Several times now, I've seen an answer for a question that was not asked. A recent example deftly answers the excellent question of how to prevent the spread of influenza virus.
The question asked how to prevent spreading of the common cold.
Another example: someone asked if using moisturizer constantly was bad for eczema. The answer was for people with normal skin, and was pretty much the opposite of what is needed for eczema. Another asked about sanitizing, and the answer was for infections. There were others; these are the ones that come immediately to mind.
It may be common, but I've not seen this on other se sites, so maybe my question is unnecessary?
Besides commenting and possibly downvoting (and, of course, possibly adding a more appropriate answer), is there any way to draw attention to the actual question so that people don't waste precious time and energy answering the question not asked? Maybe:
- bold the illness asked about?
- Italicize the pertinent details?
- Ask for a one line definition of the illness: "Eczema is a condition characterized by dry and irritable skin, with problems arising because of its inability to be an effective barrier against allergens and pathogens."
- Require the answer to reiterate the question? "Ways to prevent the common cold include..."
I like the third option actually, because it would make for better questions.
I'm truly sorry if you're tired of seeing me here; I'm not fond of posting in meta, believe it or not! I don't know how to call attention to a problem otherwise.
The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth...