There is an argument saying that questions based on false premise should be closed*. An example question of that argument is "How's X helpful?"**. According to the argument, that question is based on a false premise because X couldn't be helpful in everything.

I don't agree with it, since having a false premise is natural when we don't know much about a thing. Even professional researchers can base their studies on false premises. A false premise doesn't make the question off-topic or unclear. A false premise question is a good question since we can learn a lot from it, and deserved an answer to correct it.

But that's my though. What do you think?

*with the reason "unclear what you're asking". But that's another topic.
**and example of that example is Why are flash cards effective in learning a language?

  • 1
    "helpful" is relative, but than alone won't make it "false". An example would be helpful.
    – user3169
    Jun 13, 2016 at 18:49
  • Would this be based on one of my question due to a specific series of comments between you and Flimzy? Jun 13, 2016 at 21:18
  • @PythonMaster Yes, that's what this whole meta/chat/comment discussion is about.
    – fi12
    Jun 14, 2016 at 1:18
  • @user3169 Why are flash cards effective in learning a language?
    – Ooker
    Jun 14, 2016 at 7:18
  • So the false premise is that in "Why are flash cards effective in learning a language?", it makes the assumption that the flash cards are effective?
    – user3169
    Jun 14, 2016 at 16:07
  • @user3169 that's what Flimzy believes, I think
    – Ooker
    Jun 15, 2016 at 12:13

1 Answer 1


It depends on the question, and the false premise.

Is X helpful? should be closed for any number of reasons:

  • It's too broad (helpful for what?)
  • It's likely based, at least in part, on a false premise, as you describe (X may be helpful in some situations, but neutral or harmful in others)
  • It may not be clear what's being asked (because we don't know what the OP thinks it's helpful for)

Other questions based on a false premise can be perfectly acceptable, and answers will generally clear up the confusion. One example: When using flashcards, should the word or the definition be hidden?

  • 1
    I don't get the false premise in your example, unless "the word or the definition" can't be hidden (asking about an unavailable function).
    – user3169
    Jun 13, 2016 at 18:47
  • @user3169: The example is based on a false dichotomy (a special case of a false premise). The false premise is that one should hide either the word, or the definition, and not the other. The reality is that one should hide both, at different times.
    – Flimzy
    Jun 13, 2016 at 19:00
  • How do we know what questions are perfectly acceptable?
    – Ooker
    Jun 14, 2016 at 7:14
  • @Ooker: If they're clear, on-topic, and properly scoped. Same as always.
    – Flimzy
    Jun 14, 2016 at 8:45
  • So if a question is on-topic and properly scoped, but based on a false premise, what should we do to them?
    – Ooker
    Jun 15, 2016 at 12:13
  • hello? Also, given the received voted in both the question and the answer, what can we conclude about this?
    – Ooker
    Jun 16, 2016 at 18:01

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