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The XY Problem is one that we see quite often here on CodeRanch and elsewhere.

What it means is that you have some problem X, and you try to solve it with the wrong solution Y. You then start asking questions about solution Y, instead of explaining that your real problem is X.

A contrived example:

The Y question: "How do I prevent my hand from getting cut when I smash it through the window?"

The questioner has incorrectly concluded that smashing a window is the best way to handle a situation, and has asked a question about that crude solution.

Naive answerers might advise him or her to wrap his or her hand in a towel first, or to use a brick instead of a fist.

A wise answerer, on the other hand, would coax the questioner to reveal the real issue:

The X question: "What should I do if I lock myself out of my house?"

The wise answerer can then advise them to call a locksmith.

Had the questioner asked the X question first, instead of coming to a premature conclusion as to its solution, much wasted time (and perhaps bloodshed) would be averted.

Don't be a Y questioner.
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