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Over the last few days I have run into a number of questions that ask for the advantages of a given approach but not its disadvantages, and vice-versa.

A few samples:

I do think it's a good idea to inquire about trade-offs, costs/benefits, advantages/disadvantages... but those questions ask about only one side of the equation, and I find that problematic.

Specifically:

  1. What if an answer provides the other side? Is that partly off-topic? Isn't the answerer likely to face complaints?
  2. Isn't that a bait to ask a second question focusing on the other side?

I think we need to define some guidelines here:

  1. Are we happy with "one-sided" questions?
    • How should we handle two-sided answers?
    • How should we handle "mirror" questions?
  2. Otherwise:
    • Should we just ignore the one-sided part of the question, and answer two-sided?
    • Should we ask the OP to reword their questions?
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    $\begingroup$ I suspect that the current featured question is relevant to whether and how these questions are acceptable in future, too, but questions with a slant in one direction or another are a broader topic too. $\endgroup$
    – Michael Homer Mod
    Commented Jul 19, 2023 at 9:38

2 Answers 2

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One-sided questions make sense when the other side is "obvious" or otherwise not interesting to discuss. In these cases the question might contain a short explanation of why that is; e.g. because it's an additional feature that won't harm anyone who doesn't use it. Some examples from questions I have asked:

I think it is good for these questions to ask only about disadvantages, so as to keep them focused and not encourage worthless answers that just state the obvious (i.e. "users would be able to use this feature for its intended purpose, and that would be good").

If I'm wrong and there is some value in discussing advantages other than the obvious ones, then I think (as mousetail advises) that people should just write an answer ignoring that the question literally asks only for disadvantages.

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  • $\begingroup$ I agree mostly, just sometimes even if there are some "obvious" advantages there can be value in answers that discuss other less obvious advantages. There have been some "disadvantage only" questions where the reason stated in the question is not actually the primary reason why the feature is sometimes used and it can be helpful to have an answer that discusses the "real" tradeoffs $\endgroup$
    – mousetail
    Commented Jul 25, 2023 at 9:20
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Ignore the one-sided part of the question

Needing a mirror question for all of these seems like it would just create clutter since the answers are mostly the same. Just treat all these questions as "What are some considerations when deciding..." so feel free to add considerations that are not strictly a pro or a con.

You can encourage OP to edit the question to match but even if they don't you can answer with advantages to a disadvantage question.

Even if one side is so "obvious" you feel it may not need stating there can be seconary lesser known considerations that lean towards that side that may be worth stating.

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