I have posted a few unusual questions, they have received a decent amount of votes & answers. I would like to believe they were good questions as in "haven't been asked before & fit this websites standards".

In spite of that I have been accused of trolling and received some negative attention as well, mainly it was targeting an aspect which I could not find among the questions guidelines ie the hypotheticality of question.

Few examples:

These comments and more similar are still standing which means they are acceptable by the site standards which leads back to my question:

Is asking hypothetical questions considered trolling on SE Travel?

  • 6
    Why? Did the comments interfere with your appreciation of the answers you received? Did you truly believe those questions would evoke no reaction at all? You got some great answers, why belabour it?
    – Gayot Fow
    Jul 12, 2015 at 23:11
  • 1
    @GayotFow I was JUST asking, I got confused, the votes and answers looked well, comments were harsh, I had to make sure that's all
    – Ulkoma
    Jul 12, 2015 at 23:14
  • 13
    The comment about professional psycological help incidentally is genuine advice. People are poor in general at assessing risk. However, if you are so poor at it that wearing a bullet proof vest while on a flight appears to be a good idea, then receiving treatment for paranoia issues would be sensible - similar to the advice to seek professional help to someone who is afraid of flying.
    – CMaster
    Jul 13, 2015 at 9:55
  • 10
    Regardless of whether it is trolling, the help center clearly states, "You should only ask practical, answerable questions based on actual problems that you face" (my emphasis). Hypothetical questions are not based on actual problems that you face and, therefore, are off-topic. Jul 13, 2015 at 13:59
  • 10
    @User You have described the questions as hypothetical yourself, in this very meta post. So, no, I'm not the judge. I'm the guy who's reminding you what you actually said. And, frankly, I consider that you are trolling: at the very least, it's very hard to believe that somebody is acting in good faith when they describe a question as "hypothetical" and then, a day later, ask how they should prove that the exact same question is "genuine". Jul 13, 2015 at 14:07
  • 1
    @DavidRicherby I never said that my questions are hypothetical.
    – Ulkoma
    Jul 13, 2015 at 14:19
  • 17
    @User So you're just hypothetically asking if hypothetical questions are OK? Not because you've been asking hypothetical questions and been called out on it. Ookay. Jul 13, 2015 at 14:28
  • 1
    @DavidRicherby yeah the first one. I am just hypothetically asking if hypothetical questions are OK.
    – Ulkoma
    Jul 13, 2015 at 14:33
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    @User I now believe that you are trolling. Jul 13, 2015 at 14:37
  • 3
    User - when I look across the questions you ask on your various SE sites...I can't believe they are anything other than either trolling or hypothetical questions designed to rep-train. It may well be that you have a unique job which does require all these things, but for the life of me I can't imagine what it could be...
    – Rory Alsop Mod
    Jul 13, 2015 at 14:43
  • 5
    @User, I suspect that this is a game which you know and play very well, better than most of us in fact. But I doubt that being a smart ass in META will do anything other than make matters worse.
    – Gayot Fow
    Jul 13, 2015 at 14:46
  • 1
    @David: I think your quote from the help center ("actual problems that you face") is the correct and authoritative answer to the question. Will you post it as an answer? Jul 13, 2015 at 21:47
  • 4
    He's just trolling you and you are all falling for it, I'm ashamed of the Internet today.
    – o0'.
    Jul 13, 2015 at 23:30
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    @CMaster They're wasting the time of the people who answer them, believing that they are helping somebody with a genuine problem. The only reason this site works is that people are prepared to put time into answering. Abusing that goodwill hurts everybody. Jul 14, 2015 at 10:24
  • 4
    @CMaster I'm with David, I answer a number of questions on different SE sites, and the entire reason I do is because of good will I have towards the network for answers I have received to genuine questions. Someone taking advantage of that system or gaming it for his own entertainment ultimately hurts the network more then the 'interesting' questions help. For example after the last couple days I'm now suspicious of any 'hot topic' question I see from TSE cause I assume it's this dude trolling.
    – Ryan
    Jul 14, 2015 at 15:47

3 Answers 3


The comments you mention aren't addressed at the hypothetical nature of your questions. Rather they target the somewhat peculiar and sometimes weird topics they bring up. So yes hypothetical questions are on topic on TSE. Indeed we have plenty such Can I do ... while traveling? type questions here. Need a proof? The questions you linked have all received high votes and good quality answers.

On a different note, if you feel attacked or offended by the comments you should flag them for moderator attention.


Regardless of whether it is trolling, the help center clearly states, "You should only ask practical, answerable questions based on actual problems that you face" (my emphasis). Hypothetical questions are not based on actual problems that you face and, therefore, are off-topic.

  • 12
    I always thought this rule was completely stupid. A simple, trivial abstraction can very quickly turn a hypothetical problem into a practical one, with a simple change of words. So then why does SE care whatsoever whether the question first entered my mind because it had to, or simply because I was curious? It could be useful for someone either way. It's also wording that originated on SO and does not appear to have been adjusted for sites that are not about programming problems. Note in particular that travel questions are very different from programming problems. Jul 14, 2015 at 18:25
  • 3
    @LightnessRacesinOrbit I imagine the rule is there mostly to avoid people exploiting the willingness of others to research and post answers to questions that they assumed to be genuine. On the other hand, I wouldn't have objected if the questions explicitly said they were hypothetical and the asker was honest about their motives. Jul 15, 2015 at 17:14

It's worth considering that to troll is to deliberatley provoke a reaction - not necessarily to be rude or offensive. Several of your questions do not appear to be a genuine concern for a reasonable person - they have the tinge of a question being asked just to see if someone will respond. Hence some of the slightly incredulous comments.

However, the questions themselves are clearly welcome and well received. They get large numbers of upvotes, and several answers that do their best to cover the question as thoroughly as possible.

  • 1
    So either my questions are genuine and really happening or I am a troll? Even if the question was good? I didn't know SE travel required a copy of my passport, heart and brain before I am allowed to participate
    – Ulkoma
    Jul 13, 2015 at 9:40
  • 9
    No, I am explaining people's reactions. Travel SE as a whole clearly welcomes the questions - they are not closed (unwelcome/rule breaking questions tend to get closed fairly fast), and are in fact upvoted more than most questions. Some people however question the motivation for the questions, potentially out of suspicion that the questions are being asked so that the question asker (yourself) can be amused by their naivity in responding earnestly. I think there is perhaps an issue of cultural difference here.
    – CMaster
    Jul 13, 2015 at 9:48
  • 15
    To elaborate - in the UK at least, and I believe in most English speaking cultures, it is a "joke" to ask a person a question of some degree of unliklehood, and then, if an honest genuine answer is received, to mock the answerer for taking the question seriously.
    – CMaster
    Jul 13, 2015 at 9:50
  • 9
    @CMaster Well said. It's not only a joke. It's also blatantly rude to mock someone who tries to help you.
    – JoErNanO Mod
    Jul 13, 2015 at 11:44

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