What is meta? ×
Meta Stack Exchange is where users like you discuss bugs, features, and support issues that affect the software powering all 131 Stack Exchange communities.

This question is an exact duplicate of:

I recently left this comment for a poster who was insulted by someone asking him if he could use Google:

He does make a valid point, though. You'll find on StackOverflow that we, as a community, place a heavy importance on doing your own research, and basically seek to use SO as "last chance, couldn't find it anywhere else on the internet, so let's figure it out and put it on the internet" kind of resource. That being said, it was simple enough for me to expand on my use of the word "type".

Original comment: What is naming convention for C# arrays?

Is this the correct message to convey?

share|improve this question

marked as duplicate by gnat, hims056, РСТȢѸФХѾЦЧШЩЪЫЬѢѤЮѦѪѨѬѠѺѮѰѲѴ, Lance Roberts, Tobias Kienzler Aug 7 '13 at 7:00

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

2  
I think Joel's reply to your comment sums things up; You put it much more constructively. Your comment also happens to be correct, IMO. –  Andrew Barber Aug 6 '13 at 16:27
    
The goal wasn't to drive the OP away, though, which I was concerned I had done. –  Jonathon Reinhart Aug 6 '13 at 16:28
    
Your comment would not at all have been a part of that, if so. If anything, by putting it constructively, you may have helped prevent that. –  Andrew Barber Aug 6 '13 at 16:29
1  
I think that's a fair enough comment. If something that constructive, clear and fair drives a user away, I would not be too worried about it. But I don't see that happening. –  Bart Aug 6 '13 at 16:29
    
Unfortunately, we don't have a close reason for "This information is already readily available on the internet elsewhere." That experiment was called the "General Reference" close reason, and after a lengthy trial period, we decided not to adopt it. Should we reopen the question? It's got code now. :) –  Robert Harvey Aug 6 '13 at 16:30
1  
The biggest problem I have with your comment is that you went and actually did the search for him despite telling him that he should indeed have done some due diligence himself. It would have been better to wait for him to ask a more specific question that indicated he had made some attempt to find an answer to his question but couldn't. –  Servy Aug 6 '13 at 16:31
1  
@RobertHarvey It's worth noting that this comment is with respect to a clarifying comment. The OP asked this clarifying question that another user responded to with "google it" (now deleted). That said, this does apply to the actual posted question as well. –  Servy Aug 6 '13 at 16:32
2  
"Should StackOverflow be a “last resort” resource?" - Hell yeah. –  H2CO3 Aug 6 '13 at 17:07
    
To be honest, I always thought of Blackpool as being the last resort. But hey, why not StackOverflow... at least it's sunnier here. –  Spudley Aug 6 '13 at 18:22
4  
Very closely related: How much research effort is expected of Stack Overflow users? –  Josh Caswell Aug 6 '13 at 18:34
    
@RobertHarvey Sigh, that's the exact close reason I've been wishing existed. So, when someone asks what -z means in Bash, without consulting a man page, what do we close it as? –  Jonathon Reinhart Aug 7 '13 at 7:08
    
@JonathonReinhart my understanding is that manual reference questions should be closed as "off-topic because... -> Questions asking for code must demonstrate a minimal understanding of the problem being solved. Include attempted solutions, why they didn't work, and the expected results." (note, emphasis from the original, not my own). –  jball Aug 7 '13 at 15:23
    
In fact, it is not a duplicate of the linked question. Here it is about using SO, browsing it. There it is about asking a new question. Also, I believe reading SO as often as possible is OK. I have been developing Android apps commercially for 3 years already and know pretty much about them, but not all. Far from it. I do not have time to study a new SDK every 2 months or so Google releases them. StackOverflow is my first and last resort for quick answers. –  Yar Jan 18 at 8:58

3 Answers 3

Asking real people to invest their time in your problem when you can't even be arsed to do some basic research is rude.

Very, very rude.

IMO, showing that you have already invested some of your time is a non-negotiable prerequisite for asking for help.


Transcribed from the comments:

Is showing they have invested some time the same as only posting a question on SO as their last resort? – jball

It is the same as not asking when the answer is in the furnished manual or the first half-dozen links that Google brings up. The answer being in some obscure usenet archive or 400 comments down in a slashdot thread on some other topic is no impediment to asking Stack Exchange, but their being dozens of answer instances all across the internet is.

share|improve this answer
9  
+5. Oh no, I've left my sockpuppets at home. So +1 only. –  H2CO3 Aug 6 '13 at 17:23
1  
Is showing they have invested some time the same as only posting a question on SO as their last resort? –  jball Aug 6 '13 at 17:28
9  
It is the same as not asking when the answer is in the furnished manual or the first half-dozen links that Google brings up. The answer being in some obscure usenet archive or 400 comments down in a slashdot thread on some other topic is no impediment to asking Stack Exchange, but their being dozens of answer instances all across the internet is. –  dmckee Aug 6 '13 at 17:31
4  
Agreed. We don't need to be "the last resort" but Stack Exchange sites should NOT be the first resort, or a substitute for Google. –  voretaq7 Aug 6 '13 at 18:22
    
Asking a new question without searching is bad. But using SO for reading answers - as a first resort - is OK. I have been developing Android apps commercially for 3 years already and know pretty much about them, but not all. Far from it. I do not have time to study a new SDK every 2 months or so Google releases them. StackOverflow is my first resort for quick answers –  Yar Jan 18 at 9:26

I don't really like "last resort", because it sounds like we expect people to spend hours searching about and only post on SO if they are complete failures. That's not the idea; rather, we expect people to ask questions that are sufficiently well thought out that they can be asked that are specific, detailed, and interesting, that they add to the community in some fashion. Many of the questions that are asked here have been solved somewhere before, and are findable on Google; that's not a problem, and there is significant value in having those questions also answered on StackOverflow/SE sites.

What we don't want are questions that are so trivial to be answered by simple reference manuals, because SO is not intended to be a site for the primary purpose of learning the basic implementation of a language (although you can learn a language from SO, as has been discussed elsewhere, you should be learning the basics first elsewhere). This ends up being a bit different on a tag by tag basis unfortunately, because in "busy" tags (say ) there are sufficient difficult/interesting questions that you would simply never get an answer to a simple question. On sparse tags, however, like , where you get a few questions a day, you likely would get an answer simply because there aren't any other questions to answer.

While I don't like the term "last resort", it is probably best to also remember that one is asking for several people to take some time out of their day to answer the question. Just like I wouldn't ask a colleague how to do something that is trivially answerable by looking in the SQL manual, SO shouldn't be the first place you look, unless you know it's not that easy. I just don't think that "last resort" is exactly the right way to put it, either.

share|improve this answer
8  
"Many of the questions that are asked here have been solved somewhere before, and are findable on Google; that's not a problem" - in fact, that is one of the greatest problems. –  H2CO3 Aug 6 '13 at 17:08
    
@H2CO3, you might want to clarify that some, or are you saying if questions are answered on social.msdn.microsoft.com, forums.asp.net, or experts-exchange.com they do not belong on SO? –  jball Aug 6 '13 at 17:20
4  
@jball I am saying that if a question has a solution on one of the first 10 pages of Google, then it does not belong on SO. –  H2CO3 Aug 6 '13 at 17:22
2  
@H2CO3 if that was the case, then most of the questions and answers on SO would not exist. I think your exclamations are not evidenced by either what SO is, or what MSO has discussed they wish SO to be. –  jball Aug 6 '13 at 17:23
5  
@jball In my experience, most questions asked on Stack Overflow shouldn't exist either. Very few of them actually hit the quality standard. –  H2CO3 Aug 6 '13 at 17:24
8  
I would say if the question has a solution on the second page of Google, it should be on SO: SO is always on the first page. –  R. Martinho Fernandes Aug 6 '13 at 17:25
6  
@jball I meant "delete all the content which shows no research effort and/or is trivially answerable by googling or by R'ing the FM". Too bad that happens to be a lot of questions, simply because people are lazy. –  H2CO3 Aug 6 '13 at 17:30
4  
@jball I doubt that. There is a very small percentage of questions on SO that get a significant view rate, enough to indicate that they've been helpful to a large number of people. Getting rid of a lot of the duplicates and low view/low quality/one off type of questions makes SO more helpful, as it makes the gems much easier to find. That is precisely why the automatic deletion criteria were changed a few months back to more aggressively delete questions clearly not being helpful. SO isn't a place for one person to be helped asking a question only applicable to them. –  Servy Aug 6 '13 at 17:33
1  
@Servy look at the 'popular' questions - many of them have answers on the first page of google –  Eiyrioü von Kauyf Aug 6 '13 at 17:33
2  
@EiyrioüvonKauyf Too bad. It really shouldn't be the case. I feel ashamed when the first question about "How do I print a string using printf" has 18374 upvotes... –  H2CO3 Aug 6 '13 at 17:34
3  
@EiyrioüvonKauyf Many of them are the first answer in Google for many common searches. That's why they're so popular in the first place. –  Servy Aug 6 '13 at 17:34
1  
@H2CO3 - I partially disagree here. I don't think that the presence of a solution on google automatically disqualifies a question from StackOverflow. Some people might not be very good at searching; I would bet that I could find ~70% of the answers on tags I have some understanding of easily, but I'm very good at searching. The point should be that asking prior to doing any searching is rude; but we don't expect every search to be as effective as an expert's. –  Joe Aug 6 '13 at 17:35
4  
@Joe Well, I agree in that it's OK to ask if you really searched thoroughly, but you just can't find the answer. Of course that's fine. The problem is that most askers don't do anything, and typically 99% of their questions would fit very well into the "trivially answerable" category. Also, a minimal ability for searching for solution on one's own is a required programmer skill. –  H2CO3 Aug 6 '13 at 17:37
2  
@EiyrioüvonKauyf In large part, that question is popular probably because it's a better answer than your site (or whatever). Perhaps it wasn't really a good question - but maybe that's just a good example of why trivial questions do have some place here (even if it's that they're not always as trivial as they sound). –  Joe Aug 6 '13 at 17:39
5  
@jball I agree more with the comment in the question, that asking a qusetion on SO should be a last resort after you have exhausted the other options available to you. While an expert may be able to find the data somewhere buried in a site on the 10th page of Google using a search term that the OP had no way of knowing would be related, that doesn't mean the OP could have found it. When searching using terms in the question itself results in finding an answer with a somewhat more than trivial amount of searching, it's an indication that the OP didn't do their homework. –  Servy Aug 6 '13 at 17:45

I believe that idea of what is expected of question asker is expressed reasonably well in Needs to demonstrate research pro-forma comment

Sharing your research helps everyone. Tell us what you've tried and why it didn’t meet your needs. This demonstrates that you’ve taken the time to try to help yourself, it saves us from reiterating obvious answers, and most of all it helps you get a more specific and relevant answer! Also see how to ask

As far as I can tell, the main point is for research to be sufficient to save answerers "from reiterating obvious answers". As long as the question asked meets this criteria, it is on the road to receiving good answers, ones that would be valuable not just for the asker, but for future readers, too.

As long as research done satisfies this criteria, I have no objections even if the asker didn't went extra mile in their investigation (after all, why would I object?)


Side note. Another thing I like about above note is it points how it is in the interest of asker to invest an effort in order to get more specific and relevant answer ("help us help you"). This nicely connects interests of the asker to those of Stack Exchange.

share|improve this answer

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .