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There's a clear distinction between people who don't know enough to ask a question well, or are new and don't get SO yet, and in this case I think they should get a lot of slack.

I have been seeing lots of cases of users basically asking me to do something, rather than to show them how to do it themselves. Many are experienced SO user, and existing content in the question provides the language they may need to do a simple google (usually finding a relevant SO answer!).

EDIT: In particular, I have seen this behavior in comment "threads" that follow on to an answer I (or someone else) provides. So the question starts out well enough, but the OP gets lazy in comments.

So what's the proper etiquette for saying "Yo, bozo, I am not a contract programmer thinking for you for free, figure it out given the 20 links and 30 snippets I have already posted"?

Perhaps something gentler and biblical like "I am here not to give you fish, but to teach you to fish"? Maybe there should be an auto-link or even a way of flagging that gives more experienced users the ability to flag a question as "LF!GF" (learn to fish, not give fish)

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1 Answer 1

up vote 12 down vote accepted

Downvote and closevote based on the current state of the question. There are so many questions on Stack Overflow these days, it's impossible to wait whether people come back to fix what's broken just because we want to spare them the sting of the downvote. It's okay to vote.

Then if you want to be nice, add a friendly explanatory comment. I often use something like

Hi, this is a very broad question. Stack Overflow generally expects questions to be about specific technical issues.

or

Hi, this reads more like a job description rather than a specific technical question. In its current form, it's not a good fit on Stack Overflow. Consider getting started (e.g. with xyz tutorial) - you're welcome to ask again when you encounter a specific issue while trying to solve the problem. Thanks!

or

I'm afraid this is too broad a question for Stack Overflow, which expects questions to deal with specific issues. It might get closed for that reason. You're welcome to ask a more specific question, of course! See the FAQ for help on that.

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These are good -- thanks. I realize that the case I am asking about applies more to "comment threads/discussions". Maybe I am actually advocating for a feature to help avoid this. Questions/Answers are so much better when they are synopsized after the details are worked out ... but of course most people don't do that. Anyhoo, thanks for the words gentle words :-) –  Tom Harrison Jr Dec 4 '12 at 15:40

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