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It isn't the only question we've seen that has this particular dynamic, but this recent question has some features that I think are problematic for IPS and the standards that have been developed for the stack.

There are some other issues (such as not really having an interpersonal component, as currently written) which we don't need to address here, but the question itself seems to have two undesirable features with regard to the stack:

  1. The constraints in the question are diametrically opposed, according to the definitions the OP offered. The OP's definition of dishonesty is pretty expansive, including expressing untrue information as though it were true as well as declining to correct untrue information they become aware of. These would seem to preclude any participation in the Santa Claus tradition, and indeed that's the problem the OP presents here. The OP wants both conditions to be true and has not (perhaps cannot) offer any alternative outcomes that would be satisfactory.

  2. The OP describes that they have already violated each of these constraints, to some degree or another, but does not indicate that any flexibility is acceptable in answers. In offering answers, people have (thus far, perhaps not necessarily) have dealt with this by disregarding the conditions premised in the question.

The result is answers which simply disregard inconvenient portions of the question-- roughly evaluating to "ignore your moral position, even though it's the crux of the question".

These answers could be viewed as frame challenges, though they could perhaps do with some tidying up if that's how they are intended. But I think that there may be a pair of issues:

  1. They don't offer much of an alternative view of the situation to the one held by the OP but instead simply ignore the constraints which are inconvenient to their suggested solutions (I'm interested in how this interacts with the general respect the premises of the asker guideline)

  2. Because the premise which is challenged here is the OP's personal moral philosophy, I don't know that we can discuss it very well (in the frame challenge mode or otherwise). Whether or not it's right or wrong to lie to one's children, about Santa or anything else, is way outside of the scope of the stack. That is to say, I'm not sure we can offer effective frame challenges to a frame based on something like personal moral codes in the SE format on this stack.


I've held off voting to close the question or flagging answers because the question has already generated a fair amount of attention and my opinions here don't seem to be reflected by other experienced IPS users or mods, so a meta post seemed like a better option.

Summary:

Other issues aside, this question seems to be inherently unanswerable while meeting the OP's stated criteria. This makes the question less clear than it might be and engenders answers which are less likely to meet site standards (whether broadly useful or not).

What should we do with a question which itself precludes answers? It's hard to respect the asker's premises, and altering them (as through suggested edits) radically alters what the question even is.

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    I'm not sure how we should deal with this, but if the only way to answer a question is to challenge its frame (in this case perhaps challenging the assumption that "lying about santa is bad for your children"), then the question is no different than "What should I do?" In other words, if the goals are impossible given the constraints, there might as well not be well defined goals at all (as far as the answers are concerned). – scohe001 Sep 11 at 18:56
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    I'm not sure how we should deal with this, but any question like this one (about Santa Claus / beliefs / education) has almost no IPS answer, because it's about choices and opinions. It could be asked on philosophy / parenting or any stack more open to broad idea/questions. But here?... – OldPadawan Sep 12 at 8:07
  • This question is badly framed as I read it, because for me it looks more like a intrapersonal question than a interpersonal challenge, because OP is not able to concile 2 mutually exclusive personal stances (wanting the kids to believe in Santa x broad concept of dishonesty / lying). OP has to give up on one of those in my eyes and either accept the little lies to keep the belief alive or break the hard truth to the kids and deter people from lying to keep their stance on honesty – Juliana Karasawa Souza Sep 12 at 14:40
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    @JulianaKarasawaSouza : well, I thought it could be, then I read two (now deleted) answers. One said "believe in the idea, not the thing itself." and the second one was about a newspaper columnist answering an 8 yo girl. And congregating those 2 (sand + cement) could make a "concrete" answer. An IPS answer, with a way to explain to the kids. Well, that's just a thought, not sure I'm right on this one... – OldPadawan Sep 12 at 15:07
  • @OldPadawan that is a good option to solve the "I don't want to straight-up bullshit the kids", but it predates OP's stance on dishonesty / lying because, according to their view, this is being dishonest. – Juliana Karasawa Souza Sep 13 at 12:22
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I've held off voting to close the question or flagging answers because the question has already generated a fair amount of attention and my opinions here don't seem to be reflected by other experienced IPS users or mods, so a meta post seemed like a better option.

First things first: Someone has got to be the person that casts the first close-vote. If we're all waiting to see if someone else votes to close once problems with a post become apparent, that's not going to work. I would encourage every user to use their privileges, and vote to close if you think there's a problem with a post. If the problem seems complicated or undiscussed before, accompanying that close vote with a meta post is fine!

Moderators are in a bit more of a conundrum, having a binding close vote. We might hang back, comment, try to get problems into the light... and still not close it single-handedly. This question may have gotten multiple comments from mods, but that doesn't mean that just because we haven't voted to close yet, the community should refrain as well.

What should we do with a question which itself precludes answers? It's hard to respect the asker's premises, and altering them (as through suggested edits) radically alters what the question even is.

In general, if there seem to be two conflicting premises/irreconcilable goals in a question, I recommend asking clarifying comments. Our help/on-topic asks people to include their priorities for an outcome/goal, and asks people to rank them if they are conflicting:

If any of your goals might conflict with one another, please rank them.

So the first step would be a comment, asking people which goal is more important to them. Another way to improve such questions is using comments to find out if there's a 'real problem' an OP wants to be solved: Questions should have a 'real', Interpersonal Skills related problem, not just offer a paradox.

Also, don't mind to immediately voting to close: If a question needs clarification on such parts, it probably isn't good enough to be left open in the meantime. It can be reopened after editing, or even edited during the time it's in the close vote queue, and never end up on-hold at all.

And if you see anything that you can already improve by editing, please do so.

If people are convinced both their goals/premises are equally important, and there doesn't really seem to be more of a problem than just conflicting premises, we're indeed dealing with a question that seems to preclude answers. But at that point, such questions may also start to carry a hint of 'what should I do', by letting it up to answerers to rank their premises or goals for them or discuss stuff unsuited for a Q&A site on Interpersonal Skills. At that point, it's safe to let the question be closed, either as off-topic, unclear or primarily opinion-based.

For the specific question you use as an example, perhaps, we've altered this question too much already. The question, as originally posted, included a sentence about being open to a reframe. This could be interpreted as basically making the question a type of 'what should I do': OP says they want to do A, but also directly lets answerers know they're open to B, C or D as well, and answerers can pick. At that point, there's really not much of a premise to respect left: The question is at that point basically asking us which premise an OP should choose!

At this point, it seems to me that it's okay to start close voting this question, especially since OP also admitted in a comment their question might go against the purpose of this stack.

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