As far as your disappointment with SO/SE goes...
You are right. The Q&A 'look-and-feel' setup of SO and all the other SE sites as well make it appear that to new users they can just ask anything and interested individuals will be responding. The reason for this is many users are coming from using Forums and other Q&A places like 'Yahoo Answers'.
The fault is not just you alone and the people here should be ashamed for suggesting that. Case in point, fearing to write an answer that might not be deemed 'a worthy answer' by the community (even if the answer was good enough for the asker) is a serious problem. Heck, even comments can hurt you... So, the problem is that SE/SO bears the appearance of a Q&A site when it is in fact not a Q&A site per-Se.
It's more like a 'request for information on otherwise unresolvable research' board; as far as i can tell, and depending on which site you are on, might need a team of lawyers just to be sure you don't offend, break rules, be specific enough, Google-d your subject to death, and read every possible book at your local library, before even thinking about asking!
I probably wouldn't even write this answer, if I actually cared about my reputation points anymore, but it is clear that those or more like popularity points to me. I've heard excellent answers from people with <1000 and pure crap from people with >21k,,, so, yeah I don't blame you for hesitating on SO, and you are right to do so.
I made this response long to also warn you of answers like this. You WILL GET DOWN-VOTED for being too detailed or including too much sugar, yes I did say that, even if it is relevant. Don't make any mistakes and do all the above and you MIGHT get away with asking your question without having two or three people edit it for you for spelling, grammatical, and technical errors.... If you are new to SO, use it as a reference like I do, only ask questions as a last resort (by last resort I mean that you hiked to china and back looking for an answer).
I'll be surprised if this answer doesn't go down to at least -100 before sundown...sorry for the bad news! Thanks to Stack Exchange -- I now miss the days on dial-up wondering if the sysop was watching me read & write my intimate e-mails. Good bye and good luck....