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I have seen quite a few questions where people ask how could they do something by a certain method.

Example:

Transfer files to iPad via USB from Android

As far as I am aware it isn’t possible so I have a few options:

Tell the OP it isn’t possible in an answer and get downvoted

Post an alternative that is easier and built in to the iOS system and get downvoted

Say it is not possible in a comment, but if someone else asks the same question then it can’t be marked as a duplicate.

So I’m a bit stuck. What should be done?

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  • "It's not possible" type of answers are always tricky, even though in this case you are right. But even then it might be better to back up your answer with facts and references to give the answer more weight:

    This is currently not possible as access to the Lightening/USB port in an iOS device is highly limited, see ref1 and ref2. Apple proposes to use the "Move to iOS" utility, see https://support.apple.com/en-gb/HT201196 for details.

  • It also shows that questions which are already focused on a specific solution (with a slight subtext of "why doesn't Apple allow to do this-and-that?") don't work too well sometimes. I briefly considered putting the question on hold actually, but there is nothing wrong with the question as such. It's just that the OP will not be happy with the answer.

  • And, of course, not all questions will get answers. An unanswered "is this-and-that possible" question gets an implied "No" answer anyway, and then will slowly fade into the background (and get auto-deleted sooner or later). So maybe it's better to focus on questions which actually are answerable :-)

Having said that, it's also worth mentioning that you can't make everybody happy, and people downvote for various reasons (including them having a bad day).

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Tell the OP it isn’t possible in an answer and get downvoted

I'm not sure why you're operating under the presumption that saying "No" and/or giving a short answer automatically means a down vote. This is not the case and I can site you several personal examples:

It's perfectly fine to say "no" and providing a succinct answer is always best.

Post an alternative that is easier and built in to the iOS system and get downvoted

There's nothing wrong with providing an alternative and it is highly encouraged to do so. What I see wrong (IMO) with your answer is that it is literally a copy and paste of the Apple support document you link to in the beginning. If you were going for "easier" a simple link to the support document would have sufficed.

To me, this practice evokes an image like that of a student who copies and pastes 9 pages of source in a 10 page paper and cites it to remain compliant and "complete" the requisite assignment. Block quoting what amounts to the entire answer is what leads to this perception.

So I’m a bit stuck. What should be done?

What would have made this a much better answer is if you provided the salient details (probably 4 or 5 bullet points) you wrote with a link to the full source.

Bottom Line...

A tech writer at Apple did a great job writing up that support document. I up voted the question as it's a good one, albeit the answer is probably not what the OP wants to hear. Your answer however, couldn't get an up vote from me because there was no originality to it (i.e. you translated it to lay terms so we could all understand it, or you summarized it so we didn't have to scroll 3 pages to get the solution, etc.).

Just my 2¢

  • I added a sentence on a link to download it as that wasn’t included in the article – user310476 Dec 3 '18 at 8:54
  • You provided a citation link (not a download) which is basically a reference. Your current edit makes this a link only answer which means if/when the link goes stale, the answer becomes useless. Where's your contribution? – Allan Dec 3 '18 at 12:22
  • @DManokhin Allan, it's not a link-only answer, it also answers the "is it possible" part of the question. Sometimes a link to a support article is the best answer to a question, and the better-written support articles are hard do summarize without loosing essential information. One way to protect against link rot (which unfortunately also happens on support.apple.com) is to at least include the title of the support page. – nohillside Dec 4 '18 at 6:26
  • In quite a few SE communities, verbosity is practically demanded. If the COMPLETE non-link answer fits in two sentences, you will be scolded if you don't add at least a paragraph of fluff. I have so far refused to play that game—"if you don't like someone getting to the point, downvote." And they do. – WGroleau Dec 10 '18 at 20:54
  • @WGroleau - I agree with you...I prefer succinctness. As for the hordes of S.E. down voters, we have our horde here too that love to down vote for no apparent reason. In fact, I seen down votes SPAM; rather than flag it as such which automatically down votes it without the cost. – Allan Dec 10 '18 at 20:59

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