There is a vast discussion around this question and its answers, where it is difficult to say who is wrong and right.

The question is about a function in a software, where a quite short text

You will also have the option to check the box saying This was a false alarm. This is for internal tracking and helps us improve Smart Home Monitor.

tells how the specific part of software is used by the software.

If no more information is given online by the manufacturer of the software, why should there be more speculation of the purpose? Another answer tries that, and is getting down votes.

In both cases these options are basically what you can say and is it about the answerers responsibility if there is not possible way to answer in long format to this without taking answers from your head?

  • I edited the title to be less opinioned already. Background is about if you should answer at all if you don't/can't know enough for eligible answer.
    – mico
    Jul 12, 2017 at 7:19

2 Answers 2


Any answer that gets the asker going in the right direction is helpful, but do try to mention any limitations, assumptions or simplifications in your answer. Brevity is acceptable, but fuller explanations are better. - The help center of every Stack Exchange site.

In most questions worth asking there is information that is not readily available on #1 of a google search. Providing such information from a credible source — and I do consider the manufacturer of a device a credible, authoritative source — is always helpful.

To every question there is a literal interpretation and the interpretation of intent. The literal question in this case was:

Is there, at this point, a purpose for the "false alarm" response? What does marking an alert as a false alarm do?

The answer with the quote from the manufacturer does in fact answer this on a high level. There is no customer functionality. It's used for internal purposes.

Of course, it can be argued that he question that is not written is actually more a long the lines of, "which button should we press?"

Does your answer answer that question? No it does not. It only informs the decision that the OP can now make. Could the answer be improved by giving a recommendation? Sure. Is a recommendation necessary to answer the question as written? No.

There's another problem that in my view sparked this discussion that plagues many questions where the OP cannot know what information is out there. Sometimes it's just a snippet that's out there, but that's okay. If a better answer does come along from someone who found more information or maybe from a SmartThings engineer with internal knowledge that answer should get more appreciation.

Alas, sometimes there isn't more information. We cannot ask of every person answering to make a research project out of it. In short, if you provide an authoritative or at least credible source that does point the OP in the right direction by either answering the question as written or as intended — hopefully both — that can be posted as answer. It's not pulitzer worthy, but it is an answer.

  • "Is it necessary to answer the question as written?" .. what you mean? Meaning if there is sense to give an answer like I gave or that is there sense answer the question that is asked, but the one in along lines?
    – mico
    Jul 12, 2017 at 9:23
  • 1
    @mico Clarified, I was referring to adding a recommendation to the answer, not to answering the question in general. That was poorly worded on my part.
    – Helmar Mod
    Jul 12, 2017 at 9:27
  • 2
    If it matters, I did actually want to know what it does... why it exists. I think I understand when I would use it, I was hoping to find out if marking it as a false alarm somehow affects how the sensors work or if it relates to when you have SmartThings connected to one of the companies that will call 911 for you if the alarm is tripped. If adding that clarification to the question would help, let me know... but I find it amusing that people are trying to read "when do I use it?" into the question.
    – Catija
    Jul 12, 2017 at 15:20
  • @Catija - in theory it exists to let you provide feedback to help them tune the accuracy of their system. That's the "obvious" part. The part that nobody has answered is what choice should be made in your situation that will actually help refine the accuracy? without clarity on how your situation should be reported, as you said in your own comment on the disputed "answer", the data they receive will be largely meaningless. No response has yet given you any actual useful guidance, and it's quite unlikely that anyone other than the manufacturer can. Jul 12, 2017 at 17:51

The question asked was specifically about which of two choices the asker should elect in their report of a specific situation.

Your response did not address that at all - the only information you provided is information that is obvious - that is, if it is even accurate. Just because a company's communication department says they use information for internal purposes, doesn't actually mean their technical team pays any attention to it at all.

Thus your response was not an answer for two key reasons:

1) You provided no information to solve the main dilemma of the question

2) The only information you did provide was obvious to the point of being meaningless - "internal purposes" could mean absolutely anything and says nothing about how the responses are interpreted.

Note that just because a question is posted does not mean it will be answerable - or at least not with information currently available to the public. Generally, non-answerable questions on stack exchange sites are supposed to be closed (or in recent terminology "put on hold")

Non-answerable questions are not ever, an excuse to post non-answers.

Final Note:

This is a new site in the Stack Exchange Network, which seems to have attracted a lot of people without much familiarity with how Stack Exchange sites are supposed to work. Before disagreeing with the above, spend some time on established sites in the network, and you'll see that the system-wide norms of what makes a question and an answer are very different from what has been passed off for such here lately. Much of what has been upvoted here would be downvoted into oblivion on the established sites - not because they do not handle IoT, but because the postings do not comply with the Stack Exchange model.

Having enthusiasm for a new site and trying to build up momentum is in one thing - but this is still a Stack Exchange site, not a chat forum. As a result, system wide rules governing Questions and Answers still apply. For a site trying to escape the Beta phase to full status, following the rules is even more important.

  • 1
    "the system-wide norms of what makes a question and an answer are very different from what has been passed off for such here lately." I have seen that, agree. Maybe here people are so enthusiastic about any answers, or even any participation, that any response gets votes, and mostly upwards. That makes little bit bias on what you tolerate as an answer when you try to answer.
    – mico
    Jul 12, 2017 at 5:58
  • Before the edit, I agreed with you, and upvoted your comment. But after you edited it, no - you can't take advantage of that bias or leniency towards non-answers, without contributing to making the situation worse. If you understand the issue, and it seems you do, help make the site better by posting real answers - or declining to post when you don't have an actual answer, and leaving a helpful comment instead. Jul 12, 2017 at 6:01
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    It was my observation, not excuse for making so.
    – mico
    Jul 12, 2017 at 6:02
  • Thanks for clarifying Jul 12, 2017 at 6:08

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