I'm going to define a new term here that I made up which is specific to Stack Exchange:

question-baiting is a bit like click-baiting; you post a question with the intent to hook a live person (get their attention) into having an extended chat with you (usually in the comments). The emphasis and intent is not on the original question, but rather in using the question as a way to connect with someone.

I'll use some of my own questions as an example:

  • this one, I think (but it was a really long time ago so I can't quite remember if this is the one I'm looking for or if it was a similar one). In any case, if I sense frustration I will up-vote an answer even if it doesn't answer the question, in order to keep the hooked person interested.

  • here. this is the question spurred me to ask this and I recently posted, but it might not be the best example. (this one genuinely did answer my question satisfactorily btw)

  • Someone else could bring up examples too, I'm sure. I don't know how common this is for other people who use the site primarily for asking questions.

Once someone answers, most of the time they feel obligated to respond (and do), but using the site in this way feels manipulative. I feel guilty for doing this, and I thought it would be good just to bring up on meta.

I should also note that doing this is rather subconscious, and I'm really just trying to use this site to the fullest to learn math.

I don't know how common it is for question askers to do this or feel this way, but I suspect it certainly depends on what their motives for using the site are. People who just want someone to answer their homework questions for example probably wouldn't do this.


Edit: I mean, obviously, its not really ok, but I want to know what kind of policy there are about it (since I haven't been able to find any pertaining to this in particular).

  • 5
    $\begingroup$ The emphasis and intent is not on the original question, but rather in using the question as a way to connect with someone.. Yeah, no that's not what the posts are about. This seems fine to do in the chatrooms though. Using Q+A posts to do that seems needlessly indirect in this day and age. $\endgroup$
    – rschwieb
    Jan 4 at 19:31
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I appreciate @Pedro's answer below. My first impression when you posted this question is what you term "question-baiting" is on a continuum between sincere asking and asking for clarification on one end, and trolling, on the other end. I say this because trollers also see human interaction in the way they know best. I am not saying this is what you've done; I am concurring with Pedro, to keep questions and clarification requests closer to what Pedro suggested. But with respect to seeking conversation, again, in good faith, as others have suggested: To to Chat rooms!!! $\endgroup$
    – amWhy
    Jan 5 at 18:58
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Also, Pineapple Fish, nothing you linked came anywhere near what I'd suspect as "trolling". So I think you are safe. :-) $\endgroup$
    – amWhy
    Jan 5 at 19:01

1 Answer 1


Here are some brief but hopefully useful pointers:

  1. The main aim of our Q&A format is to create a repository of high quality questions that allow for authoritative answers. We do not encourage to use the site as a forum.

  2. It is acceptable to use comments to clarify contents of the post, but please do so in good measure. We usually prefer for long exchanges (20 comments or more automatically triggers a flag to us moderators) to happen in chat.

  3. Please do not make attempts to "bait" people into chatting, or whatever you'd like to call it. Be honest about it, and I am sure a lot of people in the site would be glad to help out. There's absolutely no need for trickery.

  4. Take a look at the chat, where there are dedicated rooms to discuss problems, or problem solving, or other miscellaneous topics. Again, you are welcome to use these, while always keeping civil, respectful, and following the guidelines of the site.

Good luck!


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