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Looking at this question and the comment on one of the answers by Henk Holtermann, I wondered when a question is considered off topic due to a lack of description.

In my opinion (as also noted in a comment) I believe that as long as the problem is described in such a manner that you have a high likelihood of being able to deduce the source of the error, it's not off topic. That doesn't mean I would not potentially downvote the question.

If OP is required to describe the question in detail, the OP would be required to understand the problem in enough detail that the OP would know what was the problem and the appropriate solution.

EDIT Since it would seem that my point is unclear, let me detail it.

In this particular question all the information to find the error is there

Observations from the post

  • Both solveand solveBackwards are functionally correctly (It's stated that when called independently the result is correct)
  • The comparison is correct as well. The code is there and can easily be inspected

This leads to the conclusion that it will fail if the result of solveBackwards overrides the result of solve (the result of solve was correct so it must have been changed)

for this to happen solveBackwards has to mutate the result of solve.

for solveBackwards to return the same object that the variable front refers to, the method needs to have access to it

Since front is not passed but grid is frontand grid must be a reference the same object.

and since back and front must refer to the same on object (the comparison is correct and the methods work correctly) then it also follows that solveBackwards mutates the input and returns that as the result which is then assigned to back

The error is not copying the content of grid before using it as the argument for solve backwards. So eventhough part of the code in question is not there logically all the information needed to come to the right answer is

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Your answer got better after a few edits but initially it was: IF This (speculation) is the Question THEN Here is the answer. –  Henk Holterman Oct 28 '13 at 12:13

2 Answers 2

When there's lack of description, then the question is not off-topic, but "unclear what you're asking".

In my oppinion (as also noted as a comment) I believe that as long as the problem is described in such a manner that you have a high likely hood of being able to deduce the source of the error it's not off topic.

In the case of the question you linked to, you wouldn't be able to reproduce the problem, because, as Henk Holterman said:

As long as all arrays are [9,9] the loops in the for{for{}} looks OK. So your error is in some part of the code that was not posted.

A question is off-topic if the valid code isn't included, so then we're not able to reproduce the problem.

In this case, you should report a question as off-topic, with as reason:

Questions concerning problems with code you've written must describe the specific problem — and include valid code to reproduce it — in the question itself. See SSCCE.org for guidance.

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But in the question I link to we are able to reproduce the problem. So that argument is not true. The question is whether the obvious way of reproducing the problem is the cause of the error –  Rune FS Oct 28 '13 at 11:42
@Rune: No, it is not, because the code that causes the problem is not included. –  ProgramFOX Oct 28 '13 at 12:35
My point is that in this particular case (and other cases ) that not required to be able to deduce the only plausible root cause. In this case we know that the to methods work correctly (it's attested that when called independently the result of each of them is correct) and since the comparison logic is also correct the only way that the two results can be the same is when the later execution overrides the result of the previous which in turn requires the input mutated and returned as the result. So all the information is there without the code –  Rune FS Oct 28 '13 at 13:08
Of course, it is not bad to deduce the only plausible root cause. However, you cannot be sure that it is actually the only plausible root cause, and for that, we need the other code. –  ProgramFOX Oct 28 '13 at 13:15
Well in this case you can which is my point –  Rune FS Oct 28 '13 at 13:28

OK, so you did solve the OPs problem.

But it's a good answer to a question that was never posted. The OQ is still about comparing arrays, the entire clue hangs on a hint in a garbled comment.

So as a Q+A post it has little value, this isn't going to help any future Googler. It can only distract people with a compare-array problem.

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I agree to the question being badly written but that's why we can vote. I don't know why you refer to a "garbled comment" the information I refer to in the above question is all in the original post. Which is my point when the post includes sufficient information to solve the problem can it still be off topic due to a lack of information? Yes the information is not explicit in the text but it's none the less there, it is not missing which is what prompted me to write this question –  Rune FS Oct 28 '13 at 19:13
No, the key information (what do the Solve() methods do with their input arrays) was not part of the question. It still isn't. –  Henk Holterman Oct 28 '13 at 19:23
That simply helps to deduce the problem but is not required. The key is that When tested separately, solve and solveBackwards give two different arrays with that and the code there's actually sufficient information though hidden well which I think makes it a badly written question but not necessarily OT –  Rune FS Oct 28 '13 at 19:28

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