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judyprays's avatar

What are the characteristics of a good question?

Asked by judyprays (1307points) July 4th, 2008
Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

20 Answers

jrpowell's avatar

As I said earlier:

What is a chocolate chip cookie? = bad question
Do you like chocolate chip cookies? = tolerable question
How do you keep chocolate chip cookies from sticking to the cookie sheet when baking them? = good question

marinelife's avatar

From the Fluther Guidellines:

” * Be Specific

“Who likes Saabs?” isn’t nearly as productive as “Why will my 1994 Saab only start when it’s out of gear?”
* Be Genuine

We understand that some people want to ask a question just to see how Fluther works. However, having hundreds of questions like “What’s 1+1?” brings down the quality of the site. Please ask questions that you really want people to answer.
* Add Great Topics

Topics are the backbone of Fluther’s matching technology, so adding the appropriate topics will ensure your questions go to the right people. For example, the question “How can I help my parents adopt a healthier diet?” might have topics like food, health, diet, family.”

judyprays's avatar

@johnpowell i feel the opposite – the more philosophical and difficult to answer, the more interesting i find the question.

you’ll hate me for this but now i’m curious what constitutes a chocolate chip cookie.

jrpowell's avatar

@judyprays
You have been here one day. I have been here one year.

The site has changed over time. I posted that four months ago. Things have changed and what you expect out of the site is probably the polar opposite from what I expect. I don’t really care. I will delete the bookmark if I stop getting anything out of the site. It is OK now but it isn’t the same.

judyprays's avatar

what do you expect out of the site?

isn’t there room for the unanswerable and the ridiculous as much as the practical?

iwamoto's avatar

never doubt john, that’s my best advice, and fluther isn’t designed to be the “how do you feel?” corner of the internet, this is getting the answer to questions like “how do i change the icon of disk images in OS X”..i almost asked that one but found out another way, and see, that’s a second, don’t ask something you can easily find the answer to yourself…

and there is a chatroom, here for all your nonsense

and yes ryan, it’s been changing even since i joined here, it’s become too much of a debate site, can’t you put on some simple Vbulletin thing on indylyrics for that kind of rubbish ?

bluemukaki's avatar

iwamoto: Complaining about it being a debate site is like complaining about the whole point of the site, half the technical questions on Fluther could be answered with Google in a few seconds, which is why people like to ask philosophical and debatable questions to inspire thought and invoke discussion between people from different schools of thought, if you don’t like it being a debate site then Yahoo! Answers is more appropriate… Fluther is about asking people, invariable people will respond depending on their personal history and background and you will be able to get an understanding of other people and how they think/what they like.

Sometimes technical questions are worth having because no one else has provided a solution online, but for the most part it’s about discussing the answers. “You ask a question. We get it to the right people. Everyone Discusses the answer.” – top of every page. What is a debate if not a discussion?

iwamoto's avatar

well, i see the “everyone discusses the answer” more of a thing like me saying “you could try to brush it off, but i advise just opening it up”, see, that’s a discussion on an answer, but it’s not “you ask a question, we get it to the right people, and we all debate on how we think about abortion”

for instance, the user who started this question also started this question “What’s the least lonely you’ve felt recently?”, i’m sorry but that’s just something i don’t think belongs on fluther, sure i don’t want this site to be emotionless, but i don’t want it to be some “do you cry yourself to sleep?” site, i mean, there’s no good answer to that question, it’s just provoking reactions…don’t they have blogs or something for that ?

damn, now we’re discussing….:D

judyprays's avatar

i’m of the belief that a question with no good answer is a good question.

but i think anything that makes you wonder can be on fluther. hell, one of sferik’s questions was “yes” and i gave him props for great question.

if you can’t be free on the internet, where can you be?

marinelife's avatar

I agree. I did not respond to that question, because it had no point.

iwamoto's avatar

“if you can’t be free on the internet, where can you be?”

so with that logic i should post a picture of my crotch on here, with the question “should i shave around the edges, or go for a bald sack?” because hey, it’s the internet, i should be free here

i can’t do that, because fluther has guidelines, and there are other, more appropriate sites for that, just like there are other sites for just throwing on everything you wonder

look, sure fluther should be spontaneous, if i wonder why my apple remote even works when i don’t point it in the direction of the reciever, i should just post it, but…oh man, i lost my train of thoughts, it comes down to that you can’t just put EVERYTHING on fluther

judyprays's avatar

i wouldn’t be opposed to your crotch question, but maybe that’s just me.

marinelife's avatar

@judyprays It is. Fluther is not everything to all people.

marinelife's avatar

Sorry, it’s not a polling or survey site either. :)

marinelife's avatar

You might be interested in the answers in this thread asked one week ago.

bluemukaki's avatar

@iwamoto: If you don’t like questions that ask people to think, if they have to be technical questions, why do you and others oppose swimmindude2496’s questions? (Admittedly they are dumb, but at some point people have to ask dumb questions if they aren’t allowed to be about opinion). If people don’t ask the questions that populate the site, at what point will people run out of questions, and why wouldn’t they just Google them?

Your crotch idea is inappropriate because it counts as pornography/sexual content, the point is that these questions don’t violate any of the Guidelines, and the site generally accepts them: “Well-written, genuine questions provoke the best and most thoughtful answers.” Correct me if I’m wrong, but generally the most thoughtful answers are the ones found on philosophical questions.

This isn’t meant to be an attack on you, but why did you answer this question? It clearly isn’t the kind of question you seem to be promoting…

arnbev959's avatar

I think sferik’s “Yes.” question may have been posted on April Fool’s Day.

Fluther is a place for real questions. If it turns into another yahoo answers I’ll be gone in a minute. There have been some idiotic questions posted in the past few days, but mostly from new users, probably just testing the waters (and stirring up the muck)
“What is a chocolate chip cookie?” is hardly philosophical, and certainly not useful.

sferik's avatar

I think Can you help name the restaurant we are building? is a great question. It was a specific, interesting, real-world problem.

I also think Do pro-life vegetarians eat eggs? is a great question. It’s more philosophical. Obviously not all pro-life vegetarians do the same thing, but it raises an interesting point.

What do these questions have in common? I would argue that you can judge the quality of a question by the quality of the answers it generates. If a question sparks lots of interesting discussion, it must have been a good question.

The guidelines are just guidelines. They’re not intended to stifle anyone’s creativity.

Ultimately, what is acceptable on Fluther is determined by the community. Go ahead and ask whatever it is you find interesting. If you’re the only one who finds it interesting, others with either ignore the question or make suggestions about how it could be improved.

That said, the community is always changing. It is a very different place today than it was a year ago. Around 30 new members join the collective every day and, through their contributions, each one of them has just as much influence on the future direction of Fluther as someone who has been here since day one.

sferik's avatar

PS: Yes. was indeed from April Fool’s Day of this year, when—for one day only—Fluther became an answer questioning web site. You could offer an answer, and people would submit questions, Jeopardy-style.

This only reinforces the point that there are no hard-and-fast rules about what makes a great question. It doesn’t even have to be a question. It’s all about the quality of the responses. We want people to be creative and have fun.

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