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I personally feel there is a bit of a cancer placating Stack Overflow.

So many users (mostly new users) ask questions more along the line of,

I want a prepackaged solution that does X. I don't even know what language it should be.

These are not questions which solicit any advice on efficiency amongst code, or best practices. They are merely requests for Google butlers. For those awarded a correct answer (mostly by Googling for people, or simple reading the manual) it seems like this is a bit of ill-gotten rep, and in no way demonstrates knowledge by the answering party that would elevate them a reputable source of information.

I am proposing we take a firmer stance on questions like this; rather than taking the easy out and googling a quick link for them, we downvote and flag questions like this. And, also, explain why this is not appropriate for SO.

SO should be able helping people who are actually making an effort; don't do the work for them, just help them reach the correct solution. We should act more like tutors, than the nerdy kid in class everyone cheats off of.

This is a community and as it's members it is up to us how we frame the community. Do we want to be the ChaCha of computer programming? Or an intellectual forum that instead poses new questions and new ways of thinking about a problem, or at least a community that helps people solve problems or helps them understand what about their approach is not working.

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We can close this out. I guess i've just seen alot of these question lately and was hoping to stir a new desire to follow these guidelines in the community. You are probably right that everyone is doing a great job! I guess i felt like it couldn't hurt to wake up those warm feelings of what SO is really about. :/ – j_mcnally Mar 6 '12 at 5:03
Sorry, I deleted my comment because CodyGray pretty much covered everything I said. I like the sentiment of this "call to action" though! – jadarnel27 Mar 6 '12 at 5:04
up vote 4 down vote accepted

rather than taking the easy out and googling a quick link for them, we downvote and flag questions like this, and also explain why this is not appropriate for SO.

Yes, this is already the encouraged policy. The features you describe are in place specifically to address the onslaught of low-quality questions, and they work well so long as people use them. Remember, Stack Overflow is run and moderated largely by regular users like you, so we need your help in shaping the community and sending a clear message regarding our stance on these types of "do my work for me" questions.

Use your downvotes liberally on such questions; encouraging people to use them is precisely the rationale behind making them free a long while ago. This goes a long way towards solving the problem of the questions appearing on the front page, and eventually causes the automatic question ban to kick in if the asker doesn't seek guidance from the FAQ and amend his/her ways.

Additionally, you should cast a vote to close the question as either "not a real question" or "too localized". This prevents the accumulation of useless answers and addresses your concern about people getting "ill-gotten" or "easy" reputation by answering these questions. Once closed, the question can either be improved so as to bring it up to our standards (and then reopened), or it will eventually be deleted outright.

Of course, if you don't have the requisite privileges to cast a close vote, you should use the "flag" link. Flagging a question and choosing "doesn't belong here" places a flag in the queue accessible to moderators and all 10k+ users, who monitor it regularly and cast close votes of their own.

If you really care, or you feel like the person asking the question might care, you should strongly consider leaving a short comment on the question, explaining why it falls short of our guidelines and perhaps how to improve it so as to meet those guidelines. Linking to the official site FAQ or one of the Meta Q&A about how to write a good question might be useful.

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perhaps this isn't the correct forum for a soap box, i guess i was just hoping to remind people with this, to try to actively improve the quality of SO. – j_mcnally Mar 6 '12 at 5:00
@j_mcnally: Hmm, yes. I thought it was a question, considering how it is titled. And I'm not really the person you need to remind about our quality standards. I regularly use all 50 of my daily close votes on Stack Overflow. – Cody Gray Mar 6 '12 at 5:04
it was not directed tword you hahaha. there are lots of people on this site. – j_mcnally Mar 6 '12 at 5:08

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