My question is related to that one, starting with:

I had a question of the form "does something like X exist?"

Except I'm wondering, as a potential replier, not the poster: can we say no, if yes, when and how to do it?

I searched all the Internet for what the OP asked for, just like if it was for myself, and found nothing: would this allow me to say no, X does not exist?

Would my answer deserve to be accepted, if yes, would it be the same if the question was bountied?


  • should we refrain from replying unless we have a positive answer?
  • should valid answers either point to a pre-existing or own implementation of X?
  • should then questions be reformulated from does X exist to how to do X ?
  • 8
    Would my answer deserve to be accepted that is not for us to decide.
    – rene
    Jul 29 at 17:17
  • 6
    If something doesn't exist or isn't possible today, you could add at the time of posting or similar wording while you provide background on what basis you reach that conclusion. That would be a valid answer today and probably in the next 6 to 8 weeks. Any answer is eligible for being accepted or receive a bounty. The correct and well researched answers have a higher chance to receive that vote.
    – rene
    Jul 29 at 17:21

1 Answer 1


I searched all the Internet for what the OP asked for, just like if it was for myself, and found nothing

Unlike common belief, the internet does not hold the whole human knowledge. There are still some things that people might know, and isn't available anywhere on the internet. One example I can think of, is question about some programming library, which only its creator knows how to answer. And there are quite a few such people answering questions on Stack Overflow so the chance is there.

So, unless you can prove that X really does not exist, saying "X does not exist" would be just a guess, as good as any other.

Would my answer deserve to be accepted

That is not a valid question. There is no such thing as answer that "deserves" to be accepted. It's up to the original poster of the question, and up to them alone.

would it be the same if the question was bountied

No, that's totally not relevant and something else. Actually I'm not 100% sure what you ask in this sentence so if you will clarify I'll edit with better answer.

  • 1
    Now I'm wondering, can non-existence be proven ? Regarding bounties, I meant that an OP who puts one to their question, may not like to reward a negative answer to "does X exist?", but everything you said makes sense, do I don't think I need clarification. Thanks
    – KaKi87
    Jul 29 at 18:31
  • 1
    Hold up ... the internet doesn't contain the whole of human knowledge? So, Marilyn Vos Savant, then?
    – Aaron
    Jul 29 at 20:58
  • Saying something is not possible also ignores time as a factor. Keeping with the Stack Overflow example, something might not be possible when the question was asked today (hypothetical version 1.0.0), but in a couple years the newest version (hypothetical version 2.4.1) does support the feature/behaviour/task. We frequently get questions with no answers for years receive new answers like "this is now possible as of version X". Jul 30 at 2:36
  • @KaKi87 I mean proven within reasonable limits, e.g. finding official source saying "this is not possible". Of course the source can be wrong too, but that's the best one can do. As for bounty, it's the same as accepting: up to the one who starts the bounty to decide who will get it. (There's a catch here with auto-awarding) Jul 30 at 11:09
  • @Aaron I need to Google that, and afraid I won't find, so I'll just assume it's funny! :-D Jul 30 at 11:10
  • @HenryEcker "It's not currently possible" then. Adding that word should resolve the issue. :) Jul 30 at 11:11
  • @HenryEcker all answers that are posted are expected to be accurate as of the posting time. There are also many questions that were asked and answered, only for later on another approach show up as "the correct one". A new feature might be introduced that more directly solves a problem. Old features can also be phased out which makes some old approaches unfeasible. There is not real problem with answering "This is not possible". If we avoid it because it might be possible in the future, should we also avoid answering with existing approaches if they also might not be relevant? I'd say no
    – VLAZ
    Jul 30 at 12:59
  • I was only saying that posting a "this is not possible" answer is one of the most brittle answers that can be given. Not only does it not make progress towards a resolution, but it is also likely to become incorrect. "this is a workaround" or "this is as close as you can get right now" or "you can't do X but Y might give similar result" are different categories of answers which I think are highly useful but not what I was speaking to in my comment. @VLAZ Jul 30 at 13:12
  • 1
    @HenryEcker I'd consider the non-existence of something to be useful information right now. If I'm searching for whether something is possible, having no answer is worse. And I may not have the luxury of waiting for a year or two for something to be possible. Moreover, in a year or two when something is possible, I might still be using an older version of a technology for which "It is not possible" is the only answer. I do not think a workaround/alternative is required. Nor do I think answering with "It is not possible" should be discouraged when that is a correct answer.
    – VLAZ
    Jul 30 at 13:20

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