I see a lot of questions in review queue starting with mantra "I have to".

They usually contain shorter or larger description of the task to do, and very low effort made to solve that (often no research, no code). I'm already very biased against such questions. For me, if someone thinks that he have to do something, instead of writing what he wants to achieve, it's as if someone was told to do something (by boss, professor etc.), while he don't want to do that nor learn something about programming.

Should we really help people who don't enjoy what they are doing? The worst of such questions seems to come directly for homework task or requirements from boss.

There's another possibility, that the construct "I have to" comes from some language, where there's no difference between "have to", "be going to" or "want to". Maybe it's just cultural and I'm overreacting?

  • 6
    s/I have to/I am trying to/
    – Doorknob
    May 30, 2013 at 12:38
  • 2
    If the question is poor, downvote/ignore/vote-to-close it. If the only gripe you have is the "I have to", what's the problem if the poor sod was told to use library XYZ although he'd much rather use ABC, since a) he knows that one, and b) it's generally much better than XYZ? May 30, 2013 at 12:39
  • @Doorknob you think SE team would implement it, or we should make a Chrome plugin for it? ^^ May 30, 2013 at 12:40
  • Why does it matter if they enjoy what they're doing? If I have to use a library I hate for legacy reasons, does that mean my questions about how to foo the bar with said library shouldn't be answered?
    – thegrinner
    May 30, 2013 at 12:58
  • If you have to use some library, would you start your question with: I have to use library X? May 30, 2013 at 12:59
  • 1
    If that's relevant information, yes. "I'm doing X. I have to use library Y due to Z. I tried blah and baz happens. What am I doing wrong?" I'll agree there are plenty of cases where people don't explain why their restrictions hold, but there are cases where restrictions exist and users should always communicate that fact.
    – thegrinner
    May 30, 2013 at 13:10

2 Answers 2


There are a number of phrases that are not really problems in a question, but are excellent markers of a problem in a question. When you search for these, you are likely to find something that needs editing (often vital information will be scattered in comments on other answers, for example) or closing.

I think a good list of such phrases would include:

  • I have to - as you say, it can indicate having been assigned to do something and not really engaging with the task and making it their own
  • my question is - typically found in the middle of a wall of text and code
  • thanks in advance - OP is either new to SO or hangs out in tags that are not well curated, or they would have dropped this habit
  • it's urgent for me - again this meta talk gets edited out quickly so it's a marker of a newcomer

Your point about the psychology behind the phrase may be valid, or it may not. But it may lead you to a question that needs to be edited or should be closed. I wouldn't downvote just for the phrase, but perhaps the question would in general be low quality and deserve the dv.

Should we really help people who don't enjoy what they are doing?

Dear Heaven, yes. It's what we're here for. If we do it right, they might start to enjoy what they're doing. Where else can we make such a difference?

  • +1 for the final argument about motivation! May 30, 2013 at 18:26
  • Basically this is "Bad Question Smell"
    – Btuman
    May 30, 2013 at 21:26

Is the problem just with the title? Is the question a good question, but with a wordy title? People can edit titles.

Is the question almost good? Could it be a good question if it was edited? People can edit questions.

Is the question a poor question? People can down-vote questions, and leave comments asking the asker to clarify their meaning.

Is the question a terrible question? People can vote to close the question.

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