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I am of the opinion that there is no (unique) answer to the question below. Essentially, the PO asks what the last person in a roll-call says. Clearly, many answers could be given, all depending on the experience of the answerer. Indeed, it is also possible to imagine that many roll-calls end with silence.

My own view is that any answer is a matter of opinion and that the question should therefore be closed. The question is of the sort that assumes there is a conventional usage for everything: there is not.

It has been reasonably argued that "There is no answer" would have been a suitable answer to the question rather than voting for closure on the grounds of "opinion". To make such a categorical assertion seems presumptuous, because I don't know everything so can hardly say for certain there is no answer. I would welcome views on this issue.

The word said by a student to denote the end of countdown in a PE class

There is a similar question to this in meta, but it is about about one word answers.

3 Answers 3

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"There is no answer" (or "no such word" or "no such rule" or whatever) is an acceptable answer to a question where that is, in fact, the answer. As you say, this is rebuttable; such an answer can be wrong.

It doesn't apply where there is are many possible right answers to a question. In that case, there is an answer, and another, and another, all equally valid. Which of them is "correct" is a matter of opinion.

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    Concise and to the point. Reassuring.
    – Anton
    Aug 6 at 17:38
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"There is no answer" by itself is not a good answer, and it is not appropriate. You never know also. I've seen many cases here where people posted a correct/suitable answer (usually for questions); where someone else posted "There is no such word for this".

Note: It might serve better as a comment, possibly with a softer tone like "I don't believe there is a word for this concept." or "English orthography is a system of weak rules, or rather guidelines, with many exceptions and ambiguities."

If one really wants to post an answer as "There is no answer", it would be appropriate to write an explanation that supports the claim at least; and if applicable, alternative solutions. A good answer usually has details, and detailed answers are more acceptable. (not all the time but generally, depends on the question)

Additionally, you don't have to post an answer or a comment for an unclear question (or a question that doesn't meet the criteria of an acceptable question or a certain tag); and you can choose to close-vote.

Answer well-asked questions

Not all questions can or should be answered here. Save yourself some frustration and avoid trying to answer questions which...

  • ...are unclear or lacking specific details that can uniquely identify the problem.
  • ...solicit opinions rather than facts.
  • ...have already been asked and answered many times before.
  • ...require too much guidance for you to answer in full, or request answers to multiple questions.
  • ...are not about English language and usage as defined in the help center.

https://english.stackexchange.com/help/how-to-answer


Additional thoughts:

In many cases, mainly applies to questions, if a question makes someone think that there is no answer; the question probably did not meet the acceptable criteria. A good question with a clear example sentence would generally have a correct or suitable answer(s). There can be exceptions and not every concept has to have a single word. We can always ask or help to clarify the question as well. Of course, some questions can be too basic or too unclear that we can't or shouldn't salvage.

Final note: I've provided a general answer above to the question title: Is "There is no answer" an acceptable answer?. The question linked in the OP, The proper word to denote the end of a count-off in the line in a PE class , happens to be a rare case where it is about cultural differences; but there can still be an answer from different English speaking regions, dialects etc.; although the answer "There is no word" with explanation and details (the experience, the region etc.) is acceptable too. The question is about experiences and regional usage also.

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    +1 I would highlight the by itself is not a good answer (explain why when possible, since it's better to ask some of the questions than to know all the answers). Not to mention the importance of being civilized about it. We get some harsh "there's no such animal, just use normal English, everyone knows that's all wrong, you're a mess for asking, duh" answers on genuine q's. No reason to be impolite.
    – livresque
    Aug 6 at 5:18
  • I appreciate @Mari-Lou A 's recent comment on such an answer: "I agree that "none" is an answer, but without suggesting a standard English word as a better alternative I think "none" is better suited as a comment. I think also telling a learner their wording is an abomination is out of place, unhelpful and unnecessarily rude."
    – livresque
    Aug 6 at 5:26
  • Yes, the simple response "There is no answer" is pretty horrible even if a correct assessment, just like for any SWR saying "The word you're looking for is 'X'". An answer must give explanation/justification. There are many ways an answer can be poor. The point to this meta question whether a 'no answer' may be a correct answer -and- if the OP should be closed for that fact.
    – Mitch
    Aug 6 at 21:11
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The previously posted answer by ermanen probably captures well the practice of the majority of the regular contributors to this site. They are generally reluctant to post something like 'There is no answer' as an answer (although they may be willing to post it as a comment), even when they are confident that this is true, because they feel that such an answer would be too simple, too unsophisticated for this site. They would be embarrassed to receive reputation points for an answer that is so easy to make.

This practice may seem honourable and dignified, but it has a downside. Suppose that somebody posts a single-word-request for a word with some very definite, precise meaning. The knowledgeable people know that there is no such word, but, for the reasons outlined in the first paragraph, don't post that. So far, so good: as long as no answers are posted at all, their absence conveys that there is no word that the OP was seeking. The questions of this sort, however, usually don't remain entirely without answers. Somebody will, sooner or later post an answer suggesting a word that does not really fit the meaning that the OP wanted captured but is loosely related to it, somebody else will offer a very broad term that includes the OP's meaning but is not limited to it, somebody will create a new word and propose that it be used for the purpose. None of these answers, some of which may be upvoted, will be as good as 'There is no such word', which nobody will post.

Somebody who comes to that page in the future will then see that the question has a number of answers and may well be led to think that the most highly upvoted among them is the correct one. The practice of abstaining from posting no-answer answers thus misleads the future visitors to the page, which is at odds with the main purpose of this site.

One compromise that takes into account both the reasons for and the reasons against posting no-answer answers would be for the regular contributors to adopt the practice of posting wiki-answers saying something like 'There is no answer', whenever that seems to be the truth. Their being wiki-answers would show that those who post them are acting with proper modesty and respect for the standards of the site, and are not claiming any credit for such short, simple answers. The main purpose of these wiki-answers would be to provide a 'hook' for the upvotes by everyone else who is also confident that there is no answer. If it is true that there is no answer, then it is to be expected that this wiki-answer would be more highly voted than the not very good answers offered elsewhere on the page, and that would help to ensure that the future visitors are not misled by these other answers.

(What if, after that no-answer answer is posted, somebody proves that there is, in fact, an answer? In that case, the no-answer answer could be downvoted, and possibly deleted; again, its being a wiki-answer means that nobody's reputation would be affected.)

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    I am grateful for the careful consideration you and others have give to this question. It is full, reflective pragmatic. I regret that I can only accept one answer when, in truth, it would have been easy to accept them all.
    – Anton
    Aug 6 at 20:35
  • "Proper modesty"? Aw, shucks. Nobody wants to tell a questioner that they're ignorant, or stupid, which is what many others would say about a question full of false presuppositions. Of course, it's not their fault they're ill-informed, but one gets tired of saying so. Giving them a course in English linguistics is impossible. Aug 10 at 14:14

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