Just curious about the new trend in asking users "what have you tried before asking your question?"

I think it's similar to the "let me google that for you" links (which I believe are automatically banned). It comes off as a little crass and I would suspect would be lost on a lot of users.

But, on the other hand, I believe the blog has a great lesson for those willing to read it - so I'm a little torn about whether this link should be banned as well, or if it should be a resource that users should legitimately be pointed at...

Here is an example.

EDIT to clarify my question a bit, I don't think I meant to ask "should we post this link for users" - the intent of my question, though poorly stated, was differentiating between posting as a comment:



What have you tried so far? You should consider improving your question; there is a great explanation why at whathaveyoutried.com

I think people rush with the link alone to be the first one to suggest it. For whatever glorious reward comment up-votes gets them.

  • 4
    I agree this is a slippery slope. I tend to think properly worded-out criticism is much more productive ("Welcome to Stack Overflow! We usually expect questions to be .... and to do .....")
    – Pekka
    Jun 6, 2012 at 13:02
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    While I agree in their similarities, lmgtfy is a bit snarky and doesn't really help the asker. whyt.com actually contains a lot of useful information about composing a great question and teaching a man to fish.
    – vcsjones
    Jun 6, 2012 at 13:02
  • 1
    There was a related discussion where some requested that these links be banned: Ban "what have you tried?" links in comments (I agree that the execution is a bit poor, as you can see from my comments on the top-voted answer there) Jun 6, 2012 at 13:02
  • Thanks @jadarnel27, I had searched and didn't find that question. VtC now.
    – Aaron Bertrand Staff
    Jun 6, 2012 at 13:03
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    @vcsjones I'm not opposed to the link itself, I guess I'd prefer to see it surrounded with some context/explanation instead of just pasting the URL.
    – Aaron Bertrand Staff
    Jun 6, 2012 at 13:04
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    @AaronBertrand yes, that point I agree with.
    – vcsjones
    Jun 6, 2012 at 13:06
  • Glorious reward! Jun 6, 2012 at 13:25
  • 1
    @jadarnel27 "Oh boy! A silver badge! Now I can finally retire!"
    – Aaron Bertrand Staff
    Jun 6, 2012 at 13:27
  • Ehhh I'm not so sure about this; the blog post is good, if long.
    – Ben Brocka
    Jun 6, 2012 at 13:41
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    @BenBrocka I don't think anyone is arguing the merits of the blog post - it's about the delivery. We are asked to "Be nice" and "Treat others with the same respect youā€™d want them to treat you." Posting a bare link with no context or explanation doesn't seem very nice or respectful; it seems lazy and flippant. Jun 6, 2012 at 13:55
  • Either I'm missing something here, or the title doesn't match the content at all. The title is an effective duplicate of the second ("Ban") dup link. The body of the question... Well, it feels like it should've been an answer to that.
    – Shog9
    Jun 7, 2012 at 6:14
  • Indeed, the title was off. Thanks for fixing that @Shog9. Jun 7, 2012 at 19:43

1 Answer 1


I'm the author of the linked question, so I'll reiterate and hopefully clarify my opinion.

There's absolutely nothing wrong with asking people what they've already tried - after all, the alternative is to flag or downvote. If you need to ask, then the OP has failed in their responsibility to ask a specific, answerable question as per the FAQ.

What I think should be improved with such comments is the way it is stated. I have a reasonable rep on both SO and MSO (well, high compared to the average user, I suppose), and I've never had to deal with what have you tried comments personally, but much of the time, I find that the commenter is using the comment when what they really want to do is downvote.

If you are going to the trouble of asking what has been tried to help the OP, then is it really so much extra effort to add enough context and guidance that they are encouraged to actually improve the post - you know, make things better for everyone, which is what we are all here for. In my opinion, anything less is just plain rude.

  • 12
    it's also rude to ask terrible questions that take up our time and require us to fix them on someone's behalf. Jun 7, 2012 at 6:28
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    You'll get no argument from me there @Jeff, but, surely that's what downvotes and flagging is for? Besides, why can we edit if we're not expected to fix questions and answers where we can? If a question is a lost cause, downvote and flag/VtC; if it has potential, give guidance in the form of a constructive comment and/or an edit. If you add a terse, link-only comment such as whathaveyoutried.com, then you're basically just screaming "Get off my lawn", and frankly, that helps nobody.
    – RivieraKid
    Jun 7, 2012 at 9:25
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    it is helpful if we want these "give me the solution, I don't want to do any work" users to go away -- or at the very least, come back armed with a willingness to put in some effort and not just have someone hand them a complete solution. I fully support these links, because people who are unapologetically not willing to do the work are a cancer and will eventually kill our community. Jun 7, 2012 at 9:38
  • 2
    (that said, I do agree with you that they should be downvoting the question in this case; the tooltip for the downvote is describing pretty much this exact situation.) Jun 7, 2012 at 9:40
  • I'm not saying the link itself is bad, but we have the situation, which you have acknowledged in the past, that if a user can't be bothered to do the initial work, then how likely are they to bother to read whathaveyoutried.com, for example. They are a cancer, but we either have to cut out that cancer, or we try to treat it. I guess what I'm really saying is for the class of users who could truly benefit (the ones who would come back and put in the effort), we owe it to them to also give context and guidance. For the rest, it's just noise that they'll never read anyway.
    – RivieraKid
    Jun 7, 2012 at 9:48
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    it is important to note that downvotes (and for that matter, flags) are a critical signal to the software about these users, so if their "gimme teh codez" questions don't get downvoted (or worse, upvoted), you can expect to see them around forever. Jun 7, 2012 at 9:53
  • Absolutely - I routinely downvote "gimme teh codez" questions, and usually flag as Not a Real Question or Not Constructive too. Unfortunately, I also see whathaveyoutried.com comments on non-downvoted questions, which is where the problem lies. If it's bad, downvote or flag, or be constructive in trying to improve it. We're all human, and I guess some users consider downvotes to be too harsh. Personally, if you can't be bothered to even try to ask a good question, you get a downvote. The trick is picking out the ones with the nugget of a good question and trying to make it better.
    – RivieraKid
    Jun 7, 2012 at 10:00

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