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I did a quick search and we ususally see someone try to sneak questions past the basic "one question" rule by using a "bonus points for..." clause a couple of times a month.

It felt like I was suddenly seeing a lot of them, and that's because we've received the following three in the last 24 hours.

This led me to wonder how the site prefers to deal with "bonus points for..." addendums. Should we let them be, since they aren't officially part of the question and therefore needn't be part of any answer? or treat them as "too broad" because there's more than one question?

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I'm going to go somewhat against particularly sphennings' answer and say that "bonus questions" or "bonus points for..." can be appropriate.

I've used that myself at times. Searching among my own questions reveals that I have used the word "bonus" in 11 different questions up to when I originally wrote this answer, though not all of those is in this type of context.

If the answer to a "bonus question" naturally builds on or builds up to the answer to the main question, and the bonus question is directly related to what the main question is already asking about, then it's probably okay. I realize that this isn't exactly a hard-and-fast rule, and that it is open to interpretation, but the intention is to separate the case of something like

How well would precision guided munitions work against early aircraft? Oh, and if they work well, how would the people of the world refer to the head of state?

which are obviously unrelated, from something like

How should I calibrate and estimate pyrokinesis? Bonus points if your answer makes sense scientifically.

which places additional optional constraints on the answers that a person answering the question can choose whether or not to adhere to.

(Yes, I just took two question titles off the front page and added something extra to them. No opinion about the two questions implied!)

Alternatively, consider an old question of my own, which asks

Does intelligence necessarily lead to an abstract language? [...] Bonus points for answers that discuss how such a language might also evolve over time as the species evolves. Bonus points also for specific citations, but citations are not a substitute for answers being well-reasoned in their own right.

In that particular case, discussion on how a language might evolve as a species evolves (because the question is about an intelligent species, the intent is evolution towards more intelligent), in my opinion, very nicely builds up to the answer to whether intelligence necessarily leads to an abstract language, but it isn't really required to answer the main question if you can make a convincing argument without it.

Quite simply:

If a "bonus question" causes a question to actually ask multiple different, unrelated questions, then this should probably be pointed out in comments, perhaps edited out, and/or the question put on hold as too broad. Just because someone uses the word "bonus" doesn't give them a free pass to break the rules. However, if the "bonus question" wouldn't cause the question to be too broad in the absence of the word "bonus", then the fact that the OP uses that word doesn't by itself make a question too broad. (This isn't Server Fault, where your question is insta-offtopic if you happen to use the words "at home" in it.)

Always look at the whole question being posted. If in your opinion it's too broad, flag or vote to close. Asking multiple different, especially if they are unrelated, questions in a single question post is one solid criteria I tend to use myself for judging whether a question as posted is too broad. However, if the "bonus" could be edited into the main question with no change of intent, then the "bonus" probably doesn't make enough of a difference to, on its own, warrant swaying the pendelum from "flag/VTC" to "don't flag/VTC" or the other way around.

Taking one of my examples from above, we could take

How should I calibrate and estimate pyrokinesis? Bonus points if your answer makes sense scientifically.

and rephrase it as

How should I calibrate and estimate pyrokinesis, preferably but not necessarily in a way that makes sense scientifically?

at which point we haven't changed any intent, but removed the word "bonus". If the latter is on topic, then the former is also on topic, because the only difference is stylistic.

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  • $\begingroup$ I agree with this. I think it is fair on a reality-check type question to add optional requirements, which is what I view the 'bonus points' as. The point is reality checking, so the asker wants to propose some things that may or may not be good ideas. It would be silly to split that sort of question up into multiples. $\endgroup$ – kingledion Jan 4 '18 at 13:53
  • $\begingroup$ This does a much better job of capturing the nuance of the situation than my post does. The word bonus by itself isn't a problem. $\endgroup$ – sphennings Jan 4 '18 at 14:04
  • $\begingroup$ Well put...was going to write something up but this covers it for me. $\endgroup$ – James Jan 4 '18 at 15:11
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The examples you provide show most of the spectrum for bonus mentions, so1:

  • Trying to divide a universe into 3 stages of stellar makeup
    Is looking for additional data on the what it considers a good answer to already contain, here the bonus mention seems superfluous and does not really add anything to the question at all
    -> remove

  • Power Drain Beams
    Here the bonus is to state that everything is fine as long as the drained energy is denied to the enemy ship, but it would be even better if the draining agent could reuse the energy somehow. This is to give people the chance to go the extra mile if they wish so, but don't necessitate it
    -> keep (maybe isolate & emphasize it so it's clear that it is a non-necessary req)

  • What would be the religious ramifications of transforming one's self into a new species?
    Here the additional clarifications contain the word bonus, yet it really just is a limitation to the question. The question wants to focus on Christianity but if arguments from other, additional, religions can be brought up it would be an even better answer
    -> keep (remove the word bonus, it's no bonus)


Adding one of my questions doing this bonus thing:

  • What would be the most-optimal location for the Lunar Radiotelescope?
    Here the bonus is intended to ask for a tidbit more information that is not strictly necessary but would help out immensely. My reasoning here is that including this tidbit into the main question body would keep many people from answering because they might be good at looking at lunar maps, but don't know a bit about structural engineering.

1Everything I write is my personal, optimistic, understanding

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  • $\begingroup$ In the case of the religion question the bonus clause should be removed since it circumvents the clarification of specifying a religion in the question. $\endgroup$ – sphennings Jan 4 '18 at 14:43
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When possible they should be edited out of the question.

They are part of the question in the sense that they are part of the text that is presented to us. Unlike a question asking that is asking a bunch of questions at once, it's pretty clear that the bonus question is secondary to the main question.

If the core question is a good one I'd just edit the question to remove the bonus question, clearly explaining that you should only ask one question per post.

If the bonus question is less of a second question and more of a restatement of the main question, such that the question doesn't become too broad by it's inclusion I'd leave it alone.

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  • $\begingroup$ I'm refraining from editing the universe and religion questions so that they remain relevant to this question and so other voices can weigh in. $\endgroup$ – sphennings Jan 4 '18 at 2:25
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    $\begingroup$ I think sometimes a bonus question is more of an optional qualification on the question. When the asker doesn't really know about the topic he/she is asking about, it is good that they add more 'proposals;' at least it makes it look like they've been thinking about the question some. $\endgroup$ – kingledion Jan 4 '18 at 13:55
  • $\begingroup$ @kingledion You're exactly right. There are times where the bonus question is a restatement, refinement to the main question. In those cases there is no reason to edit or VTC the question. $\endgroup$ – sphennings Jan 4 '18 at 14:41

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