I started using stackoverflow.com as a reader from Google's answers, but soon I realized that I could do more than just that, and could ask new questions and try to answer others.

When I say "try" it is because the questions are coming each time more elaborate, and so specific that only people who have done something in practice could answer. We programmers know much theory but not always do we know all we suppose.

The problem nowadays it that when you ask a question, you may receive several down votes from people who don't even bother to comment on what is wrong with the question. It's like "I do not like that question or I think it is too silly for me so I will make sure only the 'best' questions come in, so no dumb users will populate Stack Overflow".

Other problems are moderators that complain at us when we ask for professional opinions, but when we decide to ask a "correct technical" question they do not hesitate to give their opinion where you should do or not do what you are asking. It can be very confusing what can or can't be done.

Not everyone is on the same level of knowledge, and that's why Stack Overflow exists, but some users may not understand that. Where can we find a manual about what not to ask in order not to offend anyone in the community?

  • 9
    Why do you believe that users are downvoting your posts because they're at a beginner level? Do you have evidence that this is their reasoning? Given that you're saying that users have indicated that your questions are not following the site's guidelines and that at least some of your questions are not in a format acceptable on SO that the downvotes might be for that reason? Oh, and users aren't required to comment when downvoting; the ability to vote anonymously is very important to the health of the site.
    – Servy
    Commented Jun 12, 2013 at 14:32
  • 2
    Where can we find a manual about what not to ask in order not to offend any one in the community? You don't need a manual, just review the Help section, Asking subsection. Commented Jun 12, 2013 at 14:36
  • @Servy Actually I am saying that they are downvoting me for thinking MY questions are at beginner level. If all my questions were not by the rules I would not have more than 1k points. I made my mistakes and I always try correcting them. I like the anonymous features, but it would help us more to at least know what they think we are doing wrong in each case.
    – NaN
    Commented Jun 12, 2013 at 14:37
  • Example: stackoverflow.com/questions/17041515/… What is wrong with this question downvoted twice?
    – NaN
    Commented Jun 12, 2013 at 14:38
  • 4
    @EASI - You can't say with any certainty why your question got downvoted, unless a user explicitly states "-1 - your question is at a beginner level and I don't like it". As for your example, it's non-constructive; you're asking for a list of modules (i.e. recommendations). Commented Jun 12, 2013 at 14:40
  • 7
    @EASI: Probably because that question is more of a shopping request - it doesn't show what you've actually tried to do already and why that didn't work, you're just asking someone to recommend a Drupal module. "I want to do X, I've not tried anything, how do I do it" questions aren't well received on StackOverflow.
    – JonW
    Commented Jun 12, 2013 at 14:41
  • @EASI: it's a question without an objective answer.
    – user7116
    Commented Jun 12, 2013 at 14:41
  • So, only constructive questions are allowed, got it. Do you know any good site that accepts recommendations research?
    – NaN
    Commented Jun 12, 2013 at 14:41
  • @EASI I've asked the most beginners question possible here when I started using the site because.. well.. I was (and still am) a beginner. Sometime you have somthing in mind and you just don't know how to express it to search for it. THe dumbest question don't always get the most downvotes.... this is one of them. Commented Jun 12, 2013 at 14:51
  • 8
    @EASI, I had a look through your question history and frankly I don't see what you have to complain about. You've asked many, many questions, always gotten answers, and virtually always been upvoted. You've been treated very well on this site. Honestly, you've asked other questions which should have been closed, because they're exactly the sort of shopping/recommendation questions we're talking about here -- but you got lucky, and they weren't. Commented Jun 12, 2013 at 15:19
  • So I get it. Sometimes I get kind of lazy and users notice that and take actions to avoid this kind of behavior in the site. Right?
    – NaN
    Commented Jun 15, 2013 at 11:43

3 Answers 3


The problem is the community / system?

Not everyone are the same level of knowledge, and that's why stackoverflow exists, but some users may not understand that.

Stack Overflow is not for everyone. It requires a minimum of knowledge and I guess it's up to the community to decide if the user as that knowledge.
Why is that ? Simply because you have to search a little before asking and understand what you are talking about. We don't want code this for me plz questions here. But, show you searched and tried, show what you did, where you failed, explain it clearly and I promise you will get better results.

Where can we find a manual about what not to ask in order not to offend any one in the community?

There is a Help Center full of guidelines which are daily being discussed here to make sure they are crystal clear to new users. When they follow it, there is no problem. The downvotes are anonymous so users can express how they fell about having this post on the site without explaining why they did.

But let's face it, I've almost never seen a highly downvoted question that doesn't have comments explaining what is wrong with it.

The real problem is the asker..!

Follow the guidelines, follow the rules and also don't take it personally. After all, reputation are just points stored on a website which won't give you anything but some privileges on this site. Also, learn from it...

  • Why did the community rejected this post ?
  • What is expressed in the comments I should remember and learn from ?
  • What could I change in my post to improve it ?


Your lack of knowledge will not get you downvotes. The way the post is written, the searched you made before posting, the exemples and tries you provided with the post will. Easy questions could be downvoted because they are, most of the time easy to find by searching a little on the web.

  • Actually easy un-researched questions almost always get up-voted. It's the tedious un-researched questions that get downvoted Commented Jun 12, 2013 at 15:31
  • @SamIam I don't think we could say that as a fact. I've seen a lot of un-searched easy question get downvoted and getting a lot of replies pointing it out. Commented Jun 12, 2013 at 15:32
  • perhaps I can be convinced if you can find some examples of this. Here's an example of an upvoted unresearched easy question Commented Jun 12, 2013 at 15:36
  • @SamIam I will, as soon as I encounter one, since these downvoted post don't last very long here... Commented Jun 12, 2013 at 15:37

There are multiple guides on how to ask good questions

The most important thing to think about is The golden rule(It's even the subject of first section of Jon Skeet's guide).

Read over your question, and imagine that you're trying to answer it. You don't really have to know the answer to perform this exercise.

You might find that:

  • The question is asking too much of you.
  • The specific problem is not clear, and If you tried to answer, there's a chance that the asker's problem might not actually get solved.
  • There's too many unimportant words to read in the question.
  • There's not enough information for you to identify the source of the problem.
  • You don't even know what the problem is. ("it doesn't work")

Just make life as easy as possible for the person answering your question. So long as you do that, you'll have success in your question-asking


It's like "I do not liked that question or I think it is too silly for me so I will make sure only the 'best' question come in, so no dumb users populate stackoverflow".

The wording is a bit harsh, but something like that, yes. In order to avoid downvotes, you should only ask questions that fall strictly within the scope of the site. That means no recommendation questions, requests for "professional opinion" or general handwavy speculation sans actual attempt.

  • 1
    You shouldn't be asking questions like those even if you have tried something. You shouldn't be asking them at all here.
    – Servy
    Commented Jun 12, 2013 at 15:12
  • @Servy Asking a question about "whether it is possible to do complex task X" is much more acceptable if you've tried something and have an initial approach that you ran into problems with. To clarify, the "unless you've tried something" only applies to the last example.
    – user200500
    Commented Jun 12, 2013 at 15:14
  • @Asad then the question would be about the problems you've had and not about the discussion about wheter it is possible to do X. Commented Jun 12, 2013 at 15:16
  • Your answer doesn't talk about asking "whether it is possible to do complex task X," it talks about recommendation questions and requests for opinion/speculation. Asking if something is possible isn't any of those things.
    – Servy
    Commented Jun 12, 2013 at 15:16
  • @ʞunɥdɐpɐɥd Yes, exactly.
    – user200500
    Commented Jun 12, 2013 at 15:16
  • @Asad Also note "can I do X" is generally a low quality question, simply because it's asking for a yes or no answer. We want answers that have much more than that. It's virtually always better to ask, "How can I do X" and if the answer is "you can't" then so be it, if not then you'll get a detailed answer as to how rather than just a "yes". Such a change will result in much higher quality answers.
    – Servy
    Commented Jun 12, 2013 at 15:17
  • @Servy If you visit the last link, the question is basically "wouldn't it be cool if we could get X to run on Y"? That is speculative, although there's nothing wrong with this if you're actually trying to do this and have run into problems with an implementation. Merely asking if a complex task is possible is one of those things. It is speculation about whether something is possible.
    – user200500
    Commented Jun 12, 2013 at 15:18
  • @Asad I'm not talking about those questions, I'm talking about your answer. The statements made in your answer are not correct. I'm not commenting as to whether or not your descriptions of the linked posts are accurate. If they are what you say they are they don't belong at all. If they're not actually asking for opinions, speculation, etc. then perhaps they could belong.
    – Servy
    Commented Jun 12, 2013 at 15:22
  • @Servy Which statements in my answer are not correct? It isn't that complicated: merely asking whether some goal is achievable is useless speculation. Asking whether it is possible to achieve some goal + "here's how I've been trying to achieve it" is not.
    – user200500
    Commented Jun 12, 2013 at 15:26
  • @Asad As per my first comment, the statement that making an attempt yourself makes the types of questions you described acceptable. It doesn't. Those questions aren't acceptable no matter what you've tried. Users should be putting time and effort attempting their own solutions before posting them to SO, but putting in effort on a question that's fundamentally wrong for the site doesn't make it acceptable.
    – Servy
    Commented Jun 12, 2013 at 15:28
  • Again, you're incorrectly assuming that I'm claiming "trying something improves the question" for all of those types of questions, when I explicitly told you that is a misunderstanding. For the last type of question, making an actual attempt and demonstrating it in your question absolutely improves it. I'd be interested in hearing why you think that isn't the case.
    – user200500
    Commented Jun 12, 2013 at 15:33

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