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I asked a question that involved a system that has now been wiped, as troubleshooting was taking too long, so no further answers can contribute to the question, as it was specific to that system. That said, there were a lot of good answers, and so it could help someone else should they search come across a similar issue.

EDIT: Here's the question I asked: Dell M6600: "No internet access", can browse internet, can remote into it, cannot activate office 2013, cannot join domain

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    May we have a link to the question? (Most people on Meta are either mods or have 10,000+ rep, so even if it's been deleted we'd be able to see it.) I could go through your profile and look for it, but I'm lazy and you should make it easier for me :-) – voretaq7 Dec 5 '14 at 17:47
  • I completely understand. Question link added. – austinian Dec 5 '14 at 18:03
  • I endorse Ward's answer... self answer with the fact that you gave up and reimaged the thing in the end. I know I've done that myself with at least one question, so you'd be in good company. – HopelessN00b Dec 5 '14 at 20:06
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Generally we close questions that are no longer answerable. If they provide no value, they can expect to be deleted as well, but that doesn't sound like the case here.

A closed question can continue to provide value, without wasting anyone's time trying to answer the unanswerable - there's nothing necessarily wrong with having a closed question.

  • What would be cited as the reason for closure? What action should the author of the question take to get to that state? – 200_success Dec 5 '14 at 16:44
  • @200_success Not sure what you're looking for here... isn't "question is unanswerable" a good reason to stop accepting more answers to a question? I'm pretty sure there's a more ... directly on point meta thread about this that I can't locate, but here's an older one which suggests deletion or locking. Of course, if the question and answers still provide value, despite being unresolvable, closure is the better option in my opinion. – HopelessN00b Dec 5 '14 at 17:10
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    meta.serverfault.com/questions/6595/… is also relevant here – Iain Dec 5 '14 at 17:25
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    I've filed a feature request to Meta Stack Exchange. – 200_success Dec 5 '14 at 19:57
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    @200_success 4 minutes and 2 downvotes. That's mSE for you. Don't take it too hard, though. I hear that some among us say that mSE is where good ideas go to die, so you're in good company, at least. – HopelessN00b Dec 5 '14 at 20:01
  • @HopelessN00b Downvotes are fine. That's why I took care to separate the question (which raises awareness of the issue) from the proposal (which is just one idea for handling it). Hopefully someone will come up with a better proposal. – 200_success Dec 5 '14 at 20:03
  • I've already added a flag asking for the question to be closed, cause I felt the same way about the uselessness of an "answer: wiped" for pretty much the reason in the link @Iain commented. – austinian Dec 5 '14 at 20:56
  • @austinian Done. Next time, you should probably flag for mod attention. Flagging for close just puts it in the close vote queue. – HopelessN00b Dec 5 '14 at 21:48
  • @HopelessN00b That's the third option, the one where you leave an explanation, right? I think that's the one I chose. – austinian Dec 5 '14 at 22:24
  • @austinian For me it's 5th: other (needs ♦ moderator attention) This question needs a moderator's attention. Please describe exactly what's wrong. – HopelessN00b Dec 5 '14 at 23:46
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I think the question and answers are useful, so it's certainly worth keeping around.

You could simply post a short answer yourself that says: We did a bunch of troubleshooting, including many of the suggestions here, but in the end we wiped the machine and started over and the problem went away.

Mark that as the accepted answer and people will know the final outcome and just leave it.

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    Sorry but ' I reinstalled the system' isn't really an acceptable sysadmin answer - home user perhaps – Iain Dec 5 '14 at 21:00
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    @Iain Well, sometimes it is the answer. I can't even remember how many times I've had to tell the helldesk guys "if you can't fix it in an hour, reimage," so it is an acceptable sysadmin answer/last resort in cases where the troubleshooting and/or fix is just not worth the effort. – HopelessN00b Dec 5 '14 at 21:03
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    No - it's what happened, it's not an answer to the question. – Iain Dec 5 '14 at 21:04
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    Sometimes the professional thing to do is to reformat and reinstall. If there are external factors; deadlines, budget concerns, availability issues... A good engineer knows when to cut their losses and stop the troubleshooting process. The customer often times doesn't care how you arrive at a solution, but rather that it is delivered on-time and on-budget. – ewwhite Dec 7 '14 at 18:06

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