Possible Duplicate:
Could we please be a bit nicer to the n00bs?
Are Stack Overflow people still nice?

I've been away for a while, so maybe I'm looking at it with rose colored glasses, but I seem to recall that when I was last active in the community, people were generally helpful and civil. I've seen so many questions now where the answers seem to take on a sarcastic or lecturing tone, going so far as to insult people for not writing like native English speakers.

It's honestly tiresome and turns me off quite a bit. I started as a complete newbie programmer, and got some excellent help and guidance. I see newbies now, however, being lectured instead of guided. Sarcastic responses and instant votes to close instead of asking the user to edit the question.

I know Stack Overflow is rather big, now, and rapid fire, but do we not still care about helping people learn? Is it just about getting large point totals and feeling superior now?

  • 7
    Although I see you're talking about a general phenomenon, it would be nice if you included some examples if this behavior =) – Josh Darnell Mar 1 '12 at 5:15
  • 13
    A good argument is supported by good examples. :) – animuson Mar 1 '12 at 5:15
  • @animuson Jinx! – Josh Darnell Mar 1 '12 at 5:16
  • 1
    See also: Why are SO people nice? which is just as much a generalization as this is, in the opposite direction. – jscs Mar 1 '12 at 5:21
  • 6
    @Chris I don't agree with you entirely and this could be a generalization, but lately there is also a slew of help vampire questions, and it does get frustrating after a while. Sometimes I end up posting What have you tried and Please show your code 5-10 times a day. I think its just the increase of questions that are coming in. We have to weed out the bad ones more quickly and in the bargain maybe a few newbies got shot down and thats what you saw. However I don't think there has been a drastic change in the tone. – gideon Mar 1 '12 at 5:22
  • 1
    Yes, a great deal of my premise is anecdotal, I'll freely admit that. I suppose Josh probably has it right. I am noticing more snidness, because there IS more snideness, right along with the more everything else. – Chris Sobolewski Mar 1 '12 at 5:26
  • 1
    As I said here, the best thing you can do is to be nice yourself, and flag problematic exchanges when you find them (rather than participating in them). – Shog9 Mar 1 '12 at 6:31
  • 2
    My advice is to stay away from the [c++] and [php] tags. Those guys are meanies. – user1228 Mar 1 '12 at 14:37
  • 1
    @Won't: I'm sure it's deliberately ironic that those tags tend to be the only remaining SO tags attracting any decent-quality questions! – Lightness Races in Orbit Jan 31 '13 at 7:13
  • (Since I've been called out on this, for the record I disagree with your assertion about [php], and with my assertion that [php] still attracts any decent-quality questions, which was included only to feign agreement with half your comment ;P) – Lightness Races in Orbit Jan 31 '13 at 7:18

As the site has matured, the overall quality level of the people coming to the site (from an "educated" standpoint) has declined. This was inevitable, as the early adopters tend to be the experts, while the new users tend to be the less experienced folks who learn about the site through increasingly effective Google searches.

At the same time, the bar for asking questions has been raised significantly. There is a whole swath of questions that are no longer on-topic, the rules for asking questions have been tightened, and we've actually enlisted the help of WOPR to bar people who can't compose a sentence or use capital letters. Prior to the Low Quality filters being put into place, there was a real danger of the site being killed by low-quality questions.

Given the difficulty in writing a good question (it does takes significant effort, even for me), it's not surprising that the process has become a bit more... contentious. That said, people being short with other people on Stack Overflow isn't exactly a new phenomenon, and the community overall acts in a very civilized fashion, for the most part.

  • That's right. And we do not tend to insult people for not being non-native speakers; however, the tolerance of many users for posts where no evident effort has been made in basic formatting and spelling (dictionaries do exist for those unfamiliar with English, you know, and capital letters are not hard) has reached something of an all-time low. – Lightness Races in Orbit Jan 31 '13 at 7:11

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .