I saw this answer. It's may be funny, but it's not programming related answer, so it's not fit to SO. I flagged it as not an answer, and a moderator declined it. So I think the moderator thinks this is a programming related answer. How can we consider it as a programming related (tools, code, algorithm, ....) answer?

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    As one of the comments rightfully says, it's as much of an answer as the question deserves. – Frédéric Hamidi Aug 22 '13 at 14:43
  • It reminds me of this discussion. – FalconC Aug 22 '13 at 14:44
  • @FrédéricHamidi, I read all of the comments, but really I cannot see the point, if you think question is not programming related, or .... please provide your opinion as an answer and explain it. – Saeed Aug 22 '13 at 14:45
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    To some extent, if you're asking "how can I test for certain values of problem X", then "You don't need to, these are the values" is an acceptable answer. – Bart Aug 22 '13 at 14:47
  • @Saeed, that's an old question, and the rules were more lax then. Indeed, if that question was asked today, it would probably be taken out and shot. – Frédéric Hamidi Aug 22 '13 at 14:47
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    @FrédéricHamidi, I'm not totally agree with you, question is actually two egg problem which is a famous interview question. By the way I flag it recently, we work with our new rules, what do you think? I mean if question should be kick out, we should do it. – Saeed Aug 22 '13 at 14:48
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    The entire question sounds like a joke, so I would just leave it. – Cole Johnson Aug 22 '13 at 14:49
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    It's a similar situation as the sock sorting question.... – Bart Aug 22 '13 at 14:49
  • @Saeed, we usually leave these questions alone, since they predate the changes in rules (sometimes we lock them and mark them as having "historical significance"). I don't think getting back and closing/deleting all these questions achieves very much. – Frédéric Hamidi Aug 22 '13 at 14:50
  • @FrédéricHamidi but how do we decide who's buying the croissants? – Cole Johnson Aug 22 '13 at 14:51
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    You are @ColeJohnson. There, settled. – Bart Aug 22 '13 at 14:52
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    @Saeed I know. But in cases like these where the (old) question is somewhat humorous, the answers to an extent are as well, but they hold some interesting information, I'd certainly not vote to delete it. Vote on it as you wish, otherwise leave it alone. – Bart Aug 22 '13 at 14:54
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    @Saeed: you did the right thing, but people complain about old content going away. Even if it is horrible. – user7116 Aug 22 '13 at 14:58
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    @ Saeed: It is is infact a good answer! it describes a part of the algorithm. This should not be deleted at all. – S Nash – S Nash Aug 22 '13 at 15:48
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    @SNash: SO is not a forum. Answers do not clarify questions. You edit or comment to clarify a question. – user7116 Aug 22 '13 at 16:28

When you flag something as not being an answer, you're asking us to unilaterally delete content posted by someone else. I tend to have a fairly high bar for that.

If someone is making an attempt to address the question, or at least a part of it, in their answer, I'm not going to delete it. While votes aren't the sole metric for whether something is appropriate here, the fact that the answer has a lot of votes for it also helps push the needle into "don't delete" territory.

In this case, while the information they presented was not programming related, it did address part of the question and provided new information. I saw no harm in letting it stay, so I declined that flag and didn't delete it.

There are plenty of questions here for which a viable answer could have a non-programming-related component. I was just reading one the other day about stereoscopic 3-D, where one of the best answers was a discussion of optics and how the eye perceives objects. There was no code involved in any of that, yet it was still useful information.

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    It is at best a solid comment since it makes no attempt to provide a meaningful answer for the scope of SO. Not that it really matters as the question is from 2k10 and a dupe of a question from 2k8. – user7116 Aug 22 '13 at 15:02
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    Yes, user7116 is right, you can move it to the comments. Even for a historical reason is good. – Saeed Aug 22 '13 at 15:08
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    @ Saeed: It is is infact a good answer! it describes a part of the algorithm. This should not be deleted at all. – S Nash Aug 22 '13 at 15:47
  • It's very nice if you explain how "it did address part of the question and provided new information"?, which is my original question. – Saeed Aug 22 '13 at 16:16
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    @Saeed - Part of the question: "How can you figure out the longest drop that the cat can survive", the answer: "a cat reaches terminal velocity by the 9th floor. After that, it relaxes and is less likely to be hurt. There are completely uninjured cats after a fall from above the 30th. The riskiest floors are 5th to 9th." That contains new information, which does address that part of the question, if maybe not in the way it was originally intended. I don't see how deleting it improves the site, so I think it's fine to let it be. – Brad Larson Aug 22 '13 at 17:45
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    If you interpret the question in this way, in my humble opinion you should also close the question. Because question is not programming erlated (by your interpretation), but it's clear that OP didn't ask about surviving the cat, there are lots of question that can be interpreted in other aspects, then in that cases, you should also allow funny guys to do their work. All in all, as user7116 point it out, this could be a comment, attempting to answer in a funny way is not an answer at all. – Saeed Aug 22 '13 at 21:07

I flagged it as not an answer, and a moderator declined it. So I think the moderator thinks this is a programming related answer.

You only flagged it as not an answer, not "not a programming answer." There's no reason to think that the moderator who declined your flag thinks this is a programming related answer. It's not, but it is still an answer to the question.

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    I flag it as not an answer not "not a programming answer", because there is no "not a programming answer" and I thought that, it's clear what is an answer and what is not an answer at SO, so I didn't mention it explicitely. – Saeed Aug 22 '13 at 14:54
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    @Saeed: What do you mean by not a programming answer? discussing the related algorithm logic is part of the programming world. Programing is not limted to lines of code... – S Nash Aug 22 '13 at 15:52
  • @SNash, In my parenthesis for programming related stuff I leave it open to see what is programming related, and actually I like to know in which sense is programming related. In the case of logic, I can say that answer is totally irrelevant to the logic of question. – Saeed Aug 22 '13 at 16:07
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    @Saeed while this is an extreme example, by assuming that "Not an Answer" means "Not a programming answer", you are placing moderators in the position of making a technical evaluation of the post. That is not their job. If the post attempts to answer the question, it is an answer. If you don't think it is a good answer, then downvote to your hearts content (but only once per post please :-)) – psubsee2003 Aug 22 '13 at 17:59

I think this is a good example of the trouble with using analogies amongst programmers, and engineers. There will always be at least one in the group who answers based solely on the given analogy and presents an issue that only occurs in that analogy.

The question is really about making an efficient algorithm for purposes other than exterminating cats, at least I hope that this is the case, but because cats are used in the analogy someone will inevitably get hung up on the specific use case and answer based on that.

This reminds me of my brother, an electrical engineer, who got into an in depth debate with his coworkers about the most efficient voltage and amperage to use for vaporizing chipmunks... It ended badly when it entered the testing phase.

  • And yet you're now putting a moderator in the position of judging whether the OP is making an analogy in order to get at a related problem, or if the stated problem really is what they wanted to solve. I could just as easily say that the answer that assumes the use of eggs instead of cats is changing the problem, and thus not answering the question that is asked. Now, a reader is certainly free to judge if the answer mis-interprets what's important and not important in the answer, and to downvote an answer that misses the spirit of the question. But having a mod judge it and delete it... – Servy Aug 22 '13 at 15:59
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    @servy whoa whoa whoa, slow down there I'm not saying that the mods should delete anything. I think the answer is just fine as it does, in its own way, address the question. Just noting that this sort of thing is known to happen when questions are worded as analogies. – apaul Aug 22 '13 at 16:04
  • Fair enough then. – Servy Aug 22 '13 at 16:05

This answer was stating that an assumption made within the question itself is invalid, and as a result of that invalid assumption the problem cannot be solved given the constraint specified.

The question stated that if a cat dies from a fall at floor N, it will also die if it was instead thrown from any floor above it.

An answer that states that a question cannot be answered, due to an invalid assumption, is an answer to the question, by the same logic that giving an answer that "this is impossible, there is no solution" is also an answer (if you explain why and show that there is no solution).

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    Sounds like a comment on the question which would direct the OP to clarify that they're dealing with theoretical cats...or marbles. – user7116 Aug 22 '13 at 15:02
  • 2 egg problem is a very famous problem, and sure there is no egg in the world such that you drop it from the 10th floor doesn't break. this assumptions are part of a problem definition, cat could be replaced by dog, is not important at all. – Saeed Aug 22 '13 at 15:04
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    @Saeed That the assumption is or isn't important to the solving of the problem is a decision made on the technical merits of the question, something that moderators shouldn't be doing. It shouldn't be up to them to judge whether the answer's reasoning for why the question can't be answered is correct. If you feel that the answer's logic doesn't correctly invalidate the question that would be a reason to downvote it. – Servy Aug 22 '13 at 15:07
  • Actually I'm pretty sure answer is not fit to the SO, so I flag it (moderator don't need to look at the question at all). if it was comment I was going to upvote it. but It shouldn't be as an answer in SO at all. Still moderator can move it to the comments. – Saeed Aug 22 '13 at 15:10
  • @Saeed So the reason that it's not an answer is that it's not an answer. Sorry, but that's pretty much the epitome of a circular argument. I have given a reason for why this post is an attempt to answer the question, and being an attempt to answer the question, shouldn't be deleted or converted to a comment by a moderator. – Servy Aug 22 '13 at 15:13
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    I think you didn't read my question carefully otherwise I wasn't force to repeat my reasoning here (I just copy part of my question): "How can we consider it as a programming related (tools, code, algorithm, ....) answer". And on the other hand non programming related answer are not welcome in SO, are they? – Saeed Aug 22 '13 at 15:16
  • @Saeed The question is programming related, and is thus on topic. Only questions are evaluated for whether or not they are programming related. The answer answers the question. That it does so without programming anything isn't really relevant. It is perfectly fine to solve a programming problem with a non-programming solution. To give a simple example, one could answer a question asking, "How do I do X" with, "Use library Z; it does X". That's not a programming solution, it's a shopping solution. Addressing the business context for the problem and finding a non-programming answer is fine. – Servy Aug 22 '13 at 15:21
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    I'm not agree with you. In SO we are expecting programming related questions and answers. – Saeed Aug 22 '13 at 15:36
  • @Saeed There are lot and lots of answers on SO that involve non-programming solutions to the given problems. Clearly your expectation is not in line with the communities. – Servy Aug 22 '13 at 15:39
  • Would you provide some of them? 2-3 are enough. I'll flag all funny answers to the real questions, and may be this discussion is to make it clear, what is an answer for us? Or I'll write another question to cover what are not discussed before (I assume that this is not discussed before because it was obvious). – Saeed Aug 22 '13 at 15:44
  • @Saeed Just looking through a handful of questions: 1, 2. – Servy Aug 22 '13 at 15:55
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    In my opinion both of them are programming related, first one is tool (for bulk import or ...), second one is tools+algorithm. But if you find really not programming related answers, I'd be happy to gather them to make a new general question. P.S: and as you see in my question in this post, I asked how moderator supposed is programming related. – Saeed Aug 22 '13 at 16:00
  • @Saeed They are both non-programming solutions to the problems. Entirely non-programming. A tool for bulk importing of data is not a programming tool. It's a tool that can be used instead of programming, but that doesn't make it a programming tool. For the second, only the last answer is a programming solution. Neither of the other options are programming tools in any way. In fact, they were specifically designed to be used by non-programmers. I know because it's a tool I work with every single day in my day job, and I need to work with lots of non-programmers using those tools. – Servy Aug 22 '13 at 16:02
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    No. I'm Totally disagree with you (It's programming related). Anyway this is your opinion, may be you are right, you can flag them or leave them. – Saeed Aug 22 '13 at 16:09
  • @Saeed And the moderators are telling you that they will decline such flags, specifically because non-programming solutions to programming problems are entirely valid. You're just wasting your own time flagging them. – Servy Aug 22 '13 at 16:10

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