I ask something like

It doesn't make sense to have X. What's the point of it?

And people will understand it as an implicit request like

X is bad and should be removed.

No one can hear your tone of voice online. How do I rephrase questions like this to make them more "innocent"?


There’re lots of Stack Exchange Meta questions — that are not proposals — that get tons of downvotes because people disagree with the proposals that they think the questions imply. I too have asked meta questions that the community perceived as proposals (and hence downvoted in disagreement) though that wasn’t my intention.

What I want to learn here are ways to ask “pure” questions in English, questions that people don’t interpret as implicit proposals for changes, especially ones that start with “should…” or “why doesn’t/don’t…”

  • Does it make sense to have y? If yes, why?
    – Lambie
    Mar 22, 2022 at 23:43
  • Would not that still imply the person asking it thinks it doesn't sense to have Y?
    – apaderno
    Mar 23, 2022 at 10:32

3 Answers 3


If you say, '[i]t does not make sense to have X'. you are implying that X is unnecessary and should be removed, even if you do not specifically request it. When you follow that statement up with, '[w]hat's the point of using it?', you may be asking a genuine question and expecting an answer from someone, but most people will read that as if you had said, 'there is no point to it'.

If you simply want to say that you don't think X has been used correctly, or you don't understand why the writer has said X, you can try saying something along the lines of:

I don't understand/see:

why the writer has included X.


what the writer meant to convey when he says X.


the purpose of using X in this sentence.

You could then ask:

Can anyone explain why they think it is necessary?


Does it serve any purpose?


Does anyone feel the same way?

Between these two questions you may wish to include a reason for your comments, e.g.

It seems to me that it does not belong in that sentence.

Logically X does not fit with the sentences either side of it.

X is grammatically incorrect within that sentence.

As for tone of voice, you can try bolding or italics, or you can enter a note in brackets, e.g. (irony), (angry), (puzzled), etc.

Or, you can keep your original wording, but add a sentence after them to clarify your intent. E.g.

It doesn't make sense to have X. What's the point of it? I don't necessarily mean it should be removed; maybe it needs reworded, or possibly rewritten.


That outcome tends to happen when a reader or listener does not understand why you are asking. I would recommend simply adding your reasoning:

It doesn't make sense to have X, because we already have Y. What's the point of having X, too?

This approach puts emphasis on the argument and shows the reader or listener why you are asking.


I would write:

It doesn't make sense to have X. (Anyway) I'm just curious. What's the point of it?

I'm just curious indicates you are wondering about the situation and just looking for information, not a summary conclusion.

  • Wouldn't It doesn't make sense to have X imply the need of a change?
    – apaderno
    Mar 23, 2022 at 10:34

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