Why are there so many more answers to “how to” questions compared to other forms of questions?

I don’t know whether there are more answers to “how to” questions than others, and I think it is an artefact of your topics. I tend towards humanities topics in my feed rather than technical topics, and there’s not a whole lot of room for “how” there: there’s a lot more “why”. I also have a lot of Quora Socialising in my feed (such as Survey Questions and Quora itself), and they’re not “why” or “how”: they’re mostly “let’s swap anecdotes”.

I am interested to hear from others in tech topics whether OP’s impression is accurate.

I have some dimestore speculation for why tech topics would have more hows than whys:

  • More how questions: The Stack Exchange model: I come to a Q&A site in response to an immediate practical need. I don’t need a why, and I don’t need an analysis, I need a fix to a problem or challenge I am currently facing. That’s not to denigrate the answers you’ll get: all of us who program are deeply grateful to Stack Exchange for getting us out of fixes. All of us also know that Stack Exchange is not where you go to for longterm prognostication of programming language trends.
  • More how answers: It is easier to reproduce my praxis in an answer (this is how I go about a task), than it is to reason about the causes and motivations behind a phenomenon (this is why things are the way they are, this is why people are more interested in doing task A than B, this is why you’re coming to a Q&A site). That’s not to say that the people answering hows are dumber than the people answering whys; hopefully they substantially overlap! It is to say that a how answer is just easier to write than a why answer: you don’t have to go digging as deep, you just recount what you do.

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