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Why is it that people downvote 'easy' questions?

I realize that SO is not for something that can easily be found with google, but people are taking it too far. I recently saw and answered a question that asked

How to do function X in language A in language B'?

This question had a score of -2 after 1 minute, and and gained another downvote in the time it took me to provide an answer.

Why do people find it 'vital' that they downvote the easier questions asked by beginners?

Yes, some deserve downvotes, but there are many that don't. As someone said (forgot who and where): "Stack Overflow is not a developers last resort". It is a valuable tool that, when used properly, can help streamline the coding process for most programmers, helping out the asker, the answer, and anybody who stumbles across it with the same problem.

We need to remember: this is not for just the asker's help. This is to help people that have this issue in the future.

Why does this happen?

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closed as not constructive by Bart, Al E., jonsca, Martijn Pieters, Bo Persson Sep 25 '12 at 20:23

As it currently stands, this question is not a good fit for our Q&A format. We expect answers to be supported by facts, references, or expertise, but this question will likely solicit debate, arguments, polling, or extended discussion. If you feel that this question can be improved and possibly reopened, visit the help center for guidance.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

1  
Who knows why downvotes happen? Even if the question is not particularly bad, it might have been asked (in one form or another) millions of times. The downvotes might simply be "oh not another one of those". I really don't know what you expect us to discuss here. Downvotes happen. –  Bart Sep 25 '12 at 16:24
    
"We need to remember: this is not for just the asker's help. This is to help people that have this issue in the future." - Downvotes have no bearing on that. If in fact the post is useful to someone in the future, they will probably vote it up anyways (if they can). –  Wesley Murch Sep 25 '12 at 16:38
1  
If a question is downvoted, in general, people tend to ignore it when scrolling through SO –  Grammar Sep 25 '12 at 16:47

2 Answers 2

up vote 12 down vote accepted

In the question you answered, I hope it's evident why it was downvoted, and it wasn't because it was 'easy':

The original question was:

I can use

var regex = /[$&+,:;=?@#|]/;

if(elem.match(regex)) { // do something 
}

to find whether there is any special characters in string in Javascript.

How can I use the similar regular expression in JAVA

Thanx everyone =)

The user is missing the following:

  1. Context: Why?
  2. Research: What has the user tried? What didn't work?
  3. Code: Here's the code I tried to write. It doesn't work.
  4. Effort: The question looks like it was written by someone who didn't care to put effort into their question, they just wanted an answer.

I don't think you're actually seeing people downvoting easy questions because they're easy, I think what you see is people downvoting easy questions that lack research, context, and code.

Stack Overflow cannot survive if it loses its best contributors. Its best contributors are not the people who ask, "How can I do function X in language Y?" Its best contributors are the people who take the time to answer questions completely. Its best contributors are the people who help out every programmer out there by posting a complete problem, with research, code, and context.

At the heart of your statement is the following:

can help streamline the coding process for most programmers, helping out the asker, the answer, and anybody who stumbles across it with the same problem.

People who post trivially easy questions without research, context, or code are preying upon the community to help streamline their work, at the expense of the community's time. They are a hindrance, not a help.

Those questions should be downvoted, and they generally are.

I have yet to see an easy question downvoted when the user supplied Context, research, and code.

P.S.: It's a testament to the editors that that question survived at all.

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On the statement "It's a testament to the editors that this question survived at all": you realize the only actual edit before yours was a simple title edit (removed "(discussion)" from the title) –  Grammar Sep 25 '12 at 19:36
    
@azulflame Not so. 3 different users made edits, with the edit by 'GEOCHET' saving the question from being summarily closed, I think. –  George Stocker Sep 25 '12 at 20:14
    
@azulflame George is referring to the edits in the regex question you pointed out (both in his answer and the comment above), not the edits in your Meta question here (where "(discussion)" was removed from the title). –  Yannis Sep 25 '12 at 20:59
    
If you demand so much in a simple question because all he was asking was what the java way of doing it. Then maybe you should create fields that cover those types of prob questions. That seems pretty clear. Some questions don't need all that. some questions just need a simple yes and no and people get chewed for it me in particular. –  numerical25 Nov 1 '12 at 17:14

I agree with George regarding the specific question, but in principle I'd chime in that Jeff has said SO aims to become the source, i.e. the Google of Programming

So if it's mainly that it's an "easy question" -

In another relevant question ( Closing 'easy' questions - yes or no? ) , says:

The whole point of StackOverflow is to become the resource for programmers to find these sort of questions. You'd be surprised how much old and outdated information there is out there, there's no harm in rehashing things. As long as the user isn't obviously abusive like going around asking 100 simple questions to farm rep as they do tend to get (pity?) upvotes sometimes, I say go for it.

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