I've been thinking about the problems at the heart of lateral-thinking recently, and something finally came to mind. Story questions!
What I'm going to call a "story question" is a question that asks you to fill in a story to solve a problem. For instance, this question asks you to write a part of the story to describe how the police knew someone was a murderer. Other questions have been:
- Why is my desk wet?
- How did the judge pay his barber?
- The Mysterious Surgeon
- Poisoned Iced Tea
- My wife has died
- A semi truck weighing exactly 10,000 pounds
Many of these questions have been well received - but mostly by people on other sites. If a question doesn't hit the Hot Network Questions list, it is, for the most part, downvoted.
Here's the problem with these questions as I see it: there are an unlimited number of answers. Anyone can create an answer involving... pretty much anything. People have written long stories as answers, and people have written joke answers - that end upvoted. For instance, "the dog was hit by lightning and is now on fire" is obviously a joke, but by the text of the question, it isn't wrong.
Not only this, but these questions tend to lead to an enormous number of edits to invalidate answers that go beyond the bounds of the original question.
In other words, no matter how much these questions are restricted, there are still an unlimited number of answers. Not only that, but most of those answers are terrible. Sure, they're briefly entertaining, and that sadly tends to get upvotes, but that doesn't make them good answers. Well-received ≠ good.
These seem to be the body of our low-quality posts at the moment, at least to me. What should we do about these questions? (I lean new close reason, personally.)