This is my first Meta question if there's any problem do let me know and I'll try to fix it ASAP.

This is an issue I have encountered in my recent questions as well as others'. The "issue" — which might not be an issue at all depending on how the community sees it — in question is: a question with a certain scope is posted, but some of the answers provided ignore said scope in order to either circumvent the problem to find an easier (or more plausible) solution or in search of Problem XY.

To clarify, I'm not talking about lateral thinking, which would be an answer that makes assumptions not specified in the question in order to provide a better or more suitable solution.

Nor I am talking about the regular cases of challenging questions' premises, which I think are constructive since they provide good answers that might not have been considered otherwise. Such as this answer to one of my questions.

I am talking the intersection between challenging premises and ignoring scopes. Such as when asking a question but answering with magical solutions. Or for example, in this question about 2d organisms in which even though it is explicitly stated that the point of the question is to ponder about the scope of the tag, one of the answers goes looking for an XY problem that doesn't exist resulting in an answer that falls out of the scope of the question.

As for my actual question, what should we assume is static or set in stone when asking a question? should tags be considered definitive and unquestionable when assessing how to answer a question? or should that role fall on explicit statements in the body of the question? maybe both? or should users be allowed to freely determine whether the scope of a question is faulty? if such is the case, what stops users from answering about the proper use of feng-shui when the question asks how to use a sledgehammer?

Alternatively, maybe this is a non-issue and I am just being whiny.

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    $\begingroup$ I have this weird urge to provide an answer that ignores this question's scope... $\endgroup$ – Frostfyre Jan 27 '17 at 18:51
  • $\begingroup$ @Frostfyre Glad to see you kept your weird urges to yourself and gave a good answer to the question. Well done! $\endgroup$ – a4android Jan 29 '17 at 12:36

Ideally, and in accordance with the site's design, answers should be used to answer the question that was asked. The Worldbuilding SE is a little more lax in this regard than some of the other members of the network due to the nature of its material.

In general, if there is a problem with a question, it should be addressed in comments, hopefully early on, before answers start floating in. This saves the trouble of answers going off in different directions due to differing interpretations of what the question is asking; the corollary to this being that questions should always be clear and well-defined (one of the purposes for voting is clear/not clear). In more extreme cases, a question can (and should) be put on hold while the OP works through concerns.

In some specific cases, such as or , answers can be used to identify fundamental problems with the question, usually on a level that comments can't clean up without drastically altering the question. In these cases, I would suggest a complete answer both identify the fundamental flaws in logic or information and, if possible, provide a (at least) minimal solution or direction for solving the corrected problem. (But I'm not advocating for extremely long answers to include this.) Note also that tags such as are explicitly for determining how to answer a question.

Ultimately, the question (and any sources linked in the question) is the single source of information for all answers. If the question states unequivocally that a thing works in a certain way, then all answers should accept that the thing works in that certain way unless the answer is specifically refuting the premise of the question, and then it must explain why the thing cannot work in that certain way.

Every question and answer page should be taken on the premise that the universe in question (pun intended) is, was, and will always be the questioner's, not the answerer's.


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