I regular see brand new SO users who appear to have no idea how the site works and what their responsibilities are when they ask a question. They don't know that they should stay on top of the comments asked about their question, particularly when people are asking for clarification. They don't know that they should pick a "best answer" at some point if a good answer was offered and so on.

Sometimes we come across someone who has asked many questions, received many answers and never accepted a single answer.

Sometimes, I write a comment trying to explain the basics, but I'd much rather point them to a resource that explains how the site is supposed to work. I tried to find such a resource, but could not find it. Surprisingly, the FAQ doesn't really say much about what a new user's responsibilities are when asking a question and receiving answers.

Is there such a resource I can easily link to that explains what a first time questioner should know about responding to comments asking for clarification, accepting an answer and upvotes/downvotes?

  • 1
    A mini guide has been proposed before. Well, if you have something in mind, why not write it yourself? And if you want, we could host it on the Programmers blog.
    – yannis
    Commented Jun 23, 2012 at 8:42
  • 6
    @oded has written a nice & simple guide: odedcoster.com/blog/2010/07/28/…
    – yannis
    Commented Jun 23, 2012 at 8:47

1 Answer 1


Not exactly complete yet, I'll add more stuff when I think of it. Also I'll link to the relevant posts.

New user mini-tutorial


Ask questions with the "Ask Question" link on the top right of the page.

When asking a question, take note of these points:

  • Please make your question conceptual and not a "do my work for me" type question.
  • Research your question before asking it. If you manage to solve it yourself halfway through the question, feel free to post the question and answer it yourself.
  • Show what you have tried in the question.


You may get comments asking for clarification/etc. You can reply to these comments by posting a comment yourself and including an @reply (an @ symbol followed by atleast the first three letters of the user you wish to reply to). Alternatively, edit the clarification/whatever into the question and notify the commenters.

Initially, you can only comment on your own posts and answers to your own posts. Once you get enough reputation, you get additional privileges.


If you get a satisfactory answer, you may "accept" it by clicking the tick underneath the vote controls for the answer. The tick signifies "this answer helped me the most".

It is perfectly OK to wait a while after recieving an answer for a better answer. Though questions with accepted answers are not closed for new answers, users are usually discouraged from answering these by seeing the tick.

If you feel an answer isn't good enough, let the poster know via a comment to his/her post explaining what you want.

Please don't go on tangents asking supplementary questions in comments. This can become annoying if done excessively.


Answering a question is as easy as asking one. You can filter questions by tags (in case you have a specific are of expertise). The popular tags are listed on the sidebar.

Once you find a suitable question, use the answer box near the bottom of the page and type up your answer. Please keep these points in mind while answering:

  • Please provide more than just code. An explanation is necessary for a good answer. A block of code is only useful to the asker, an explanation is useful to other visitors as well.
  • Don't post link-only answers. Summarize the content of the link if it's too long, else paraphrase it.


Be sure to upvote good questions and answers. If you have the necessary reputation, comment and/or downvote the bad ones (which don't follow the above guidelines, etc)


Reputation is a rough measure of how much the community trusts you. You get +5 rep if a question of yours is upvoted, +10 for answers, and you lose 2 rep if a post of yours is downvoted (there are other ways to get rep as well).

As your rep increases, you get access to certain privileges (like upvoting,commenting,downvoting,editing, etc)

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    This is starting to look a lot like the unexpanded FAQ on all sites...
    – Zelda
    Commented Jun 23, 2012 at 14:36
  • @BenBrocka: Really? I'm just trying to give some of the points new users have trouble with, without getting too long-winded. (the faq doesn't really work for this) Any other way I can go about this? Commented Jun 23, 2012 at 14:45
  • This is a good start. IMO, this is way, way, way more useful than the FAQ for newbie questioners. For example, the FAQ doesn't even inform a newbie user that they should watch for comments asking for clarification. The FAQ doesn't tell a newbie they should accept an answer if they get a good answer.
    – jfriend00
    Commented Jun 23, 2012 at 16:38
  • I would suggest changing: "If you get a satisfactory answer, you may "accept" it by..." to "If you get a satisfactory answer, you should "accept" it by [snip...]. Accepting the answer is your indication to the community that this answer best answered your question and it is a reward to the person that wrote the answer (they get some reputation points). You will also get some reputation points when you select a best answer." We want to inform the newbie how the game works here on SO.
    – jfriend00
    Commented Jun 23, 2012 at 16:41

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