This evening a user posted a couple posts requesting code to fix his problem. One included a 500+ line script that he wanted translated from one language to another. IMO this sort of question doesn't belong on the site.

The user in question was pretty young in SO-terms (only 15 rep). It is possible that, not being familiar with meta, he went to the FAQ link on the top of the SO page looking for direction as to whether that sort of question was acceptable, and found nothing discouraging it.

Though I am aware that there are links to meta for more detailed FAQs on that page, I think it would be more effective if there were something there that would discourage this sort of post. Would it be possible to add a one-liner in the What kind of questions should I not ask here section?

  • Is it better for GetAFreelancer instead?
    – random
    Sep 4, 2009 at 1:48

7 Answers 7


I'm sure mentioning this in the FAQ wouldn't help at all. Those kind of people don't read FAQs and even if they read, they wouldn't respect it. After all, it's clearly specified in the FAQ that SO is a Q&A Website, hence, it's not rent-a-coder. It should be clear.

  • 1
    While I would like to find a solution to the rent-a-coder problem, low-profile though it may be, I fear this is the truth. Sep 4, 2009 at 6:04
  • 1
    Nothing can prevent it completely. The best way to deal with it is to ignore, close if it's seriously bad, and flag if it's spammy/offensive or it's being done again and again.
    – mmx
    Sep 4, 2009 at 6:07

How many times has this really happened that it needs to be addressed in the FAQ?

If you start adding a line-item for every question that didn't belong on Stack Overflow, it would start looking like one of those six-page, fine print car-rental agreements. Keep it simple.

I feel the community and reputation system is much better at handling the occasional lapse in user judgment.

  • 6
    i see it quite a bit, actually. downvotes probably don't have that much effect on someone asking a drive-by question with no intention of coming back to join the community. but i doubt a new line in the faq would affect them either--they're really just grasping for something
    – Kip
    Sep 4, 2009 at 4:46

The reminder about which site buckets which questions should be prodded again on the Ask a Question page. It's there in the firing line of a needy eyeball and might cut down on questions that would be prime for migration.

Or have a line like there is for Doctype.com but instead of job title, something along the lines of,

If your question relates to a bid you've won recently, don't ask for people to do your work for you.


How much is he willing to pay?


You don't think some poor soul will do this for him in return for an upvote and accepted answer?

I agree that it's not appropriate - but I don't think it needs more than a vote to close.


Who cares if they ask the question? No one will answer it, and it will get closed, fall off the front page and no one will ever see it again. They will only do it as long as it yields results which help them, and it won't do that, so they won't do it but a few times at most before giving up.


We're not going to prevent people from asking questions like that without doing violence to the ideas behind these sites.

Right now, I'd automatically ignore a question like that, with maybe a quick click on the downvote arrow, which isn't going to stop anybody from asking the same sort of question again.

To discourage these further, we'd need to come up with an appropriate close reason. Asking for a translation of a 500-line script from Perl to Python, say, doesn't seem to fall under any of the close reasons. It's programming-related, a real question, not subjective or argumentative, isn't spam in any sense I'd recognize, and certainly doesn't belong on Meta or SF or SU. It isn't a duplicate, isn't inherently offensive, is just as relevant as it ever was, and isn't too localized.

What it is is a request for somebody to do a lot of grunt work. It isn't likely to be successful, but if we want to close it we need a reason like "too narrow application" or "overly specific", although then I'm afraid people would close questions on, say, read-macros in Steel Bank Common Lisp that I'd consider perfectly appropriate.

I'd say ignore this unless it becomes a problem, then provide a close reason that will work.

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