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I noticed an answer someone posted to their own question and then accepted, that literally concluded "I gave up on this question". Surely this is not a valid answer. Right? I wouldn't bother asking, except that there is another answer that actually attempted to answer the question.

The entire content of the answer:

After some more trial and error and plenty of frustration I gave up on this question. I have a feeling that my originally intended design might have been suboptimal, so I simply pursued a different route.

The only infinitesimal bit of substance is the part where the OP concludes that the design might have been suboptimal. First of all, that is not a definitive answer ("have a feeling", "might have been"?). And assuming his suspicions were correct and it were difficult or impossible to do what he asked, why is it suboptimal? What is a better way?

Wouldn't the OP and the whole community have been been better off had the question simply been deleted, or maybe the competing answer acknowledged for attempting to address the question?

UPDATE: At least according to a few 20K+ users, it's not a valid answer (deleted).

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  • There is a nearly unlimited time that a programmer will spend on finding a solution to the wrong problem. For some truly bizarre reason, reaching that conclusion is not considered useful. So programmers are doomed to spend that massive amount of time to hit that wall over and over again. SO cannot stop that, it wasn't made for it. It can only solve 10 minute problems. Mar 27, 2014 at 23:48
  • @Uphill It's pretty useful for the answerer, it just isn't a useful answer, and serves little purpose for us to know. Mar 27, 2014 at 23:49
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    @UphillLuge Then I'd suggest that he share how he reached that conclusion.
    – chappjc
    Mar 27, 2014 at 23:50
  • 1
    Problem solved...Deleted!
    – codeMagic
    Mar 28, 2014 at 0:30

2 Answers 2

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No, this isn't a valid answer. Answers are expected to directly respond to the question as asked and provide a solution, and "I'm giving up on this" is not a solution. Answers are not for commentary or discussion, and this falls into that ballpark.

That answer should either be a comment on the question or not exist at all. It only serves a limited purpose to know the answer has given up.

I've flagged it for moderator attention and suggested it be converted into a comment.

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It's a rather bad answer, and not really a valid answer either, but it will sink below the other answer anyway as we all downvote it. So no real harm is done to the community, the system prevails. Besides, we can flag it, though personally I wouldn't: it does provides some minimal information to people stumbling upon the question, and I feel it kind of violates the asker's right to accept whatever answer he deems useful. I think self-answers kind of deserve a special treatment (barring spam or vandalism of course).

Deleting the question would be a really bad idea: the lack of a good answer doesn't make the question a bad one (okay, it doesn't seem like a really awesome question to begin with, but that's beside the point).

And, above all, the asker has all rights to accept whichever answer he likes the most, whichever was most useful to them, totally subjectively, and we can't interfere with that decision -- that's one of the main tenets of the site, and a pretty good one. The competing answer may be duly acknowledged by upvoting it.

And again, no real harm was done, except the fact the guy got the self-learner badge, and I can live with that.

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