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Recently Stack Overflow has become inundated with inane "plz send teh codez" style questions from users who clearly have little interest in anything other than being given "codes" which they can copy and paste into their solution.

These questions seriously degrade Stack Overflow by making the signal-to-noise ratio almost unbearable for regular users, and you only have to look at the MSDN forums to see that it will only get worse in time.

Fortunately many of these questions are trivial to identify algorithmically by containing words such as "plz" and "codes" in either the title or body, or excessive repetition of punctuation such as three or more exclamation or question marks in a row.

It would be very useful to have a filter where we can enter keywords, and any questions containing these are simply not returned. They used to be manageable enough to vote down and close, but now it's getting too much and I simply don't want to see them. I suspect this is the case for the majority of other users who have a genuine interest in development and learning.

On one hand I can see why people might reject this suggestion, because then there would be fewer 'decent' users around to down-vote and close these questions. However, if the signal-to-noise ratio keeps decreasing then I suspect that the number of 'decent' users will decrease anyway, so it's probably better to keep them (us?) around by allowing us to ignore the rubbish.

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"recently"? It's always been like that. –  Ether Aug 6 '10 at 16:20
    
@Ether - The first few months were pretty good. Since then, Stack Overflow has worked its way up the search rankings for a lot of terms so there are a lot more users who find it and post rubbish. –  Greg Beech Aug 6 '10 at 16:44
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2 Answers 2

I don't agree that it's better to allow you to mechanically ignore the rubbish.

If this problem is truly on the incline as you suggest, then ignoring it may give you personal and momentary relief. But later on, in the back of your mind, you will possibly realize that the problem is still around, festering unmonitored as the people who can fix it are now all turning a blind eye. It may look clean for these "decent users", but for everyone else, especially anyone new coming to Stack Overflow, it will be a mess.

The best course of action really is to take action. It's because people are already choosing to ignore these problem posts without mechanical assistance that they are increasing. People are being dismissive instead of active. If these are seriously degrading the site and making it unbearable, the solution is to work on removing the problem, not lightening the enforcement against it.

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Welcome to meta's 10k-ers! –  jmfsg Aug 6 '10 at 16:01
    
How would you suggest we take action? I can't see the SO team banning people from posting rubbish because they earn ad-revenue based on the number of active users they have and from people viewing the questions (even if it is only to close them). History shows that the only action likely to happen if 'decent' users cannot find a way to filter out these posts is that they will migrate to another new forum that has not become popular enough for the masses to find and spam yet (how do you think Stack Overflow got users in the first place?!). –  Greg Beech Aug 6 '10 at 16:43
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@Greg All you, as a user, have to do is cast that close vote! It only takes seconds, and after you do that you can ignore the question forever, not even caring about the final effect because you have literally done all you could. It only takes 5 votes to close these things, which happens fast enough but only if people are actually voting. We're community moderated for a reason - if we want a clean site then we have our responsibility to help make it clean. And if you actually care about the community as you imply, it shouldn't a hassle to cast your vote. –  Grace Note Aug 6 '10 at 16:49

Opposed. Automatic filtering is not the answer.

Filtering "stupid" words would lead to a lot of false positives (or false negatives, whichever way you prefer to see it).

Behind many "can u help me solv dis" questions there is an intelligent asker, and a good question. "Texting style" english is the communication style of an entire generation, and not necessary a sign of stupidity or laziness.

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My generation grew up with MSN Messenger and I still expect posts to have correct spelling and grammar. It's true that this shorthand the informal communication style of the current generation, but that doesn't make it acceptable to post in even a quasi-formal setting. Automatic filtering may not be the answer, but I still consider that kind of communication to in fact be a sign of stupidity and/or laziness. –  Aarobot Aug 6 '10 at 18:25
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@Aarobot You have a point, but I've seen good questions ending in "plz help me with this". More generally, I'm really against any kind of automated discrimination. The user base should decide what is a bad question and what isn't, not a bunch of algorithms. –  Pëkka Aug 6 '10 at 19:12
    
It's also the communication style of people who don't speak English as their first language, for some reason. Should we automatically ban them? No. –  endolith Apr 1 '13 at 14:26

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