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I've not been using Stack Overflow for very long (around 3 months).

I have noticed a particular user who asks a lot of questions, sometimes 5 a day. Some of these questions are very similar in that they seem to follow on from one to another. For example: I've helped the user in the past and then a couple minutes later seen a question that includes the answer I gave, but a different question is being asked.

I know that it's not wrong to ask lots of questions, that it's quality over quantity, but the majority of the questions are relatively simple. Therefore it would be easy to come to the conclusion that the person is not really attempting to learn anything, but rather asking other people to do the work for him.

I like helping people, should I be put off from helping this person?

How does Stack Overflow view this?

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By rate-limiting the number of questions which can be asked (50 per month). – Rob W Apr 11 '13 at 13:30
It's not 50 per-month, it's 50 per-30 days. See this post:… – JonW Apr 11 '13 at 13:32
I don't get how people can get to 50 per 30 days, wow! – Hugo Dozois Apr 11 '13 at 13:34
See also: Is it okay to ask many questions? – Al E. Apr 11 '13 at 13:35
See also: Asking Too Many Questions? – Al E. Apr 11 '13 at 13:35
@HugoDozois I remember a discussion on Meta with a user who claimed that surely 10 minutes of Googling was sufficient research from his side to be allowed to ask a question. :) – Bart Apr 11 '13 at 13:36
@JonW: There's a per-day rate limit for questions too, isn't there? – Al E. Apr 11 '13 at 13:38
@AlEverett I did look at "Asking too many questions", but it doesn't really discuss a user asking questions following on from each other. – Jack Pettinger Apr 11 '13 at 13:39
@Bart reaaally! These people don't like programming don't they? I thought programming was about trying stuff! (and trying and trying and trying, rinse and repeat) – Hugo Dozois Apr 11 '13 at 13:39
@Jack: Well, there's this: Serial near duplicate questions from one user – Al E. Apr 11 '13 at 13:40
For what rate limits on questions exist, see this MSO question. On SO, SU, SF and Math (not active on all other sites): maximum of 6 questions per day; maximum of 50 questions per 30 days. If he hits this limit, he's probably in the wrong job. – tombull89 Apr 11 '13 at 13:51
The OP should put a few days' work into solving his problems himself before resorting to asking for free help from others. Posting a new question every five minutes clearly indicates the contrary. I'm not sure how best to handle it, though. – PreferenceBean Apr 11 '13 at 14:05
BTW credit to you for not identifying the user in question, although I am really curious – PreferenceBean Apr 11 '13 at 14:06
up vote 19 down vote accepted

You may be dealing with a Help Vampire.

On StackOverflow, everything you do is volunteer work. As such, you should only keep doing it when it feels good. If a particular user has frustrated you to the point where you no longer want to answer their questions, then stop. Feel free to gently nudge the OP to change their behavior, but don't expect much out of it.

As for the user: It's not really against the rules to post similar questions, and I'm sure many people are willing to leap on what they basically see as free rep. Ultimately, this is self-punishing behavior: since the user isn't trying to learn anything, they will be at a loss, dependent on others to answer their questions at work and in life.

It's the help vampires I feel sorry for. We? We can just stop helping.

That being said, if you do continue answering this user's questions, remember to evaluate each question on its own merits.

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Thanks for your answer. When I help somebody, I want to feel like I've made a difference, helped that person out, relieved the stress they may have been feeling... Let's face it, sometimes when we're stuck with a problem, we get stressed. – Jack Pettinger Apr 11 '13 at 14:32
@JackPettinger One of the many reasons we all answer questions here. But, at some point, it begins to not feel quite as good anymore, when frustration for you surmounts the benefits. If it stops feeling good to help a particular user, you're under no obligation to. – Emrakul Apr 11 '13 at 14:34
remember to evaluate each question on its own merits Continually posting questions using previous answers as a means to build a solution to a complex problem is abuse. You have to demonstrate that you can learn over time. A pattern of abusive behavior is grounds for suspension. – JimmyPena Apr 11 '13 at 20:58

I have seen this behavior on several occasions in the past. I have tried to help where I can. I agree with you on the part that the user posts interlinked questions. However, I would much rather choose to help by answering if it is in my domain / know the solution. At the end of the day, the solution can be helpful to others who might possibly face the same or nearly the same problem in the future.

I would also drop a hint or two that the OP should (if necessary and warranted for) perhaps, go back to the basics. But I will circle back to my original point. You are not helping just the one user asking the question. Your solution can help anyone else facing the same problem.

But I draw a line if they are identical with little or no change from the previous question/s. I have in the past stopped helping for the simple reason that the OP was (in my opinion, what I thought at that time) almost building an application based on a series of questions. That's where I drew the line.

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I have seen this behavior every day on Stack Overflow. OP is asking the same question every time with the answer which was posted on OP's previous question.

Some users don't have a knowledge of programming language and want to complete his/her task, So they ask the question with the part of code where they think it might have problem and post some line of code.

When someone answers his question with proper code the OP again ask the question with provided answer and ask "I want in that way".

I think for that kind of question we have to flag the question to moderator and also leave the comment with any "tutorial link" and also comment that "Do some research before asking here same code which you copied from last answer".

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We are already notified by the system if a series of questions by a user have been closed recently, so unless these are really terrible questions that aren't being closed, I don't think we need to be flagged for this. Also, any comments left to the user should be constructive and helpful, not an attempt to drive them away. Saying "Do some research" in a comment strikes me as rude, and I would most likely remove a comment that started with that. – Brad Larson Apr 11 '13 at 14:39

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