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I remember seeing some questions like this;

  • Which side should I turn if I am praying on the moon?
  • Which side should I turn if I am praying at exact opposite of Kabah?
  • If we discover aliens someday, could they become Muslims?

I don't think those kinds of questions are useful for anyone. I think those kinds of questions waste our top-users time and energy and affect our site's tone in a bad way. Therefore, I suggest to close those kinds of questions as "not constructive" or "off topic". What do you think?

  • 2
    I think down-vote should be sufficient in these cases, note that a question which with -4 vote is removed from the main page. – Kaveh Jul 13 '12 at 18:47
  • That sort of thing is perfectly accepted on Mi Yodeya, but I think that might be an artifact of Jewish culture. – TRiG Aug 8 '12 at 13:11
  • @TRiG It's allowed on Mi Yodeya because (at least the examples given in this question) are completely possible and have even been addressed by Jewish scholars both modern and older. – Daniel Aug 5 '13 at 13:34
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The fundamental problem is determining when a question is hypothetical rather than practical. The first two, for example, are unlikely to occur for the vast majority of people on Earth, but they could apply to very particular circumstances for very particular people; I feel that such questions should be given the benefit of the doubt and answered seriously. One thing the Stack Exchange model excels at is providing a lot of experts for answering exactly this type of niche problem.

The third example would easily fall under the new close reason "Primarily opinion based". It's about a situation that, as far as we know, never happened, nor is likely to happen in the forseeable future. Answers to such a question would just be rife with speculation, which is not useful.

It could, however, still be a legitimate concern for (for example) a professional da'ii who also happens to be working for SETI. Unlikely, but possible.

Given the difficulty in judging "hypothetical" vs "practical", I don't think a blanket policy would be a good idea. Rather, such questions should be judged on a case-by-case basis; if the questioner doesn't make a strong enough case as to the question actually being useful (whether it's practical or not), then downvoting should be sufficient.

  • I agree with your first paragraph, but I partially disagree with your second paragraph. Just because something has never happened (or even just because something almost certainly never will happen) does not mean that the topic has never been brought up. If the question has really never been addressed by any scholars before, saying so would be a good answer rather than speculating. But sometimes these questions get discussed by serious scholars, even if they are completely unlikely scenarios. Example: judaism.stackexchange.com/q/17108/1713 and judaism.stackexchange.com/a/9203/1713 – Daniel Aug 5 '13 at 13:45
  • Another example: There is a Jewish fast day on which, if it were to ever fall out on the Sabbath, the rabbis said people should still fast. But the Jewish calendar prevents that particular fast day from ever falling out on the Sabbath. – Daniel Aug 5 '13 at 13:47

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