Let me share a few Quora questions I’ve seen during the past few days:
What if the bird cage is outside?
So entirely impossible to answer.
This question illustrates the importance of framing your actual question in some reasonably precise way if you want a helpful response. What this indicates to me is that teachers should be helping students frame their questions better, rather than guessing at what the students mean and not asking them to be more precise and clear. You can look up a lot of stuff online, but not if you can’t sort out what you want to know better than this.
What happens if you don’t do a good job in your human life? Do you reincarnate as a cow?
I was tempted to provide an answer, but I refrained. Besides, maybe you do come back as a cow.
I can tell you for sure that cows who have lived a good life get reincarnated as Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. That is the only reasonable explanation for how keen the spaniels are to eat grass.
Squirrels, too, maybe, given Dora’s determination to eat acorns.
Here’s another Quora question from a day or so ago:
What order, family, and genus would dragons be in if they existed? Would they have their own?
I liked that one a lot, and answered it. (I said they should be in their own class if they can breath fire or have six limbs, as I recall) I also recommended Marie Brennan’s A Natural History of Dragons to the person who posed the question.
Several questions besides this one looked like worldbuilding for a fantasy or SF world to me. Of course I may be biased to see that kind of intention behind this sort of question. But when someone asks what humans would be like if they had evolved from herbivores, I feel that is a very SF-type of question.
Here’s the one that was most disturbing:
I found a weak-looking eagle on the brink of death while I was on a hike in the woods. Should I help it break its beak, pluck out its feathers, and pull out its talons to extend its life?
I answered that one too. Not very patiently. I should compose a macro that says: TORTURING ANIMALS IS BAD. DO NOT DO THIS. I have used an answer of that kind three or four times at least, so far. Some people seem to have appalling ideas about what is appropriate to do to or with animals.
Had you heard of the myth that the questioner apparently believes? Snopes refers to it here.
Of course I have also seen many perfectly appropriate and useful questions about grammar! Those are quite relaxing after the awful ones about eagles.