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The reason I ask is that I asked a database modeling question that was also an accounting question, and it got closed.

  • FYI I reopened that Q for you after the edit. In the future, feel free to flag it for moderator attention with a custom message about reopening after you clean it up and we will catch it quicker. – JNK Jul 10 '12 at 14:04
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Before we begin, just a note. You might want to read: Should 'Hi', 'thanks', taglines, and salutations be removed from posts? We tend to discourage all this "hi, how are you ... thanks for reading my question ... hope you can help .. " etc. It's even a bummer when you mention Neil A long-time stackexchange supporter with 7000+ system-wide rep

The question, as current, reads:

Let's say you're a car dealer, selling cars.

When a customer buys a new car, he often trades in his existing car.

Just wondering if it's:

A) a deal with a sales order for the new car , plus a purchase order for the trade in

B) a sales order for the car, with an adjustment for the trade-in on that sales order

C) something else?

Thanks!

So let's take this in turns:

Let's say you're a car dealer, selling cars.

When a customer buys a new car, he often trades in his existing car.

Ok, so we've got the setup to a question, much as academics would do for assignments. This sounds wonderful. As a matter of fact, car sales are a commonly academically considered question, because they do tend to be highly specialized. There's dealers lots, commissions, manufacturers, vins, makes and models, it's all highly complex, so this is good.

Then you get to:

Just wondering if it's:

A) a deal with a sales order for the new car , plus a purchase order for the trade in

B) a sales order for the car, with an adjustment for the trade-in on that sales order

C) something else?

Thanks!

And this is where we have a problem with the question, which makes it vague. It sounds like you're asking us to help you define the business domain, and not a database design. So let's see if we can focus this down from domain design to database questions:

To start with, you're trying to decide which of two database models seems like it would work best, which is again a business domain issue (we don't know how your data is best represented, because we don't know what your processes are). But we can make an assumption about your data, and that is that every trade in must have an accompanying sales order. This doesn't account for new sales, which says that there doesn't have to be a trade in to purchase a car. Therefore, it makes more sense to have those as two separate entities, obviously. So the best thing to do is to represent trade-ins as a line-item adjustment on the car, from a data standpoint.

But, I have a feeling that there's actually a lot more nuances to this, so I'm going to suggest you talk to your business manager who would be most aware of the actual accounting paperwork to suggest how the business model works, and then ask them to help you actualize the data model as relations/models, and then build your tables off of that.

Hope this helps.

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    ++ to you! You always do a good job of being gentle and firm in your answer and you try to teach, rather than writing someone off. I appreciate that. Thanks for going the extra mile to make Database Administrators and Meta what they are! – Chris Aldrich Jul 6 '12 at 12:50
  • I try, but I always feel like I'm being overly snarky, so if that came across, then everyone has my apologies and is free to call me out on it. I do want to see this question reworked to be useful, so ... hopefully it will be. – jcolebrand Jul 6 '12 at 15:21
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Of course. The question that you are referring to was written as a purely accounting question. As I mentioned in the updated comment:

If I read your question there is no mention of data modeling, design, or databases of any sort. Nor tables, or indexes, or relations. I understand what you are trying to get at but it needs to be clear in the question, and as currently written this could be in an accounting exam.

Bear in mind that part of our goal on the SE network is to make things clear an easy for future visitors - there is 0 chance that someone will find that question helpful for database modelling since they will never find it unless they are looking for how car dealerships handle accounting for trade ins (with no reference to databases).

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YES, you most certainly may ask database modeling questions that have to do with accounting problems.

Our contention is that you didn't ask one of these. You asked an accounting question with database modeling implications. You shouldn't let database design drive the business model. Determine what is best for the business and then determine how to best implement that in the database.

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