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Could we please be a bit nicer to the noobs?

I'm a student, and I asked a question about one of my assignments which I had been working on for about two days. The code I presented was code from several tries and experiments I had been researching and trying to understand. So I decided to get help from a community about what I was doing wrong in my code so that I could correct it and learn from it, not for people to do my homework for me.

However, when I posed my question, I got many negative comments saying things that were untrue and, to me, were quite scathing.

Is Stack Overflow for people with extensive to moderate programming skills? If so then I will know not to come back, as not to offend anyone.

  • The closing of this post seems to actually validate it. Commented Jan 8, 2012 at 6:21
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    The closing of the mentioned SO post also seems to validate it. Commented Jan 8, 2012 at 6:49
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    @Joseph It validates the communiity's dedication to it's standards. Shay got a good answer, too. And did you even check the dupe question and it's answer, Joseph? Commented Jan 8, 2012 at 6:51
  • @Christian I'm not sure you understood what Shay was asking, then. Commented Jan 8, 2012 at 6:52
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    @AndrewBarber: The community's dedication to its standards is all well and good, but cutting beginners some slack once in a while would not hurt. Commented Jan 8, 2012 at 6:57
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    Retreading the same tracks is still retreading the same tracks meta.stackexchange.com/questions/18198/… meta.stackexchange.com/questions/64191/… Just because it's a duplicate doesn't mean it's not a duplicate @jos
    – random
    Commented Jan 8, 2012 at 21:06
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    You asked a PHP question. PHP devs are the second most persnickety folks on SO (first is C++ devs). If they smell blood in the water they attack. There is a fine line between "debug my code for me" (which should be closed as too localized) and questions like yours. I believe it was closed wrongly, and have reopened. Please select the answer that helped you the most. In future, when asking a question about why your code fails, try to avoid looking like you are asking others to debug your code. Narrow the issue down as much as possible and ask specific questions about the code.
    – user1228
    Commented Jan 9, 2012 at 16:21

1 Answer 1


When you're asking help from a community and particularly targeting one part of the community (the PHP part in this case) then starting a post off with:

I'm just starting to use PHP and let me tell you.. I HATE it.

... is really not the way to go about making people warm to you.

It's good that you showed the code, although you weren't very precise about what the result was:

Every time I press calculate it doesn't give me back my solution.

That says what it doesn't do, but not what it does do.

I think the question did get treated a bit harshly - but when the first thing you do is shout about your hate for the thing which brings together the people you're appealing to, it's easy to see how that can happen.

You say you've done lots of work and research - it would have been worth showing what you'd tried, which bit you didn't understand, etc. The more that you can show that you've put effort in, the more likely it is people will help you. (It also helps people not suggest things you've already tried.) I've written up my thoughts on writing a good question in a blog post you may want to read.

There are plenty of beginners helped on Stack Overflow every day, so no, it's not just for elite programmers - but try to be less confrontational to start with.

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    after reading this, I got to the bottom... saw the name and was thinking, "47K rep? What happened to The Skeet's rep?!?" then I remembered I'm on Meta! Commented Jan 7, 2012 at 21:46
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    Thank you for you suggestion! ^_^ I was just trying to be disarming with the "hate PHP" statement. I suppose I should have but a 'why' after my second statement to be more clear. and I don't hate PHP.. again was trying to be facetious.. I just prefer client-side programming myself.. but thank you for you answer! Commented Jan 7, 2012 at 21:49
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    Ah, well... "I hate PHP" may be disarming when you're talking to a fellow student who is also struggling with the same kind of task that you are, but it'll have the opposite effect on experienced and/or professional PHP programmers. Which I suppose you know now ;-)
    – David Z
    Commented Jan 8, 2012 at 0:25
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    Indeed, for experienced, processional PHP programmers, the hate can remain unsaid. We hate it more than you do, I assure you.
    – Charles
    Commented Jan 8, 2012 at 2:22
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    +1 for processional ;-) Commented Jan 8, 2012 at 6:54

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