I've been a user for a year now and have decent reputation. But sometimes, I really wonder what questions we should ask and how. Most of the time, questions are downvoted because of sheep voting patterns — one downvote and more will follow blindly...

A user asked a question here, which in my opinion is legit. He wrote the code, he posted the code, and he said "I am not getting any results". Not enough information? We can always comment and ask for more if we need it.

Another user commented (the comment has since been deleted):

Unfortunately, questions asking to fix your code considered offtopic on this site [sic]

So what are we doing here? Aren't we supposed to fix the code (which has been tried by the OP)?

Recently, this question was upvoted (again, sheep pattern), while this one was closed. So are we supposed to help fancy-looking things? Ask some cool stuff for easy-to-fetch votes? Or should we help people who really try out and push some code here?

I am not shouting here at anyone, but things seems to be running a bit unfair...

This led me to read the rules, and the first thing I saw there was "a specific programming problem" — check.

And reading on:

  1. Questions about general computing hardware and software are off-topic for Stack Overflow unless they directly involve tools used primarily for programming.

    Not applicable

  2. Questions concerning problems with code you've written must describe the specific problem — and include valid code to reproduce it — in the question itself. See http://SSCCE.org for guidance.


  3. 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.

    Already shared what he tried

  4. Questions on professional server, networking, or related infrastructure administration are off-topic for Stack Overflow unless they directly involve programming or programming tools.

    Not applicable

  5. Questions asking us to recommend or find a tool, library or favorite off-site resource are off-topic for Stack Overflow as they tend to attract opinionated answers and spam. Instead, describe the problem and what has been done so far to solve it.

    Not applicable

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    For what it's worth, I just hit that question in the CV review queue (before reading this post) and voted to leave it open. There is indeed code and an explanation of the problem. We'll see what other reviewers think of this shortly. (The review can be found here.) – Frédéric Hamidi Jan 2 '14 at 10:21
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    Is it YCS again? I just responded to a similar comment from him like, yesterday. To be fair, I didn't @ him, so he may well have never seen it. – BoltClock's a Unicorn Jan 2 '14 at 10:27
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    Well, I only see 1 close vote, so I think most of the users agree that it is on-topic (and YCS is likely the close voter, which isn't shocking). I think the biggest problem is the phrase "I'm not getting any results". when that is the longest phrase in the post, it comes off as "debug my code for me", which most users don't want to do. – psubsee2003 Jan 2 '14 at 10:31
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    I only disagree on your conclusion of 'minimal understanding'. He did execute that function. But some intermediate results (showing an attempt to debug) of the problematic function would have helped. I would also vote for leave open though. – rene Jan 2 '14 at 10:31
  • @rene well, it's often with beginners, but downvoting is what shouldn't happen, we have closing rights, we should close rather than downvoting, I just compared it with other questions which were not eligible to fetch that amount of votes compared to this one, and I try always to post a comment of not to down vote, if I think it shouldn't, it may save users to down vote more if they do care – Mr. Alien Jan 2 '14 at 10:34
  • Agreed, but the OP is learning fast because of the user currently answering that question (and showing a lot of stamina in the comments). – rene Jan 2 '14 at 10:38
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    I must say this looks like quite a lot of ado about a single close vote. As to closing vs commenting vs downvoting, do as you please, but you can't force it unto others. Just like others are not forcing their habits unto you. If I have earned the right to do X as I see fit, I will make use of it as I see fit. Simple as that. – ЯegDwight Jan 2 '14 at 12:59
  • @ЯegDwight if you have powers, than they should be used wisely, I have all the rights on SO, I never go rogue with those :) the question was arising in general as I've seen, many questions are unfairly down voted for no reason, especially in PHP, that's why I hardly answer there, every other question in PHP is down voted, and answers too, they expect that if you are having a high rep, you shouldn't answer easy questions, so I don't get SO rules yet, so posted my question, as he told me to post it here – Mr. Alien Jan 2 '14 at 13:04
  • @ЯegDwight about the voting thing, that has happened before too... – Mr. Alien Jan 2 '14 at 13:06
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    But saying "do not go rogue" will not fix anything. Again, those people have these powers, and they will be using them till Kingdom come. We are treading water here. No amount of meta posts will change how I vote. Meta is a collection of straw polls of a random bunch of people off the Internet, and users are under no obligation to so much as know it exists. – ЯegDwight Jan 2 '14 at 13:10
  • @ЯegDwight +1 Completely agreed with that... – Mr. Alien Jan 2 '14 at 13:11
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    @BoltClock Go on, answer that yesterday's question. Otherwise don't call it on topic. There are NO relevant answers so far and I doubt there is one possible. And it surprises me that SO become an online debugging tool. I thought this site is about "Here is a problem what's the solution?", not "First find what is the problem is and then solve it" – Your Common Sense Jan 2 '14 at 13:53
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    Does my not answering a question make it not on topic these days? Wow. Never knew I had so much power over the site. Where have I been. – BoltClock's a Unicorn Jan 2 '14 at 13:55
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    @Mr.Alien You don't get the point. Please read carefully if you care to comment. The question in question is not answerable. By anyone. And it has no direct answer so far. Which surely proves it off topic. As simple as that. And even someone who volunteered to call it on topic, cannot answer it as well - which is quite contradicting issue in my point of view. – Your Common Sense Jan 2 '14 at 14:21
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    The question in question is not answerable. By anyone. and suddenly we get the downvotes... – Mr. Alien Jan 2 '14 at 15:19

Speaking of this very question, the OP is actually FAR from even minimal understanding. All he doing is actually posting some random code as a question, get some random answer, then repost the code from answer as another question and so on. Here is a brief history of his struggle:

Exactly the same pattern were used with his other questions. I can't make a full picture here as he's deleted many questions already, but that's enough, I believe.

If you won't call it duplicate, I don't know what a duplicate is. If you can show me a minimal understanding here, then minimal means "no understanding at all".

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    Again, no one learns in a day... you are here to solve doubts, all are not as smart like you are, they need someone to figure out for them, that's what high reps like we people post answers to them... so if you read my question again, it says off topic on what ground, also, I can make out from your down vote score and it answered me why you behave in such a way.... – Mr. Alien Jan 2 '14 at 15:11
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    The problem with such disposable questions is that they never help anyone but OP. And asked in thousands per day they just litter the site, making it hard to either find a good answer or a good question. – Your Common Sense Jan 2 '14 at 15:24
  • Agreed, but if you want the site to have only unique questions, than expect only 10s, or 20s per day... also, each question is unique on its own, we should write this in FAQ no questions are allowed, search and search and search, and only post the unique once, we need to get our site popular, we don't give a damn to your code.. ? I guess than SO is losing it's way... – Mr. Alien Jan 2 '14 at 15:28
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    Yes, I'd say we want to avoid duplication as much as possible. In the end spreading the same topic to much leads to suboptimal questions and suboptimal answers which don't make SO a optimal resource. Admitedly, if one wants SO to be exclusively a rep farm things are different. – Benjamin Bannier Jan 2 '14 at 16:09

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