One of the things that really bothers me lately about SO is the preponderance of crappy questions. People, especially new users, consistently fail to:
- Provide enough information to figure what they're trying to do
- Indicate what part of the problem is confusing them (e.g., is it null-terminated strings or nested
- Indicate what they tried already (seen often in a comment: I tried x library already, but its implementation of SVD is too slow for my dataset)
- Indicate their level of proficiency
- Provide feedback of any kind (upvotes for those who are on the right track, best answers to those who answered the question)
Often, it seems like other SO users take this as an opportunity to punish users, with downvotes and snarky comments. This is an old old old thread in programming & nerd culture where we simply are not very friendly to the very new and very naive.
One thing that I think would help would be a notice on the ask a question page that gives some tips for asking a good question. Sort of like a very succinct how to ask questions , but directly on the "ask" page. The important part of it being on that page is that new users are unlikely to know about or look for FAQs.
The important point here is that just because someone starts off as a crappy, or not very involved user doesn't mean they need to stay that way. If users find that this website is helpful and friendly, even the crappiest of users can turn into great contributers. The payoff is that we build a healthier community, with a higher quality level discourse. We just have to help new people get started.
First Meta post, so I hope I'm doing this right