1

I have 3 distinct questions about a dish I made last night:

  1. What's the chemical process behind the dish?
  2. A specific question about my recipe: ingredient quantities and cooking time
  3. Are there any short cuts to the fairly laborious process of making this dish

Should I create 3 questions or 1? I'm leaning towards 3 so that other people with any of those questions can find the answer without it being jumbled in to a bunch of other stuff.

If the answer is 3, does it matter if I ask all 3 at the same time or is that bad etiquette?

  • i've wondered the same thing. also, seems to me this dilemma pops up more here at food & cooking than elsewhere on other SE sites. the several-questions-one-dish dilemma. – Tea Drinker Aug 9 '10 at 13:29
4

My suggestion is that you post three separate questions and I don't think it matters if they're posted all in one go.

Already if you sort questions by "Newest" you'll sometimes see a couple of questions from the same poster on the same dish shown one after the other. I don't think it's annoying.

3

Actually, it's long been considered poor etiquette to ask multi-part questions on Stack Exchange sites.

First, it's not really fair to the people answering. Maybe I'd like to answer but only know the answers to two parts. Or maybe I only have time to answer one part. Asking a multi-part question implies that you won't accept anything less than a multi-part answer. And by making life more difficult for those answering, you make it less likely that you'll get the answers you want.

The second reason is the acceptance system. If one answer addresses parts 1 and 2, and another answer addresses part 3, which do you accept? Or do you wait for somebody to consolidate them all? Either way, it's confusing.

The final and most important reason is searching. Assume that 80-90% of the traffic comes from Google (which is how the stats actually are on the more mature SOFU sites). Those people have specific questions and are looking for specific answers. They don't want to have to wade through a bunch of crap (as far as they're concerned) to find the part that they care about.

In fact, Stack Exchange was designed around exactly this principle: The ability to find the exact answer you're looking for, quickly and easily, not buried under a bunch of ads or comments or "I hav sam problm help plz" comments. Multi-part questions actually hurt the Q&A aspect of the site, which isn't designed to handle them; discussion forums are better for that type of thing.

One exception is if an obviously correct answer would be useless without follow-up, such as "Can I do X, and if not, then why not?" You don't just want an answer that says "No", because you can't verify that, so the second "why not" part of the question is necessary.

But as long as it makes any sense to ask separate questions - please, do it!

  • I see the point in this approach, but I don't think it's that difficult to incorporate partial answers into a final post. In fact, though the no-multi-part-questions guideline probably takes precedence, re-writing partial answers into a super-answer seems like an encouraged practice. – Ocaasi Aug 9 '10 at 22:24
  • @Ocaasi: Consolidating partial answers is good. Giving partial answers is not. Questions that encourage or even demand partial answers are discouraged for that reason. Fact is, even though answer consolidation is easy rep, most people don't do it. Besides, preventing a problem from occurring in the first place is generally superior to solving it afterward, as long as the prevention has no negative side-effects, which it doesn't in this case. Guidelines should focus on what's good for the site, not what's possible. This is a Q&A site, not an encyclopedia. – Aaronut Aug 9 '10 at 23:36
  • I was considering multiple minor related questions to be better grouped together. Having knowledge cut up into too many small pieces makes it inconvenient to find or absorb. The balance lies somewhere between, depending on the questions. The distinction between good and possible is at least partly false, since this Q&A site is also a wiki. If the goal of moderating for duplicates is a sincere one, then questions should continue to be improved over time. Also, if an excess of very minor questions is considered a bad thing, then there is a negative side-effect to your approach. – Ocaasi Aug 13 '10 at 10:53
  • @Ocaasi: None of the questions, individually, were minor. They were actually asked, and nobody voted to close any of them as duplicates. They also all received a number of upvotes. This says to me that the questions stand perfectly well on their own and that a merge is not necessary or desired. – Aaronut Aug 13 '10 at 14:51
2

I think it depends on the dish. If it's a fairly common dish, break it up, since each component will be useful by itself. If it's more of an obscure creation, I'd group them together, so that readers can be educated as they go.

Also, see if you can group 2 and 1, rather than 3 separate. It's often easier to have a second component, more of a side-issue, than a full slate of issues.

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