Meta Stack Exchange is where users like you discuss bugs, features, and support issues that affect the software powering all 158 Stack Exchange communities.

What is meta?
Here's how it works:
  1. Any Stack Exchange user can ask a question
  2. The community provides support, votes on ideas, and reports bugs
  3. Your voice helps shape the way Stack Exchange operates

I've reached my limit of the number of "please read my stack trace to me" questions posted on SO. It's essentially like someone wanting you to read to them. I keep answering politely, but there must be a better way to teach users how to read their own stack trace.

"Here is a book that tells me exactly what line of code produced the error, will you read it to me?"

I understand that we all have to start somewhere, and I believe that somewhere should be learning how to read a stack trace.

Feature Request

My proposal or feature request is a linkable item like [ask] or [answer] that takes the user to a helpful page (FAQ page possibly) that gives directions on how to read a blasted stack trace. It can be inserted into comments (and I think in answers). Something like [stacktrace] would be appropriate. Being that this is a programming Q&A site, I feel that this would be an essential addition to the SO tool belt.

This will also show the user how to deal with exceptions before asking on SO. Instead of entering into "OMG Look at all this text, I can't understand this jibberish, let me go post this error log on StackOverflow!" mode everytime they see a stack trace, they can instead say "Great, the error is at line 120 of, lets debug."


I read FAQ for Stack Exchange sites and was not sure if I should propose this as a FAQ, or a feature request, or what. I'm an active member on SO, but this is my first post on Meta.

If this has already been requested, or done, then please close my question. I did search first and found Stack trace wiki on SO but it was a little different than what I am asking.

share|improve this question
Just vote to close them as too localized, or flag for moderator attention if you don't have any close votes. That's what the voting system and the flagging system are for. We already have detailed how-to-ask and how-to-answer pages that nobody reads. Make people accountable for their actions by using the vote-to-close system and the flagging system; no amount of "telling" them is going to change their behavior. – Robert Harvey Nov 22 '11 at 19:40
Yes but not telling them how to read a stack trace is only doing them harm, and in return SO harm because they will keep posting them, and we will keep flagging them. I mean, after all, the site is called StackOverflow :). – Jack Nov 22 '11 at 19:47
Why stack traces in particular? How to debug your program is a subject that can fill an entire book, and it's not our job to write that book here. Ultimately, we're limited in what we can do in a FAQ, especially since most people don't read them. The FAQ is there to give people some general guidelines, not to teach them how to debug or even how to ask a proper question. The vote-to-close system is there to enforce specific situations, including people posting "help me read my stack trace" questions. – Robert Harvey Nov 22 '11 at 19:55
In other words, there are too many "specific situations" to put them all in the FAQ. – Robert Harvey Nov 22 '11 at 19:56
I understand your reasoning for too many "specific situations", but is reading a stack trace in C# that much different than Java, or Android, or any other language? – Jack Nov 22 '11 at 20:28
Actually, I know exactly where this information can go: in the [stack-trace] tag wiki. And it doesn't have to be much either, just a little blurb about "Don't just copy-paste your stack trace to a question and expect to get an answer," or somesuch. But I still think teaching people how to read a stack trace is out of scope for the site, whether its in a question, in the FAQ or in the tag wiki. – Robert Harvey Nov 22 '11 at 20:35
Yeah I do see your point as far as being out of scope. The stack-trace tag wiki update might be of some help, but then again, as you said before, who really reads it? On a side note, a required reading of "how to ask" and "how to answer" might be a good idea for first time answer's or first time questions, but that's a topic for another feature request I guess. Thanks for the help, should I delete this question, or leave it for you? – Jack Nov 22 '11 at 21:10
You can leave it here. But note: you don't make a tag wiki or a FAQ so that people can read it (since people don't read). You do it so that you can have something to point to when they have a question about the rules. – Robert Harvey Nov 22 '11 at 21:14

You must log in to answer this question.

Browse other questions tagged .