So many interesting questions get asked on Stack Overflow and then immediately closed (or worse yet, closed and re-opened for days on end) because they're subjective, argumentative, and fundamentally unanswerable due to our lack of omniscience: without the ability to see into the future and/or know the secret motivations of companies and their developers, we are left to make wildly varying (un)informed guesses.

The obvious solution to this is to add a built-in clairvoyant feature to the Ask a Question page. Similar to the current "Related Questions" feature, this could be used to answer otherwise-unanswerable questions before they're asked, thus saving everyone time and frustration.

I propose a simple system whereby a web cam is aimed at an ordinary Mattel Magic 8-Ball device, long recognized as one of the most accessible and accurate fortune-telling mechanisms available to modern society. A simple vibrating pad could be placed under this rig and triggered in response to the user's typing. Once focus leaves the Title input field, a short delay will be triggered, followed by a bit of logic to capture the 8-ball's result and feed it through a simple OCR routine to produce the result.

So far as I'm aware, SO would be the first major Q&A site to implement such a feature...


...another UV resurrection...

  • 38
    seems like a good idea for 4/1/2010 Commented Jul 2, 2009 at 4:25
  • 3
    I'm speechless . Commented Jul 2, 2009 at 4:27
  • 4
    Ok, is the "Why did my wife divorce me?" really a question? It returns not found for me. Upvote to the first answer with a screen shot of it.
    – toast
    Commented Jul 4, 2009 at 0:04
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    @toast: shog9.com/whydivorce.png
    – Shog9
    Commented Jul 4, 2009 at 0:12
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    @Shog9: That's hilarious, but I've already upvoted and favorited this question so my blatant selling of rep has failed.
    – toast
    Commented Jul 4, 2009 at 1:06
  • 48
    "Outlook not so good" -- Yeah, I knew that already. That's why I use Thunderbird.
    – mmyers
    Commented Aug 1, 2009 at 17:26
  • 2
    A Magic 8 ball won't help. Usually, the answer is 42.
    – takrl
    Commented Sep 8, 2011 at 12:43
  • @Shog9 It seems the built-in clairvoyant link is broken. I get a 404 when I try to open it
    – Walker
    Commented Nov 26, 2013 at 13:51
  • if /why/ then return 'because.' Commented Nov 26, 2013 at 13:56
  • @Tijesunimi see now. :) Commented Nov 26, 2013 at 14:06
  • @ShaWizDowArd Thanks!!! :)
    – Walker
    Commented Nov 26, 2013 at 14:10
  • related: Rolling question rate limits are now network-wide "Additional just-in-time help (triggered while writing a question) is in the works..."
    – gnat
    Commented Jan 22, 2015 at 18:22
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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it's not a realistic feature request, it's a request that is basically ridiculing posts that are either opinion-based or are unanswerable on a Q&A platform. Commented Oct 10, 2019 at 8:24

5 Answers 5


I got a magic 8-ball once from CDW with answers like "Try rebooting", "Reinstall", and "It's a bug".

  • 5
    Wow, swag that's actually useful and clever!
    – Ether
    Commented Nov 26, 2009 at 1:41
  • 2
    Oh, gettin' me one of those
    – womble
    Commented Nov 26, 2009 at 18:19
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    lemme guess. one of the other answers is "it's a feature", right? Commented Dec 11, 2009 at 5:34

How about a close option for "Magic 8-Ball Question", and then if it closed with that reason, the image appears (or even a random image from a set of images, in true Magic 8-Ball fashion)?


To heck with the OCR, dudes, just give us the image!

And hey, I kind of liked that OCaml question :-)


SHA-0 (but not SHA-1) also has strong clairvoyant properties. Simply hash the question, and count the number of alphabet (non-numeric) characters in the output. If it is odd, the answer is yes. If it is even, the answer is no.


You could code a simple program to post here and parse the html of the result to display it on SO... a simple GraseMonkey script could do it.

The page posts to itself passing the question in a field of name query

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