I have just been told that my question is an "XY Problem". What does that mean? What am I supposed to do?

Does this link What is the XY problem? help? – kiss my armpit Apr 25 '12 at 13:47
Yes, it seems so. However, I think that several examples as how to change "wrong TeX-related question" to "good TeX-related question" would be helpful. – yo' Apr 25 '12 at 13:53
I tried to answer one last week that still hasn't been resolved: tex.stackexchange.com/questions/52679/… – Matthew Leingang Apr 26 '12 at 17:38
up vote 29 down vote accepted

XY Problem means: You want to do X. You think about a solution Y. But you find out that there is a problem with this solution Y, so you ask about Y, not even mentioning X.

You should ask about your real problem X, and as a part of the question put: "I tried Y but with no success / with some problems." Find out more about XY problem (link).

Few examples how you should / should not ask:

  • \hspace does not work at the beginning of line. The poster was writing a call stack and needed each line to be indented by varying amount of space. Much better would be to ask I need to write a call stack with indented lines.

  • Redefining \verb to be \url The poster asked about changing some LaTeX commands. After a short discussion, it was found that his real issue is that the \verb command gets nice highlight in Emacs and he wanted \url to be highlighted the same way. The correct question would state something like How to get Emacs properly highlight \url.

Who invented the expression "XY problem"? – Lover of Structure Feb 22 '13 at 20:18
@Lover I really don't know, sorry. And Uncle Google with Aunt Wiki both keep mum :-/ – yo' Feb 22 '13 at 20:27

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