Is there anything dishonest about asking a question on a Q&A site to which one is not actually interested in learning the answer?

Possible ulterior motives could be

  • wishing to pump up one's self-esteem as a skilled asker of questions,
  • wishing to pump up one's rep (on a site like this one),
  • wishing to demonstrate one's knowledge of a topic by answering one's own question,
  • wishing to provoke an argument between those answering a question on a given topic.

Is there a problem of false portrayal of oneself as curious on a topic in which one is not actually interested? Does it have a practical marginal malefit of diluting the knowledge base by composing questions to which one is not committed?

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    * "Malefit" FTW! – Isaac Moses Apr 17 '11 at 2:32
  • I have wondered that in that past when individuals were dumping 10 or 12 in a row every day on here. So yes I think it is problematic, but it I don't have sources to say that, so you are getting my two cents in a comment. – Rabbi Michael Tzadok Apr 17 '11 at 14:39
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    I think this is why the question was asked and asking questions was encouraged mi.yodeya.com/questions/1486/… – SimchasTorah Apr 17 '11 at 23:16
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    Do you have an ulterior motive for this question? – Daniel ben Noach Apr 18 '11 at 8:51
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    @SimchasTorah, Good find! I'll just point out that that was more of a site policy Q&A, while this one is more about general ethics. If the latter frowns upon a practice that's permitted by the former, then maybe the former deserves modification. That's pretty much why I haven't weighed in here yet. – Isaac Moses Apr 18 '11 at 18:06

Rashi records the famous midrash about Eisav that he asked Yitzchak halachic questions to create the impression that he was punctilious in mitzvah observance. So there at least seems to be a basis for considering such a dishonest question inappropriate.

יודע ציד: לצוד ולרמות את אביו בפיו, ושואלו אבא היאך מעשרין את המלח ואת התבן, כסבור אביו שהוא מדקדק במצות:

  • I was thinking of the same midrash! I wonder how far one can take this judgment of inappropriateness. – WAF Apr 17 '11 at 22:04

A person should always be involved in torah and mitzvos even not lishmah as through non-lishmah he will come to lishma. (Pesachim 50b)

Also, see how Tosfos Taanis 7a distinguishes this from the idea that non-lishma torah is poisonous.

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