I've seen a couple of questions now, of the format:

"I've got a load of old _______ and I wonder; what can I do with them?"

Personally, I don't think this is on topic because most of the SE network tends towards questions that can be answered rather than simply discussed, and a solution in search of a problem is a question without a clear answer (or an answer without a clear question). It doesn't contain enough context about the person's life/problems they face that need solving with a lifehack, it's just asking for an open ended list of purposes that substance or entity X can be used for. That might be helpful, but it feels more like blog/youtube material than something that should be on a directed Q&A site.

The example that stands out is one where the OP had a load of newspaper and wanted to know what could be done with it. I can think of loads of things, from lighting fires, drying shoes, cleaning windows, bedding animals, modelling.. I could probably go all day, but there's a very real risk that such an answer could attract a litany of comment responses from the OP saying "That's a nice list but.. we aren't allowed to burn here, i live in a desert and my shoes don't get wet, I have a window cleaner man, I have no animals, I have no kids to make paper mache for.."

So if there isn't a clear challenge the OP is facing that requires a novel use of an every day item, and instead they're just asking for a list of things to do on a rainy day with their surplus X, should I vote to close the question as off topic/send them to another (crafts based etc) SE?

1 Answer 1


TL;DR: Please flag to close or vote to close such questions as your reputation unlocks them.

Full answer:

I agree with you. In fact, one of our close reasons already uses similar verbage:

This question doesn't seem to be about a problem. — Questions should ask how to solve a problem using everyday objects. Questions requesting new ways to use an object are off-topic unless a problem to solve can be demonstrated.

These are questions that don't have a clear best answer and thus break the Stack Exchange model. The lifehacks model requires a problem to solve. That's something that fulfills the Stack Exchange model of sharing hard-to-find knowledge.

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