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I think a sub-Q&A for newbie users is needed. It is not nice to call newbie users lazy. How you are sure that they didn't put any effort into finding a solution before asking a question?

Newbie users are not similar to expert developers with so many years of professional work experience. Please treat newbie users a bit more nicely.

After so many hours of searching in Google they perhaps found nothing and Stack Overflow is their last hope. After asking their question there, what they face is a bunch of expert developers with a thirst for reputation. First they downvote this simple question, then they answer this simple question and say "Please accept my answer".

In my opinion Stack Overflow is not a good place for newbie users at all. If you care about newbie users and you also don't want their simple questions to bother expert developers, it's better to create a sub-Q&A especially for them.

After they gather enough experience they can come to the main Q&A and ask appropriate questions.


If you see that a newbie user asked a bad question, you can guide them with simple hints, for example: "your problem may have so many reasons, please show more details". I think these tips are much better than making them feel unappreciated with downvotes.

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Just as a hint: Newbie users can improve their welcome by pointing out what they have already tried, and how it failed to help them. People here are not psychics; if someone asks How can I do <extremely trivial thing> with no background information, of course the reader is going to assume there has been no prior research. – Pëkka Nov 9 '12 at 9:12
New users are more than welcome on SO. They should be treated nicely. However, we can only tell you've not been lazy if you show us. Have you been treated unfairly at some point? Is there any particular reason why you make this proposal specifically related to you? – Bart Nov 9 '12 at 9:13
@prusswan Which you can then politely help the user with by editing his question into shape. I don't mind minor issues in the English language. Those are easily fixed. – Bart Nov 9 '12 at 9:14
Also, just to make sure you know this: downvotes on Meta are meant to express disagreement. Your question here is OK, but people disagree with the proposal. – S.L. Barth Nov 9 '12 at 9:16
@Bart I don't consider those issues minor, but feel free to knock yourself out and encourage questions of similar quality. – prusswan Nov 9 '12 at 9:19
A sub-forum has been suggested in the past, but it has one fatal flaw - who would give answers in such a forum – Pëkka Nov 9 '12 at 9:19
@prusswan is the OP failing to make clear what he means? I don't think so. – Pëkka Nov 9 '12 at 9:20
@prusswan I do on very frequent basis. The points of the OP come across crystal clear. I'm sure you understood them as well. If you didn't, then the level of English of the OP is not the problem at hand. English skills can be a problem, but that's certainly not always the case and no reason to be dismissive of their questions. – Bart Nov 9 '12 at 9:21
@Pekka please read my last updated paragraph – masoud keshavarz Nov 9 '12 at 9:35
@masoud this is an ongoing discussion on Stack Overflow, see for example However, Stack Overflow gets over six thousand new questions every day, most of them in bad quality. Guiding every newbie is simply impossible with those numbers, plus it's a thankless job to correct the same mistakes over and over and tell people to Google. I ask you, what expert would want to do that for free? It becomes tiring after the 5,000th time you do it. Downvoting is the only way to protect the site from becoming a swamp of bad questions. – Pëkka Nov 9 '12 at 9:37
@Bart then why are you or most pple not posting in engrish? I'm sure you can be understood by others as well. – prusswan Nov 9 '12 at 9:37
@prusswan Because I do have a decent grasp of the English language. And at no point did I say that a proper use of the language isn't important. After all, I told you to edit, didn't I? Not to leave the problems in place. But you are by no means required to do so, if that's not the kind of constructive you like to be. – Bart Nov 9 '12 at 9:41
Im sorry, may someone help me what does "OP" mean? Thank you very much – masoud keshavarz Nov 9 '12 at 9:43
It means original poster; you :-) – ben is uǝq backwards Nov 9 '12 at 9:45
@masoudkeshavarz Your question here to me was perfectly clear. I've just edited it into shape for some issues with the English language. And I was asking for your personal experience because you might have been treated badly. But in its current form your question is just fine. No need to add anything else. – Bart Nov 9 '12 at 10:00
up vote 12 down vote accepted

Here is the thing. We (unfortunately) do not possess telepathic powers. Those guys usually work in tech support. We more than welcome new users. New users are always good. And we more than welcome people that are new to programming/specific prog language/technology/etc.

But being new to a technology doesn't mean that you can ask bad questions. Most of the new users' closed/downvoted posts are bad, no matter what level of experience their OP has. Please understand it. Yes, maybe the OP has wasted a day trying to solve his issue, but if he then posts a question like

I want to know how to sort strings in C++, please give me teh codezzz I cant find them!"

we simply can't know it (telepathic powers, remember). Well-formed questions are always welcome. And if you just rephrase the question above to something like

I'm new to C++ and I'm interested in learning more about search algorithms. I know that there are algorithms like bubble sort, quick sort, etc. But my lack of knowledge in C++ doesn't let me implement them. I think a bubble sort algorithm in C++ should be implemented by some kind of function that takes the data that needs to be sorted and returns it already sorted. How do I approach it, here is my pseudocode: <...some pseudo-code here...> I'm not asking you to make the code for me, but can you guide me on what to do next?

Do you see the difference? In the second variant the OP shows us that he has done some research. He shows that he indeed tried to learn it himself, but his current lack of knowledge/experience is getting him stuck. In the first variant of the question, the user doesn't show all that. Maybe he too spent a lot of time searching, but since he doesn't show it, we can't help but assume he hasn't done any research himself.

Thus, the first question will most likely be downvoted and closed immediately. The second one (though the question is very simple, and can be answered with a link to a wiki page about the algorithm) will most likely be treated much better, and probably get some good answers. Note that it is absolutely unrelated to both user experience on a particular website, or his experience in the programming language.

I can't speak for the community, but personally I would vote to close the first variant, and I would try to help the poster of the second variant.

So, if you use common sense and spend some time working on your questions, they will be treated nicely. Remember, we spend our time trying to help you too, searching for the solution, and posting the answer. So please try to ease our task by spending just a couple of minutes making a good question. And so no, we don't need a special area for newcomers.

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Thank you for reply, I thought its better to keep question simple and clear without any surplus parts. – masoud keshavarz Nov 9 '12 at 9:57
Well, your example was nice and clear, Thank you very much – masoud keshavarz Nov 9 '12 at 10:18

I strongly disagree with this thought.

  1. Generally on Stack Overflow you get a lot of help, starting from asking a question. Like when you start typing you get a large list of questions related to (maybe) your question. From those you can choose any, if applicable.

  2. In general, newbies, not intentionally, post questions in a hurry or in a pressure to meet deadlines without leaving proper time to research. Check this.

  3. We have FAQ for what to ask and what not to ask. Would it not be nice to go through it once before asking a question straight away?

Not blaming newbie but they tend to make mistakes asking foolish questions unintentionally or without proper research.

Hope this clears your doubts.

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You write (my highlight):

After so many hours search in google they find nothing and is they last hope, and after asking question in what they face is a bunch of expert developers with thirst of reputation. First they give negative vote to this simple question, then they answer this simple question and say "Please accept my question".

That's totally not what is happening on SO. It is difficult to get reputation with an answer for a question that is difficult to understand.

Experienced users will nudge the asker into improving his question. I have this canned comment, which I use many times a day:

Welcome to Stack Overflow! We encourage you to research your questions. If you've tried something already, please add it to the question - if not, research and attempt your question first, and then come back.

I don't get any reputation for this and I hope to help both the user and SO as a commuity. SO is only helpful for all its users, newbie or expert, when the content is of high quality.

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I don't think a separate Q&A for "newbie users" is a good idea. Simply because I don't think it will fix what you perceive to be the problem. Nor would such a site ever have the level of quality we desire, were we to step away from some of the requirements we have for posts.

It is not nice to call newbie users lazy. That is absolutely true. Under no circumstances should such comments ever be made and if they are made, feel free to flag them. There is a "but" in this however. I will, for each and every user, no matter how high or low their repuation, assume they are the most lazy bastards ever. Simply because I have no evidence to the contrary if they don't show it to me. If I want to answer a question, I have to assume that all they show me is all they've done. I can't dismiss solutions thinking "yeah, they've most probably tried that". And it's equally frustrating to provide an answer only to hear "yeah, I tried that but it didn't work". Show me what you've done and I'll be more likely to help you. Don't show me and I won't potentially waste effort on answering your question.

Users should be treated nicely. This has been discussed here time and time again. No matter the experience level of the user, rudeness or unfriendliness is unacceptable. If you ever find yourself the victim of bad behaviour, flag it. Flag for moderator attention. Don't confuse requests for information, proof of work, downvotes, or even the closure of your questions with unfriendliness. Downvotes are not personal. Don't get hung up on them. Take them as information that there is a problem. If you don't know what it is, inquire. All of this is not meant to harm you, but to help you and call out potential issues with what you're asking. Listen to it, work on it and you'll find that this is not all that bad a place to be.

If any user says "Please accept my answer" to you, and their answer was not correct or helpful, by all means feel free to ignore them. Answer acceptance is up to you as a user. And only up to you. Nobody else can take that decision for you, nor should you ever be pressured into accepting something you don't want. Don't debate it. Just ignore it.

With all that in mind, and with a bit of effort from you, I'm sure you'll find the Q&A as it is, equally welcoming to new users as it is to the more established ones. Show us your effort and we'll help you.

Good luck.

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