Personally I am not big on 'closing questions' but some, I think deserve that distinction. This morning What can I use instead of amaranto? was posted, along with several 'similar' questions. In the comments under the question OP made this point:

TBH I have no intention of using it anyway - I'm asking the question A) to improve the store of knowledge here on Seasoned Advice and B) to increase my chances of scoring some books :D

If this question were actually "to improve the store of knowledge" then somebody who cares about the answer would ask it.That leaves us with someone asking questions which, by his own admission, he doesn't care about.

Should this question be 'closed as not a real question'? (or even for some other reason?)

3 Answers 3


Closing questions is an essential part of Stack Exchange and there is no reason to be "not big" on it.

That being said, the perceived intent of the author is one of the few reasons which really don't justify closure.

Evaluating content on its objective merits is precisely what the FAQ and the SE model is promoting. It doesn't matter who asked it, or why, only whether or not the question is (a) answerable and (b) applicable to someone other than the author.

If you truly believe that the question could not possibly be useful to anyone else, we have a Too Localized close reason, although I don't really think it applies here either.

It's certainly a "real question", regardless; we have hundreds of other substitution questions along exactly the same lines, and I don't see them getting closed any time soon either.


Does he get penalized for admitting that he doesn't care? Do we have to start subjectively evaluating the sincerity of all questions?

Asking good questions just for rep doesn't seem like a bad thing- it's kind of a natural consequence of awarding rep for questions in the first place. Asking questions that you already know the answer to even seems encouraged sometimes.

I think that if the question is good it should stay. If it is a useless question then it should be closed for being useless not because the author may be insincere.

That said- I do feel like @Elendil's comment was bad form even if it is true. Sure we were all thinking it but it looks bad to actually say it.

  • If he doesn't care, and nobody else cares (because they didn't actually ask the question) is it really "otherwise a good question"?
    – Cos Callis
    Commented May 3, 2012 at 18:51
  • @CosCallis- I suppose I meant "good" in the sense of more objective quality metrics. Even though I agree that that question is not useful to me it seems like that is better expressed through voting rather than flagging to close. The downvote arrow even has the tip "This question is... not useful" Commented May 3, 2012 at 18:59
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    @CosCallis, don't confuse "no one" on the site and "no one" in general. 90+% of our traffic comes from search engines. Just because none of the active users have found need for the question does not mean that there aren't people looking for the answer.
    – yossarian
    Commented May 4, 2012 at 13:18
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    @CosCallis I hadn't even heard of amaranto. I'm sure it's not available here. If a recipe asks for it, I would go to that question. So it's a useful question to me, although I didn't ask it myself.
    – Mien
    Commented May 8, 2012 at 19:59

I note that "improve the store of knowledge here on Seasoned Advice" was a big motivation behind How long can I store a food in the pantry, refrigerator, or freezer? That's not a bad thing, per se.

Though, of course, done the wrong way, it comes off rather poorly ("why should I bother answering a question when the person asking doesn't care?"). That should be avoided.

  • My problem is that I can grab any recipe and rattle off a dozen questions (What can I substitute for Flour in chocolate chip cookies?) in no time, with no interest and which really won't "improve the store of knowledge".
    – Cos Callis
    Commented May 10, 2012 at 0:39
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    @CosCallis Agreed, there are bad questions. But actually, your example isn't so bad, if you're phrase it as making the recipe gluten-free. I think someone should carefully consider "will this really be helpful to others?" before asking a question he/she himself doesn't care about.
    – derobert
    Commented May 10, 2012 at 5:28

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