A common strategy that is sometimes used when a person asks questions that pertains to themselves, but wants to disassociate from (for any reason), is to frame the question as being about somebody else, or otherwise externalizing it. "My friend" is a classic example of this:

A friend of mine wrecked into their boss's brand new car in the parking lot. What should they do?

Another example often starts with "let's say", presenting a real situation as a hypothetical one in order to artificially distance the asker from a questionable situation:

Let's say a teacher unfairly gave a student a poor grade on an assignment. How can that student get revenge?

Note that we assume through context that the above examples actually pertain directly to the asker (i.e. they do because I said they do, it's the basis of this question).

Is there a name for this strategy / style of presentation (applies to both speaking and writing) / whatever it is? I'm not even certain that "by proxy" was the correct phrase to use in the title.

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    On behalf of, though the in-joke on the internet is simply "... I'm asking for a friend". – Dan Bron Apr 1 '17 at 16:56
  • @DanBron On behalf of is a great example of this. But just to be clear to others: I'm actually wondering about how to describe this strategy, rather than looking for ways to construct these types of questions myself. – Jason C Apr 1 '17 at 16:58
  • Also have a look at trial balloons and the TV Trope called trial balloon question. – Lawrence Apr 1 '17 at 17:33
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    Look up prosopopoeia. – vickyace Apr 1 '17 at 17:40
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    @vickyace Looked up. Clicked "character mask" because why not. Wikipedia hole entered. Browser tab count growing exponentially. If I don't return within a week, don't come looking for me. – Jason C Apr 1 '17 at 17:45

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