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I'm very active in the android tag on stackoverflow. It seems that the tag is hit by a wave of people trying to write apps for android without any programming knowledge.

Many of this questions look like this one: Go to Activity2 from Activity1 using rotation animation. There is no effort nothing done from the person asking the question just a please send me code. It is absolutely clear that this person will take the code make no effort on understanding and trying to patch together an app for the market that will very likely be broken.

How do I respond to this kind of questions? There are some good replies in this question already but no real answer and the question has more focus on questions that can be answered through a google search.

I'm a bit depressed with all the questions from people with no rep, without any effort that get not answered because nobody of the skilled android people has any motiviation in answering them anymore.

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probably related - meta.stackexchange.com/questions/20696/… –  YOU Jun 2 '10 at 8:08

5 Answers 5

If you want to determine if they are being sincere or not in their desire to learn, then you should add a comment on their question that asks for clarification.

Something along the lines of

"What have you tried so far?"

"Which design pattern are you trying to fit into?"

"Could you provide more detail about the XYZ"

Basically, with a question like this you will be able to determine whether they are confused and unable to answer for themselves, or if they are completely uninterested in doing their own work. If the user is engaged and actively attempting to learn, then you can help them formulate their question is a better way to get the answers they want.

If the user is not interested in learning, and just wants someone to do their work for them, then the only acceptable avenue is to ignore the question. You cannot report them, and you should not post an answer that says anything like "Do your own work". Even posting a comment that says "Do your own work" is hostile and rude. I don't appreciate it either, but SO is great because it is characterized by it's civility.

The best thing to do is to ask the questions I mentioned earlier to at least hint or encourage them to do more of their own work. You might even get them to be able to figure out how to answer their own question.

Ultimately, if you think there is no hope for them, just don't answer.

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"If the user is not interested in learning, and just wants someone to do their work for them, then the only acceptable avenue is to ignore the question." - Eeeeexactly.:) +1 –  Ólafur Waage Jun 2 '10 at 8:33
    
I think just ignoring the question would not help at all they only think that so sucks. Maybe we could come up with some kind of standard reply that can be pasted as a comment this way they may understand someday –  Janusz Jun 2 '10 at 9:36
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Standard replies always end up offending people because people hate the implication that they are being dealt with systematically. As I said, you should engage the person and try to show them the way. But if they quite simply Want Someone To Do It For Me, then we can't really stop them. And if they are intent on not helping SO, and they insist on asking questions which don't fit in, then they think SO sucks because they don't understand it. –  devinb Jun 2 '10 at 9:46

Just like with any other drug prevention. Just say No!

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2  
No is only two letters. You'll get an error. –  uɐɯsO uɐɥʇɐN Jun 2 '10 at 7:57
    
@George Edison: How about "Nooooooooooooo!"? Too dramatic? –  Andy E Jun 2 '10 at 10:06
    
@George: there are ways around that. –  perbert Jun 2 '10 at 15:06

I'd never give code as a response to a "give-me-teh-codez" question. They do nothing for the site, and I wouldn't want to encourage them.

Still, some people who start with such questions can turn into valuable members of the community if properly guided. The trick is to let them know what works on SO without insulting them. These range from the comments in devinb's answer to things like "Stack Overflow works better when you post what you've done and ask specifically about what's going on." Anybody willing to take advantage of SO as it is can learn from that, and it's a statement about SO rather than the questioner. Similarly, "Your accept rate is low, and that will discourage people from answering your questions. You'll get better answers here if you accept some". Do not give orders. Don't imply anything more negative about the person than being new to SO.

Aside from that, I don't answer such questions. If they can't be satisfactorily answered as written, and can't be edited into usable form, and the OP doesn't provide clarifications within about an hour of being asked, I'll generally vote to close. I find that many people who ask these questions don't give enough information to answer. Many I leave open, because there aren't legitimate reasons to close a lot of bad questions.

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"Not a real question" includes "incomplete", which covers all of these questions, but to varying degrees. –  Gnome Jun 2 '10 at 14:48

If the question is unclear or not useful, downvote it.

If you don't want to spend your time answering—for any reason—then don't answer. Find a question that would be a better use of your time. Only you know which questions those are.

For example, I edit a lot. I edit questions about topics I know nothing about. Grammar, spelling, pace, formatting, salutations/closings, but especially tagging and wall-o-text—these are all universal for questions and require very little domain-specific knowledge.

If your question is good or I like it, I will spend more of my time improving it.

If your question sucks, I will just edit tags, since those need to be right even for poor questions. (Or if it's already very well written, I don't have anything to do. ;)

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do you remove salutations? I generaly don't like questions starting with hello dear friends... –  Janusz Jun 2 '10 at 15:35

I watched a 1 rep guy asking question of this type...Answers were supplied and he was given the benefit of the doubt, but he would never respond. After seeing this question:

please Can any one tell how to calculate nxn matrix determinant in c#

I lose control and posted this answer:

5 minutes ago ?...nope not a clue...didn't even know a matrix could have a determinant. Didn't even know the word determinant existed.

Now ?..Absolutely...just wrote some test code...works like a charm.

My method ?...Sure babe....Here ya go..served up on a silver platter.

[1] Google search for say: c# matrix determinant

[2] Pick say ~10 sites that are not obvious chaff.

[3] Have a quick look at the source code on the site...pick some code that is well structured and has plenty of comments.

[4] Pop it into visual studio..write some quciky code that excises the algorithm.

[5] Check a few of the results by hand. If they fail goto step 3.

[6] Run through the code until you understand how it works.

And there you go..How to calculate an n x n matrix determinant in 6 pain free steps.

Determinants Galore.

Can I get you another cocktail ?

Now this wasn't very nice...but he had ignored all help.

It was, however, very cathartic and my tolerance was restored to a higher level. Maybe a little humor is best.

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