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As the title says, I have a question I want to ask, but it's multi-part with interrelated components. Would it be best if I included all the parts of the question in one post, or is there an expectation that multi-part questions should be asked one at a time, in separate posts? The latter seems impractical and spammy. I searched the Meta forum to see if this question had already been asked, but it has not been. I did read the posts about what the characteristics of a great Science Fiction question are, as well as the post on six steps to posting an appropriate subjective question. But I'm still unclear as to the best protocol to follow for a multi-part question. Any guidance would be most appreciated.

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If the questions can't be cordoned into separate sub-questions that you can ask individually, then I'd recommend just asking one large question. Make it clear you're looking for a comprehensive answer that covers all the questions, and not just an answer to one of them.

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It's difficult to answer this in general, but I'll try to give a few tips.

The main things to consider are:

  • Is the same person likely to be able to answer all the parts, so that you're likely to get comprehensive answers?
  • Is a future searcher interested in one of the parts likely to be also interested in the other parts?

These aren't straightforward yes/no questions, but you should try to include only so much material that the answer remains rather yes.

If you're unsure, what I recommend is to ask a question, watch the answers come in, then a day or two after the initial question ask again about the parts that weren't covered. In the first question, explain the overall context (the big picture), highlight one part that is the starting point and that you want answers to cover, and mention other parts as bonuses. Something like:

I'm exploring the symbolicism of cinnamon in Harry Potter.
Cinnamon commonly occurs as a potion component, yes Snape doesn't cover it in his classes. Ginny is fond of it whereas Harry can't stand the stuff. Ron is allergic to it. In book 4 one of the foreign students bemoans the low quality of local cinnamon compared to his home country.
It feels like there is something that sets apart the cinnamon lovers from the cinnamon haters. Is cinnamon somehow off-limits to people with conflicting moral goals?
(If so, I wonder what this means about Ron. And why cinnamon anyway?)

Then, depending on the answers you get (wait a couple of days), ask follow-up questions about the last bits. If you do, be sure to cross-link the questions.

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    You'd better convert that quiote into a question. I wanna see Slytherinces's answer :) – DVK-on-Ahch-To Jan 7 '12 at 19:57
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If they can be cordoned off PARTIALLY - meaning, the question itself is relatively independent of the rest of them as far as its answer BUT it helps to know the umbrella context, you can post them separately AND in each question indicate the context in a first paragraph.

The exact judgement of whether they NEED to be merged depends on the exact set of questions to be honest.

If you care to know my opinion before you post, feel free to message me the Q (not that my opinion matters more than anyone else's but I explicitly wouldn't mind devoting time to ponder the thing, thus the offer).

OR if you prefer the broad community opinion, you can post the whole thing on META as a question with 2 answers (split/not split) and see which gets more votes or useful comments.

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  • Sure, I'd like to take you up on the offer. Thank you! The question(s) is floating around in my head, so let me actually write it up and then I can send it to you. Is there a messaging system on SE? Or do you prefer e-mail? Let me know :) – Slytherincess Jan 7 '12 at 15:53
  • Email'd be better. I sent it to you via YouTube message on your channel :) – DVK-on-Ahch-To Jan 7 '12 at 16:00

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