I'm not suggesting there are any currently on the site (there may be, may be not), but it occurs to me that there's the distinct possibility.

On StackOverflow, as example, an unanswerable question would have to be a question where the posting user essentially lied about the actual results. On StackOverflow, your code isn't producing the correct results, so the answer is whatever change needs to be made to your code to produce the correct results. You can't possibly post an on-topic question that is unanswerable.

The story is different here though.

Here, a requirement for being on-topic is that the code actually work. And the question you ask is "Can my code be better?"

Is "No, I don't see any way to improve this code." an acceptable on-topic answer? I don't think that's very helpful to the site or to the person posting the question--particularly because generally speaking, anyone using this website is likely always writing the best code they can... but similarly, anyone using this site is unlikely to think they know all of the best ways of doing something.

Is it helpful to post an answer along the lines of:

"I think this code is good and I wouldn't make any changes to here. Here are the things I think you did particularly well and why I think these are the best written parts of the code"?

This answer says almost the same thing as "No, I don't see a way of improving the code," but at least affirms that some particularly parts of it were certainly good in the eyes of one answerer.


2 Answers 2


I had (some form of) this discussion with Simon in chat. I also think that enumerating all good things does not add value over saying: Everything is good for the OP.

However, SE has also always been about the answer being helpful to others (though CR has another weighting on that I believe). So it might be beneficial to others to state why it was a good decision to do it this or that way.

To sum this up:

Yes there might be unanswerable questions in the sense of not being able to answer much more than "you have done well" but then again there is the possibility to gain more value from them than just answering the OP.


An unanswerable question is something very subjective. I will be able to provide a much better code review than my cat, but someone like Eric Lippert will blow any review I give about C# out of the water (fine, all other languages as well).

If you determine that you can't find anything, you should refrain from posting since it essentially doesn't add anything. A comment would be fine though, even if just to let the author know that there has been put some thought into reviewing his code.

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    \$\begingroup\$ If you can't find anything to say, then obviously don't reply. However, remember that it's also possible to find something good to say about the code. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 11, 2014 at 16:28
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    \$\begingroup\$ I understand your point. But flawless code isn't inherently off-topic at code review. I wouldn't know how to begin defining flawless code, and I don't know whether it's possible to write flawless code even... but if it existed, it wouldn't be off-topic for posting here. In this respect, CR is very different from all the other SE sites I know of. \$\endgroup\$
    – nhgrif
    Commented Apr 11, 2014 at 21:51

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