On StackOverflow.com I often find that people ask questions about problems that arise due to poor design choices (typically due to a lack of knowledge about the particular programming language).
For example, the OP will make a choice at point A that is wrong, then in order to correct follow-up errors goes on to B, C, D ... and at point X (s)he gets stuck, and thus asks a question about X, when the solution to the problem is actually to fix A.
Note that this is not limited to programming, but can be any project. Earlier, I came up with The Underwater House problem to describe a similar situation:
Q: "I have this underwater house. I am having big problems with leaks and water damage. What is the best way to stop a leak?"
To which the answer of course is: "The best way is to not build a house under water."
When faced with such a question, I often feel the urge to name it, or create some classification, to let the OP know right away what the mistake is. The best way to state this that I have come up with is: "You are asking The Wrong Question." However, I feel that this is inadequate, and requires further explanation.
Is there a more self-explanatory way to state this? Some simile, saying or phrase?
Update: I felt that no answer really fits the bill better than "The Wrong Question", though "treating the symptom" was arguably the best answer. The amalgam "you're treating the symptom of a design problem", while dead on the money, is not as clear, concise and pithy as one would like. And sometimes not correct.