10

I don't know how better to phrase this, so here are a few examples:

Basically, these are questions for which there is no answer that will satisfy the requirements of the asker. So should we...

  1. Answer "No. There is no existing solution to do that. Have a nice day."
  2. Flag as Not Constructive.
  3. Leave the question be in hopes that future developments will allow a proper answer, or some guru will emerge with an unlikely perfect-match solution (eg "Yes, use UbuntuDerivativeFoo with KioskMaker iTunes edition.")
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  • 3
    I tried to save the rolling release one with a title edit. – Jorge Castro Jan 23 '12 at 17:12
  • 6
    I'd basically advocate commenting "there is no solution,have a nice day". But this often leads to discussion-type answers on the question, which have to be flagged and deleted / moved to comments. Good question! – Stefano Palazzo Jan 23 '12 at 17:15
  • Is there any way we can push these unanswerable questions out of our Unanswered section though? – Jjed Jan 27 '12 at 1:16
  • Unless the topic is way too localized, usually there is a next-best answer that can be offered by experienced/super users who possess knowledge in that particular domain. Some of these questions could possibly be answered for windows due to the huge amount of custom software available. – prusswan Feb 8 '12 at 8:06
3

Discounting the occasional "maybe", there are two possible answers to a question like that :

  1. Yes, you can.
  2. No, you can't.

The former can be made better by also asking the implied "how?".

The latter... Well, there is nothing inherently wrong with answering "Nope, sorry, you can't." That's the bare minimum that would answer a question. To make it better, you could go into some detail on why or propose alternative solutions if the asker gave enough background that you can determine what they're actually trying to do instead of having to just work with the solution they decided they need.

That actually would create a fourth approach to the three you suggested: clarify in comments that the ultimate goal is, if needed, and answer to solve that problem instead, optionally editing the question to be about that instead.

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1

My solution in the past to questions like this has almost always been #1. This works very well for us, because then it covers the future developments issue in #3:- if we get a solution in the future, we simply edit the answer.

That way, you avoid having to close the question (which can often be a turn off to users), and still manage to produce something useful going forward.

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