On https://stackoverflow.com/questions/18749158/how-do-i-programmatically-shrink-a-background-image-for-an-ios-app , I received a downvote within a minute or two, without a comment on what was wrong with it, and it at present has two close votes. If it's a duplicate of an existing question, I haven't been referred to the original question. Still no comments, negative or positive, of any sort.

Two questions:

  1. What is wrong with my question as posed?

  2. Isn't it polite to explain why you are downvoting, if you downvote? I'm a bit puzzled that my question is received negatively, and more puzzled that nobody is telling me what to do to ask better.

  • 2
    It's off topic. That's what's wrong. – Cole Johnson Sep 11 '13 at 19:34
  • 10
    It is polite to explain downvotes (usually). However, I've seen enough people then get attacked for their downvote and comment that I expect most people just don't want the hassle any more. – ale Sep 11 '13 at 19:46

The close reason given by those that have voted to close it is:

Questions asking for code must demonstrate a minimal understanding of the problem being solved. Include attempted solutions, why they didn't work, and the expected results. See also: Stack Overflow question checklist

That will be posted quite visibly when viewing the question if the question is indeed closed for that reason. (Which has happened while I'm writing this answer.)

To give an alternate wording; you just gave a list of requirements and expected the site to give you a working solution in response. That's not how the site works. You need to have made an attempt yourself, had a problem with your own implementation, researched possible fixes, not found any, shared your attempts and research in your question, and then it would be an on topic quality question. (Or at least moving in the right direction.)

Nobody is required to comment when voting on a post. There are any number of reasons for this, such as to prevent revenge voting or extended unconstructive arguments. It would seem that the person/people who downvoted your question felt that the close reason was sufficient for explaining the problem(s) in the post, and they had nothing to add to it.

I can tell you from personal experience that trying to explain a downvote/closevote is hard. People are naturally on the defensive, and it's very easy to come off as rude, abrasive, or to simply have even a well meaning and constructive comment be interpreted negatively. As a result, many people simply don't post such comments to avoid the ensuing arguments that often don't have a positive result.

  • Ok. I have a basis to expand/shrink an image, and a basis to set a UIColor colorWithPatternImage. Would it be appropriate to ask questions about how to set an offset to the pattern image, and about how to determine viewport dimensions? – Christos Hayward Sep 11 '13 at 19:42
  • 7
    @JonathanHayward What problems have you had in setting an offset to the pattern image yourself? What did you try? Why didn't it work? How did you attempt to determine the viewport dimensions? What isn't working in your current solution to that problem? If the answer to these questions is, "I haven't tried anything yet." then no, they wouldn't be appropriate questions. – Servy Sep 11 '13 at 19:43
  • What I have tried and didn't work is not "XYZ implementation of an attempted background offset," but "find documentation for any implementation of an attempted offset," on sites including SO and developer.apple.com/library/ios/documentation/UIKit/Reference/… . The best impression I get is that it would be best to create an image (OK on that), scale it (OK once I know how to query present viewport size), crop the image (I haven't found anything on how to do that), and set as background (some idea of how to do that). – Christos Hayward Sep 11 '13 at 19:56
  • It's not a case of "I tried to put all the puzzle pieces together and I can't get them all together," it's "I searched and have not found hide nor hair of at least one puzzle piece." What's the best way to handle that? – Christos Hayward Sep 11 '13 at 19:57
  • 7
    @JonathanHayward Okay, now were're getting somewhere. So you've taken this higher level task that you need to do and broken it down into four smaller components. You know how to do two of them, you don't have any idea how to do one, and you have some idea of how to do the last. That's good stuff to have in a question. State what your higher goal is, state that you are thinking of breaking it down into these four tasks, you've successfully implemented one and two, and are stuck on step three. That's a much better question. – Servy Sep 11 '13 at 20:01
  • 1
    Ok... something else that I probably should have mentioned is that I am an experienced programmer trying to get my bearings with iOS, and I've found in most conversations --even if this is not best for SO purposes-- that the worst solutions come from "I've solved the problem badly, you help me implement it;" what I don't want to do is solve 80% of the problem (say) the way it would be done in web development, with JavaScript/libraries and CSS, and try to pound the square JavaScript/CSS approach into iOS's rounded corners. – Christos Hayward Sep 11 '13 at 20:09
  • But I think I'll try to get the pieces I can working, and ask further questions. I think I've found enough to at least get stuck at a better place. – Christos Hayward Sep 11 '13 at 20:11
  • 5
    @JonathanHayward That's why it's important to mention the higher level task that you're trying to do, rather than just asking how to do the third step in your process without context. One person might say, "here's how you crop the image, put that in as your step 3" and another person might say, "you should break it down differently, use this other 2 step process [...]". That's the advantage of a well written question. It has both specific solutions, so we can see what you're struggling with, but also provides some context to see if that narrow problem can be avoided, rather than solved. – Servy Sep 11 '13 at 20:17
  • Definitely upvoting that. – Christos Hayward Sep 11 '13 at 20:32

"Isn't it polite?" Yes, it would be polite, but please bear in mind that the primary purpose of the site is to serve the community and not you personally. If a question has very little redeeming value, then people might not consider it worth their time adding an explanation, even though it's clear that the question doesn't belong here.

The close reason will eventually give you an standardized explanation, and reading the FAQ concerning what sort of questions are appropriate, as well as simply browsing and seeing what successful questions look like, should let you draw your own conclusions.

In a nutshell, the general burden is on you to make an effort, not on others to fix your contributions.


What is wrong with my question as posed?

As has been mentioned, your question is little more than a description of what you want to accomplish.

One thing that is important to understand, is Stack Overflow is not your personal research assistant, nor is it here to write code for you. The purpose of Stack Overflow is to be a repository of high quality programming questions and answers. So when you just list a description, you appear to be asking "Write this code for me", whether or not that is was your intention.

So how can you make this question better? Well there are a few ways.

First, learn to format your posts. A long paragraph without any formatting is difficult to read, so you are going to run into 2 problems - some people will see the wall of text and move on without reading or downvoting or commenting, and others will see it and possibility misread it or misinterpret it. In the end, you won't get the support you need.

Second, just like in your 4th grade math teacher use to say, show you work. It is not enough to say "I search and search and couldn't find anything". Show us some evidence of your research. Explain to us what you have tried, and what problems you've run into. Be specific but brief. Don't write a long winded paragraph with ever detail, but try to give us some info so we know what you've tried.

And last, show us some code. Code isn't needed for every post, but most good questions are about code you've written and problems you've encountered.


What is wrong with my question as posed?

We can only guess at the motivations of others but I would strongly suspect its because there is no evidence that you have tried something and encountered a difficulty. It reads a bit like a specification for us to write code for you and those always get closed under "Questions asking for code must demonstrate a minimal understanding of the problem being solved". Try to do this yourself and then if you encounter a problem ask about that problem; that will be a good on topic answer

Isn't it polite to explain why you are downvoting, if you downvote? I'm a bit puzzled that my question is received negatively, and more puzzled that nobody is telling me what to do to ask better.

Yes it is, but no one can force people to be polite. It has been discussed to death and forcing people to comment is highly unlikely to happen

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .