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I've noticed that questions about assembly language on Stack Overflow tend to attract more downvotes that questions about most other topics. I think this trend is a bit alarming - I'm concerned that this will "scare away" many students of assembly language who would otherwise post useful questions on Stack Overflow.

Because of this trend, I've been very reluctant to post questions about assembly language as well - just now, I counted 11 downvoted questions on the list of new assembly language questions, while counting only 2 downvoted questions for the list of new JavaScript questions.

I'm curious about the reason why questions about assembly language are getting downvoted so frequently. Does it indicate an unusual degree of hostility toward first-time assembly language learners, or does it simply indicate the prevalence of low-quality questions?

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    i think php getting more downvote stackoverflow.com/questions/tagged/php Commented Apr 14, 2013 at 4:38
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    The raw number of downvoted questions doesn't necessarily mean anything. Have you looked at what kinds of questions are getting downvoted vs what kinds get upvoted? Do you have any examples handy of questions that you believe were wrongly downvoted? These conversations always go better when there's something specific to discuss.
    – Adam Lear StaffMod
    Commented Apr 14, 2013 at 4:39
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    Wow, this question got 2 downvotes. I feel like the most worthless person in the world. Commented Apr 14, 2013 at 5:23
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    Don't take downvotes on Meta questions to heart: Voting works differently here. I downvoted this question because I disagree with your assertion. I did, however, upvote your Assembly question, to take you back to 0 on that. Commented Apr 14, 2013 at 5:24
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    If you ask questions like "Please help. How can I write assembler code? Thanks", you really deserve some downvotes for lack of research.
    – Bo Persson
    Commented Apr 14, 2013 at 6:20
  • @Anderson well, at Stack Overflow, we hate fun.
    – Cole Tobin
    Commented Apr 14, 2013 at 22:10
  • "I've noticed that" - I'm not disagreeing with you, but if I were to disagree with you, it would be with data. You could pre-empt any other potential disagree-ers by providing your own data up front...
    – AakashM
    Commented Apr 15, 2013 at 8:36
  • As a person who is very temperamental and easily upset by downvotes, I also noticed this. And I think it would be very helpful to the world community if this community were more supportive of people trying to learn assembly. But basically I think people who are attracted to assembly like things to be cut-and-dry, and psychology is very counter-intuitive; plus, they're completely different fields. Also, assembly people probably run into a lot of trial-and-error and got thick skin; so, we have to try extra hard to appreciate each other. We have to appreciate each other because we're great. Commented Mar 15, 2020 at 12:56

2 Answers 2

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Yes, it has been a difficult year in the [assembly] tag. Around the summer of last year, it became evident that assembly was chosen as the new educational focus for students in the Indian school system. It was Turbo-C the year before that. It's been a perfect storm of do-my-homework questions, poorly worded or barely understandable due to the inevitable language barrier, about a grossly outdated technology that everybody stopped using 20 years ago. Not just because it is assembly, they are learning about 16-bit x86 programming. Ralph's interrupt list is popular again. I strongly suspect this seeming regression in Indian teaching is intentional, giving students a hard time to find help elsewhere and forcing them to do their own homework.

This should not concern you. Ask your question using the guidelines that you can find on the Ask Question page and you should be fine. You already know how to not ask a question, having a look around before you ask is an excellent strategy to maximize the odds you'll get good help.

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    Seriously? Assembly?! What goes through their heads when they decide this? What should we do this year? I don't know! Lets try 16-bit assembly! Oh, yes! Something none of them have any experience in! Yes! Less knowledgable people means more money! That's our new curriculum! The most obscure stuff imaginable!
    – Cole Tobin
    Commented Apr 14, 2013 at 22:14
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    It's a bit ironic that my question got so many downvotes even though this answer got so many upvotes. Commented Apr 15, 2013 at 0:35
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    Assembly is grossly outdated??!! Nooooo!!!! (Well, 16 bit assembly is, there is no excuse for that). At least if they become proficient in assembly they should become considerably better coders.
    – slugster
    Commented Apr 15, 2013 at 0:45
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    @Anderson No, it's not remotely ironic. It's normal meta voting. Commented Apr 15, 2013 at 0:47
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    @AndersonGreen Yes, very ironic. Other similar examples of irony: rain on your wedding day, good advice you didn't take, and ten thousand spoons when all you need is a knife. Commented May 3, 2014 at 0:00
  • Wait, are you saying that some students are/were being taught assembly as their first programming language? Is that still common? A lot of SO asm questions show failure of basic understanding of many concepts outside of the actual problems with asm syntax / registers. It's normal for a beginner to get mixed up between having a pointer vs. a value in a register, but it's not good when they don't even seem to understand the concept when you try to explain. It's like some of them just learn idioms like "this is how to call printf" without understand what the insns do or why they're used. Commented Sep 8, 2016 at 14:04
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After having look at the search results you linked to I disagree with your assertion. The down voted questions are indeed worthy of down votes, regardless of the language or technology they are targetting. (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7...).

All of these questions fail the quality criteria on one point or more, most of them have been closed as a result. And after looking at that list of questions, I see no evidence that related questions are getting a raw deal at all.

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  • I asked a question about assembly language just now that got downvoted for no apparent reason. I think this was very predictable, given the prevalence of downvoting for assembly language questions in general. stackoverflow.com/questions/15995696/… Commented Apr 14, 2013 at 4:57
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    @Anderson - Your question looks like a translation request. They often get 10+ downvotes in other tags. You only got one.
    – Bo Persson
    Commented Apr 14, 2013 at 6:24
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    @BoPersson Why do translation requests deserve downvotes more than other types of questions? Commented Apr 14, 2013 at 6:27
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    @Anderson - I don't know about deserve, but they usually get - for lack of research. Like "I have this network code in C#, how do I do that in Fortran?".
    – Bo Persson
    Commented Apr 14, 2013 at 6:32

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