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Is it OK to leave “What have you tried?” comments?

Often when someone posts a "Do this for me" question it receives a comment along the lines of

What have you tried?

Would that be considered spam? It links to a non-SO site. Shouldn't it point to the FAQ or something instead?

Side question, is posting what you've tried in your question even a rule?

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    For the last part of your question: yes, posting what you've tried is pretty much a rule, or else you'll get downvoted.
    – user176326
    Commented Aug 28, 2012 at 21:44
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    Though I don't like it to be merely that link/sentence, the content linked to is actually quite instructive. As is Jon Skeet's tinyurl.com/so-hints for example. So I don't have that much of an issue with the content linked to, but the tone of the comment can be better.
    – Bart
    Commented Aug 28, 2012 at 21:47
  • I wouldn't call it a rule, but if you don't do it, many people will feel as though you haven't put much effort into your question. Unfortunately, history has shown that users who don't explain what they've tried tend to be more help vampire-y than those who do. Users who try to help you anyways may have a harder time understanding the problem and providing good answers, or they might end up suggesting things you already know, which wastes both their time and yours.
    – Pops
    Commented Aug 28, 2012 at 21:48
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    Also, have a look at the "How to Ask" page. The section on "Do your homework" not only tells you to do it, but also tells you to share it with us. So to your side question, yes, that's kind of a rule.
    – Bart
    Commented Aug 28, 2012 at 21:50
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    I rant a little about this here as well : dba.blogoverflow.com/2012/06/help-us-help-you
    – Aaron Bertrand Staff
    Commented Aug 28, 2012 at 21:54
  • Related: Since when is https://meta.stackexchange.com/ banned? Commented Oct 26, 2022 at 12:46

1 Answer 1


This is not considered spam. Many people do it and get upvotes on it. It is just saying: "Hey, give us the code or tell us what you tried if you want answers". The link takes you to a site explaining the problems of modern Q&A sites: people asking questions without any effort.

I have a question for you: Where did you hear posting external links in comments or answers is spam? I just did here.

And yes, posting code is a de-facto requirement to not get downvoted.

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    I should note that I consider comments which are nothing more than "What have you tried?" with the link to be rude in the same way that the people were abusing the What Stack Overflow Is Not answers as mere links in comments. These get flagged quite frequently, and I almost always delete them when flagged. It's perfectly fine to link to Matt's great article, but please take the time to write something more than just a quick comment with a link. See here for more: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/137795/… Commented Aug 29, 2012 at 15:05

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