I am looking for a word similar to "uninformative" but not quite, since "uninformative" applies to the answer but I want the word for the corresponding question with an answer that is necessarily uninformative. Arguably, rhetorical questions are a subset of this sort of question, but there are other types as well so that's not quite satisfactory. I've thought of "useless" and its synonyms but was wondering if there is a term specifically for questions of this sort.

The context, for me, is that people frequently ask "is this possible?" in terms of work projects, the answer to which is always "yes", but they really needed to ask "is this practical" or "how long will this take?"

  • 2
    Please supply a few examples of such questions. Thanks.
    – RegDwigнt
    Jun 12 '20 at 21:34
  • Added example. Also, as originally noted, every rhetorical question is an example of this.
    – phette23
    Jun 12 '20 at 21:47
  • 1
    This seems to be a value judgement on questions which may be open-ended, or leading. In the example it should be clear what is being asked, and an informative reply could be "Yes, I believe it can be done in two months, provided we can find the right material." Jun 12 '20 at 22:18
  • OK, so it is a value judgment. But is there a word that describes these sorts of questions in the context of this value judgment? I don't understand how that changes anything. Also, these questions are typically the exact opposite of "open-ended", their nature is that the answer can be self-evident or implied in the question itself.
    – phette23
    Jun 13 '20 at 2:25
  • 1
    I've heard such false inquiries called counterfeit questions. Jul 13 '20 at 14:37

I would classify some of the questions where the answer is known but the question is not apparently rhetorical as 'manipulative'.

Your example, 'Is this possible?', may be asked in 2 contexts:

  1. feasibility in general, based on practices
  2. the respondent's preliminary readiness, ability, confirmation, and agreement to undertake a task.

In the first case, an alternative wording may be 'Is this feasible?', while the second case can be replaced with 'Can you do it?'.

If the asker knows it is feasible and the respondent is capable of the implementation, then the question is a manipulative way to make the respondent share the responsibility.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.