My answer here was deleted by Robert Cartaino as "not an answer" even though it answered the question. Here is the text:

Yes, it looks like it is effectively just treating code as data, albeit in a less-elegant way than Lisp already does.

While I agree in retrospect that it's not a very good answer, it seems odd to call this "not an answer" when it does answer the question. Are "yes or no" questions discouraged here? I not only answered the question ("Yes"), I gave some explanation as to why this is the case.

If this sort of answer is not okay, perhaps something should be added to the faq to that effect?

  • I bring this up in this answer on MSO long story short, yes/no is only useful to people in general if it has an explanation of why, even if the asker only wants yes/no
    – Ben Brocka
    Oct 2, 2012 at 18:31
  • @BenBrocka Indeed - taking into consideration the idea that stackexchange exists to build a knowledge base, the explanation is somewhat more obvious. But I still think it should be addressed on the relevant section of the FAQ. And that MSO question seems to assume it's a much larger problem than Robert asserts below. Oct 2, 2012 at 20:27

2 Answers 2


If the user is asking the question, it is implied that the user does not understand how or why that particular items is prior art or not. So just saying "yes" doesn't really help the user, nor does it add to the knowledge system we are building here.

In my comments, I ask if you would you consider expanding you answer to include such details as how this works as prior art, etc. I had hoped you might consider adding to your answer. These questions have a life cycle that go well beyond just the question author. Long after the author picks up their answer, folks will search this stuff from all over the Internet. We hope to give them the best possible answers to these questions here.

  • That's great, but shouldn't there be some documentation somewhere explaining this? I find it completely non-obvious, and the FAQ linked from "Why was your post deleted?" was completely unhelpful - it did not appear to describe my answer at all. Oct 1, 2012 at 18:27
  • @ThomBlake The FAQ isn't going to enumerate every possible reason someone might edit or remove a post. This type of "edit for content" is fundamental to how these systems operate. But being that I've seen this maybe three times, ever, you may be assigning perhaps a bit too much weight to extent for which this is a problem. It was not meant as a personal attack. Oct 1, 2012 at 18:51
  • Thanks - I am not taking it as a personal attack. I'm surprised this is a rare problem, and was confused that the FAQ entry that I was directed to didn't even seem to include a category for the sort of mistake I made. Maybe even adding something like "or other reasons not listed" to the FAQ would help, if this particular reason doesn't warrant listing? Oct 1, 2012 at 19:01

This is not an answer, it's a vague hint about an answer. An actual answer to “would X be prior art” would go through the claim wording and explain how the purported prior art does teach the claims.

And if you'd gone through that, you'd have realized that Lisp, on its own, does not teach “programming language different from the native programming language”. This is an element you'd need to get from somewhere else. (A Lisp interpreter, written in some other programming language such as C, might actually fit the bill — Lisp being the different programming language, and C the native programming language.)

  • So is there a relevant section of the FAQ or other docs that explain this, or should it be added, or is this just supposed to be "obvious"? Sep 29, 2012 at 19:18
  • @ThomBlake That a post posted in the answer section should be an answer is supposed to be obvious. It is nonetheless mentioned in the faq. From what I've seen on Ask Patents so far, some more specific guidance in a meta post as to what really constitutes prior art does seem called for. Sep 29, 2012 at 21:50
  • it is not obvious to me that answering "Yes" to a "Yes or No" question is not an answer. In fact, quite the opposite is obvious to me. Nothing in the deletion section of the faq (which you linked to) seems to explain what was wrong with my answer - can you cite a particular bit that's relevant? Notably, there is a list of things that are not good answers, and mine didn't seem to be any of those. Sep 30, 2012 at 1:12

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