I want to be able to contribute to the site, but a lot of the time I'm not sure how to communicate on the right level, and I don't want to cause problems just so I can fix them and have dialogue on the site which could be helpful to other users who actually face those problems themselves.

So, is it okay to post hypothetical problems on the site, or to post something which I knew might have become a problem if I hadn't been able to fix it already for myself so other people will benefit.

I know this seems a bit arrogant to ask, but it's something I was thinking about, and as I say, it might help other users?

  • I know this might be a duplicate in a way but the details are different and I wanted to show my working but if people know another question that is the same I would comment on it if I could but it seems very too self-aggrandizing to say like I have a definite answer when I just ready to ask the question.
    – user569526
    Commented Mar 24, 2016 at 12:51
  • 3
    Please read Can I answer my own question?.
    – DavidPostill Mod
    Commented Mar 24, 2016 at 13:06
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    Hypthetical questions make really bad questions on Superuser. Questions should be asking for answers to actual solvable problems, or be a question, with an actual solution. Hypthetical questions often are ask in such a way where they are extremely broad. A Broad hypthetical question would have multiple answers, while a good question can have multiple approaches to solve a problem, the problem itself normally has a single underline solution.
    – Ramhound
    Commented Mar 24, 2016 at 14:03
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    From a quality perspective, what is better: turning volume up in the software, in the OS, or on the speakers? Visited 92546 times, up votes 479, 177 favourites, 9 answers. In some sense hypothetical...but answerable.
    – Hastur
    Commented Mar 24, 2016 at 18:32
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    @Hastur A question can be popular but also not be a great question. I would argue that example has an underline real question that is pretty obvious
    – Ramhound
    Commented Mar 24, 2016 at 23:54
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    It's not clear from your question what "hypothetical" means for you. In the original meaning it can easily be too broad and not fitting here; but I've the feeling that it means for you "I don't have this problem, but somebody else can have it" (and also if you can even answer it), then it seems quite well fitting here. Commented Mar 25, 2016 at 8:34
  • @Ramhound Sorry for late answering. Think that personally I find that question a little too broad: I know an answer worthy of my nickname, enough complex to deter people to read it ;-) and me even to sketch it. This didn't prevent 92k+ people to find it interesting and 470 ones enough useful to vote it nevertheless the high score. Well, if so many people considered it interesting and after that even useful, perhaps I should brood more about my definition of good even before the one of great...
    – Hastur
    Commented Mar 25, 2016 at 17:22
  • @Hastur You are speaking to somebody whom still does not understand 40+ votes on an answer he recently submitted
    – Ramhound
    Commented Mar 25, 2016 at 18:39
  • @Hastur The question about which software or hardware volume control to adjust to get the best quality isn't remotely hypothetical. That is a real situation faced by every computer user who has external speakers. It might not be a situation that most people care about but it is real, not hypothetical. "Hypothetical" refers to situations that don't actually exist. Commented Mar 26, 2016 at 18:53
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    Let's say I had a hypothetical question... ;-)
    – rossmcm
    Commented Mar 28, 2016 at 17:38
  • Now, are you asking this because you have an actual hypothetical question to ask, or is this a meta-hypothetical question?
    – Mark Meuer
    Commented Mar 31, 2016 at 19:13
  • If you have a "What if..." hypothetical question, this proposal might be a good place for it
    – Tom
    Commented Apr 3, 2016 at 17:32

3 Answers 3


As a general rule I think you'll learn from bitter experience not to ask hypothetical questions as much as possible, not least because the hypothetical can be misleading in the face of real-world experience.

Having said that, there may be exceptions and I do personally sympathize with aspects of the explaination. However, I am also sure there are genuinely helpful things in some hypothetical questions, so in a way I suppose I'm saying "use your judgment but err on the side of extreme caution unless you feel it absolutely necessary and if you find the question ends up being deemed unhelpful -- whether or not you feel it to have been so, or even whether it was or not -- try to learn from the experience as sometimes other people's opinions of you really can matter" even on this site ;~)


That's perfectly acceptable, as long is the question is about an actual problem or can have a definitive fact-based answer and is on-topic, you can ask it. If you bump into a problem that you think might be tricky for others, feel free to write about it here. I have done so successfully in the past. Of course, people are free to downvote if they think the question is lame (i.e. lacking research effort).

As Can I answer my own question? says, you'll need to wait two days before you can accept your answer. You also won't get the +15 rep for the accepted status or the +2 for the accepting, though upvotes will still count for +10.

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    Hhhhhhhhhhmmmmm. I would like my questions to always be useful yes! @< >@ ( ~_~ ++ +_-)
    – user569526
    Commented Mar 24, 2016 at 18:21

As mentioned in the help centre:

You should only ask practical, answerable questions based on actual problems that you face. Chatty, open-ended questions diminish the usefulness of our site and push other questions off the front page.

While this does preclude some vague questions it does not mean you can never ask a question about hypothetical limits.

The main thing to keep in mind though is the scope of your question and answer. Are you asking what if a whole host of vaguely defined variables occurred, or are you asking about running out of one very specific resource? If you can keep your "what if" very well defined then you are probably okay, what if you run out of drive letters is quite focused while asking what would happen if a stray cosmic ray hit your laptop is far too broad.

If you can imagine someone hitting a specific, definable and repeatable problem, then that could be okay.

What you should not be doing though is trying to start a discussion on what to do if some vague series of unfortunate events were to occur and how to guard against it. That sort of question has no place here.

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