So here's a beginner/low-effort question:

Read numbers from formatted file in Python

or this:

How to add an integer to each element in a list?

What is the ideal way a question like this should be handled?

1 Answer 1


If it were me, I'd just make an effort to ask the user to clarify points about their question that are unclear, and make a request that they show what they've tried so far. Most of the time, they've got something and they just haven't posted it.

I think, if you're going to help someone, it's fair to ask them if they've tried helping themselves, so that you can build upon what they might've already figured out, and do your best to get more details to understand their situation more completely.

I wouldn't answer it yet, though. If there's such a broad and undefined scope I would think it wouldn't be fair to a potential answerer (and in some ways to the questioner) to try and write a solution.

Also, it smells like homework. I smell it through the interwebs, and its lack of a homework tag displeases me...

...though maybe it's not homework. I'd ask the questioner about that too.

  • good advice, I think that's the correct approach, but that's not really what seems to be happening much on SO.
    – monkut
    Feb 16, 2012 at 5:32
  • @monkut That might be the case. I haven't been around long enough to know. Guess it's up to us users to change it ^^'
    – blahman
    Feb 16, 2012 at 5:38

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