This is easiest described via example. I develop websites for a living and often I'll have a client point out a feature on their website. I can break these situations into two groups:

1) Point out problem and provide solution, e.g. "People are not noticing the blue button enough. Change its color to red."

2) Point out problem and don't provide solution, e.g. "People are not noticing the blue button enough." or even more broadly "we need to improve the blue button"

Is there a word, phrase or idiom to describe the second group?

  • 3
    What's wrong with problem? – terdon May 29 '13 at 11:56
  • 1
    1) There's a problem/ issue (to be resolved). 2) There's a task to be performed. (Problem has been tackled, a solution found, and given to you to implement.) -- So where's the problem? :) – Kris May 29 '13 at 11:58
  • @terdon my guess is that he wants to differentiate the two to itemize his bills. I've done that kind of work, and you charge more when finding solutions than just implementing a wish. – P. O. May 29 '13 at 13:00
  • I've seen it more in a legal context, but one word for point out problem and don't provide solution could be consultation. – user39720 May 29 '13 at 15:54

Presumably, even in your first category, there is also the 'issue' that the client's suggested solution may not be the only or best solution, and/or it may be impractical, time-consuming, or other unsuitable to implement.

I think I would refer to them along the lines of:

  1. Problem/Issue with a solution suggested/proposed by client
  2. Problem/Issue with client asking for advice on solution

Later additional thought:

solved / unsolved problem


When the client points out an issue and provides a desired resolution, they are not in fact presenting you with an issue, but with a task. The problem that prompted the solution is irrelevant - the proposed (and insisted upon) solution may not even solve the problem. You have simply completed a task and that is how I would recommend referring to the first group.

The second group can be accurately referred to by the appropriate variation on problem: issue, challenge, bug etc.

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