I have been active on Stack Overflow for over a year now and lately I see more and more of "please do this for me questions". This is different from the "mini-orders" question, where the asker says "I need this-and-this, give it to me". In the "please" variety, the asker seem to have some general understanding of the subject and often the questions would include some bits of code and such. The language in the question would also be polite. However the answer to the question could be found in 5 minutes by simply searching on google or such.

In cases like this, I would try to help, provide relevant information and link to where more info can be found (if possible, of course). However what really annoys me is when my answer like this gets a comment "Thanks, can you please show me step-by-step how exactly I need to do this?" or even gets downvoted. I don't mind getting downvoted if it's for a good enough reason. If the reason is that the asker simply isn't happy that I didn't put everything on a silver table, it's a different story.

Here's one example of what I am talking about (no downvote here): How insert data manually in sqlite in android. Asker commented the answer with:

Thanx, but please provide me with steps to go to sqlite tool and what to click

I guess, there are two questions here in one: (a) Am I missing something and being unreasonable? Should I have just provided perfect step-by-step instructions? and (b) If I am not missing anything and I'm write, how should we deal with such queries while still being polite? The question in my example is fine, however it's the follow-up comment to my answer that I'm concerned with.

  • It's likely the language barrier. This way of phrasing the question is almost exclusively seen by Indians. Perhaps it's interpreted somewhat differently in their native tongue, when translated literally.
    – user138231
    Jun 15, 2012 at 13:21
  • @Chichiray are you referring to the "please" element or the "thanks, now step-by-step" one?
    – Aleks G
    Jun 15, 2012 at 13:23
  • 1
    You might want to see this: What Stack Overflow is Not Jun 15, 2012 at 13:55
  • @GardenGnobobby Trust me, I've gone through that post more than once
    – Aleks G
    Jun 15, 2012 at 14:25
  • I added a "Code writing service" entry there: meta.stackexchange.com/a/136222/138112 feel free to edit if you have any ideas for improvement
    – Pekka
    Jun 15, 2012 at 14:38
  • related: Is it OK to leave “What have you tried?” comments?
    – gnat
    Jun 15, 2012 at 16:26
  • @gnat Yes, I read that one, definitely. This is slightly different: here the question is reasonable, but the reaction to the answer would be more like "what have yout tried?"
    – Aleks G
    Jun 15, 2012 at 18:13
  • @AleksG I see. The comment makes it look to me sort of rudimentary chameleon question. I'd probably reply with something like "what kind of provided info you did not understood?" and then, depending on reply and my own mood, would proceed with one of exit strategies described here. That's not set in stone though; there is a (minor) chance that I'd prefer to extend my original answer into full step-by-step instruction
    – gnat
    Jun 15, 2012 at 18:34

3 Answers 3


Am I missing something and being unreasonable? Should I have just provided perfect step-by-step instructions?

In all honesty, this is simply up to you. You don't have to do anything. If you think that the OP should be able to figure out how to solve his problem based on your answer, just leave it at that. I think we're allowed to assume some basic effort on behalf of the OP. We're here to help, but not necessarily to hold their hand all the way to the end. If that results in the occasional downvote, so be it. Downvotes happen.

Should you however think that the OP might have a point, then why not add extra information? Who knows, he might have pointed out something which was not clear in your answer, so improving it with extra information might help him and future visitors.

If I am not missing anything and I'm write, how should we deal with such queries while still being polite?

In general I don't think this is all that difficult. Should the answer to his request be obvious, you could simply state something along the lines of "If you follow the answer/information I have given you, you should be able to resolve it by yourself. Perhaps also have a look at resource X, which explains exactly what you're asking. If you're truly stuck at a certain point, leave me a comment and I'll have a look".

That is of course merely an example and might not fit your specific case. But phrasing an alternative for "You lazy bastard, do it yourself" should not be all that difficult. ;)


Typically, when I come across a question like that, I will edit it so that it looks less of "give me teh codez" and more of "what is happening here".

Now, that isn't to say that there isn't some merit to the 'how do I do this' style of question, for example, a question on a random number generator in C, but those sort of questions should be searched for first.


There are many users with different languages and not native english writing skils.

It does not hurt to ask for clarification if you are willing to help with instructions. You can be polite by suggesting different sentence or worded it differently. We can help out with edits to make it more clear to the rest of us

  • 7
    It's not a question of writing skills. Poor questions come from native and non-native speakers alike.
    – user176326
    Jun 15, 2012 at 14:06

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