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I don't understand. I recently asked a question about some very basic object-oriented concepts to double check myself (I was right on both of them as I had stated what I answered in my question). (It was for a technical phone interview.)

And the first two comments were something along the lines of

Is this why we can't find good hires?

and

This is basic level stuff, you aren't qualified to be a software developer.

Now I'm not crying or anything, but like, why is stuff like this tolerated? I specified it was entry level, I was CORRECT on both questions, and it literally adds nothing but a bad mood to the question?

So what's the point of even bothering to comment on something if you have nothing useful to say? Is it best to just report the comment and move on?

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Some sort of superiority complex, I'm sure. –  BoltClock's a Unicorn Jan 28 '11 at 0:00
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And folks wonder why encouraging comments might ever be a bad idea... –  Shog9 Jan 28 '11 at 0:01
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Some people are jerks and hide behind their anonymity because the usual social conventions have no power. –  Al E. Jan 28 '11 at 0:04
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Worth a read: edition.cnn.com/2011/OPINION/01/21/pearlman.online.civility/… - tl;dr = "for no good reason whatsoever, but they can get away with it" –  martin clayton Jan 28 '11 at 0:05
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Water under the bridge. –  Jonathon Jan 28 '11 at 0:06
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It's akin to Road Rage. The apparent anonymity makes people think they can get away with anti-social behaviour. –  ChrisF Jan 28 '11 at 0:06
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The second comment you referred ("You aren't qualified to be a professional developer") to was made by someone with 17k reputation and has been on SO for 2.5 years. –  Jonathon Jan 28 '11 at 0:11
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Ya? I know.....that doesn't make it any less insulting. I never said I was trying to be some senior programmer, I said it was an entry level position. Regardless it is offtopic and an unneeded comment. I never even myself would say "Oh I am a professional Software developer".. –  Mercfh Jan 28 '11 at 0:13
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Ok, well let's get some things straight; You aren't qualified to be a C++ developer. Sorry if that hurts your feelings, but it's the truth. On the other hand, you seem like someone who genuinely wants to learn and improve his skills, and I have no doubt that you will at some point soon be at the level required to do the job. However, you aren't there now. Call me a "Dick", call me an "A-hole", I really couldn't care less. I never said that your question wasn't valid or was too simple, it's a perfectly valid question. –  Ed S. Jan 28 '11 at 0:47
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That said, it's not a question that someone interviewing for a position as a C++ developer should be asking. You just aren't there yet, so keep doing what you're doing and you soon will be. Entry level doesn't mean that you're learning the language required to do the job the day you start in your new position. –  Ed S. Jan 28 '11 at 0:47
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...third comment. I do admit that my comment was inflammatory and off topic. I apologize; it wasn't my intention to start an argument. I was just trying to say that you're not ready to be interviewing for C++ positions, but I supposed I shouldn't have done that in a comment. –  Ed S. Jan 28 '11 at 0:49
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I would never even say I would be a qualified C++ Developer Either, because im not. But obviously thats why it's an entry level position...otherwise they wouldn't even bother to ask me those kinds of questions. But regardless I knew the answers so apparently im qualified to be an entry level developer. The reason I was insulted, was thats like me coming into a question of yours and being like "I hope your not applying for a job in XXX language because this is simple stuff".....It's unneeded and uncalled for. And honestly just brings the mood down. –  Mercfh Jan 28 '11 at 0:51
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That's fair, and again, I'm sorry. I tend to stick my nose into places where I shouldn't sometimes, and I promise that my comment was not intended to reflect your aptitude, just your current knowledge of a certain language. Where I have worked, entry level developers are expected to know enough to write internal applications and whatnot. We would not hire someone for an entry level position if they didn't know the fundamentals of the language that they would be using in their day job. Maybe that's not the norm; I'm only 27 and haven't worked a ton of jobs. –  Ed S. Jan 28 '11 at 0:55
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I appreciate that this must be frustrating -- I mean, it's not like it hasn't happened to everyone, including me -- but "why are people jerks" is a human behavior question, not a question about Stack Exchange. So, I'm voting to close as off-topic. –  Pops Jan 28 '11 at 17:03
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Honestly, I find the SE community to be a pretty mean community. It's a great resource but half the time I ask a question I find myself regretting it. –  TimE Jun 24 at 11:28

4 Answers 4

up vote 24 down vote accepted

If you find the comments offensive, flag the comments as "noise, offensive or spam". The moderators will see them and if they agree can delete the offending comment.

However, what one person regards as offensive isn't necessarily the same as what the next person finds offensive so don't be surprised if the comment isn't deleted.

Part of the ethos of Stack Overflow is (or should be) that no question is too simple to ask. After all we were all novices once, and we will be again when some new technology comes along.

However, like with down-votes, don't take comments to heart.

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I guess I just shouldn't take it personally probably. thanks –  Mercfh Jan 28 '11 at 0:05
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@Sauron: No, you shouldn't take it personally and no, it isn't generally tolerated. –  Al E. Jan 28 '11 at 0:17
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No one was saying that the question was too simple. I left my remark as a comment because it did not address the question at hand, but I wanted to leave a remark addressing the application for a C++ position. I don't think it was offensive, though perhaps direct. –  Ed S. Jan 28 '11 at 1:02
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@Ed Swangren I guess, he was caught up in a hype, like eight other people who called you and another commenter 'dicks'. It's funny how the people can exhibit some particular behaviour, while advocating against it. –  Nikita Rybak Jan 28 '11 at 2:18

Seeing as this erupted mainly from my comment, I thought that it would be appropriate for me to leave a formal response.

First, let me begin by saying I'm sorry. I didn't mean to offend you, and my comment was not meant as a critique of your aptitude for software development. I see how my response comes of as snarky and a bit rude, so again, I apologize for that. I'm a pretty direct guy and text is honestly not a great medium for me. I promise I am far easier to get along with in real life.

However, I will defend my point. In my experience, entry level programmers are expected to develop software, regardless of their entry level classification. C++ is not a trivial language, and you said yourself that the entire paradigm is new ground for you (the exact quote was something along the lines of "I am new to this object oriented stuff"). That being the case, I can't foresee how any potential employer could expect you to participate in the development of any non-trivial project without first training you in the basics of C++.

You may be a brilliant guy. It may take you only weeks to train yourself to a point where you feel comfortable developing C++ applications. My point is that you should at least have a firm grasp on the fundamentals before applying for a position. That doesn't mean knowing every peculiarity of the language. There are a lot of them, and trust me, I am not claiming to know every one of them either. However, you should at least be able to develop something at a non-trivial level in order maintain a position, even an entry level one.

Anyways, that's all I was getting at. Like I said, I didn't intend to offend you or belittle your skills as an engineer, and I'm sorry that I came off that way. I hope that I clarified my position and that there are no hard feelings.

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It's fine...but you have to understand as someone that recently graduated. And dont get me wrong....my school taught well but it was alot of just "stuff"thrown at you. But regardless the first thing I see when Im asking a question regarding an interview as what I perceive as negativity....isn't exactly what you want to see. And If Im wrong on something, I want to know that, but if Im double checking something just to be sure...I dont see any point in pointing that out as something "everyone should know". –  Mercfh Jan 28 '11 at 1:34
    
It's not something that "everyone should know", but it is something that every C++ developer should know. –  Ed S. Jan 28 '11 at 2:18
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In which I did....because I was still right on my "double-checked" questions anyways. That was my entire point, I see nothing wrong with double checking. Regardless lets just let this one go, whats been said is said and were each gonna have our own opinion of whats what. –  Mercfh Jan 28 '11 at 2:24

I agree with Sauron, I've seen a number of comments / posts along those lines. If it were me I'd flag them and hope they got deleted since they really add nothing to the question.

If it was a question where the OP was pretending to be a highly experienced software developer and then asking simple questions, clearly not having a clue then perhaps that's different (though even then I'd personally just ignore and move on) but as long as the question is given from an honest perspective with the willingness to learn then I don't see why such comments should be tolerated. They don't help anyone, they don't promote SO as being a good place if inexperienced people can't ask questions, and quite frankly, it's up to the interviewer whether the OP is qualified for the job or not. As far as I'm concerned it's no-one else's position to say, they don't know the employer's motives or reasons for potentially hiring the guy. It's not all about deep technical knowledge... I'd sooner work with someone who's willing to learn and has a great attitude any day of the week as oppose to someone with great technical knowledge but a horrible attitude.

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I'll disagree with ChrisF, there's nothing particularly offensive about those comments. Although, in the way they're shortened by OP, they do sound kinda rude.

First one is just an opinion, although expressed in not exactly kind manner:
Honestly, if you don't know the answers to these questions you aren't ready to work as a professional software developer. This is beginner level stuff.

Sauron, It may sound insulting to you now, but trust me, when in five-ten years you become pro and new intern comes asking the same question, you'll have the same reaction (although you may be wiser not to speak it out like that).

The second comment has nothing to do with you at all. It seems to me, that it refers to the state of the industry in general (to the kind of interview questions other companies use).
...Is this how other companies interview? Is this why we can't find anybody suitable to hire?

Overall, I would suggest being kind to people even when they're not so kind. Everyone has bad days.
Let the one who never left tongue-in-cheek comment to some silly question, throw the first stone cast the first downvote.

PS The post itself, for the reference

edit
1) Since Shog9 promised to flag such 'not useful' comments when he sees them, I've found some. By Shog9 himself.

What is the best way of storing time?
ActionScript vs C#?
How legal is screen scraping?

Shog9, I'm absolutely serious, I do expect to see these comments on the 'recently flagged' page.

The first post also has a tongue-in-cheek comment by Michael Myers. I think, we should strip him from his moderator privileges now.

2) @OP I was absolutely serious asking this: Every time when you grumble, do other people grab you, drag you to the nearest tree and lynch you? If not, why are you doing this to other people?

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I doubt the person who posted the "professional developer" comment could answer extremely basic questions about any particular language. We're all beginners in various areas and the questions should be welcomed on SO. I work with Java on a daily basis but couldn't answer the basic C++ questions posed in the original SO question. The comment didn't add anything constructive to the question. It was a personal jab. –  Jonathon Jan 28 '11 at 0:27
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I can see where your coming from, but the tone and direction just drags the mood down IMO. But regardless it didn't provide anything worthwhile in a comment. I know a comment is just a comment, but still.....it'd be like me going up to someone who doesn't know ANYTHING about Programming and saying "I sure hope HES not planning on getting a career in this". –  Mercfh Jan 28 '11 at 0:30
    
@Jonathon Have you seen the question itself? Commenter obviously was wrong to say that, but I understand his amazement. –  Nikita Rybak Jan 28 '11 at 0:31
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@Nikita: when it comes to C++, all questions are trick questions... –  Shog9 Jan 28 '11 at 0:33
    
I don't see what part of Chris's advice you're trying to disagree with here. –  martin clayton Jan 28 '11 at 0:37
    
@martin clayton I stated very clearly that those comments are not offensive and are not normally flagged on SO. What happend here is a mob lynch. –  Nikita Rybak Jan 28 '11 at 0:39
    
@Nikita: small correction - the first listed reason for flagging a comment is "noise" - that is, a comment that adds nothing useful to the post it is attached to and serves only as a distraction. Granted, folks generally aren't motivated to flag comments unless they are seen as offensive in some way... But posting a comment that is both off-topic and potentially offensive is just setting it up for deletion. –  Shog9 Jan 28 '11 at 0:42
    
@Sauron There're lots of comments on SO which diverge from the topic. That's human nature. (and that's what comments are for, strictly speaking) Believe me, in a very little time (after you start answering questions yourself), you'll leave your first tongue-in-cheek comment to some extremely basic, poorly written or unclear question. –  Nikita Rybak Jan 28 '11 at 0:43
    
@Nikita +1 for actually giving the (now deleted) text of the comments, for context. And for being downvoted. –  Jürgen A. Erhard Jan 28 '11 at 0:44
    
@Nikita I understand...but if something was poorly written I would ask them to clarify the question....and extremely basic is subjective. I could Answer a question that to ME is very basic in C, but for someone else could be somewhat confusing. For example pointers are basic things for people, but still people have a difficult time understanding a basic C concept....so your bound to see basic questions about pointers......I see no problem with that. –  Mercfh Jan 28 '11 at 0:46
    
@Shog9 Each extremely basic/poorly written question from newcomer (especially the one that'll get closed) gets several more diminishing comments. Why give preference to Ed Swangren ? –  Nikita Rybak Jan 28 '11 at 0:47
    
@Sauron All I'm asking is for you not to expect people to be perfect. Are you perfect? I bet you grumble yourself sometimes. –  Nikita Rybak Jan 28 '11 at 0:49
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@Nikita: Feel free to flag other instances of such comments as you come across them - I'll happily pile on if I see them in the list of flags. These got attention because they were linked on Meta, not because they were exceptional. However common and understandable they might be, such comments have never been protected (or seen as desirable) on SO. –  Shog9 Jan 28 '11 at 0:49
    
@Nikita Im not perfect and I do grumble, but when I make mistakes too i'd be expected be called out for it too. –  Mercfh Jan 28 '11 at 0:54
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@Jonathon: You're right; I don't know the basics of every language out there. Of course, that is a bad analogy because I am not interviewing for positions that would reasonably require such knowledge. –  Ed S. Jan 28 '11 at 0:57

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