I noticed people sometimes asking questions about a specific solution to their problem instead of asking how to achieve their goal (also known as the XY problem, as explained on Meta SO). For example in this question the user wants to replace a faulty RAM. He needs to know what the specs are of his new RAM. He thinks he can deduce that from the partnumber of his existing RAM. So his question is: "What does this part number mean?", while I think it would be better if he asked something like: "When replacing RAM, what specs should I look for?". Another example of this type of question.

I think this is important, because asking how to achieve a goal instead of asking how to achieve a specific solution challanges people to give qualitative better answers and thus gives better solutions. Additionally, it builds a better knowledge base for this site, because achieving a specific goal is probably what other users are also interested in.

My proposal is to add some instruction to the "Asking"-section of the help, and ask users to rephrase their question if it is asks for a specific solution.

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  • @Oliver-Salzburg: I didn't know that it was called like that. Thanks. +1 for your comments and added it to the question.
    – agtoever
    Aug 26, 2014 at 8:34
  • While I agree that the XY problem is a problem most new users will fall back to, the problem is just that: most people don't read the manual at start (in this case the help pages). XY problem type questions aren't necessarily bad, it's just that they usually derive from a lack of context (which is mentioned in the help), which makes so that any other user is constrained to the OP's solution. Aug 27, 2014 at 16:05
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    I sort of feel that "What specs should I look for?" sort of promotes product recomendations. The question "What does this part number mean?" allows somebody to explain a generic part number for memory.
    – Ramhound
    Aug 28, 2014 at 11:00


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