What is meta? ×
Meta Stack Exchange is where users like you discuss bugs, features, and support issues that affect the software powering all 134 Stack Exchange communities.

In the #dontask section of the faq there is a nice list of things people shouldn't ask. Can the item be added that SO is not for questions like:

"I'm looking for a script" type of questions. I don't know how it is in other languages, but in [php] there are a lot of canihaztehcodez type of questions. I often reply in a comment trying to explain why this really isn't suited for SO and may link to the faq, but it isn't really stated that clear in the faq. I know there are may be options that may be stated about this topic, e.g.: "every answer is equally valid". But I don't think it would hurt to mention these cases specifically.

I know it would be impossible to add all the things people can come up with in the faq, but I think this would be a valid addition. I don't know whether this is a problem of other languages since I can only know from experience in the [php] tag, so maybe this isn't such a big deal.

What does the community think about this addition to the #dontask section of the faq?

share|improve this question
6  
totally off-topic Please please please fix the captcha stuff to make it workable :( –  PeeHaa Aug 22 '12 at 16:39
2  
That's a function of reCAPTCHA (and there are many on meta and elsewhere who are saying it's getting progressively more difficult), not of Stack Overflow. There might be other services out there that they can use, however. –  casperOne Aug 22 '12 at 17:20

1 Answer 1

up vote 8 down vote accepted

I think we need to be cautious about which precedents we engrave in stone.

Consider this question: Faster way to swap endianness in C# with 32 bit words. There's no doubt in my mind that this is a canihazthecodes question. Why did it get a pass?

We discourage many such questions because, generally speaking, they are lazy and often too localized. My question is lazy in the sense that I wanted help with a specific piece of code that I didn't write, and I knew I could ask it in a way that would be interesting to the community. Is this a bad thing?

Be careful what you ask for. Does "What have you tried" fend off the help vampires, or does it turn Stack Overflow from an information resource (with broad applicability to programmers) into a troubleshooting tool (only useful to the OP)?


Note that How to Ask already contains the following verbiage:

Sharing your research helps everyone. Tell us what you found and why it didn’t meet your needs. This demonstrates that you’ve taken the time to try to help yourself, it saves us from reiterating obvious answers, and most of all it helps you get a more specific and relevant answer!

share|improve this answer
6  
This leads to the question, "what trait do the poor quality canihazcode questions have in common that the good ones don't?" since clearly asking for code isn't what the real problem is –  Servy Aug 22 '12 at 17:20
    
+1 to that question, and -1 to this answer. I think it's fairly clear that this doesn't qualify as canihazdacodez. I'm not sure exactly how to define it, but I think that implies questions with zero effort put in, where op is just asking other people to write their code for him. –  Adam Rackis Aug 22 '12 at 17:27
    
@AdamRackis: Well, I'll admit that I didn't put much effort into the question. It was essentially three copy/pastes of existing code, with four sentences I wrote sprinkled in for good measure. –  Robert Harvey Aug 22 '12 at 17:29
    
Actually, I did write the third block of code (rewrote it, actually, from the original code that swapped two bytes at a time instead of four). –  Robert Harvey Aug 22 '12 at 17:32
    
@Robert - but you had put prior effort in, just not to the question. That's my point. Asking - here's some code I wrote to do X, how do I modify it to do X' is probably ok. It's when users show up and say "how do I code up Y" that it becomes a 'showmedacodez' problem (imo). –  Adam Rackis Aug 22 '12 at 17:32
    
@AdamRackis How to Ask contains this verbiage: Sharing your research helps everyone. Tell us what you found and why it didn’t meet your needs. This demonstrates that you’ve taken the time to try to help yourself, it saves us from reiterating obvious answers, and most of all it helps you get a more specific and relevant answer! –  Robert Harvey Aug 22 '12 at 17:34
    
Hmm, so maybe add something to the faq that says don't ask until you've actually tried something ??? –  Adam Rackis Aug 22 '12 at 17:35
1  
@AdamRackis: Everyone who asks their first question is presented with the How to Ask page, and a "Thanks, I will keep these tips in mind when asking" checkbox that they must click to ask their question. If they won't read it there, why would they read it in the faq? –  Robert Harvey Aug 22 '12 at 18:06
1  
Indeed - but I think PeeHaa was looking for somewhere on SO where he could link to to show why ShowMeDaCodez questions are inappropriate -- maybe the How to Ask page can serve that role... –  Adam Rackis Aug 22 '12 at 18:11
    
I do agree with both facts that it may be hard to define the bad questions and that users don't read the faq. But I have seen many questions where OP basically sums up a list of requirements of the needed script and that's it. That is a bad question without any doubt in most cases. Basically I want to have a clear message somewhere (faq or "How to ask") to which I can link to for more information why something isn't a good fit. –  PeeHaa Aug 23 '12 at 19:26
    
@PeeHaa: Kinda depends on scope. If it's a dozen lines of code or so, why not just answer it? See stackoverflow.com/a/12081080/102937 –  Robert Harvey Aug 23 '12 at 19:35
    
@RobertHarvey And now look at stackoverflow.com/questions/10522554/… :-) –  PeeHaa Aug 23 '12 at 19:41
    
@PeeHaa: Right, that's a clear, unambiguous plzsndtehcodez question. The problem is, I see "What have you tried" on questions it shouldn't be on... people are just using it reflexively now. There's a genuine difference between asking for help on a homework assignment, and copy/pasting the question directly out of the textbook into an SO post. –  Robert Harvey Aug 23 '12 at 19:50

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .