Questions are sometimes asked where there isn't a single universal answer but often provoke answers that read as though there is. Two examples recently bubbled to the front page that illustrate what i mean:

Is public transport less fuel-efficient than cars?

Despite answers purporting to answer yes or no, the actual data and logic point to the fact that the answer depends on local circumstance. London's public transport is probably very much more efficient than its cars, but Montana's probably isn't.

Do police officers have monthly quotas of traffic tickets to write?

Well, maybe some do, but others don't. Indeed, in some places they may be illegal.

The problem seems to come because the question is phrased in a way that demands a universal answer when there cannot be one.

So what should be done with such questions? My suggestion would be that we should demand rewrites of the questions themselves so they don't request universal answers, but specific examples. Would it be possible to create some sort of flag that tags the question for attention because it is seeking too generalised an answer?

1 Answer 1


Both of the examples you mention, do have a single answer, which is the one you just gave.

They probably have multiple bad (partial) answers!

I suggest in these cases to post a single answer merging the existing partial answers.

Alternatively, edit the partial answers and make sure it is clear that it is a partial answer. For example "Relatively only to London, public transport..."

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