I tried leaving a comment on Replacing "[aA09.b]." to "[aA09.b]\n" in in JavaScript that says 'What have you tried?', but was unable to post my comment. I've seen this comment posted on other questions where the OP requests code to be spoon fed to him so I assumed it was proper etiquette, but apparently not.

I've noticed one of two things will happen:

  • People will post quick and dirty code to get the easy rep
  • There will be several comments between the OP and commenters about elaborating on the details of the question, what he's tried, etc.

I see this comment: How about you go and attempt this yourself instead of being lazy and just asking someone else to do it? StackOverflow expects you to show any attempts made, which is clearly a more inflammatory way of saying 'What have you tried'?

Can anyone elaborate on this?

  • 2
    The point is that asking what someones tried can be helpful but it needs to be tailored made for the question. Repeating stock phrases is rarely helpful Aug 13, 2013 at 13:11
  • There's really no need to flood the poor new comers with 3-50 same comments "what have you tried". I still see it, and shudders every time. One time is enough, and there are much nicer ways than the one you gave as example. Aug 13, 2013 at 13:13
  • I don't see how the example I gave is anymore helpful than a stock reply.
    – user231078
    Aug 13, 2013 at 13:15
  • It isn't. In fact, it's quite rude and should have been flagged as well.
    – slhck
    Aug 13, 2013 at 13:17
  • While we're on this topic; from the point of view of flagging is bojangles comment (1) rude (2) not constructive or (3) im being too sensitive Aug 13, 2013 at 13:19
  • @slhck flagged it as rude/offensive let's hope enough users will do the same and it will get auto nuked. Aug 13, 2013 at 13:19
  • Nb bojangles now removed comment (yay!) Aug 13, 2013 at 13:19
  • I wasn't complaining about his comment. I attempted to post a comment before he posted his, and added it to the question as an afterthought.
    – user231078
    Aug 13, 2013 at 13:22
  • 1
    @RichardTingle I found bojangles' comment on the answer even more rude. If you don't think the question is suitable for SO then by all means downvote or vote to close. But you don't berate someone who has taken the trouble to answer a question just because you don't approve of it. That's the kind of thing that makes me not want to participate on SO anymore. Aug 13, 2013 at 13:32
  • 2
    I feel like 90% of the time people ask "wut have u tried" they actually don't care.
    – user159834
    Aug 13, 2013 at 13:34
  • @James Bojangles seems to have some anger issues, pretty much every page of their comments seems to have at least one comment accusing someone of being lazy. Im seeing how one flag goes on them before flagging more Aug 13, 2013 at 13:35
  • 1
    How is "what have you tried" rude? Nov 23, 2013 at 22:36
  • @RichardTingle: Repeating stock phrases is rarely helpful. Yet StackOverflow refers questions to stock answers when they continuously boil down to the same underlying problem. An OP who understands the meaning behind a nullreference exception but does not see how his code can produce one, is still referred to an answer explaining what a nullreference is. I agree that more than one WHYT comment on the same question is pointless, but the first WHYT comment is still relevant.
    – Flater
    Jun 7, 2017 at 13:36

1 Answer 1


Hmm, yeah. I still think it is strange that we block comments that simply and directly ask someone to tell us what they have tried, but that comments like this one are considered acceptable:

How about you go and attempt this yourself instead of being lazy and just asking someone else to do it? StackOverflow expects you to show any attempts made

I flagged a comment yesterday (twice, the second time with a custom explanation) that said something very similar, except even more insulting and inappropriate. I recall the ending verbatim:

…, you lazy person!

I'm alright with asking people what they've tried, because that's a reasonable question and you often need to know the answer in order to properly answer the question. And there might be tactful ways to motivate askers to give it a try for themselves; I would tolerate those too, if I saw them. But personal attacks like this are not acceptable as far as I'm concerned.

This is, of course, the major drawback of automatic bans. They force people to find creative ways to work around them, and the results are often worse. A treatment that is worse than the disease, in other words.

But apparently two (possibly more) of the Stack Overflow moderators disagree with me here. Both of my flags were marked "declined".
(Strangely, after checking my flag history, I see that the comment to which I refer is now deleted. The flags were definitely declined, so either I offended someone with my second message and they declined out of spite even while deleting the comment, or the person who posted the comment had second thoughts.)

So it looks like you just need to avoid the magic phrase "what have you tried?" because is automatically blocked. Aside from that, you can express your dissatisfaction with these types of questions and people in the manner of your choosing.

  • 1
    Wouldn't be the first time the auto-banning of certain phrases just encouraged the wrong kind of behavior (one you cannot easily search for) …
    – slhck
    Aug 13, 2013 at 13:28
  • @Cody, I agree. We should block both types of comments: the short, dismissive ones as well as the long, insulting ones :) Aug 13, 2013 at 13:28
  • While I can see how people spamming 'What have you tried' can lead to abuse, it may not 'click' with the OP how he can improve his question unless you're short and direct.
    – user231078
    Aug 13, 2013 at 13:29
  • @remyabel I feel "we need to see the code that caused this error" or "in order to help you we need to know what part you're stuck on, showing us what you've done so far will do that" are much more helpful amd likely to get a positive response Aug 13, 2013 at 13:37
  • Regarding your fine print: another possibility is that someone else flagged the comment incorrectly (as spam or something) and they have to act on them all, together, with the same action. I've read elsewhere that they'd rather decline correct and incorrect flags together, than mark both types as helpful. Or, they just declined them by mistake - something I've done - but twice seems unlikely.
    – Aaron Bertrand Staff
    Aug 13, 2013 at 13:38