I have seen it in a couple of places, and am now encountering this currently on a question I have answered. The thing I'm seeing is that the user asking the question is further adding to the question, but in very specific requests. I understand requests for clarification, but these further requests get to the point that it seems I am being asked to simply write out the code for the questioner.

It is my understanding, and my hope, that the site is for guidance, to help developers build their own skills, and it seems like answers should not be custom tailored to a specific purpose, and should certainly not be given such that they take all the thinking away from the questioner.

Am I correct in this belief?

  • 3
    See: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/43478/…
    – Oded
    Mar 14, 2013 at 20:36
  • 4
    You did handle it totally appropriately. We're not here to write code for people. Some hand-holding and support is always nice, but that's optional, and there are limits.
    – Pekka
    Mar 14, 2013 at 20:37
  • Thanks @Oded. I figured this question had to have come up, but couldn't find anything similar. Did not think to search on 'exit strategies or 'chameleon question'. Mar 14, 2013 at 20:58
  • Not the most obvious keywords. You'd have to have been around Meta for a while to find that one ;)
    – Oded
    Mar 15, 2013 at 8:34

2 Answers 2


It looks like you got the answer to the point that a mild read-through would give someone the information to develop alternatives.

I like to put everything as a picture. I learned how to draw by tracing. Eventually I tried changing something from the original on one of my traces. Then I learned how to change multiple things. Then I learned how to change whole portions. Then I learned how to combine portions into new pictures.

The gate-keeper is whether someone gets past the step of changing something from the original example that they're tracing off of. If they never learn this step, they'll never learn to do things on their own. It is always intellectual laziness that determines if they move past this step. Capability is a measure of how fast they develop past this step.

It looks like you took the OP to the point where they could trace the image, but they wanted you to make new pictures for them to trace, rather than develop.

Until they learn how to trace, you still need to help them.

You did your part. Back off now.


these further requests get to the point that it seems I am being asked to simply write out the code for the questioner

Do what you reasonably can to help someone, if you want to. You have no obligation to answer at all, or to answer further requests.

One strategy that may help is to remind the OP that question posts should cover a single question, and that if the answer inspire further questions they should create new posts.

I think you handled the situation just fine.

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