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I answered this question this morning. At the time (and having only the question itself as a reference) it seemed like one of those simple things where a newer programmer might not quite get what methods were available to him, so I assumed he had followed a more or less standard approach to what he was doing and gave my answer.

Suffice to say that that was a big mistake on my part. After a couple of back and forth comments where he said my answer wouldn't work, and where I continued to try and help him he finally pointed me to another question of his that contains the full code. It is... ummm... not pretty. I now understand why he didn't understand my answer.

To the crux of my question. It would appear to me that he is new to programming and has no clue what he is doing. I'm all for helping people, but I have neither the time nor inclination to teach him how to program or even just how to fix up what he has done so far.

Should I say something of the sort to him in comments? Or just walk away? Is there another option I haven't thought of?

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Frantically point to somewhere behind him, yell "SQUIRREL" and then run off when the user is distracted...or simply walk away from the discussion. A discussion takes two people. – Bart Oct 31 '12 at 6:16
What @Bart said: ignore. Happens a lot to me, and I just ignore their comments. At some point they get the point. (Or just gives up) – Shadow Wizard Oct 31 '12 at 8:28
you might be interested in reading about Exit strategies for “chameleon questions” – gnat Oct 31 '12 at 11:25
up vote 23 down vote accepted

If you feel like the user is sucking the life blood out of you, you're probably dealing with a help vampire. The best thing to do in this case is just indicate that you've helped all you can, and it's up to them to apply what you have suggested.

If the user continues to bother you in comments, flag your answer for moderator attention, select 'other' and let us know what's going on.

You should only help someone if it feels good to do so. When that point passes, stop.

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I like the last sentence. Needs framing somewhere :) – Benjol Oct 31 '12 at 11:08

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