Sometimes I get downvoted for basic programming questions and people tell me to read a textbook. What type of question is simply too basic for Stack Overflow, and is there a site in the network that would entertain these questions?
Stack Overflow is for Professional programmers and programming enthusiasts. We expect a certain level of skill from people that ask questions, but the bar is not really that high.
If you can:
- Make your language of choice print "Hello, World!"
- Write a loop so your language of choice does the above several times
- Obtain and process user input
... then you are quite capable of asking a perfectly valid programming question, albeit basic. We don't (or at least should not) actively discourage questions that demonstrate a clear lack of skill, we actively discourage questions that demonstrate a clear lack of effort.
Make sure your question:
- Succinctly summarizes the problem you're trying to solve, to the extent that you understand the problem.
- Shows what you think is the problematic code, and why you think it's problematic
- Indicates what you have tried, or at least where you have looked to solve the problem yourself
- Is properly formatted and employs correct grammar and spelling to the best of your ability
If you can do just that, then noise like 'read a book' is just that, noise. If you honestly feel that you aren't using the site to avoid doing the work that makes us all better at what we do - then take it with a grain of salt.
Given the size of our community, you will sometimes encounter a crotchety Sanka-drinking neckbeard that can't stand whipper snappers on their lawn. That's not at all exclusive to Stack Overflow. You know if you've done your research. If you haven't - then don't ask until you have. It's pretty simple :)
There is currently no site in the network that is geared for questions like:
I want to write an accounting system in Java, where do I start?
This isn't because people aren't interested in helping someone get a start, it's because the Q&A format of Stack Exchange as a whole is not well suited to entertaining these types of questions. Our engine rather depends on the majority of questions asked receiving an answer that can be considered the most technically sound, well written solution.
To answer your question directly, it would depend on what language you were working with and what communities existed outside of Stack Exchange to support beginners in the language.
I highly recommend just learning the basic constructs of your language, studying some of our highly up-voted questions and endeavoring to ask your own with comparable quality. Your skill as a programmer has little bearing on your ability to articulate a question, that's an entirely different skill.
The tooltip text for downvoting reads as follows:
This question does not show any research effort; it is unclear or not useful
People pointing you to read a textbook is an indicator - to me, at least - that it's a question that could have been answered in a non-subjective way by simply Googling it, which would fit the "doesn't show any research effort" criteria of downvoting.
Generally, if your question can be answered with common sense, by typing the exact question (or a similar one) into a search engine, or through a language's reference pages, it's likely too simple to ask on SO.
I see from your profile that you are a student hence the nature of questions, but this is the phase in life where you go out and find the answers to everything by looking and researching, not posting and waiting!
You can also go to specific forums for specific questions, such as MSDN Transact-SQL forum where you might get a bit more leeway than StackOverflow (for really stupid questions).