I have a question https://softwareengineering.stackexchange.com/questions/167508/what-are-the-real-world-practical-problems-where-only-the-best-exact-solution
As few people pointed out the bolded question can be misleading. I wrote the Update trying to clarify what I mean by statement (but not the good-enough solution).

But there are still no answers to the question itself. Is it because my formulation is not clear? Or is the problem of a kind that does not have any answers?

1 Answer 1


You get no answers because it's a shopping list question, it has many answers all equally correct and no one can give a complete answer.

Questions of this nature do not fit well with the Q&A format, and as such I think people likely aren't bothering to answer knowing they could come up with many answers without ever giving you the entire answer, and thus never giving you the correct answer.

Think about it like this: "What are the real-world grocery stores"

"Safeway" is incomplete and thus incorrect, as is any other answer or selection of answers, the correct answer is unknowably long and therefore no answer is worth giving.

The only possible way to make shopping list questions remotely answerable (and this is highly contested so not usually worth trying anyway) is to make them a question of "Does _ exist" rather than "What are all the _s". When you ask "Does _ exist" someone can give you a single provable example that it does, and that answer is correct. It's highly contested and usually not suggested though because multiple anecdotes can all be equally correct.

To put it bluntly, shopping list questions simply do not work well with the Q&A format of SE, and provide a minimum of quality content usable to the rest of the world. SE does not exist to provide participants answers, it exists to construct a vast body of knowledge for the larger internet community; you can imagine SE's goal like wikipedias, and in the same way SE is not for the participants any more than wikipedia is for the editors. SE's gamification is simply a trick played on those of us who can't help but answer questions, the cake is a lie.

So in the future when asking a question, imagine if it could be answered in such a way as to provide valuable, comprehensive, high-quality content for the internet at large. Try to structure your questions with this goal and you will get nothing but the best answers while making the internet a better place

  • 1
    '...real questions have answers, not items or ideas or opinions... "Real questions" don't necessarily have practical answers, but they do have authoritative ones...' (quote source at MSO)
    – gnat
    Commented Jun 19, 2013 at 15:38
  • Thank you Jimmy! I was more concentrated on the question so did not think about what answer do I expect nor how answerable it is. It turns out I ask a lot of qestions in a shopping list form and so some special moderation flag instead of "having question closed - request for reopen" workflow would be helpful for the guys like me. Just a thought.
    – Mike
    Commented Jun 19, 2013 at 18:11

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