I've been using SO for a while now, and it's become more and more useful as a professional tool, which is why I'm finally registering and joining the community. I actually use SO every day, including weekends (because I'm a geek). I work in Java and particularly like the fact that there is an explanation available for almost every framework/infrastructure exception I manage to create (and I create a lot of them).
But, I'm constantly being bummed out by all the kids asking 'dumb' questions (I put that in quotes because I actually think they're lazy, not dumb -- the answers are already available, they just can't be bothered searching for them because there is a constant stream of people who think that they're helping by answering the lazy buggers, and besides, answering easy questions is a readily accessible font of 'reputation'). This isn't education -- you're not helping these kids/people, you're actually doing more harm than good. Either they care about this, and can find the answers for themselves by learning to read documentation and SO answers, or they don't care, in which case F'em.
Answering questions that students raise is a poor way to educate them. All your actually teaching them is dependence on others. They're not 'learning' from your answers (please, look up the definition of 'learning' before you flame me for this), they're using them to pass some sort of test/assessment/homework. Watch the TED series on education, then you'll see what I'm talking about. Just because your education was poor doesn't mean that you should inflict that on others.
Also, to head off flames, I'm not talking about professional students, such as D-Phil's (or Phd's even), who are programming professionally and need help with a problem they're facing, rather than asking for help with an assignment/homework/etc. Professional means, 'for money' (to save you having to google the definition and become confused by the proliferation of opinions that such a thing engenders).
I know that getting their lazy asses out of here will reduce traffic initially, but your advertisers are targeting professionals, not kids. There is hardly a student out there who will know what rackspace is. By removing the chaff you end up with higher advertising revenues because you have a more specialised audience that your advertisers will want to target, rather than a generalised audience to whom you can only really sell shampoo (which is, honestly, anathema to most professional engineers because we either have no hair left, or we don't really care if we stink and have greasy hair).
So, here's my question: which is more important to SO professionals, or students. If the answer is the former, kick the lazy bums out. If the answer is the latter, then goodbye :)
Ok, it's not really goodbye. You have lots of useful content, really really useful content, that's becoming more useful by the day. Hell, even I'm contributing, and I'm really focused on making money. It'll take years to build up a professional version of SO, and an awful lot of luck, and to be honest I don't have the energy or time to fix this myself, so I'm looking for help and support from a great bunch of guys who really understand what's important, and who really understand how they're supporting a bunch of deadbeats who need to learn how to learn.
B ps: why can't I use 'Raison d'être' as a tag?