Aryan Manoj Raj is a new Stack Overflow user (member for 4 days at time of writing). He posted a question about a MySQL query he was having difficulty with.

The question was a little bit hard to understand, but it contained all the information necessary to understand the problem and to provide a solution.

The user included sample data and an expected result set. He explained how he would solve the problem using iterative logic.

MySQL is a set-based language, where iterative logic is better reformulated in terms of sets. He explained in a comment that he didn't know where to start in solving the problem using MySQL.

I provided and answer that met the requirements and explained it thoroughly enough so that user may be able to understand the problem-solving techniques that I applied.

The user found my answer useful and accepted it.

So why, after that productive exchange, has the question been closed as "not a real question"?

Specifically, I dispute this clause in the explanation of why the question was closed:

[The question] cannot be reasonably answered in its current form.

Is the user being punished for lack of clarity?

Does that mean that my answer is "not a real answer"?

  • 2
    I didn't down-vote but in case you're wondering why people are down-voting your question, on meta this usually expresses disagreement with your idea, not the quality issues that are usually in play on the main site. meta.stackoverflow.com/faq#vote-differences
    – Aaron Bertrand Staff
    Sep 14, 2012 at 12:01
  • @downvoters: How can I improve my question? Sep 14, 2012 at 12:02
  • 2
    Again, it is likely that they disagree with your idea that the question in question should not have been closed as "not a real question." I think the only way to improve your question is to change your point of view. :-)
    – Aaron Bertrand Staff
    Sep 14, 2012 at 12:03
  • @AaronBertrand Thanks for the explanation, Aaron! I wish they would explain why they disagree! Sep 14, 2012 at 12:03
  • 7
    Don't go there. Explaining down-votes is a religious debate and folks have very good reasons to keep their motivations private.
    – Aaron Bertrand Staff
    Sep 14, 2012 at 12:04

5 Answers 5


I don't want to speak for anybody (or certainly for policy or adherence to the site's guidelines), and I wasn't involved with the question, but I stop reading when I see what seems like "gimme the codez" and utter laziness like "i ... display d output ... n dislplay d count." I can't stand when people butcher the language to save a few characters - I don't think they understand how much harder it makes their question to read.

In this case it wasn't SO or a moderator that closed it as not a real question, it was five different community members. I suspect it was due to lack of effort, but you'd probably have to bring all 5 of them here to get their true motivations.

  • 3
    Just of note: I have since corrected the question somewhat. So the language problems Aaron speaks of where indeed there and might have contributed.
    – Bart
    Sep 14, 2012 at 12:06

I would hazard a guess that most close-voters saw that as "Not a real question" given that it seems to be a direct request for code. It does not show any effort on behalf of the OP. He merely states what he wants, not what he has tried or where he is stuck.

As stated on the "How to Ask" page on Stack Overflow, we do expect a minimum level of homework from the OP. Sure, he might have done this, but he has not shown it to us.

Ideally this is not the kind of question that should be asked, nor promoted on SO. The fact that you have given a helpful answer is wonderful and the closure of the question does not indicate that your answer is "not a real answer". But we like to uphold some level of quality on this site. And closure is probably merely a result of that.


Congratulations for taking the time to understand and answer an extremely poorly written question - personally I wouldn't have touched it even if I could answer it.

If your answer accumulates 16 more up votes then it will earn you the gold Reversal badge. Note that even though the question is closed it is still visible and you can still accumulate reputation from it.

This user has started out badly and if he continues he will earn himself a question ban reasonably quickly. Stack Overflow aims to have high quality questions and answers - your answer is good, but the question isn't, and it is of little use to anyone else.


I am not much experienced in database programming, as I am of java background.

But still when I read the code, I found that the OP don't even bothered to have some research work at their own.

I would try to explain it with a real world example. The user is trying to say,

I want to have a vegetable pepporini soup slight crisp and with waffers. And I am not bothered with should be done to make that kind of soup

What I want to say is first the user should do research work at their own..

  1. How to write query to fetch a record that satisfy a particular condition like select records if x==0
  2. separate the records on the basis of their result.

Everything should be done in sequence. Stack overflow is just a help site, not let me do site. So first research at your own and then ask others, if you encounter any problems in your code.


To clarify any future closures for the same reason, there should be a new reason option for closing: "Blatant 'gimme the codes' request ".

  • 6
    So not original :p
    – Bart
    Sep 14, 2012 at 12:25
  • @Bart: all seriousness aside, is "Blatant gimme the code", or some euphemism thereof, a valid reason to flag a question as inappropriate? Sep 14, 2012 at 17:19
  • I would vote to close it as "not a real question". Or, if you don't have those privileges yet, flag it as such. Perhaps even with a custom message indicating it's nothing more than that.
    – Bart
    Sep 14, 2012 at 17:38

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