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I use Stackoverflow as my main reference for programming information and if I find the information I am looking for is absent, I will post a question. Today I did that and provided what I thought the answer was but my question was down voted for not looking up the answer.

Am I misunderstanding how Stackoverflow is to be used?

Thanks for the guidance, here is the question that triggered this:

I updated the question to include my efforts to answer it. Is this really the style we want? To my sense, this clutters the question with superflous information that is already present in my answer that was posted synchronously with the question.

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General reference questions are plain noise. If you can find your answer in the language's documentation, Wikipedia, or the first page of a Google search, you shouldn't be asking on Stack Overflow. –  Yannis Sep 1 '12 at 14:41
    
@YannisRizos SO exists because most documentation is crap. Wikipedia is frequently wrong. SO is supposed on the first page of a Google search. –  bobobobo Sep 1 '12 at 14:49
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@bobobobo You completely miss the point of this. If the documentation is crap or non existent, then the question isn't general reference. But duplicating easily discoverable quality content is a waste of time, are you seriously advocating for it or just trolling? –  Yannis Sep 1 '12 at 14:57
    
@bobobobo: I'm not against asking a question no matter how easy it is. That is never a problem. The problem with this specific case is that the OP did NOT describe any issues/problem/difficulties with what he found himself. First, he didn't mention any efforts he invested before asking the question, but when I pointed out that, he just edited the question saying I searched and found this header, but didn't say anything about the problem he faces with he found. –  Nawaz Sep 1 '12 at 15:06
    
@Nawaz I've tried again to improve the question, please let me know if I am making progress. I promise you I am putting thought into this and trying to do better. :-) –  WilliamKF Sep 1 '12 at 15:11
    
@YannisRizos I'm shocked you think I had dubious intentions. –  bobobobo Sep 1 '12 at 16:55
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But all joking aside, who cares if it's somewhere else on the internet. There is no harm in having an answer for every non-trivial question on SO. –  bobobobo Sep 1 '12 at 16:56
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Look at how the SuperUser nerds are planning to plant question for Windows 8. If it's a question someone needs an answer to, why not have it? –  bobobobo Sep 1 '12 at 17:00

3 Answers 3

up vote 11 down vote accepted

One of the goals of Stack Exchange is to Make The Internet BetterTM.

Posting a question about something that Google (and most likely other search engines) answers very easily already doesn't really add much value.

In this specific case, SO is already the first answer that comes up in a cursory search – "unitptr_t c++" gives What is uintptr_t data type which not only answers your question, but also provides additional, useful information.

"What is the header file for uintptr_t type?" would also return that question if yours didn't now come first. I don't think that we added a lot of value with that second link.

As to your edit: your question isn't even a question any more, since it appears to contain an answer in the question itself. What question do you have left after that? Why do you have doubts about stdint.h being the answer (you're right to have doubts)? Add a real question to that question and it could have more value (if it hasn't been asked and answered already).

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Hmm, I got the same hit, but somehow missed the header file information being in there, guess I did not read it carefully enough. My sense is the question should be deleted, do you agree? –  WilliamKF Sep 1 '12 at 14:43
    
I think the issue for me was that the accepted answer did not have the include file information. –  WilliamKF Sep 1 '12 at 14:52
    
+1 for "your question isn't even a question any more". Exactly, I don't see any problem description in his question. He said I searched and found this header, but didn't say anything about the problem which he faced with what he found himself. –  Nawaz Sep 1 '12 at 14:53
    
So should we delete the SO question? If the consensus is that it is not helpful and clutter, shouldn't it just be deleted? –  WilliamKF Sep 1 '12 at 15:00
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I wouldn't say its useless, some people might find it faster than the other question. But you should rephrase it so that it actually asks a question (while not invalidating the correct answers). Something like "I know in C99 you should #include <stdint.h> and that seems to work with my C++ compiler too, but is that the right header for modern C++, is it portable?" –  Mat Sep 1 '12 at 15:05
    
@WilliamKF Yeah, don't worry about it, it's definitely not useless. If you really want it deleted you'll have to flag for moderation attention, you can't self delete because it has upvoted answers. But preferably you could improve it, as Mat suggested. –  Yannis Sep 1 '12 at 15:07
    
@WilliamKF: with the C++03 restriction, you actually rendered two of the answers technically incorrect (plus your own, stdint.h isn't defined in C++03 AFAIK, it's C99). –  Mat Sep 1 '12 at 15:19
    
I'm using C++03 and for my version of the compiler it was working. –  WilliamKF Sep 1 '12 at 15:20
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@WilliamKF: "working" and correct/standard are two different things. –  Mat Sep 1 '12 at 15:21
    
Mat wins the award for being most helpful! –  WilliamKF Sep 1 '12 at 15:25
    
BTW, I was miscued by the default sorting of answers away from the other question's info about the #include to use. Please see my related question here: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/145649/… –  WilliamKF Sep 1 '12 at 15:27
    
@WilliamKF Let's rename the checkmark. –  bobobobo Sep 1 '12 at 18:03

No man, ask it. You can even ask a question that you know the answer to and answer it yourself, just to park the information there.

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Actually that is what I did in this case. Ask and answer together. –  WilliamKF Sep 1 '12 at 14:44
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Don't you think there are cases where the question it simply too trivial? For instance if I asked how to add two numbers together in javascript? Just because an SO post doesn't exist about that doesn't mean there needs to be one. –  Wesley Murch Sep 1 '12 at 14:44
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What's the point of duplicating easily discoverable content? –  Yannis Sep 1 '12 at 14:44
    
I think this is the crux of the issue here, for me I didn't find it on SO, so I thought it was helpful to add, but others disagree. –  WilliamKF Sep 1 '12 at 14:45
    
@YannisRizos Because we have to have everything at our fingertips! THIS IS THE INTERNET! –  bobobobo Sep 1 '12 at 14:47

The 1st faq of the stackoverflow.com covers your answer. From that link it states:

Stack Overflow is for professional and enthusiast programmers, people who write code because they love it. We feel the best Stack Overflow questions have a bit of source code in them, but if your question generally covers …

  • a specific programming problem

  • a software algorithm software tools

  • commonly used by programmers practical,

  • answerable problems that are unique to the programming profession …

then you’re in the right place to ask your question!

Please look around to see if your question has been asked before. It’s also OK to ask and answer your own question.

Also to get a basic knowledge of any new thing, a programming language take a look at the tag wiki of tags related to your term, it has a lot of info most of the times.

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I'm not sure this actually addresses the question. Are you saying you think that posting an easily-found answer paired with a simple reference question is OK, or not? –  Wesley Murch Sep 1 '12 at 14:38

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