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I recently encountered a vague question on Stack Overflow which asked for instructions on a very basic operation in C++. I added an answer linking to a Google results page, which contained very easy tutorials as top hits, as well as linking a few of these hits directly.

The asker commented that he "tried these links but not of much help..!!" and I answered that "we can't really help you if you don't tell us what you tried and what went wrong".

At that point I felt compelled to link to The Old New Thing:

You may also want to have a look at Raymond Chen's blog. He's regularly providing interesting reads.

Is this acceptable? Or does it sound too rude? I want to give clear advice as to the uselessness of his question as it is without sounding too mean.

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2  
Related: the rather new mandatory advice page for new users. –  Arjan Oct 2 '10 at 12:22

3 Answers 3

up vote 4 down vote accepted

If it's a total newbie, I'd recommend either taking the time to point out (briefly but not rudely) what info is missing, or quietly leave the question alone.

The blog links may contain valuable info on how to ask better questions, but I doubt they will be of real help in most situations. I'd reserve those for people who chronically ask bad questions and show no improvement.

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A newbie absolutely loves people who guide them. Help them, if providing a link to Raymond or whatever is necessary do that. Do not rick roll or abuse them.

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Link them to

http://stackoverflow.com/questions/ask-advice

Note that this is a mandatory clickthrough page for new users who ask questions.

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I'd suggest linking to stackoverflow.com/questions/how-to-ask, which is the same content without the "thanks, I will keep these tips in mind when asking" checkbox and "proceed >>" button. –  Kevin Vermeer Oct 11 '11 at 13:33

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