A mod said I should ask if there is a rule that says one single (arbitrarily defined) question per post. Too Broad does not mention it. Is it an actual rule somewhere or a guideline or what?

And how does it define 1 question? Questions can need very broad answers (like explaining how a spell works in many cases), or a single yes or no. Is it OK to ask a few yes/no questions, but not many broader questions (e.g. How does magic jar work against ethereal creatures?" / "How does magic jar work against constructs?")?

If a complete answer can be given in 10 lines of text, is it still too broad a question?


3 Answers 3


A hard and fast "follow this to the letter" rule is unnecessary and counterproductive. Instead we apply principles of site design which we've learnt through years of experience are the best way to curate the quality of the Stack.

I suggest you read Optimizing for Pearls, Not Sand to understand why we're tougher on questions than on answers. I found it crucial background material for understanding the Stack's curation policies.

Our own @thedarkwanderer has written a pretty good summation of the principles in play: experience has shown that questions which can be answered separately should be asked separately because it encourages more, better answers and makes it easier to find them.

There's no invocation of length or complexity when dealing with this principle. It's about whether the questions can stand on their own, that's all. This helps the Stack be a well-sorted pile of solutions to problems, by letting us sort each post on its own whenever reasonable.

And if you see an old question which seems to be two or more mashed up unnecessarily? We're fallible. Flag it for attention, it's probably slipped through the cracks or dates from an era when we didn't understand how important this is. The Stack doesn't take precedent very seriously; we're constantly updating old posts to fit our new understandings of how to best serve the site.

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    \$\begingroup\$ And for the record, I'm not an elected moderator. Just a citizen who's asked a lot of questions already. \$\endgroup\$
    – BESW
    Commented Aug 10, 2016 at 11:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ I think you'll agree that it would be silly for me to ask dozens of questions separately "can incorporeal creatures occupy same square as corporeal" then another post/question "can incorporeal creatures occupy same square as other incorporeal" then another for "can incorporeal creatures bullrush" then maybe another for "can incorporeal creatures be bullrushed" then "can they overrun" etc... \$\endgroup\$
    – Simanos
    Commented Aug 10, 2016 at 11:48
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    \$\begingroup\$ That is only partly silly. In practice, try to ask precisely the question you want answered, which might be something like “How do movements of incorporeal creatures work on a square-map in game XXX?” listing some of the problems. But if it turns out that people are missing a point you care about, ask about splitting the question, or seem to only answer half of it, you are very encouraged to ask those as separate questions, and remember to link across. \$\endgroup\$
    – Anaphory
    Commented Aug 10, 2016 at 12:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Anaphory, thanks, I upvoted your comment because it really shows how it's all a matter of presentation and not substance. If I reword my question topic and main text I can pretty much ask the exact same things without appearing to be asking multiple part questions. And can expect the exact same answers. So I think my question passed the bar for "closely related" that doppelgreener mentioned \$\endgroup\$
    – Simanos
    Commented Aug 10, 2016 at 12:10
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Simanos It's about presentation only inasmuch as you need to present the true nature of your dilemma. If your dilemma is of a piece, so can the question be. The more someone tries to massage their situation into a different kind of question, the less useful the answers will be. \$\endgroup\$
    – BESW
    Commented Aug 10, 2016 at 12:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ I changed the question title to what Anaphory suggested and now it's one question with a "listing of some problems" [quoting him] and it's basically the exact same thing [question], except now it's more "legal" (insofar as someone eventually finds an actual rule about this) ... this is rather frustrating me. \$\endgroup\$
    – Simanos
    Commented Aug 10, 2016 at 12:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Simanos asynchronous advice can be frustrating--it's partly an artifact of the structure of the dialog. Can I suggest you visit Role-playing Games Chat where there are likely people who would be willing to help you see where they see severability problems, and help you workshop your question(s) into a shape that suits more users' ideas of what's going to work well? \$\endgroup\$
    – nitsua60 Mod
    Commented Aug 10, 2016 at 13:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ @nitsua60 I'm just really confused on how to split my incorporeal question. I can probably make it 2 questions, or 4 or even 10. I just don't know how much [content] is enough, and how many [separate questions] is too many. \$\endgroup\$
    – Simanos
    Commented Aug 10, 2016 at 13:30
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    \$\begingroup\$ I don't know the system at all, so I can't really advise you on which portions would make sense to sever, which would stay together. Just remember that a vote to put a question [on hold] isn't a statement that "this question's bad and we don't want to answer it," it's a statement that "I want this user to get good answers, and IMO the best way to do that is to do a little ground-work on the question first." \$\endgroup\$
    – nitsua60 Mod
    Commented Aug 10, 2016 at 14:41

It's well established SE-wide best practice to ask one question per post. You can read this post and its linked posts on meta.SE for all kinds of why.

When to ask multiple questions in a single post ? (Revisited)

Therefore, we tend to vote multi-question questions as too broad to prevent all kinds of other work later when it turns into a mess of answers addressing N of M of the questions, and then later needing editing or splitting once someone wises up.

It serves both the OP better, and other users on the site and search, because they can more easily find specific answers to questions than muddled overlapping explorations of whole topics.

  • \$\begingroup\$ The link you give is it a sort of FAQ by the admins of these sites? I'm confused at what exactly it's supposed to be. Also the thing you say is hardly already happening to my question, since your friend Seven locked it when it only had 1 single answer LOL :P (besides a single comment by Hey I Can Chan gave me a complete answer pretty much - that i can't add) \$\endgroup\$
    – Simanos
    Commented Aug 10, 2016 at 13:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ Meta.SE is the "main" meta where network-wide policy's discussed, yes. I'll address the issues with your current question in the other meta for it specifically. \$\endgroup\$
    – mxyzplk
    Commented Aug 10, 2016 at 13:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ so is policy discussed but never codified in (actual written) rules after agreement or whatever? \$\endgroup\$
    – Simanos
    Commented Aug 10, 2016 at 16:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ That's right, there's no 1000-page Stack Exchange Employee Handbook continually updated with every piece of guidance. We have the help center, we have meta. Who would bother to read rules anyway, as best as I can tell no one's read the ones that are there. Instead we rely on the community. "How was I to know one question, one question?" "Because some folks told you that once you posted. Then gave you links to details and why." "But I'm still unhappy!" "Sorry?" \$\endgroup\$
    – mxyzplk
    Commented Aug 10, 2016 at 16:24
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    \$\begingroup\$ But without written rules ... Chaos! I guess I now understand why some moderators behave like they do (the Wave effect). BTW it's not cool to keep insulting/ridiculing me like this: ""But I'm still unhappy!" "Sorry?"" ; you could have stopped your comment/answer before that bit \$\endgroup\$
    – Simanos
    Commented Aug 10, 2016 at 16:57
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Simanos It might be a simplification, but it was what was happening. “Why was this done?” “Well, this is why.” “I reject that.” “That's unfortunate, but you asked and that's the answer.” When something like that keeps happening, it's often helpful to simplify it to the overall pattern so that it's more obvious why repeating the pattern isn't going to change the result. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 10, 2016 at 17:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ That's not an accurate description of events*, that's a loaded opinion, but even that is still not as disparaging as mxyzplk comment. (*I did not ask why was this done, I understood what you said, I just asked for a link to an actual rule or something and I made a logical analysis of the hypothetical rule and how it applied to this and other cases. I never said plainly "I reject that", whatever "that" means, the rule's logic or existence; it's an versimplification). -"But I'm still unhappy!" "Sorry?" is infantilizing me or worse. \$\endgroup\$
    – Simanos
    Commented Aug 10, 2016 at 18:05
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    \$\begingroup\$ Then what, exactly, are you still on about? We've told you how one post/one question works. We've told you where it comes from. In the other meta, we've described specifically how to break up your question given this general guidance. But you're still unhappy and carrying on. What do you want exactly after this point? SSD is right, we get tired of "honest mistake, how it works here gets explained" being followed by "argument, challenge, the mods are abusive, why does this whole SE thing work in a different way that what I want it to, post angry comments onto unrelated questions." \$\endgroup\$
    – mxyzplk
    Commented Aug 10, 2016 at 19:15
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Simanos I am not a mod. I have had a few disagreements with the two diamond mods with whom you are conversing now. I have learned that at some point the laws of diminishing returns informs what to do next. Cut your losses, and move on to the next topic. As an observer to this conversation, I'll offer the opinion that the point arrived a few comments back. Our three diamond mods are unpaid volunteers. There is only so much time they can expend on one point. The horse is now glue. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 10, 2016 at 19:34
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Simanos just to be clear, the change from [on hold] -> [closed] status is an automatic thing--see this meta answer describing the process. Note that the edits you made automatically put your [on hold] question back in the "reopen queue" where all 3K+ rep users could have seen it and voted to reopen or to keep it closed. In your case, after your edit of Aug 10 three users--none mods--voted to keep it closed, two voted to reopen it. And none of those users were mods. In short, closure's not permanent, and it wasn't the mods anyway. \$\endgroup\$
    – nitsua60 Mod
    Commented Aug 15, 2016 at 1:31

(Reposted by request from Why'd my second question get removed when surely people would be thinking about both?)

The biggest benefits here have little to do with questions. It's about the answers.

1) When I post an answer to a 'question' that's actually a bunch of related questions, I have to address them all (at least, if I want to be a good site member); that's more work for me, not always possible to format smoothly, particularly if your 'related' questions turn out not to be related after all, and especially when they're only related by a 'people are probably thinking about this now, right?' kind of logic train. This makes your question harder to answer, but it's not because your question is uniquely challenging, it's because your question sucks (warning: TV tropes links. The analogy is, in fact, illustrative, though, so I suggest you read the article intros at least). This is bad.

2) When I post an excellent answer to a question, I am rewarded by upvotes. When I answer any number of related questions posted as a single question, I still get one upvote. That is bad.

3) When I am reading an answer, I have three primary voting options: upvote, downvote, or don't vote. When an answer actually is a single answer, deciding what to do is easy; I upvote it if it's useful/right/etc, downvote it if it's bad/wrong/etc, and don't vote if I'm not expert enough to tell the difference/need clarification/etc. If your question forces answers to have multiple parts, it is normally the case that I find myself wanting to upvote an answer for one part, but wanting to downvote/abstain due to another. This is one of the biggest cited reasons not to do the 'related question' thing, and, while the same thing can happen even on regular questions, substantially increasing the risk of putting voters through this is bad.

4) When I post questions like this (We higher-rep people do things wrong, sometimes, too), I usually find (at least) one of my questions ignored, in favor of another one, as in this case (the top answer is just straight up not an answer to the question at all; ignore that one. The rest are good examples, though). This is frustrating, and while it usually feels like the answerers are the ones doing things wrong, the blame shouldn't be entirely on them; I should have posted the question as separate real questions to start off with. Not doing so is bad.

5) Answers are supposed to stand on their own. When I answer a question like this, I may find myself needing to repeat an entire other answer in whole or long-part, because it is the right answer to most of the question. This makes my answer more of a comment on a part of that answer and there is no real good way of dealing with that when my answer is completely identical for entire questions. Leaving a comment might work, but it doesn't if the answerer is not persuaded by my arguments, and I shouldn't be using comment-arguments to persuade an answerer to change their mind anyways, ideally.

So, basically: No, we should not change the policy here

P.S. We are the mods and we make the policy. I mean, there are elected mods, too, but even more than SE in general, this site is really and truly community moderated. SSD is an elected mod, but the editing of your question was well within the purview of regular normal user activity. Not trying to call you out or anything, just a heads up, in case you hadn't realized how we do moderation around here.

Separately, deleting a question because of this is excessive and silly, and that probably shouldn't be happening, so I'm with you on that one. Locking makes sense in a content dispute, and deleting makes sense for old questions that we have reason to believe are abandoned, but it's very scary-looking and not something we should be doing without serious consideration, even if it is easy to reverse. But I, at least, haven't ever seen a question deleted because of this without signs of abandonment.

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    \$\begingroup\$ In case anyone's curious, I suggested to TDW that they re-post this here--I really like this answer as a comprehensive treatment of this question =) \$\endgroup\$
    – nitsua60 Mod
    Commented Oct 3, 2017 at 23:34

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