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How do you go about helping individuals for whom the subject matter is clearly too advanced for them at this point in their journey to really grasp what you are trying to convey?

Do you:

  1. Take all the time necessary to repeatedly answer questions in the comments of an answer?
  2. Politely post tutorials?
  3. Abandon both hope and the question?

What has brought you the most success in raising up newcomers when answering questions about your particular subject of expertise?

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    "Be honest and state their shortcomings?" Yeah, you're a pretty bad stunt double :P – BoltClock's a Unicorn Apr 9 '13 at 18:56
  • Haha! Thought I best edit that to make it clear that it's a joke. – Moby's Stunt Double Apr 9 '13 at 18:58
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    That's almost a DEFCON scale. – nickhar Apr 9 '13 at 19:06
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    @nickhar So 1 is the worst and 4 is the much more desirable state? – Servy Apr 9 '13 at 19:10
  • @Servy:I think it would be better if we can add this as an feature request allowing novice users who want's to study an object but doesn't know from where to start by adding an prerequisite button that shows the topics – justin Nov 19 '14 at 13:52
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  1. First thing is first: If it's simplistic, it's probably a duplicate, so go find the duplicate and close it. (Or don't. It's annoying finding duplicates since it's pretty thankless work for someone with a question that just isn't that interesting.)
  2. If you want to answer, answer completely and correctly. This answer will be valuable to people with the question who are prepared for it.
  3. For the OP's sake, note in comment or answer that it would behoove OP to get through some prerequisite material first. Often - okay, usually - this means recommending they read Java: Concurrency in Practice.

Note that (2) is pretty important. I definitely wouldn't want a simpler or more basic, but incomplete and wrong becoming SO's endorsed answer for the simplistic question.

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  • This is solid advice, many thanks. Your point on benefiting the community primarily over the asker is salient and will stick in the memory. Thanks again. – Moby's Stunt Double Apr 9 '13 at 19:43
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    For questions about passing data between PHP and javascript, I have occasionally been forced to ask whether the asker actually understands the difference between server-side and client-side code. – TRiG Apr 9 '13 at 20:01

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