I've recently read several cases where comments or answers seem to be deliberately taking apart the question. This isn't new, it's been going on for a while now, in both old questions and new ones.

We are a worldbuilding site. It's natural for some of our questions to contain things that don't make sense. If and when the OP wants the idea torn apart (in context), the tag can be used.


This also brings up the question of when should be used, but I think that's covered pretty well here.

Should we encourage this "rip apart the question" behavior even if there's no reality check tag?

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    $\begingroup$ I looked at the rotational sea creatures one. I though that most of the answers were of high quality. Even answers that question the practicability of an idea are useful if they do so in a well-reasoned way. They may lead you or others to tighten up your suggestion and make it more plausible. $\endgroup$ – chasly - supports Monica Aug 7 '15 at 8:45
  • $\begingroup$ There are two parts to this. 1. Answers should respect the premises laid out in the question. 2. Logical inconsistencies can, and in my opinion, should be pointed out. $\endgroup$ – James Feb 24 '16 at 19:51
  • $\begingroup$ meta.stackexchange.com/q/263661/311001 may be highly relevant. ("Frame challenges") $\endgroup$ – nitsua60 Feb 25 '16 at 1:29

Yes, very much so.

Challenging a question's premise can make the questioner defensive, I admit (I've had it happen to me before), but challenging a question can improve it or, in some cases, reveal the underlying problem the questioner is really trying to solve.

I remember there was a discussion on the main meta site or on Stack Overflow (I don't remember which, or when) about the latter case being a recurring problem, where the questioner would ask a question to solve a problem tangential to the real issue that needed addressing.

I doubt this exact problem occurs often here on Worldbuilding, but the idea is the same. Challenging a question can help both the questioner and the answerers get a better grasp of the premise and, in return, improve the question. And that's what it's all really about: improving the question.

We may be pretty lenient and easygoing as a community, but we don't want our forum overrun with subpar questions/answers. We can close questions as unclear, but that's the extreme end. If we feel that we can add clarity to a question by challenging its premise -- and the question is already feasibly answerable -- then, by all means, point out the flaws in the premise and wait for feedback before voting to close.

Closing a question can be perceived as a final solution, the community basically saying, "We don't want that here." I've noticed that a lot of questions don't get reopened once closed. If we can get questioners to improve their answers without hitting them on the head with the hammer of rebuttal, why not?

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    $\begingroup$ I believe in your third paragraph you're thinking of XY problems. $\endgroup$ – user Aug 7 '15 at 7:36
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    $\begingroup$ I agree wholeheartedly. I currently have a question running (about wooden weapons) that is being attacked from all sides - but in a good-hearted way. I'm having to think really hard sometimes to defend my idea and to explain why it works. I find the process educational and enjoyable. $\endgroup$ – chasly - supports Monica Aug 7 '15 at 8:42
  • $\begingroup$ @MichaelKjörling You're right. Thanks for the link. $\endgroup$ – Frostfyre Aug 7 '15 at 11:46
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    $\begingroup$ I don't like the term "attacking" here. Constructive Criticism is a much better description of what should be happening. $\endgroup$ – Tim B Aug 7 '15 at 23:26
  • $\begingroup$ @TimB Perhaps I could have phrased it better, but the verbiage was easy to work with and the first thing that came to mind. $\endgroup$ – Frostfyre Aug 8 '15 at 0:14
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    $\begingroup$ Attacking does not require that the attacks be justified, well reasoned, or constructive. Just yelling insults is attacking for example and we certainly shouldn't encourage that. $\endgroup$ – Tim B Aug 8 '15 at 9:10
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    $\begingroup$ Also, putting a question on hold is not some sort of an "extreme end". Quite the opposite: it is a way to ensure that people don't spend time answering the wrong question. Particularly if a question is unclear, it's very often better to put it on hold, then work out what the asker wants (through comments and/or chat), edit the question to clarify it, and then reopen. The same people who vote to close can vote to reopen (but cannot then vote to close again). Don't be afraid to vote to close, but check back on the question later to see if it should be reopened. $\endgroup$ – user Aug 8 '15 at 21:23

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