Question: How to generate permutations where a[i] != i?

This was just closed as "not a real question", but I have no idea why:

It's easy to tell what is being asked here. This question is not ambiguous, nor vague, nor incomplete, nor overly broad, nor rhetorical and can be reasonably answered in its current form. So it fails every test for "not a real question".

And yet a moderator came by and closed it up. Can someone please enlighten me as to why?

  • 4
    It's reopened now. My two cents: the way the question was asked (Now I need to generate all permutations...) might have resulted in some users flagging it, and the mod acting on these flags. Dec 5, 2011 at 7:20
  • It did in fact get a VLQ flag, and a moderator did act on it.
    – user102937
    Dec 5, 2011 at 7:38

2 Answers 2


The original edit was more or less a statement... Not a question.

After someone came along and edited it, it became a gimme da codez question.

Personally, I thought the "question" was OK, but the community likes to see people do some of their own research first. (see http://tinyurl.com/so-hints).

Question was reopened by the community, and has some good answers on it now. Conclusion: the system works.

  • When I came across the question, it was open and in its current form. I added my answer to the already long list of good answers. The question was closed after that, when it was well stated and had 5 answers. The question was only re-opened after this post to Meta. My conclusion: either moderators should read the time stamps on edits and flags to see if a flag still applied or if it is SO policy to close questions based on "gimme da codez", then that should be in the FAQ and should be the close reason.
    – PengOne
    Dec 5, 2011 at 15:57
  • 5
    If we put into the FAQ every possible way a user could screw up a question, the FAQ would be longer than the Gideon Bible. Having an exhaustive list of close reasons does not scale; the most the average user can cognitively process (I include myself in that group) is about six distinct close reasons.
    – user102937
    Dec 5, 2011 at 16:29

Just verifying, as I'm the mod who closed the question as not a real question.

As Robert said in the comments, it was a "very low quality" flag.

This is essentially a "give me the code question". This falls under the "not a real question" category. Questions of this sort are frowned upon on SO.

Some advice:

  • If you are going to ask questions of this nature, show some code of what you did and if you have a specific problem point, target that point in the question.
  • If you have code that works but want to get suggestions on how to make it better, post your question on Code Review (as it would be OT for SO).
  • If you want discussion about how to best approach this (without really asking for code), ask it on Programmers.

While Robert believes it is a good question, there are those in the community that believe that it is not (and obviously those that do, it was flagged for closing and for reopening).

The best piece of advice that I can give you is to update your question so that it doesn't come across as a "give me the code" type of question.

As it stands now, it's possible that someone will flag your question again and another moderator might agree that the question should be closed (depends on who gets to it in the mod queue, if it gets brought there).

If you adjust your question in this way (and not in a way that makes it sound like it should belong on one of the other two sites) then the chances of it being flagged again will probably drastically decrease.

  • This is a "give me an algorithm" question which I argue is somewhat different from a "give me the code" question, and if that falls in the category of "not a real question" then perhaps someone should update the FAQ to reflect that.
    – PengOne
    Dec 5, 2011 at 15:58
  • 2
    Also, I think you were hasty in your closing and did not read the question just as you did not read the details now. I did not post the question. Please, as a moderator, take the time to read something before acting on it.
    – PengOne
    Dec 5, 2011 at 16:00
  • @PengOne: As per the third bullet point, if you want "give me the algorithm", then the question is OT; as per the first point of the Programmers FAQ: algorithm and data structure concepts (your question is tagged algorithm and you are asking for one). See Robert's comment about adding it to the FAQ. To your point about how long I took to read the question, you are conjecturing which is not constructive and does not enforce your point.
    – casperOne
    Dec 5, 2011 at 16:41
  • 3
    READ This is not my question. It was asked by someone else. Herein lies the problem. You fail to read things. As a moderator, I would expect you to at least READ.
    – PengOne
    Dec 5, 2011 at 16:51
  • @PengOne: Point taken about reading. However, the points regarding how appropriate the question is for the site, as well as my point about your conjecture still stand.
    – casperOne
    Dec 5, 2011 at 17:05

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