I'd like to discuss some of these questions again. But more important than that, I hope this question will help us learn more efficient ways to encourage newbies to become a part of the community without frustration.
As a PhD student, I assist with undergraduate teaching. One day, a student opened up the topic and we started discussing the best ways for them to learn and keep up with the fast-paced programming world. When I encouraged them to use Stack Overflow, one of the students brought up that they were a little scared to get harsh comments on Stack Overflow.
A bunch of them admitted looking up for their programming questions in SO, but they said they never ask a question and that they would stick with google search restricting it to
This last part was actually good, because if their question was already here, they would be able to find it. The bad part is, there's a definite friction towards new users, and I witnessed this first hand.
The main problem here seems to be the comments/answers that are almost very rude and/or insulting to the OP of a particular question. This generally happens to newbies because they are probably the ones least familiar with the current SO ecosystem. I understand that we can flag the comment/answer for moderator attention and/or report to
email@example.com. But before the answer/comment gets deleted, the harm is done. OP has already felt insulted.
We still see rude behavior, so clearly the current solutions aren't working. Are there better ways? I believe there should be a better mechanism to discourage this behavior on the part of commenters and answerers. Should there be a way to warn the owner of such a comment which makes her/him take it seriously?
How can we be more welcoming to users? This doesn't just apply to users coming from a classroom setting, but in general.
Update: David Robinson's answer does a great job explaining how proper introduction to SO can be addressed in a classroom setting, it deserves its own appreciation but does not cover both questions in their entirety. Rachel's answer covers both questions in a more general setting, hence it is more complete. I am accepting Rachel's answer based on this criteria. However, I will gladly revise if there are new answers and/or the current answers are revised.