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Technically valid answers that raise questions of morality
How far should we go in judging question ethics?

What does everyone think about a downvote for a question considered "unethical"? Who's that judge for that? I guess a question should be judged strictly on technical merit.

Examples:

http://stackoverflow.com/questions/2598099/how-to-know-email-address-of-sender
Stack Smashing attempt giving segfault (this one initially got downvoted)

And also another question I had about writing social networking bots, but never posted because I found a solution elsewhere.

So what should be the policy on this kind of questions?

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marked as duplicate by Shog9, mmyers, Tyler Carter, Ladybug Killer, Adam Davis Apr 8 '10 at 17:37

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.

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Thanks for pointing that out so I could downvote it. –  Ladybug Killer Apr 8 '10 at 7:16
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The stack-smashing post doesn't have any downvotes. –  Marc Gravell Apr 8 '10 at 7:45
    
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@Marc Gravell It does now. >:] –  rlb.usa Apr 8 '10 at 17:01
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It's interesting to note the contrast between those questions, and how it affected their reception on SO: the email harvester was obviously soliciting aid in something rather dodgy, while the stack-smasher could be seen as someone merely attempting to understand an existing technique and/or learn more about system architecture. Could the former have disguised his question as the latter? Perhaps... But he didn't, and the response on SO appears to be that while we're perfectly happy to hand out guns, we don't hand them out to children. –  Shog9 Apr 8 '10 at 17:35

2 Answers 2

It's not our place to judge. For all we know, mr.e-mail-harvester had highly legitimate reasons, and even if he didn't, somebody out there will, will want to know how, come to SO, and find that he can't find out here. All of a sudden SO is no longer the font of all knowledge. That's a bad thing.

This is a Q&A trilogy. We're here to ask Qs and answer Qs with As, not judge those asking Qs.

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I'm not going to answer someone on how to build a Unicorn terminator machine.... –  Tyler Carter Apr 8 '10 at 16:43
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Phoshi, on your grounds, we should also answer exam and homework questions to their fullest extent. I disagree. –  rlb.usa Apr 8 '10 at 17:03
    
@rlb.usa: I don't. If it's a duplicate, close it as such, but if it isn't, it's knowledge that should be on SO. –  Phoshi Apr 8 '10 at 17:15
    
@Chacha102: Then we'll never get one! :'( –  Phoshi Apr 8 '10 at 17:16
    
If it is not our place to judge, then what is the point of up and down voting at all? How am I supposed to up or down vote something without judging the question based on some criteria. If mr.e-mail-harvester is worried about being judged then perhaps he could have asked is question better so his intentions where very clear. He chose to ask something that where the ethics where questionable. He should realize he is going to need to put in some extra effort to explain why his request is legitimate. –  Zoredache Apr 8 '10 at 20:57
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@Zoredache: It's not our place to judge based on morality. We can judge whether the answer answers the question just fine. –  Phoshi Apr 8 '10 at 22:07
    
@Chacha: that's cool, i'll answer someone on how to build Unicorn terminators... :) –  quack quixote Apr 10 '10 at 17:54

Downvotes are just a personal decision of the user voting.. You can be downvoted because your question is bad, because your name is ugly, because it's unethical or because someone had a bad day.

They don't have to tell you the reason, and they don't have to vote on the technical merit of the question only.

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I guess in this specific case, downvotes are a sign of agreement. :) –  Pëkka Apr 8 '10 at 9:26
    
In that case, what signs are upvotes? –  Georg Schölly Apr 8 '10 at 11:13
    
"+" sign. ______ –  KennyTM Apr 8 '10 at 12:30
    
-1. I don't like people with 3 letter names. –  Tyler Carter Apr 8 '10 at 16:42

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