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Looking at this answer which essentially says "No, there is not an app" but got comments saying "You know for a fact there are no coding games for Android?" implying that to answer "No" you must provide proof that none of the 200K android apps meet your needs.

Compared to this question which has no answers, but a comment that says "I've also looked and have not seen anything available at the moment.". That comment is logically an answer, but it is an answer that says "No" and was posted by a mod.

Is there a preferred way to answer "No" to "Is there an App that does ABC?"?

  • While it might be better to not have answers instead of a "no", there's no way to tell if a question is simply neglected or if people have looked and failed. – ale Feb 8 '11 at 19:41
  • Keep in mind that, strictly speaking, "Is there an app for X?" is offtopic. Better to say "How can I do X?" and you may get an app as an answer. – Matthew Read Mar 10 '11 at 15:43
  • @MatthewRead I think that should be made explicit on the faq page. – Alex B Mar 10 '11 at 16:36
  • I agree. That should be done when we're out of beta, much like Gaming has "Can I ask for shopping recommendations?" in their FAQ. – Matthew Read Mar 10 '11 at 17:07
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Often you can find other sources (even if just forum posts, etc) supporting the assertion that no app for ABC exists or, better still, posts explaining why it is not (currently) possible if there is some technical block to having such an app.

Where you can cite this kind of supporting evidence, I would think you are better placed to provide a genuine answer.

Without any supporting evidence, where the answer really is just "I can't find one", then my preference would be for a comment.

  • 3
    I agree. A universal negative cannot be proved ;) – Matthew Read Feb 8 '11 at 18:35
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Another take: Stack Exchange is focused on having answers that are relevant long-term. A "No" is only relevant until someone make an app, whereas a "Yes, X" is always relevant because even if the app is removed from the Market, there's a timestamp on the answer.

A "No" also doesn't help the user with their problem, unless their problem is "I can't stop searching unless told not to" :P

  • 3
    That's a good point. I still think that especially where the current unavailability can be attributed to a specific technical limitation then that's a solid answer. Whilst that might change in future, at least the answer can be given with the context, e.g. "not possible in Froyo because...". Hard for answers to be totally future proof, especially with the rate of development on Android :) – FoleyIsGood Feb 8 '11 at 19:13
  • Absolutely. A reason makes everything better. – Matthew Read Feb 8 '11 at 20:57
  • I disagree, some users always have to keep asking questions to which most of us instinctively know there is no solution. They should know that they're pushing the boundaries too far and it's not possible unless they hack it together themselves – Ivo Flipse Feb 9 '11 at 11:44
  • @Ivo I don't think we're in a position to judge what someone else should know. If the question is inappropriate, it should be closed. If the user is truly abusive, they should be banned. – Matthew Read Feb 9 '11 at 17:17
  • I think that after seeing a couple thousand of questions, you get a pretty good sense for BS-detection. The problem with those questions is that they look like real questions, but constantly fail to get answered, because there aren't any! Either way, I'm sure it's being handled fine as it is right now – Ivo Flipse Feb 9 '11 at 17:24
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Better to say "not at this time" or "not that I have found".

Because there very well might not be an app that does what the asker wants.

Maybe no one has built it. Maybe it's just not possible with the state of the OS and hardware. At least, as it currently exists.

It would be better if askers described what problem they're trying to solve rather than asking for an app. There might be solutions they haven't considered.


This shows up one of the problems with shopping recommendations. Personally, I have come around to thinking that "I need an app that does X, Y, or Z" should be closed as off-topic, while a better question would be "How can I do X, Y and Z".

I mean, unless I have actually used an app that does exactly what they're asking for, in order to answer their question I'm just going to the Market and searching on some of their keywords. They can do that. Instead of crafting their own good search, they've finagled me into doing it for them. This site is about helping Android Enthusiasts use their devices, not helping people learn to search.

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    Agree, you can't ever say a definitive no when what you mean is "Not yet" or "Not that I can find" – GAThrawn Feb 9 '11 at 13:56
  • I think that "none that I have found" cannot be accepted as an anwser, exactly like "I don't know". Also Stackexchange aims at building long term knowledge base, so "Not at this time" is not acceptable either. – rds Nov 25 '11 at 15:40
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It would be more accurate to say "None that I know of", because there can perfectly be one, including a private one.

Also Stackexchange aims at being a knowledge base, with long term questions and long term valid answers. A "No" or "Not at this time" is not a long term answer.

But actually the question itself is poorly written. It should be "What application does ...", having no answer until such an application exists.

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