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I've only just posted my first question on SO and I was just wondering - at what point is it ok to post a question on SO? I'm a firm believer that everyone should do some research first - SO is not meant to be a Google service where other people do the searching for you. But then again I can be a bit too extreme in that thinking. Maybe I'm a bit paranoid about being down-voted for a duplicate question or seeming lazy?

Now I'm starting to wonder if this is an appropriate meta question. I hope it is :)

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It definitely depends. The better the question is, the less research effort is needed to make it stick... –  Mysticial Mar 29 '13 at 14:15

2 Answers 2

up vote 11 down vote accepted

That's the reason I have so few questions on SO: I usually find an answer on Google or SO before I get around to asking it.

That said:

  • Have you already looked on Google and Stack Overflow? I mean, really looked?
  • Have you put effort into your situation, either through coding or at least brainstorming/pseudocoding?
  • Can you show those efforts in your question?
  • Is your question on-topic, and not just asking for recommendations/suggestions/opinions/pats-on-the-back?

If you can say "yes" to all of those, then:

  • As you start typing your question, do you already see your question in any of the examples? If you don't see your question, ask away!

One last caveat: after you've asked your question, double-check the Related section on the right; I've sometimes seen a question that didn't show up on Google, didn't show up in the suggestions, but it was exactly what I was looking for. In that case, I just deleted my question, even after all that effort.

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I always google my question first and usually I'm getting best hits from SO itself. In this way if you'll make at least tiny investigation you'll find answer without a question on SO. In other point of view SO won't be so good if there wasn't so many basic questions. So my answer would be that you have to make your question clear, provide code samples and nice description. In this way your question may be valuable and enough to make a post.

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