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I am trying to help the user in this question.

I do not want to give the OP the exact solution for his problem as it is way better for him/her to come to the idea alone. I did answer the question in the best manner possible, but he/she keeps adding comments asking for more details. OP's reputation is not enough to participate in chat so taking the discussion there is not an option.

Also, questions that are being asked in the comments now seem really basic and I don't think I should have to answer such questions. What would be a graceful way to end the discussion, without leaving the OP with a bad impression for the community?

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  • I usually just ignore and if the OP starts being annoying (e.g. posting "plz hlp" again and again) I flag those comments. We can't fix the world. Jan 16, 2013 at 13:10
  • @ShaWizDowArd well that was my stategy as well but then, the OP did start posting such comments. I believe that he will end up having a bad impression if I don't answer. So I am stuck Jan 16, 2013 at 13:10
  • Sometimes I tell them the google keywords to use, and that sets them on the path of finding the information themselves. Something like "If you Google the words "foo bar", the top few links should [give you the answers you're looking for | be able to help you understand the process a bit better | help you figure out your problem | etc] :)"
    – Rachel
    Jan 16, 2013 at 13:11
  • Note also that we can have private one-on-one chat with users after enough comments on the same post. You should see "take this into chat" and it will allow the OP to take part even with less than 20 rep, as far as I know. Jan 16, 2013 at 13:14
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    @ShaWizDowArd no, that's what I tried. Got told the user doesn't have enough reputation to chat Jan 16, 2013 at 13:16
  • @izomorphius oh my, didn't know that. Going to (hopefully, if time allows it) post longer version of my first comment but in a nutshell, I fear there's nothing you can do, as there can't be a good ending to such a thing. (Unless of course you just hand it all to him on a silver plate) Jan 16, 2013 at 13:18
  • I can't figure why would someone down vote my question. If you think there is an obvious solution, please indicate it. Jan 16, 2013 at 13:34
  • 1
    Don't mind downvotes here on Meta, they might really count only on stuff like feature requests where it indicates how much the community agree or disagree with your idea. On open ended discussion they really don't have real meaning. Jan 16, 2013 at 13:50

2 Answers 2

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I tend to think of such things as a "discussion" between a child and his mother.

Child: Mommy, I want a candy.
Mother: OK, but you have to eat first.

Child: Mommy, I want a candy!
Mother: You have to eat first.

Child: But mommy, I want it now!
Mother: If you eat your soup I will give you the candy.

The end is well known to every parent and most people with common sense: either the child end up crying or he get what he wants. Very rare are the children who are really going to eat their soup when their young mind is locked on a candy.

I leave it as an excercise for the reader to make the relation between the above and the case here of user asking trivial questions then nagging about it, wanting to get everything instantly without doing anything by himself.

This leads my to believe there is just no happy ending to such a case: if you try to explain to the user he'll just think you are rude and if you surrender and give him what he wants then it might be even worse, in the long run.

This leaves us with one last resort: silently ignoring the user. Let him understand his mistakes by himself.

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  • It seems this will be the solution I will be forced to choose. Jan 16, 2013 at 13:46
  • This is exactly as you describe it on one of my answers stackoverflow.com/questions/13997778/… (I have delete most of my comments after I decide that I silently ignore the case - and he gives -1)
    – Aristos
    Jan 16, 2013 at 14:29
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    ...as a practicing parent, I would add that switching kid's attention to something else often helps to prevent crying. Wish I knew how to apply that knowledge at Stack Exchange. Baby, look at this tag wiki, isn't it hilarious?
    – gnat
    Jan 16, 2013 at 14:32
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    @gnat I am still laughing! ;-) Jan 16, 2013 at 14:39
  • @Aristos yep that's a nice example. Jan 16, 2013 at 14:44
2

I would answer to his last question and tell him that he is missing basics and that I suggest him to take a book and read it.

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  • 1
    Seems a bit rude to me. Although truth, I would like to present this in a more polite way. Jan 16, 2013 at 13:04
  • Tell him " do you need a nice book, I'll suggest you one?" that shouldn't seem rude. Also, for how rude it would seem it will help him. Jan 16, 2013 at 13:06
  • @izomorphius point him to this question: stackoverflow.com/q/388242/1015495
    – Mike G
    Jan 16, 2013 at 13:39

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