I just failed a review on this question.

This looks like a typical example of a question where the asker didn't show a sufficient attempt at solving the problem him/herself and should thus be closed as, well, what used to be “not a real question”, which I suppose would now be “off-topic - Questions must demonstrate a minimal understanding of the problem being solved” or a “duplicate”.

I say the asker didn't show a sufficient attempt, because I'm convinced a simple Google search will lead me to a few dozen answers.

And this is not the first time something like this has happened.

If my analysis is correct (and please tell me if it isn't), can the mods/devs please look into improving the quality of the audit questions on the close review queue?

  • 3
    I'm not sure I agree this question doesn't show enough effort: it explains what it would be trying to do in another language, shows what he tried, and has an understanding of what the correct answer would look like: basically a model of what "beginner" questions should be. A question that should be closed would look more like i can't print an array in C++, I tried but it didn't work. Jul 9, 2013 at 12:55
  • @DavidRobinson It's definitely a lot better than a lot of other questions, there's no arguing that. But that doesn't mean it's good enough. In my opinion, assuming the question is Google-able, any question asker that didn't at least do a simple Google search and looked through the first page of results can be said to have not shown enough effort. However, I'll be willing to accept that this question may be borderline, which is exactly the type of questions that should be avoided for audits, thus my point remains. Jul 9, 2013 at 13:01
  • 2
    There's a difference between "does not demonstrate a minimal understanding of the problem" and "too easy." In the former case it is a legitimately bad question. Your point is that he could have found a few possible answers in other ways on old forum posts: but even then wouldn't it be better as a StackOverflow question, and didn't the accepted answer suit his need better than almost anything you could find elsewhere? (Now, if its a duplicate of another SO question, it would make sense to close it as that, but I'm not clear whether that was an option in the audit). Jul 9, 2013 at 13:13
  • pay more attention!
    – user221081
    Jul 9, 2013 at 13:20
  • 1
    100% of questions asked on stack overflow could be answered using the internet and time Jul 9, 2013 at 13:37
  • @DavidRobinson FYI - Trying to close it as a duplicate leads to failing the audit as well. Jul 9, 2013 at 13:50
  • Don't forget that the audit script is just a script choosing previously done reviews, and it's comparing what you do to what other people did. Sometimes you end up with incorrect results, but not too often; more often, it's a good opportunity to learn from it.
    – Joe
    Jul 9, 2013 at 16:23

2 Answers 2



I think the “minimal understanding” off-topic reason doesn't apply since the user passed the criteria.

As to whether or not it is a duplicate of an existing question, maybe it is.

Does the question show lack of research effort? In my opinion, yes. Similar questions has been asked before (which shouldn't come as a surprise given that the operation in question – output the content of an array – isn't exactly exotic.

I don't think this review audit is one of those “obviously there's nothing wrong here” case. It made me pause to philosophize for a few minutes.

Juicy bits of details

I don't think “Questions must demonstrate a minimal understanding of the problem being solved” would apply here. Specifically, the user passed the 3 requirements

  • showed he tried to do (he provided a sample code he tried)
  • showed why it didn't work (he showed the actual output he got, which is the memory address)
  • showed how it should work (he showed the Python equivalent; he showed the desired output)

It seems like a good question based on a few criteria:

  • Healthy amount of up-votes
  • It has gotten answers from several (very) high-rep users (we can safely assume that they know how the site works very well, and they have taken no issue with the question)
  • Judging from the answer, aside from the (somewhat obvious) for-loop solution, the solution to this problem can be non-trivial; in other words, there are some great answers.

Despite this, I can't help feeling there's a big hairy “but” out there, because

  • C++ is a very popular language
  • Printing the content of an array feels like a pretty common operation (which is basically what the question is asking, aside from some cosmetic differences, namely the curly braces and the comma in between the elements)

So, someone would have probably asked the same (or at least very similar) question(s) in the past, no?

I googled up “print array in C++” and found a few answers. One of them is this SO question from about 4 years ago: Printing an array in C++?

While not as well-written as the newer question, the older question was asking essentially the same thing.

So, is this a duplicate? I'm tempted to flag it as such, but a few things give me pause

  • There's some minor differences
    • The older question mentioned reversing the array (so the answers differ a bit)
    • The newer question requested for curly braces and commas (cosmetic, but still a difference there)
  • High-rep users have been there but the post seems untouched; there's no mention of this older question I've found, for example.

Skimming through the answers, aside from the advanced-looking IO manipulator solution in the newer question, both question share very similar-looking answers (aside from the minor differences I mentioned earlier).

Right now, I'm leaning slightly towards not a duplicate due to the minor difference plus the non-action from others. But I wouldn't say it's clearly not a duplicate.

In any case, I'm of the opinion that the user shows a lack of research effort. He could've easily found the very similar older question I've mentioned above. The accepted answer is very similar to Johannes Schaub's answer and could be adapted from the latter with some minor modification.

But lack of research effort is a down-vote matter, not a closing matter (assuming that it's not considered a duplicate).

  • 'Accept' for pointing out that a down-vote would've been more appropriate. Jul 15, 2013 at 14:06

What exactly do you think is wrong with the audit? It's a test and the fact that you failed it shows that it works - they are designed to catch out people who are not paying enough attention.

The example question looks fine, which is your clue. IOW there is nothing obviously wrong with it, therefore there is no reason to close it. Just because you consider it a basic question and Google could throw up some answers is also not enough of a reason to close it - newbies will ask newbie questions. The C++ crowd are a pretty tough crowd and it would have been closed quick-smart if they thought it was a bad question.

Just chalk it up as a learning experience and hope you don't fail another audit :)

  • Then I must have misinterpreted dozens / hundreds of comments from high-rep users. I was under the impression part of attempting to solve a problem oneself involves at least making some vague attempt to look on the internet (i.e. Google) for an answer. Jul 9, 2013 at 13:38
  • @Dukeling its probably a good thing, but I believe the idea is for SO to end up the repositry of all on topic information. Banning a question because some other site has a go at answering it would be in conflict with this mission Jul 9, 2013 at 13:42
  • Of course thats seperate from I have this program ive written, but it doesnt work, fix it for me Jul 9, 2013 at 13:44
  • @RichardTingle The problem is not so much "some other site ha[ving] a go at answering it". My problem is a few dozen / hundred other sites having a go at answering it, and all of them very easy to find. Jul 9, 2013 at 13:53
  • @Dukeling are any of them stack overflow? The ubiquitous of the subject suggests its a significant question and it was a major oversight that it was not yet answered on SO. Thankfully this situation has now been remedied Jul 9, 2013 at 13:57
  • @RichardTingle I didn't see one (though I didn't look particularly long), but that's not my point. As stated above, I was under the impression research should be part of a good question. Jul 9, 2013 at 14:03
  • @dukeling Ive not looked at all so it may well be a duplicate (in which case I retract everything) but assuming it isnt; I agree research is important but if its a simple question that can mean being super clear about what the question is. If its a complicated question requiring a complex answer then the independant research requirement is higher Jul 9, 2013 at 14:10
  • Seems to me the user did attempt to solve the problem - outputting the array's pointer location. That's more than most questions get...
    – Joe
    Jul 9, 2013 at 16:02

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