I just asked a "stupid question" over in SO, missing an obvious fix because I had jumped back into some code I hadn't touched in a while. I was immediately met with a downvote and multiple VTC's. I was working on and approaching the problem from the wrong side, which was why I didn't see the obvious answer (in a nutshell, I did research on the wrong areas looking for a solution).

Should users refrain from posting "stupid questions" on the SO?

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    Closely related: Close all the typo questions – Martijn Pieters Jul 20 '13 at 18:56
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    Questions that are not helpful to future visitors because the answer is 'fix this typo' or 'do not pass in null there then, duh!' should indeed be closed. – Martijn Pieters Jul 20 '13 at 18:57
  • @MartijnPieters In my specific case, this wasn't really the same situation. If I review my code and it had a typo, I'd eventually see it. This was not the case. I could review it forever and not find the problem. – Zeno Jul 20 '13 at 19:00
  • Why don't you include a link to the question in question? – Martijn Pieters Jul 20 '13 at 19:01
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    Well, what’s the question? If it’s something that’s not really helpful (e.g. “I accidentally typed if(false)”) then it should probably be closed. If other people think it really is stupid, they may downvote it, but that’s a separate issue. And wouldn’t it be hard to refrain from posting a stupid question if you don’t know it’s stupid until it’s answered? (If you did know it was stupid before it was answered, I’m eager to see this question.) – Ry- Jul 20 '13 at 19:02
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    That question has no downvotes and “2” is as little “multiple” as it gets. Bravo. Anyways, it’s fine to post questions like that. It’s a duplicate of something, though. – Ry- Jul 20 '13 at 19:03
  • @minitechη The total votes is not indicative of the number of downvotes, it was likely later balanced with an upvote. Little or not, does it not take a small amount of VTC to get something actually closed? If so, 2 is not a small amount. – Zeno Jul 20 '13 at 19:07
  • Why is it a problem that the question may be closed? You got your answer, no? – Pekka Jul 20 '13 at 19:09
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    I didn’t check the total votes, I checked the actual vote counts. 1000-rep privilege. – Ry- Jul 20 '13 at 19:09
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    Well, I agree it's a really dumb choice of close reason though. This would have been a perfect "too localized" if that reason still existed.... – Pekka Jul 20 '13 at 19:11
  • @Pekka웃 Closed would make me think I shouldn't be asking those certain type of questions in the future, if they don't belong on SO. Trying to keep an eye on what I should and shouldn't post. – Zeno Jul 20 '13 at 19:11
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    @Zeno it's not a signal that you shouldn't be posting that kind of questions anymore; don't worry about it getting closed if it turns out to have been something simple and localized. It's the normal process and it's not necessarily a sign that you did something wrong. – Pekka Jul 20 '13 at 19:12
  • @Zeno: there are no downvotes or upvotes on the question. If you did see a downvote, the person who cast it must have since canceled it. – David Robinson Jul 20 '13 at 19:32

A stupid question is one for which the effort you put into asking it is greater than the effort you put into trying to answer it on your own. That's a pretty low bar, and I think your question is well over it.

We all have facepalm moments; as long as someone else is likely to have the same moment, and you've described your problem clearly enough that this person will be able to find it, I don't think there's much wrong with it being on SO.

Others may disagree, of course. It's tough to keep a rein on the low-quality questions on SO these days. Sometimes not-particularly-bad questions get swept up in a moment of frustration or haste. Is that fair? No, but it's easy enough to correct. And, since you got your solution, which (I think) is simple enough to remember without having to refer back to this question, I'd suggest that you just let it go if other members decide to vote it off the island.

In short, you shouldn't refrain from posting a problem as long as you can describe it well and have tried to solve it on your own.


Google doesn't get worse by indexing more information...I think there's too much emphasis on keeping SO "clean" when the cost of a bad question isn't that high...but the damage done to its culture through down-voting is detrimental and discouraging.

If people don't like a question, they can just ignore it. If enough people agree, it fades into obscurity. People learn without feeling attacked.

  • Note that since this question was asked there is no a specific off topic close reason for typos. The last part of which says "...this one was resolved in a manner unlikely to help future readers. " The other thing about ignoring it - google might get this question above those with a meaningful answer – mmmmmm Feb 20 '14 at 22:08
  • @Mark "...there is no a specific off topic close reason..." – user2483724 Mar 24 '14 at 19:32
  • @Mark Also, even if the question is closed it still remains high up on google's list. But it becomes a dead end. If closing or downvoting on SO also did the same for it with Google's indexing I would agree. Yet when a "bad" question somehow is number 1 on google, there is "something" about it that google is valuing, be it the proper mix of keywords or whatever. – user2483724 Mar 24 '14 at 19:34
  • If it is bad and google values it then we need to close oit to remove out from google so a better question is found first – mmmmmm Mar 24 '14 at 21:54
  • A closed question isn't removed from google. That is my whole point. It just stays there. – user2483724 Mar 24 '14 at 21:56
  • Eventually bad closed questions get deleted and these do get removed from google – mmmmmm Mar 24 '14 at 22:23

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