How to ask good hypothetical questions?

Sometimes we face recurring issues at the workplace, when a situation repeats itself and may need addressing at some point in the future. These situations are normally simple to ask here. We state the problem, we may or may not apply the answers.

Often at the workplace, we face situations unexpectedly, and have to respond impromptu. These could be asked here, but solutions are not that relevant anymore for OP, unless he wants to reflect on what is already done.

Finally, there are foreseen situations. When you expect people to act in some wrong way, either because they've announced it or you simply know them well enough. You might actually be wrong, and until it actually happens, you cannot know for sure before the event actually comes by and your response needs to be provided at the spot.

Reading the tour, a hypothetical case may seem closer to "Personal advice on what to do" than to "Specific issues encountered navigating a professional environment" or "Real problems or questions that you’ve encountered pertaining to a workplace". Which would mean tat these questions should probably not be asked.

However, for the person asking the question, the answers that could be found here would be very useful, and for other people searching questions for already available solutions, they may be just as good as the other ones.

Are there a few common practices or guidelines that could be advised to someone who intends to ask problems based on foreseen yet realistic situations?


There's nothing really to stop people from creating future hypothetical questions.

People do create questions based on hypothetical questions already (we don't fact-check to make sure that every question is based on a real issue).

However, the problem with openly creating a future hypothetical question is one of scope creep.

For example, you might pose a question for which there's a clear answer that you hadn't considered when posting the question. If you then change the question so that the obvious solution no longer applies, then you invalidate that answer (and any other answers there might be). Changing the goalposts leads to people getting frustrated, and they disengage. Then, what might have been a good question becomes confusing and incoherent.

You could open a question with the intention of discussing or brainstorming solutions, but this isn't really the right platform for that kind of dialogue (other websites do allow this kind of discussion).

By and large, answerers here tend to want questions that look as though they're based on real issues that are (or about) to happen. They may or may not engage in openly hypothetical questions.

  • "However, the problem with openly creating a future hypothetical question is one of scope creep." - good point! – Joe Strazzere Feb 11 at 16:43

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