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As we all know several times a day we are asked here on web-apps,

Is it possible to perform X action on Y web app

The answers usually tend to be yes it's possible and an explanation. But in some cases like Is it possible to add icons to individual reports in a report module in CommCare? the answer is a straight up no this doesn't exist. In these cases do we consider the simple word "No" as sufficient answer even if it may be the correct one?

I personally tend to comment the "No it doesn't exist" instead of post it as an answer? But does this actually help anyone? Should we leave these questions unanswered? Should we close them since they can't help anyone else?

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Yes, a "this is not possible at this time" answer is perfectly acceptable.

You should back it up with why it's not possible - quoting and linking to the relevant section of the help (if there is any) for example.

Adding a workaround would be a bonus, but not essential.

Of course, you should be prepared to have your answer downvoted at a later date should it (what ever "it" is) become possible.

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To respond specifically to "does this [answering "not possible"] actually help anyone?"

Absolutely. When trying (and failing) to do something in new software/apps, one of the hardest things is figuring out whether the problem is that the software cannot do what I want, or whether I just don't understand how to use the software correctly/as the designers intended.

In such cases, an answer such as "No, it is not possible because..." is extremely helpful.

  • FYI, this type of question is not welcome on Stack Overflow, so some SE users may be hesitant to ask that here. I think it's a good type of question though. – YetAnotherRandomUser May 25 '17 at 13:00
  • @pnuts: The question "Is x possible?" is not welcome on stack overflow. Therefore, you'll probably get banned before you even understand why you got banned, and there's not really much coming back from a ban. The details of the automatic ban are kept super-secret, so people hazard guesses about how to fix it, and you may or may not be able to fix it. Although, to be fair, if you post on Stack Overflow, you'll probably get banned for one reason or another, so it's not just this type of question that will cause you problems there. @ pnuts Is that enough context to understand my comment? – YetAnotherRandomUser Jun 5 '17 at 20:48
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The answers usually tend to be yes it's possible and an explanation. But in some cases like Is it possible to add icons to individual reports in a report module in CommCare? the answer is a straight up no this doesn't exist. In these cases do we consider the simple word "No" as sufficient answer even if it may be the correct one?

Technically, the word "no" can't be the sufficient answer because it's length is less than the minimum length required for an answer, even it can't be posted as a comment for the same reason, but it's a sufficient answer if we were the web app developers or someone with the corresponding authority, but if we aren't, then we should provide how do we figured out that "no" is the answer. This it's very helpful because the asker and others that could have the same question could stop researching about this and make informed decisions.

The verbose version of "no" answers, "It's not possible at this time", don't get many upvotes, but this should not stop us to answer this kind of questions, I think, but those that provide good workarounds or alternatives usually are very good received.

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