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Any question may have positive and negative answers (in reality).

This is an example:

How do I do [this]?

Answer: You can't.

When this happens, I have no choice but to accept that answer.
It is annoying when someone else sees the question and accesses it to see the answer, and leaves disappointed.

So, to fix this you can add a button to mark an answer as a negative one.
An impossible question should have a different color on the answer and probably a page prefix so others (including from search engines) don't waste their time looking further.

A real example is this question of mine.

Edit: I see that the advantages are not so obvious:
It saves bandwidth for both the server and the client and might save seconds to minutes of the reader's time.

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I'd love to know why the downvote... This should make another suggestion: always comment on downvotes... – Vercas Jul 10 '11 at 23:11
Welcome to Meta! See this question on how downvoting works here. – waiwai933 Jul 10 '11 at 23:16
Downvotes on Meta Stack Overflow, as explained in the FAQ, mean that the downvoters don’t agree with your post — in this case, they don’t agree with your feature request. – Bavarious Jul 10 '11 at 23:16
I didn't downvote, but I don't feel that looking at a question and finding out that it's plain and simply impossible is annoying. That's the answer. I saved time because I didn't keep looking for an answer. Adding what you suggest would save what, 2 seconds? – Ryan O'Hara Jul 10 '11 at 23:18
I cannot imagine why... What is the downside of this??? – Vercas Jul 10 '11 at 23:18
@minitech Or minutes if you have stone age computers/internet service like me. It can even help save bandwidth on mobile modems. – Vercas Jul 10 '11 at 23:20
@Vercas: It would be hard to do worse than I have in Internet speed, though it's true I visit StackOverflow so much that everything is already cached for me. :) – Ryan O'Hara Jul 10 '11 at 23:22
@minitech Please, do not even attempt to compare your situation with mine. @random Nothing related... – Vercas Jul 10 '11 at 23:25
@Vercas Okay... – Ryan O'Hara Jul 10 '11 at 23:26
What does this solve that reading the answer posted doesn't? – random Jul 10 '11 at 23:27
@random It saves bandwidth for both the server and the client and might save seconds to minutes of the reader's time. – Vercas Jul 10 '11 at 23:30
This is completely useless. An answer that says "you can't do that" and explains why is still an answer to the question. If you have the same question, you'll want to read that answer. There's no reason to change the UI. It works fine as is. And please stop complaining about downvoters that don't leave comments. – Cody Gray Jul 11 '11 at 8:32

I don't think it would save anything to have that option. Most of the "it's impossible" answer includes a description of why it's impossible. It might be impossible to do something in a specific context (the context of the question), but in an other context that is slightly different it could be possible. I think we are doing the person who find the question a lot of good if we force him to read the actual answer. It will save the reader time by properly informing him.

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Implementing something like this and ensuring people use it correctly would likely take up far more time than it would ever save. Mainly it will just add clutter to the UI.

Beyond that I don't think it really even makes any sense.

  • If you can't do something, it's better to find that out than to spend more time looking for answers that don't exist.
  • You'd still have to look at the question to see if it's actually the same issue you're trying to solve. So you'd have to load the page anyway.
  • You'd still want to look at the answer because when people tell you the particular thing you're attempting can't be done, they'll usually redirect you toward something that can achieve the same or similar goal. So you'd still have to load the page anyway.
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