What is the appropriate way to raise the question of whether a question is unanswerable? Is there a way to flag this, or is this brought up in the answers or comments?

One particular kind of "unanswerable question" I have in mind are questions along the lines of "what is the best way to learn X." For most elements of Esperanto, there is no one best way to learn it. People are different. Learning styles are different. Some methods work for some and not others. Some methods work more or less as well as others.

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    I do not agree about the unanswerablitity of questions such "what is the best way to learn X". Studies and data can be used to bring more objective answers and useful information. Also, best ways to learn X do exist depending on the profiles of the learners. A good answer could show the most common profiles and the best methods associated with them.
    – Vanege
    Sep 16 '16 at 17:43
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    The OP used scare quotes for unanswerable question, so it should not be taken as literally meaning it is not possible to answer the question. On Stack Exchange, questions for which the answers would be equally valid aren't considered good questions. The best way is always subjective, and the given answers would be equally valid. Or the user who is asking the question is using best way inappropriately, and the question should be edited, or the question should be closed as subjective.
    – apaderno
    Sep 5 '17 at 18:24

Flag it for closure:

This question is completely unclear, incomplete, overly-broad, primarily opinion-based

The last two cover unanswerable questions.

In my opinion however, it is best to vote for closure only if the question is obviously silly and provocative, or the number of responses is getting out of hand, or there is a great deal of unpleasantness in the comments.

  • Thanks kind of what I was asking. There already are questions of the form "what is the best way to learn X" - and I would say that this question is clearly "unanswerable", since there is no single best way -- at the same time, it is not an "obviously silly" question, neither is it out of hand. I don't want to flag things unnecessarily. Sep 16 '16 at 12:40

If one can attempt an answer, as Vanege points out, based on facts, it isn't really unanswerable. If you feel for some reason that it is unanswerable, pointing that out in a comment is appropriate. (Unless one of the closing reasons apply).

If you attempt an answer, pointing out the unanswerability seems appropriate. Maybe the question was just improperly phrased and the way you answered clarified it.


There are 4 closing reasons that would apply to questions (excluding the duplicate reason):

  • Unclear what you're asking
    The question is not clear, and it is not possible to understand what is being asked

  • Too broad
    The question would require to write a too long answer, since it is not being specific enough

  • Primarily opinion-based
    The question is asking the opinion of users, or it is subjective

In the case you are describing, a question asking for the best way is subjective: What is the best way for a person could not be the best way for somebody else. Still, every given answer would be equally valid: What is the best way for somebody is equally valid as what is the best way for somebody else.
Questions for which every answer is equally valid aren't considered good, on Stack Exchange. There isn't a definitive answer, and Stack Exchange aims to build knowledge around questions with definitive answers.

With questions asking for the best way there is also an issue with how answers are voted. There isn't a objective criteria to establish which answer is correct, or not. It's not like an answer saying that the translation of sun is luno for which is objectively possible to say if the answer is correct or not. Users, with such questions, tend to up-vote the answer that is closer to their idea of best way, which is quite subjective.

If none of the closing reasons applies, then the question should not be closed.

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