I wrote earlier a q&a-style question (that is, I asked a question providing my own answer): What do we mean by "Inevitable Narratives"?

The question was downvoted (though the answer was upvoted, which is ironic enough), presumably as a result of the question not being elaborate enough - judging by a user's comment.

The thing is, in which way can a question of the "what is X?" type be elaborated on? Especially since it is the very answer right below it which provides the answer (remember, this is q&a style).

2 Answers 2


The trouble with "what is X?" questions, I think, is that it immediately raises the question "why do I care?" I mean, in what context would I encounter X? Under what circumstances would it be relevant?

When you ask google "what is a sonic screwdriver?" for instance, you ask it because you've encountered the term "sonic screwdriver" somewhere. Depending on the context under which you encountered the term, the answer you're looking for might be "something from Dr. Who" or "a fictional omni-tool" or the list of specific tasks the sonic screwdriver has been used for in past Dr. Who episodes.

Asking "what are inevitable narratives", you provided no context, no frame within which the question should be relevant. It's a term, like "sonic screwdriver", only if I've never heard the term, why would I go looking for it?

With your edit, the question is looking better - there's a better framework regarding why this question is relevant, when it is relevant, etc.

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    Thanks for providing some context/clarification. I'll try to keep those in mind
    – user16555
    Sep 7, 2018 at 14:06

You can elaborate on it if you want, the only question is, as @Galastel notes, whether anybody cares. I did not downvote your question, but I know why somebody would; they might think that between the question and the pedantic answer, you provided them with no clear information or advice.

Posting a question to answer it also looks, no matter how altruistically you intended it to be, like you are just selfishly fishing for double points: Points on the question AND points on your answer, instead of getting them the "right" way: Points for your own actual questions to help you clear something up, that invite others to answer and help you, OR points for a good answer to somebody else's question.

Asking a question to which you obviously already know your answer doesn't seem Socratic or educational, it signals to anybody that would even consider answering the question or doing a few minutes of research that they cannot possibly help you, because you have already made up your mind about what a suitable answer is. So what's your point if it is not just a hat on the ground to gather a few tips for bestowing upon us your great wisdom?

I haven't asked any questions I answered myself; but the type I might do is to ask a clear question for something I end up writing about very often; like how a discovery writer (like myself) ends up with a plot. Or just how discovery writing "works" versus outline plotters.

The only reason I would do that is because I see it, in various forms, a few times a month. Writing your own Q&A to improve searchability for what you consider a frequent topic or writing issue may not be so bad.

Still I shy from doing it, because I'd rather my advice be specific to the OP and read by the OP, I don't think people search the site very often to see if their question is already answered, it is much easier to just start typing. If I want to refer to something I wrote earlier for some other poster, I can go to my profile and find my answer there and use the permalink to reference it.

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    Thanks for the advice. It seems I misunderstood the intended use of the q&a format.
    – user16555
    Sep 8, 2018 at 14:01
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    relevant: writing.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/1606/… (Then again, the only time I actually did answer my own question was when we had the same question, with very small variations, posted thrice inside a month. So, after some discussion in meta, I posted a generalised version of it, to be used as "canon question". I wounldn't have minded having that question converted to community wiki, TBH, eliminating the double points issue.) Sep 8, 2018 at 16:20

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