In the question about stupid people running, the OP presented an interesting scenario. This has since been edited for clarity -- not because it was unclear, but because people refuse to answer it. Now the question has been protected to prevent yet more failures to answer.

This suggests a new question:

I have a question that strikes some people as unrealistic. How do I keep the stupid people from replying?

The answers proposed essentially boil down to:

  • The hypothetical can't happen because I say so

  • The hypothetical can't happen because somebody else says so

  • The hypothetical is stupid and so are you

What bothers me is that these answers are so highly voted. If these were questions, they'd be shut down, and hard. Instead, we have zillions of votes demonstrating precisely how not to answer a question, here or on any SE.

To clarify (since some will probably object to how I've posed the question):

Q: [Premise] Suppose human beings suddenly woke up one day and found they had eyes in the backs of their heads.

A: Evolution says that can't happen.

A: Humans don't have four eyes, that's silly.

A: You shouldn't ask questions like this because biology.

Is there anything we can do about such non-answers?


You have two possibilities as a user:

  • Downvote by downvoting them, you show that to you those answers aren't good.
  • And for the worst cases: Flag as not an answer. That way they may be deleted.

In the particular case of the question, you'll note that the question was very popular (more than 8,000 views as of now), which may explain the heavy upvotes. We have often noticed a less rational voting pattern from HNQ users. And I blame the clickbait title for it.

Also you'll note that the question itself has a few faults. One, on which I commented, was that the edit actually invalidated some of the answers. Which should be avoided. So the most voted answer was actually answering the question in its original form. The question is close to being too broad and unclear. Note that it gathered some close votes already.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Not sure what HNQ means. Agreed about the question and the clickbait. $\endgroup$ – CAgrippa Mar 24 '16 at 8:03
  • $\begingroup$ Hot Network Questions $\endgroup$ – bilbo_pingouin Mar 24 '16 at 8:04
  • $\begingroup$ Aha. Yes, that explains it, doesn't it? People spot the HNQ thing, slip over here, and then have no clue how this particular (and peculiar!) SE works. Thus the constant tendency for HNQs to get protected vs. "me too" answers. Excellent point. $\endgroup$ – CAgrippa Mar 24 '16 at 8:05
  • $\begingroup$ I had to flag one as abusive, never mind not an answer, from someone who completely missed the point. $\endgroup$ – Separatrix Mar 24 '16 at 9:19
  • $\begingroup$ Pretty much sums it up :) $\endgroup$ – Tim B Mar 24 '16 at 13:57
  • $\begingroup$ I think we just need to be careful about one thing: one's "not an answer" may just be the poster's poorly-executed frame challenge. I, personally, am pretty liberal with my downvotes and conservative with my deletion flags for this reason. $\endgroup$ – nitsua60 Mar 24 '16 at 14:27

When I did read one of the first versions of linked question, it sounded like "Humans evolved to be running 40 MPH and yet I expect some issues with that." which is indeed stupid premise and I believe I upvoted the asnwer saying: "Horses evolved to run 40 MPH and yet there is zero problems with that."

But to answer your question: make sure everyone knows about disbelief suspension

  • Clearly state that knowing current biology that premise is imposssible, yet you want to know what would happen
  • Make sure it is clear if it is sudden change (aliens did it) or evolutionary treat (humans just evolved that way on my planet irregardless zero probability of this being plausible)
  • Clearly state you do not want to know why your premise is impossible to be true

And one last hint: Stop assuming people are stupid here. If you treat people like stupid, they will treat you as stupid back

  • $\begingroup$ I'm not assuming people are stupid here. I'm noting that a very common pattern in answering is to ignore the construction of some questions and argue that they're dumb questions. That behavior is, I would argue, not legitimate in this SE. You can argue in comments that the premise is flawed, but an answer must accept the question. Otherwise the whole point of the SE goes up in smoke. $\endgroup$ – CAgrippa Mar 24 '16 at 8:02
  • $\begingroup$ I am also wondering why you think I wrote the question. I didn't. Nor did I ask how to word a question. I asked why there is such a pattern of gross non-answering, and what to do about it. $\endgroup$ – CAgrippa Mar 24 '16 at 8:06
  • $\begingroup$ @CAgrippa this meta post was worded in a way which left me believing you posted the original question $\endgroup$ – Pavel Janicek Mar 24 '16 at 8:08

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