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The question, Algorithm to return largest subset of non-intersecting intervals, was edited to make it clearer as to what was being asked, but it was closed as Not a Real Question despite that.

Just the title is enough to understand what is being asked.

Note: I am not the asker.

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So he expanded on what the problem is that he needs solved... He still hasn't provided any effort on his own part and it's still very much a "give me the code, do all of my work for me" question. – animuson Mar 23 '13 at 17:47
@animuson: It is an algorithm question! Any code is likely useless. Sometimes people just hit a wall with tough algorithm problems... – Knoothe Mar 23 '13 at 17:49
@Knoothe: I totally disagree. – juergen d Mar 23 '13 at 17:50
They can always explain all the things they've thought through. "I thought about doing it this way, but... Then I thought about this way, but..." Just posting only what needs done with no sign of effort at all is not a real problem. – animuson Mar 23 '13 at 17:52
@juergend: WHy does the asker not showing effort (which is likely going to be useless to the answerers because of [algorithm] tag) given that much importance? – Knoothe Mar 23 '13 at 17:52
@animuson: Ok, so if he said, I have no idea how to solve this, would that be good enough for you? btw, what they have thought, is likely noise. – Knoothe Mar 23 '13 at 17:53
Nope, in that case the answer would be to research the problem and come with a concrete question. "Do your homework" is an explicit part of the "How to Ask" guidelines. – Bart Mar 23 '13 at 17:53
@Bart: Those are guidelines and not always applicable. For [algorithm] questions, showing your prior research is likely going to be noise. For problems which need help with code, you need it to be able to answer. Not so with algorithm questions. – Knoothe Mar 23 '13 at 17:59
The question being algorithm related does not mean you can ask a zero-effort question. It does not at all free you from the requirement to perform your own research and tell us about it. And when all you have is a problem statement, you simply don't have a good question. You might be able to answer it, and you have. That might make your answer a good one. It does however not improve the question. – Bart Mar 23 '13 at 18:01
up vote 7 down vote accepted

I'm sorry about the poor treatment user2112791 received on SO and you received on MSO.

The question didn't start out very well. While it was technically sufficient and answerable, it was difficult to get ahold of. The example added by an anonymous editor helps a lot.

The question may or may not be on-topic on Stack Overflow (which allows questions about “a software algorithm”). But since you're at the stage of designing an algorithm or looking for an already known algorithm, it is rather more appropriate for Computer Science. It has now been migrated there.

A good rule of thumb to decide between SO and CS is: will this question and its answer benefit more from code markup, or from MathJax (LaTeX)? Here, there is some mathematical notation, and the question is indeed more appropriate for CS.

The migration reset the score to 0, as always happens for negatively-scored migrated posts (posts with a nonnegative score keep their votes).

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Thanks for the help there Gilles. – Bart Mar 23 '13 at 19:09
Yes, thanks for saving the question! :-) – Knoothe Mar 23 '13 at 19:43

It is not so much about the question being unclear. The problem is that there is only a problem statement. And then a request for "an efficient algorithm". That's it, nothing more. And we're simply not here to do the work for the OP. We're here to help him with a practical problem he's facing in solving his own problems.

The content of the question, perhaps unfortunately for the OP, is not enough for Stack Overflow. We expect 3 things from a question:

  • A clear problem statement. I.e. what is it you're trying to do/solve
  • A statement of the research performed by the OP. What have you tried to solve your problem? What have you dismissed?
  • A clear explanation of where in the process he is stuck.

And after passing the first two items, the third one is the question you will ask. And that would be a question fit for Stack Overflow.

At this point in time the OP has only addressed the first point. And that is not enough. Performing your own research and clearly stating the results of it is an explicit point of the "How to Ask" page. If the OP wants this to be reopened, that's what he needs to address.

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The problem is, even if he did that, he is just wasting his own time and the time of the people trying to answer (and the hundreds of other people who will have the same question in the future). When did guidelines start becoming rules to be applied 100% of the time? – Knoothe Mar 23 '13 at 18:01
Since when is taking the time to research your own problems wasted time? That makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. – Bart Mar 23 '13 at 18:02
You don't understand what I am trying to say. Doing your own research is fine. Putting up an irrelevant wall of text is not. I am all for showing prior research when it actually helps understand the question, and is relevant. – Knoothe Mar 23 '13 at 18:03
So your assumption is that any research performed by the OP will lead to irrelevant information? That does not show a whole lot of confidence in his abilities. If all that he has after performing some research would lead to an irrelevant wall of text, guess what?... He should research some more. – Bart Mar 23 '13 at 18:05
Huh? Why even have a site where people can ask questions then? Let them just research it out :-) With algorithm questions, yes, it is likely that prior research will get them an answer they need, or that their reasearch is likely irrelevant. I do agree, it might help cut down some duplicate answers, but a -4 and closure for that? – Knoothe Mar 23 '13 at 18:06
@Knoothe Stack Overflow is not a code writing service, nor an algorithm writing service. I don't think it can get much simpler than that in this case – Clive Mar 23 '13 at 18:06
@Clive: Why don't people forget about OP's motivations and concentrate on getting questions and answers which are likely going to help other people? Do you really think people with an answer (or having the same question) will even care what some random person who had this question before tried and failed with? In fact, you cut down on the scope of answers by restricting the question. Note: I am not saying all prior research is irrelevant. Anyway, looks like it is going to be futile posting questions like these on meta. – Knoothe Mar 23 '13 at 18:13
I don't agree that you're approaching that from the right angle. I'm concentrating on the quality of the question, 100%. The OP's motivations are, presumably, to get the question answered; beyond that it doesn't interest me to be honest – Clive Mar 23 '13 at 18:15
@Clive: Do you really think an irrelevant wall of text (note: this is the algorithm tag specifically) will help improve the quality of the question? These are guidelines, but people seem to apply them blindly. Anyway, I guess cs.stackexchange is more appropriate for me. – Knoothe Mar 23 '13 at 18:20
Why are you so focused on this idea of an "irrelevant wall of text"? If that is all the OP has to add, it's still a bad question. – Bart Mar 23 '13 at 18:23
@Bart: Actually I think the more specifics OP leaves out (algorithm tag again), the better. The answers will help more people, rather than just a narrow set of people with the same constraints as OP. In fact, the more constraints OP adds, the more localized the question gets (too localized close reason? :-)). – Knoothe Mar 23 '13 at 18:25
@Knoothe I disagree. However, if you feel that this question would make a great question for the CS SE (I have no clue, I don't participate there) why not flag it for migration? If the question is welcomed there, that would be a positive outcome for everyone. – Bart Mar 23 '13 at 18:26
@CLive: As to you earlier statement about service, think of it this way: By asking OP to constrain the problem and be very specific, you have made the question and answer specific to that person, and, in a way, it has actually turned into a personal answering service :-) The answers probably will not be helpful to another person dealing with similar problem, but with different constraints. – Knoothe Mar 23 '13 at 18:30
@Knoothe Then flag for moderator attention and ask for the migration. Let us know how that works out. I have no idea about the CS SE, so all information would be welcome. – Bart Mar 23 '13 at 18:32
@Knoothe That more often happens when a question gets attention on Meta. (And in both directions, I might add.) I tend to hold back on such votes, but that's more of a personal thing. Perhaps a question on the CS Meta (whether or not it would be accepted there) might be interesting though. Either that or some input from Gilles here, who I think is a moderator over there. – Bart Mar 23 '13 at 18:43

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