The problem of course is that many questions really do warrant a pretty canned response saying "you need to think about this more," and ideally, with some suggestions on how to think about this more, and perhaps come back to SO with a more refined or precise question. And when I've taken the time to construct such comments - and occasionally even in answers if I'm sufficiently sure the methdology or debugging steps I am proposing will definitively yield a solution - the OP has pretty often found it helpful. But I also think slapping a link to whathaveyoutried.com amounts to a GTFO to probably a majority of OPs. Even if they did have the curiosity to follow the link and might even find the post interesting enough to read, it becomes apparent pretty quickly they're just being lectured.

Should also note that even thought whathaveyoutried.com may be well-written or brilliant, the act of posting it is a GTFO. And I don't feel the targeted audience of that post is someone who is in the middle of asking a question.

But I would like something canned for a few reasons.

  1. For my own use.
  2. So the community might have a better go-to than whathaveyoutried.com for such cases.
  3. Because in general I'm interested in this quasi-repository we have for situations in which questions aren't duplicates, but answers/comments sure can be, and am trying to learn what such resources we have scattered around here.
  • 2
    So you want a less GTFO version of the comment? Not a less GTFO version of the site?
    – Bart
    Mar 5, 2013 at 15:36
  • 2
    Is your issue with Matt Gemmell's post, or with the short link alias? Mar 5, 2013 at 15:36
  • 2
    @DanielFischer yes I just realized that ambiguity in my post. Slightly both but more with the short link alias - I would like a short link alias, or copy-pastable comment, that is friendlier in the context of a reply to a question.
    – djechlin
    Mar 5, 2013 at 15:37
  • @Bart see above
    – djechlin
    Mar 5, 2013 at 15:38
  • 3
    If your just asking for context, I always find sscce.org fruitfl Mar 5, 2013 at 15:52
  • The problem with Matt's site is it is a giant wall of text...You're talking about a User who can't be bothered to read the FAQ (or genuinely does not comprehend it). By definition there is nothing which meets your criteria because it won't make a difference.
    – user7116
    Mar 6, 2013 at 17:59

3 Answers 3


Sharing your research helps everyone. Tell us what you've tried and why it didn’t meet your needs. This demonstrates that you’ve taken the time to try to help yourself, it saves us from reiterating obvious answers, and most of all it helps you get a more specific and relevant answer!


  • 9
    Also, to insert that link, just type [ask] into a post... it'll show up like this: How to Ask Mar 5, 2013 at 15:41
  • 1
    @DannyBeckett ah that's exactly what I was looking for - is there a list of such shortcuts in the FAQs anywhere?
    – djechlin
    Mar 5, 2013 at 15:44
  • 4
    Keep in mind that the user has already seen that page and ignored it. You might get better results if you paste only the relevant text into a comment.
    – user102937
    Mar 5, 2013 at 15:46
  • 3
    @djechlin meta.stackoverflow.com/editing-help#comment-formatting there you go Mar 5, 2013 at 15:47
  • 2
    Added this to the Pro Forma comments Mar 5, 2013 at 16:08

"What have you tried?" comments are rude and unhelpful.

A good "what have you tried" comment specifies what the OP should have done.

  • What exactly happens?
  • What do you mean when you say "I get an error?" What message are you getting?
  • Have you tried searching the Internet? There are good results when searching xyz
  • Robert Harvey's excellent comment template

If one can't come up with such a comment, just downvote / closevote and go away. IMO.


Generic "What have you tried?" comment usually accompany a very, very poor question. Therefore I think it's better to tell the author of the poorly written question what we like to see in a question on StackOverflow.

And for that, I like both Jon Skeet's articles: Writing the perfect question and SO question checklist.

The intended target of these 2 posts being the SO Community, I feel they do a better job than whathaveyoutried.com at explaining what we, as a whole, stand for. Also, I feel they're much less hurtful, while whathaveyoutried.com is somewhat rude and 'ranty'.

  • Truth is I actually agree that whathaveyoutried is a mediocre at best post lamenting the state of society... but didn't want to derail this whole thread with that particular flamebait :) Especially when you compare to works like Polya's How To Solve It.
    – djechlin
    Mar 5, 2013 at 16:23

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