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XY Problem

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Ask Metafilter posts are often made to try and solve a problem. Sometimes, your problem isn't what you think it is.

An XY problem, briefly stated, is where you want to do X, and you (mistakenly) believe Y is the best way to do X.

Consequently, you ask people "what is the best way to do Y?", when you should be asking "What is the best way to accomplish X?".

When formulating an AskMe post, give a little thought to whether you might have an XY Problem. Sometimes you only find out after making the post.

MeTa discussions about XY problems