It is not a secret that great site of Stack Overflow is actually two sites in one:

  • one is used by Google to answer our programming questions.
  • another is used by enthusiast programmers to flood with endless number of repeated questions of the "find me a typo" or "please help me to shoot myself in a foot" kind.

The problem is that these 2 sites require totally different answers.

Say, for the first one it's okay to have a direct answer to a question. But for the second one it is essential to tell the OP about Google, manual pages, debugging and many other things totally unknown to enthusiasts. While direct answer will do no good at all.

But for some strange whim Stack Overflow rules are written as though there is only one site - a former one. So, it makes almost every answer on the second site bad or just impossible.

Is there a possibility to divide these sites somehow?

Or may be I just don't understand the idea and such a second site is welcome and by design?

Ok, it seems I failed to explain myself properly.

It is not the questions quality (though extremely poor one) is my concern.
But answers, which have to be different for the two sites. Or even whole approach. A second site of emergency help and snatching quick rep should have different set of rules.

Anyways, it's just a waste to ask such a question on a meta site whose folks are good not in answering questions but in discussing answering questions. And who live in the virtual world. It's funny to see answers like "there is a rule saying to do this or that". Nobody cares if this rule ever works! This is a common fault for the both sites: most people never care to give any help but just some automated answer based on all-good intentions and some far-from-the-real-life views.


closed as unclear what you're asking by Rory, Manishearth, yannis, Bart, Aaron Bertrand Jun 27 '13 at 18:58

Please clarify your specific problem or add additional details to highlight exactly what you need. As it's currently written, it’s hard to tell exactly what you're asking. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • 14
    Nice rant, colonel. I, for one, can't see such a binary division between "types" of programmers. – Oded Jun 27 '13 at 9:13
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    I have no idea what you're talking about... – Danny Beckett Jun 27 '13 at 9:13
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    @DannyBeckett - OP seems to think that software enthusiasts have no idea about searching, debugging and reading TFM and therefore should be confined to their own SE site, separate from SO, where they can have as many Too Localized, Find My Typo, Debug My Code For Me type questions. – Oded Jun 27 '13 at 9:25
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    as far as I can tell, a possibility to divide these sites is to close (and eventually delete) questions of second ("enthusiast") kind – gnat Jun 27 '13 at 9:25
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    How about you show us your StackOverflow profile and we can judge what sort of expert you are before you make these accusations? Or maybe we would just link you to that of a programmer who is a bit better than you and suggest you go to the "lower tier" SE site? Everyone deserve two answers. Oded said he can't see such 'binary vision' and I fully agree. Programming skill is relative. – Benjamin Gruenbaum Jun 27 '13 at 9:46
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    @BenjaminGruenbaum Here you go: stackoverflow.com/users/285587/your-common-sense You can't say the OP doesn't contribute some decent content. – Bart Jun 27 '13 at 9:49
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    @Bart No, I can't :) It was not my intention to criticize OP's personal profile or go all ad-hominem. My point is that being an expert is all relative. – Benjamin Gruenbaum Jun 27 '13 at 10:01

If you solve an actual programming problem, sometimes the answer is a one-off, and sometimes the answer is of general use.

The generally useful answers are what drives Google traffic to this site.

You can't really separate the two; the second is made possible by part of the first's production.


The solution to the Programing By Iterated Stack Overflow Query (PBISOQ) problem is to not reward that behavior. Don't answer them and don't vote them up. To encourage not answering them also don't vote for the answers that they do get (it seems that there is always someone).

It is pointless to try to segregate that PBISOQ crowd in a ghetto, because that site will very soon be devoid of able answers (it will after all be a site dedicated to low quality questions), and the PBISOQ users will come to the Serious Programing Questions (tm) site.

  • Yeah, well. The problem is that someone will always answer it. And it only takes one answer to make the behavior acceptable. And since that answer will be upvoted by equally noobish folks, the answer won't even get auto-deleted when it does get closed and forgotten. – Madara Uchiha Jul 6 '13 at 15:52

another is used by enthusiast programmers to flood with endless number of repeated questions of the "find me a typo" or "please help me to shoot myself in a foot" kind.

"find me a typo" -- most of these can be closed (See https://meta.stackexchange.com/a/186196/160657 , The "Other" off topic reason for closing can circumvent our actual mission)

"please help me shoot myself in the foot" -- there's nothing wrong with that, really. It's fine if you tell them in the comments that they are shooting themselves in the foot. Besides, you may not even know the full situation; I've had a couple of situations where I end up doing something that externally looks as if I'm shooting myself in the foot, but is the only option given the full scenario (and the full scenario is not necessarily something that I can explain succinctly)

The Google thing isn't a separate site -- useful answers drive Google traffic to SO. Effectively, the past programming problems of others come to your rescue.

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    I'm confused about what to do about the typo ones. Apparently they shouldn't be closed, see meta.stackexchange.com/a/186196/160657 and meta.stackexchange.com/questions/186026/…. I thought that they should be closed, but now I don't know anymore – Lamak Jun 27 '13 at 15:00
  • @Lamak it basically depends on your definition of typo question. I assumed the OP meant the bad kind. As to what kind is good and bad, read those two meta posts :) – Manishearth Jun 27 '13 at 18:36
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    I don't know why would you say that I should read those posts, I obviously had read them before posting them here. In your answer you said: "find me a typo" -- these should just be closed, so I pointed to those posts saying otherwise, you never said "bad typo" or "good typo". One of those posts I linked to has an score of zero, so should I take that as the definition of what is a good typo question and what is a bad one? – Lamak Jun 27 '13 at 18:49
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    I would think if you're proposing that typo questions should be closed, and then back-pedaling and saying only the bad ones, you could define what YOU mean instead of telling someone - who obviously read the other posts - to go read them again. – Aaron Bertrand Jun 27 '13 at 18:49
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    FWIW on dba.SE we will probably be coming to a different consensus about what a "bad typo" is than anything that seems to be getting accomplished here. – Aaron Bertrand Jun 27 '13 at 18:50
  • @Lamak OK, I sort of assumed from context of the question, sorry about that. I'll edit it, – Manishearth Jun 27 '13 at 18:51
  • @AaronBertrand No prob, doing that. I had felt that it was obvious from the context of the question, but I assume lots of things :S – Manishearth Jun 27 '13 at 18:51
  • @Manishearth Ok. And just for the record, I didn't mind that you didn't post about good or bad typo questions, but the fact that you told me to go read posts that I obviusly had read. I'm actually quite interested in understanding what makes a good typo question and what doesn't, and currently haven't seen consensus about it – Lamak Jun 27 '13 at 19:11
  • @Lamak Oh, I knew that you had read them, that was more of a general announcement. "If anyone wants to know what is good/bad, read those two" :) – Manishearth Jun 27 '13 at 19:21
  • But I can see how it is easily misinterpreted, and I apoligise for that. – Manishearth Jun 27 '13 at 19:21
  • @Manishearth Ok, no problem – Lamak Jun 27 '13 at 19:29

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