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The FAQ mentions bounty, but sometimes a question just doesn't really have a right answer:

  • No solution exists
  • The question as written is unanswerable and unsalvageable
  • There may be a technically correct answer, but the asker is unable to utilize it for some reason.

In these cases, a bounty, and more answers, won't really help. What is the appropriate etiquette in these cases? Should the question be closed? Left hanging?

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See also meta.stackexchange.com/questions/27445/…. –  Daniel Daranas Apr 27 '10 at 17:25

3 Answers 3

up vote 7 down vote accepted
  • No solution exists

If this is known, then it's fine to add and accept an answer stating there is no answer, and why, under what conditions, etc.

If this is not known, there's really no choice but to leave the question open and use one of the aformentioned methods to draw attention to the question in the hope that someone will be able to offer a bit of help.

  • The question as written is unanswerable and unsalvageable

These types of questions are normally closed off quickly, so anything that's totally unanswerable won't remain in the system. Those few that get through will just end up abandoned... there's really nothing else that can be done with them unless they get cleaned up by the original author.

  • There may be a technically correct answer, but the asker is unable to utilize it for some reason.

Since there's a correct solution that would work for others, it's fine to accept the answer even if it didn't solve the original specific problem.

Most of the time in this case, the technically correct answer will lead to another solution, or another approach to the problem entirely. At that point, if the author needs help, it would be better to start a new question with a reference to the first one stating why that solution doesn't work in this situation, and repeat this whole process.

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Your last point is very interesting: Mark the most right answer as correct, then start a new question. Makes sense to me. –  Ipsquiggle Apr 27 '10 at 23:38

If there's no solution, saying so is a valid answer.

If the question is too vague, if the system is working correctly it will be closed as "not a real question" before it's eligible for a bounty. (If it isn't, well, there's flaws in all systems.)

If there are answers that don't apply, it still may be worthwhile suggesting them. This may be useful for other readers, or may suggest a reason, or the OP's restrictions may not be as inflexible as he or she thinks they are at first.

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I see no reason not to leave it hanging. Several reasons:

  1. A user may have the same question and see the progress in your question
  2. A user may find your question and answer it
  3. It can be the base question for duplicates to be pointed to/merged to
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So just to be clear, you are suggesting to simply not mark any answer as correct? –  Ipsquiggle Apr 27 '10 at 23:26

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