How to deal with unanswerable questions being logical traps? Every answer on such questions could be downvoted as not an answer and no matter what you write, the OP can be unsatisfied.

Take that question for example: Update all values at a time in HashMap

Here is asked how to update multiple values in java's HashTable without using loop. It is impossible, because in HashTable, the values aren't stored in single memory block (there are blocks of key-value). There elementary instructions modifying continuous block of memory in some languages, but here we have an array of pointers pointing to key-value objects.

However, the question raised quite large activity from reputation hunters trying to sweep the loop under the carpet by calling some libraries which call the loop internally. Then they were disappointed with someone downvoting their answers (it could be OP himself).

My question is, how should we act with such questions? Ignoring them won't help, because there's no 'ignore' flag and they will gain activity anyway. Close attempt didn't succeed - you don't see what's wrong with this question at first moment. Flagging it as not welcomed in our community also didn't help - flag was refused.

Why I think there need to be done something with such questions? Because they gain attention they not deserve, a lot of people are trying to trick the OP, but no matter how much they try, any answer can be downvoted and commented as not related to the question (haven't I say, no loop?).

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    118 views isn't what I would consider "attention". And nobody got more than 1 upvote. So I don't see much harm in letting it rot along with the majority of the "too localized" questions on SO. – Mysticial May 29 '13 at 5:47
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    I agree with @mysticial here. Ignoring it is probably the best thing to do. Or if you are brave, post an answer saying why it's impossible, and enjoy the reputation roller coaster! – Andrew Barber May 29 '13 at 6:35
  • It was on SE's global 'hot' question's list... when I good remember... – Danubian Sailor May 29 '13 at 6:48
  • Flagging it as not welcomed in our community also didn't help It should only be used on offensive stuffs. Why I think there need to be done something with such questions? Answering that it cannot be done with the API given is one way, and you may also add a work around to make such operation easier (done without looping). – nhahtdh May 29 '13 at 8:05
  • I don't see the problem with your example, that question qualifies as "How do I do x?"/Poll-question/"Gimme da codez!" and can be downvoted (if wished) and voted to close as not a real question. Except maybe if I missed something there, but looks to me like a no-good-question. – Time Traveling Bobby May 29 '13 at 8:59

If what the OP is asking for is impossible because of the way the code works, not much can be done. You can post a comment telling him/her that what they are asking for is simply not possible. After that there is not much you can do. If good, solid reason from a community backed by pretty impressive developers can not be handled by someone, then there's no use in pushing them.

As far as gaining attention, if someone down the road searches something about not wanting to use a for loop to iterate through a HashMap, maybe they will stumble here, see all the comments, and decide to just use the for loop instead.


An answer explaining why, in detail, the request is not possible is also acceptable.

Obviously, simply writng "This can't be done, don't do it." wouldn't work; be sure to explain why in your answer as well.

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