The XY Problem (2014)

The XY problem arises when people fixate on a solution instead of the actual problem. Users often ask for help with their attempted solution, rather than the underlying issue, wasting both their own and others’ time and energy. The solution to this problem is to provide a broader picture and explain attempted solutions in detail, including alternatives that have already been ruled out, to give more context. This leads to efficient and effective problem solving. Examples involve a user who asked about a filename solution when actually they wanted the file extension, and another user who wanted to prevent others from detecting their OS using iptables.

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