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wundayatta's avatar

Do you think leading questions are a bad idea?

Asked by wundayatta (58663points) May 18th, 2012

I find myself constantly thinking of questions like this one, that can be answered with a yes or a no. Technically, that’s verboten here, and of course, I don’t really want a yes or no answer. I want people to elaborate.

Having said this, I’m sure I will only get yes or no answers. What do you think? How do you write a question so that people will be encouraged to elaborate while still getting quickly to the heart of the issue?

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10 Answers

gailcalled's avatar

Change the form slightly; “What is your opinion of poll questions? ”

I would not call a poll question a leading question. To mean, that presupposes you are looking for a specific answer.

Viz: When did you stop beating your wife is the classic example of a leading question.

That is different from Do you beat your wife?

ucme's avatar

You can lead a horse to water, but a pencil must be lead…..graphite actually, but that doesn’t fit the gag.
The majority of my questions are entertainment based & therefore require much more than a simple yes or no.

wundayatta's avatar

I could have asked, “what do you think of leading questions?” This question is leading in suggesting that leading questions are bad. It suggests I am looking for a specific answer. It creates a subtle pressure for people to answer in the affirmative, rather than having to be disagreeable. If I formulate the question as above, no one has that problem.

JLeslie's avatar

I actually think people are too critical of question which might be deemed worded poorly because they are leading. We can still disgree. If you want more than a yes or no, then ask for people to explain or support their answers.

I do think it would be best to write the question, “what is your opinion regarding leading questions?” Or, “are leading questions good or bad in your opinion?” that way you give the suggestion of good and bad equal time.

Lightlyseared's avatar

A question that gets yes or no answers is a closed question.

A leading question is one that sugests the answer in the question “You were drunk last night weren’t you?”

Now obviously leading questions can be closed questions as well (just look at that fantastic example up there) but not all closed questions are leading questions.

So to answer your question…no. One of th great things about fluther is we tend to wander off the topic at hand (admitedly this is sometimes restrained a little by the mods). Even a simple poll question can end up with all sorts of random ideas some stupid, some funny, some insightful, some just plain out flame bait but thats what makes it fun here don’t you think?

YARNLADY's avatar

I think questions that can be answered yes or no are bad on Fluther, at least. Leading questions are not necessarily simply yes or no questions, they can lead to the type of discussion that Fluther is famous for.

In a court of law, leading questions are usually not permitted. According to the wikipedia Leading Question article;

Rule 611© of the Federal Rules of Evidence provides that:

Leading questions should not be used on the direct examination of a witness except as may be necessary to develop the witness’ testimony. Ordinarily leading questions should be permitted on cross-examination. When a party calls a hostile witness, an adverse party, or a witness identified with an adverse party, interrogation may be by leading questions.

It also depends on the reason behind the leading question. If the OP wants to poll the users, it might be done with a leading question, although that used to be frowned upon by the Fluther community. Non-discussion questions are now commonplace here.

If the question in question is for the sole purpose of grandstanding or making a statement, that defeats the purpose.

Sunny2's avatar

How does ‘what do you think” suggest a negative reply? You did ask ‘what do you think?’ It’s not a yes or no question. You should get some discussion. Either/or is limiting. Do you prefer this or that will get short answers. Who, what, where, will get short answers, maybe. How and why could get either short or chatty. You do just fine writing questions. Lead on.
or not

DaphneT's avatar

Depends on how much conversation you want to get into. If all you want is yes or no, then leading questions are bad. If you want to start a conversation then lead a question.

Blackberry's avatar

I don’t care, I’m for it.

the100thmonkey's avatar

I’m constantly surprised by the propensity of my students to ‘misunderstand’ my questions when I’m teaching and provide answers to the questions I set that I hadn’t considered, or answer different questions entirely.

It’s always my fault, and always more interesting that my original intent.

Ask away, it’s guaranteed that someone will say something interesting regardless…

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