, and such should definitely be preferred to one just made up.

Also to add something really nice commented by @Zizouz212:

"The private beta is the time to create expert questions with expert answers. The focus should be on quality instead of quantity. The earliest questions will set the tone for future questions, so they need to be models for the future. If we develop crappy models, we won't get what we want a year from now. Hypothetical questions by nature don't facilitate that, so unless you can't reflect on an actual experience, or create a detailed question, I'd ask everyone to refrain from doing so, especially if they are doing it for the sake of adding questions to the site."

  • 2
    I'd add to that. The private beta is the time to create expert questions with expert answers. The focus should be on quality instead of quantity. The earliest questions will set the tone for future questions, so they need to be models for the future. If we develop crappy models, we won't get what we want a year from now. Hypothetical questions by nature don't facilitate that, so unless you can't reflect on an actual experience, or create a detailed question, I'd ask everyone to refrain from doing so, especially if they are doing it for the sake of adding questions to the site. – Zizouz212 Jun 27 '17 at 19:59
  • @Zizouz212 mind if I quote that in my answer? (I'll cite you of course) I really like it. – Crafter0800 Jun 27 '17 at 20:01
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    @Crafter0800 Of course! – Zizouz212 Jun 27 '17 at 20:01
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    @Tim I'd say that hypotheticals should always be allowed, it's just since we are in a private beta right now, they aren't the questions we want to attract at this moment. – Zizouz212 Jun 27 '17 at 20:01
  • @Zizouz212 Sure, but this answer says "no, and definetly not now" not "yes, but not now" – Tim Jun 27 '17 at 20:28
  • We need to differ between unreal (but very possible) and impossible situations. Unreal is good, impossible bad. – TGar Jun 27 '17 at 20:49
  • @Tim It depends on how they are presented. If I see "What should I do if..." then right away it's a bad question. Scope isn't the issue with these questions, it's just that it hypotheticals tend to be absolutely horrible questions. – Zizouz212 Jun 27 '17 at 21:28
8

I think that questions should be about a topic that applies to you personally. It might be a problem you actively have, something you're worried about and want to prepare for, or something you have trouble with and want to get better at. It's okay for them to be about a hypothetical situation as long as the asker's problem isn't hypothetical.

So I think the following should be on-topic:

  • How to stop arguing with my spouse about minor things like toilet paper roll orientation?
  • I've been invited to play volleyball with friends; what do I do if my allergies act up?
  • How can I stop feeling bad about turning down date invitations?

And the following should be off-topic:

  • How can spouses stop arguing about minor things? (when the asker isn't married or soon-to-be-married)
  • What should I do if the US President invites me to dinner and I don't like the food that they bring me?
  • What should someone do if they don't like seeing other peoples' hands? (when the asker does not have any such aversion)
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    +1 for the "something you're worried about and want to prepare for". It can be hypothetical if there is real chance that it does happen. – TGar Jun 27 '17 at 20:45
4

I think it's important to distinguish between hypothetical as in questions that are completely made up, and hypothetical as in real concerns about hypothetical problems.

I suspect that the domain of Interpersonal Skills will be enough hypothetical already as we won't have much hard science and no clear right or wrong. The last thing we need is completely made up questions.

Taking the linked question about a refused proposal as an example, I think it's wrong that whole scenario simply made up and presented as a real one. How can we consider the details in the answer knowing that they are just made up? How can we ask for more details and actually bother? It instantly turns into a futile exercise.

What I think would have been ok is if the question would have been honest in line with something like I'm afraid of proposing, how should I deal with the risk of rejection?, making it a true question.

0

Right now, no. Questions need to be detailed (and consistent), and ideally, the OP can accept an answer (which the OP might struggle if they're not in the situation).

After the private beta is over, let them flow - as long as they meet our other quality requirements.

0

I expand the scope of "actual problems that you have faced" by including the following: 1) problems or issues facing others that you have personally observed (this includes reading about them) and problems that you are "contemplating." The test I use for "topicality" is "clear and present danger (even in a book).

SE is largely about "post mortems." But "experience is a dear[expensive] teacher." If you can get some experience cheaply vicariously or hypothetically, why not?

This is not to allow "hypothetical" questions that you have pulled out of thin air that you have no "stake" in.

  • my take is that the question doesnt actually need to be about you but it should always be asked as if it was. – BACKPFEIFENGESICHT Jul 3 '17 at 20:24

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