This has not happened to me. This thread is based on random questions I've seen around.

I love Stack Overflow. The variety of answered questions is stellar. Very often, Google leads me to SO on my programming researches. The community is very organized: all the sanitizing made through moderation & downvotings and the reputation system keeps the website clean overall.

The only thing I don't like is the clearly mean/rude response I see on (usually) poorly made questions. As if downvoting was not enough, asking "how much are you going to pay me" or commenting "we are not your code factory" is just unnecessary and may as well prevent the asker from further using SO. These comments are very often upvoted, which adds to the crude manner.

As a new user, I've made some unfitting questions before, but being negatively repped helped me learn better the purpose of SO. But surely I wouldn't like to also receive a rude response at first, as many are doing.

Why is this behavior generally accepted in here? Do you agree the community is a little hostile sometimes?

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    Could you provide an example (or perhaps multiple)? Jan 4, 2013 at 22:18
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    People also complain about downvotes with no comment. "we are not your code factory" may be blunt but at least it gives some indication as to why the downvotes are there. Jan 4, 2013 at 22:20
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    @MartinSmith it would be better to say "Show more effort in your question, read this entry from the FAQ" instead, don't you think?
    – caiosm1005
    Jan 4, 2013 at 22:24
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    @caiosm1005 - Yes of course that would be better but short of supplying canned comments I doubt it will happen. Not everyone has the inclination to go and dig out the relevant section of the FAQ. The issue you are raising was also raised in this question Why “What Stack Overflow is Not” was deleted Jan 4, 2013 at 22:32
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    @DavidRobinson Unfortunately not ATM. The examples I cited were by memory. I'll keep that in mind next time
    – caiosm1005
    Jan 5, 2013 at 6:26
  • "this is a duplicate!"
    – Andy Dwyer
    Jan 6, 2013 at 6:15
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    Just wondering why so many people downvote this question...
    – caiosm1005
    Jan 6, 2013 at 16:58
  • @caiosm1005 I'ts not the first time this has come up, so I'm assuming the down votes mean 'no, not this again...' .. yet the problem persists and continues to flare up.
    – user50049
    Jan 7, 2013 at 5:29
  • based on the comments you are quoting I think you need to grow a little tougher skin for the internet in general, neither is what I would consider to be rude.
    – Ryathal
    Jan 7, 2013 at 21:31
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    I'm seriously considering quitting stack exchange because I post perfectly good questions, and I get slammed by everyone. Because they have high reputation, people think they can troll around and summon all their deciples to form a bandwagon attack on anything they find remotely undesirable to them personally. I realize It's all in the pursuit of "efficiency", but all it does is chase away new users.
    – Ecko
    Apr 4, 2015 at 0:45
  • The problem is that SO encourages that kind of behavior over biting the bullet and doing some extra work for someone who may not deserve it. To few people realize that when they answer a question they could be resolving the problem for many, many more people than just the person who asked the question. The internet is a breeding ground for cowards so the fact the SO isn't worse than it is speaks volumes about its community on the whole.
    – Rob
    Dec 12, 2018 at 21:33

5 Answers 5


No matter what we do, we will always have those in our community that look for faults first. They are put off trivially and that's not going to change. While many follow the golden "if you can't say anything nice .." adage of antiquity, some simply can't resist. I've suspended accounts owned by people that made it their life's work to inform as many others as possible that they are, in fact, morons. A site as huge as Stack Overflow can't avoid being used as an opportunistic soap box on occasion.

Those are the people that are not served well with engagement. Avoid them, don't confront them and let us know when we need to deal with them. They are, fortunately, a minority with typically short attention spans and move on rather quickly. The rest go in the basement.

Let's move on to the majority of the users we've retained over the years, and new users that will likely stick around for years to come. Put simply, the users we care about.

The price of our obsession over quality is angst.

The site, and the quality that it is notorious for producing, began in a proverbial bubble - a bubble that lasted long after the site went public. When the rest of the world went beyond taking notice to actively participating one thing became abundantly clear:

If we lose our quality, we're done. This engine is useless if sub-mediocrity can flourish.

This elicits a somewhat self defeating emotionally driven call to arms in people that really care about the site. In an effort to maintain the quality and integrity of the resource they helped to build, some users lose sight of the fact that we're in much deeper sh** if our core of contributors doesn't grow in proportion to our extremely long tail. You can't alienate people as a test to see if they'll return and become 'good', that's extremely broken thinking.

Stack Overflow should be a little intimidating to a newcomer, but that intimidation needs to be mostly implied by the level of quality that we're striving to maintain. We've done things such as the summer of love to try and get the community to buy into being a little nicer when dealing with newcomers. Moderators are also studying cultural differences to identify ways to better help newcomers. It's a problem we're actively engaging.

We're not just the largest community of great programmers, we're also a giant tantrum-prone, crackly-voiced pimple-faced adolescent that gets angry at the world.

Answering your question directly, no, rudeness is not sanctioned or encouraged. However, it's not something we can just disallow and call it a day. Remember that we're growing, and we all did things as kids that turns our faces a little red today.

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    Bill provided a perfectly good answer to this question. I've had thoughts brewing about the same, so I put them here where I can easily link.
    – user50049
    Jan 5, 2013 at 4:52
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    Loved your answer, really explains things.
    – caiosm1005
    Jan 5, 2013 at 6:29
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    Quite easy to forget we were kids some days ago. Oh, yes, lot's of reasons to blush and shame. Better not add insult to injury, and try to make a pacifying intervention. Of course, without being stabbed by a crack-nut teenager along the way :o[)
    – brasofilo
    Jan 5, 2013 at 7:56
  • In fact, it seems to me that I have to make always a big effort to get at least 0 score. Just because I don't ask easy questions. Dec 5, 2014 at 2:40

Do you agree the community is a little hostile sometimes?

Yes. Anyone with a connection to the Internet is welcome to post on Stack Overflow, so naturally some portion of those people are going to be hostile sometimes.

Why is this behavior generally accepted in here?

It's not. Flag rude comments for moderator attention and they will be deleted. If we notice a pattern of rude behavior from a specific user, we'll privately send them a warning. If the behavior continues, we have a penalty box.

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    Should I flag comments like the ones I cited in my post? Since they are all upvoted, it generally feels like they're acceptable.
    – caiosm1005
    Jan 4, 2013 at 22:21
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    @caiosm1005 Yes, even if they're upvoted, comments like "how much are you going to pay me" and "we are not your code factory" aren't very constructive. They should be deleted, and the post they're left on should be evaluated for editing/closure/deletion. Jan 4, 2013 at 22:24
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    Disagree... It is the case that we are not their code factory. Every broad request for significant amounts of working code should be closed as too localized. Of course, if the OP has the code mostly written (by themselves) and is asking for help on a piece of the whole then that's quite OK. I see nothing rude about "We are not your code factory". We're not and we don't put up with OP's that expect us to be their code factories. Jan 4, 2013 at 22:35
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    @ChrisGerken Just because it happens to be true doesn't make it polite. Questions can be improved/closed/deleted without leaving borderline rude comments on them. See Etiquette for posting civil and informative comments. Jan 4, 2013 at 22:42
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    @BilltheLizard Just because it isn't polite doesn't make it rude. In fact, what's rude is an OP who expects code to be written on demand (either because they're too incompetent or too rushed to do it themselves) or an OP who exploits the expertise and time of well-meaning SO experts but who doesn't bother to accept or upvote any answers. Jan 4, 2013 at 23:03
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    @ChrisGerken The proper response to those types of questions is downvoting, closing, and deleting them if they can't be salvaged. There's no reason to leave a rude comment on them, even if it is a response to the perceived rudeness of the question. Jan 4, 2013 at 23:10
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    @Chris: "In fact, what's rude is an OP who expects code to be written on demand... or an OP who exploits the expertise and time of well-meaning SO experts but who doesn't bother to accept or upvote any answers." Yes, that is rude. But so is telling them that you're not their code factory. One person's rudeness may beget another's, but it doesn't excuse it. While I understand and appreciate the impulse to be rude to people who are rude, that's not helping. If you don't feel like being constructive, downvote it, vote to close, and move on. It's quicker. Jan 5, 2013 at 2:55
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    I'm not sure there's enough markdown tomfoolery around that can be used to put enough emphasis on the "It's not." in the second half of your answer.
    – Grace Note StaffMod
    Jan 5, 2013 at 3:15
  • A new user may be reluctant to post their clearly not working code to a site full of respected experts. Gentle coaxing might work better than solid wrist slapping.
    – Jesse
    Jan 5, 2013 at 18:00

Often happens that I need to post a question, but I don't do it, and I choose another site because I know that I'll get downvoted.

But some questions are unavoidable, like for example this one.

There are things that you can't find, and you know you'll get downvoted but you have to ask them anyway.

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    Have you considered that there might be some issues with your questions if you constantly find they are being downvoted? At least in the tags I frequent I don't see good questions getting downvoted. The one you link says "Can anyone give me some advice on how to do this?" which reads as though it may be too broad but I don't know the subject matter of the question well enough to evaluate this. Jan 4, 2013 at 22:56
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    @MartinSmith I've never said that I find that they're constantly downvoted. I made about 200 questions, and just 4 of them have been downvoted. I don't know what you mean by " a good question". To my personal opinion if I need to know something, I search it and I don't find it, and I need an answer that many people may need too, that's an useful question to me. Jan 4, 2013 at 23:05
  • Ah OK. So why would you choose another site to avoid being DVed if it rarely happens? Do you mean for discussion type questions that you know won't be welcomed? Jan 4, 2013 at 23:06
  • In this case super user wasn't appropriate for that question. by all stack exchange sites stack overflow was the most appropriate. Jan 4, 2013 at 23:08
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    I feel your pain. I've given up asking and answering on MSO because views outside the party line get down voted hard. Now I just comment on MSO. Hang in there, read other questions on SO to see ways you might improve and apply them to your own questions. Jan 4, 2013 at 23:09
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    For the record, I thought that was a decent question, so I cleaned up the language a bit and reopened it. People may have been a little fast on closing that one. Jan 4, 2013 at 23:40

Fully approved your question, I personally believe that all types of communities have a line of acceptance, and although it is not clear because some users are more hostile than others.
I think the important thing is to try to always be polite to criticize and accept criticism.

I have also noticed that many users answered impulsively, but if you look as you well said:

The variety of answered questions is stellar. Very often, Google leads me to SO on my programming researches.

you will realize that is much higher the percentage of professionals and educated people, connecting StackExchange for sharing knowledge and solutions.

As @BilltheLizard♦ said, all kinds of people can connect to the StackExchange, as all kinds of person you will can find in the street. But within StackExchange you can click on another page and discomfort disappears.

Although sometimes it hurts us not be understood by other people with whom we share knowledge and working typology.


Big time negativity and self-righteousness.

I spend a lot of time googling around before I post something on any Stack Exchange site.

If the answer was not obtained easily via Google or the question was not well composed give feedback comments before giving negatives.

Negatives without any comments are useless.

Especially, when I have posted a detailed question about how some older answers are not working on newer versions of Chrome.

E.g. Understand structure of Chrome User Profile data to Transfer to new PC/ OS & avoid Settings corruption Error?

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    That is really not how down votes are designed. They carry a comment in them and its meaning is declared in the tooltip.
    – rene
    Aug 5, 2015 at 13:36
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    I use downvotes to rate quality, not to give feedback to the owner of the post. If i want to give feedback, i leave a comment. (With the exception of on meta, where downvotes often instead mean disagreement)
    – Kevin B
    Aug 5, 2015 at 15:18
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    do upvotes without explanatory comments worry you?
    – gnat
    Aug 5, 2015 at 16:24
  • And how would I know "why" 2/3 people gave negative to my post without any comment? I did a lot of research and referenced lot of existing answers and issues with them.
    – Alex S
    Aug 6, 2015 at 6:48

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