A common problem when optimizing COUNT()

When optimizing queries for customers, the first thing I do with a slow query is figure out what it's trying to do. You can't fully optimize a query unless you know how to consider alternative ways to write it, and you can't do that unless you know what the query "means." I frequently run into a situation where I'm forced to stop and ask the developers what they were trying to do with COUNT(). This is database-agnostic, not related to MySQL.