The obvious thing now is that there are many cases when we see "I have same issue! from users with 1 rep. in question. Usually, it's the user who has googled for their problem and found an answer on Stack Overflow, but when trying copy+paste something went wrong. What I often is that this user comes and registers on SO, then adds such "answer" to that question.

What can be done?

Currently, good question could be protected by users with 15k rep to avoid such situation. But still we have many answers flagged as "not an answer" and we have to deal with this. That's because not all questions should be protected (or those which should be protected - were not protected yet).

I propose that:

  • Users who have no posts on SO yet are prohibited from answering questions that are x days old (let's say 7 days) and have an accepted answer.

Why only for questions with accepted answer? Because, certainly, OP already accepted solution - and it is working at least - thus, it won't be bad for OP who already got his answer. While I understand that such restriction potentially may cause loosing of great answers from new users, I think that in common case this will save lots of flags and, therefore, time for reviewing it.

  • 2
    Ah, yet again. Please, do not dv is you don't agree with proposition. It has nothing to do with question. Is question bad-formed? Is it offensive or unclear? Please, do not mix disagreement with proposition and question score :( That always holds me from using SO's meta
    – Alma Do
    Feb 13 '14 at 8:53
  • Just a small thought. Say I'm a new user(both not a novice technically) and I see a question regarding file operations(for example) having an accepted answer given considering Java 6 in mind. Its been few months or a year, Java 7 is out in the open and file operations are all included in the java.nio.Files. Why should SO restrict me to post a one liner(potentially the current best answer) on the question just because I'm a new user? Shouldn't I post an answer for all the future viewers of the question? It kind of defeats the purpose of SO. Just remember: Everybody was a new user once.
    – Rahul
    Feb 13 '14 at 8:54
  • Well, one-liners are rarely good answers (because lack of explanations, of course). But that it's about: when question was asked - it was bound to certain version of Java. And got good answer there. I agree, that it can be an improvement - but I have doubts that it will be unclear that in 2010 there was another Java version
    – Alma Do
    Feb 13 '14 at 8:56
  • One liner in the sense, the code could be simplified to a single line. Ofcourse I'd give the appropriate explanation and relevant docs would be linked. And most of the times the version of Java is never stated in the question. It is usually considered to be the latest stable version currently. Therefore it is very much possible that in a span of 1-2 years the answer becomes totally outdated.
    – Rahul
    Feb 13 '14 at 8:59
  • 1
    Why then don't answer question with proper description? (pointing to modern versions due to question time)? And I'm sure such question will exist - since if it was asked once in past, good chances are - in future people will ask similar questions, but with new platform versions. So I partly agree, but don't see how that will affect the whole picture. In any case, I've got your point, thank you.
    – Alma Do
    Feb 13 '14 at 9:02
  • I've seen a few such instances(unfortunately unable to recollect the names) where a new answer was posted to a question dating around 1-2 years back and the OP actually changed the accepted answer to the newly posted answer. Though most of those were from already experienced users, my point is that for a certain no. of new users posting garbage answers, we cannot stop all the new users to post answers to old questions. Also, I agree with you on the downvotes. I really hope the 2 downvoters explain their point of view on this. Sorry 3 now ;)
    – Rahul
    Feb 13 '14 at 9:07
  • 2
    I agree that the whole downvoting ideas you don't like and also poorly written questions isn't great. It is sadly the system we have at the moment. There are however alternatives that you may wish to support Feb 13 '14 at 9:07
  • @RichardTingle that discourages me. Chances are - even if system won't ban me, with such attitude good chances are - that any user in my place will just be disappointed in meta and will never return. Yes, this question isn't a duplicate. It's well-formed. It's only unlucky because some persons thinks it's idea is not well. And - more, question is unlucky to be visited with those persons at first.
    – Alma Do
    Feb 13 '14 at 9:11
  • @Ɍ.Ɉ - yes, I partly agree. My idea is that such rare cases can't justify situation with thousands useless "I have same problem too!" answers
    – Alma Do
    Feb 13 '14 at 9:12
  • 1
    @AlmaDo In the absense of other solutions I much prefer the answering against and then people can vote for the "no" answer rather than downvoting the question, hence an answer Feb 13 '14 at 9:12
  • @RichardTingle agree - I think question rating has very vague (if not at all) connection with idea in question. I've found your linked post very similar to my feelings about this problem
    – Alma Do
    Feb 13 '14 at 9:14
  • 3
    According to meta.stackoverflow.com/help/whats-meta "On posts tagged feature-request, voting indicates agreement or disagreement with the proposed change rather than just the quality or usefulness of the post itself". So, why not downvote if we do not agree(Asking this before downvoting to see if your request has merit)
    – ThunderGr
    Feb 13 '14 at 9:46
  • @ThunderGr ok. You'll downvote and I'll get automatic ban from MSO. But you know - really, with such attitude - I don't care. Because something is wrong in situation when someone is posting well-formed, non-duplicate question, spends time on that - and then feeling himself like he's guilty. That's very discouraging - and that's why I think model of downvoting itself isn't well.
    – Alma Do
    Feb 13 '14 at 9:49
  • I do not understand why you get automatically banned? If such a guideline exists for 'feature-requests" shouldn't also be a different handling for downvotes on posts with these tags? I have no problem with your question and it is a very fine question. I just disagree with the proposition. I don't want you banned, for certain and if this is indeed the case, whomever writes these guidelines should not be doing so.
    – ThunderGr
    Feb 13 '14 at 9:50
  • 1
    @AlmaDo the voting situation is just a fact of life on meta, no matter what you do. Complaining about it usually invites more downvotes, but the question ban on Meta Stack Overflow has been tweaked to the point that you have to almost be actively trying to get banned by posting bad feature requests to trigger the ban. It's not impossible, but extremely improbable. Feb 13 '14 at 16:51

I would be against this, since that would actually have blocked me from posting my first answer.

For me at the least the reason I originally registered on stack overflow was because I had found a solution to a problem but that accepted solution was in fact wrong (or at least limited to a specific case). This prompted me to write my own answer, correcting those flaws. This question was very old and under these rules I wouldn't be able to answer the question.

I think there are primarily two types of new users, the "I have a question" group and the "I have an answer" group. I doubt the second group largely finds questions from the front page but, like me, through google. This proposal would eliminate most of that group

  • So it was question with wrong answer which was accepted? How so? (i.e. if it.s wrong, how can it be accepted while not-working?). Or is it about - in that answer some sort of "bad practice" was used?
    – Alma Do
    Feb 13 '14 at 9:15
  • @AlmaDo That question asked about a general case (line vs point), the original answer gave an answer to a specific case (line starting at (0,0,0) vs point) that just happened to be the OPs problem. The accepted answer was 'limited' rather than all out wrong Feb 13 '14 at 9:18
  • Ok, got the idea. Well, I think that there could be at least two opinions on that case (samples are - your opinion and mine). For now I see - the community was spoken in my question in clear way (hehe, I think 1-2 more such cases and I'll got ban on meta). I can't mark your post as "accepted answer" (because opinion-based questions may have single answer only in very specific cases, I think). But, certainly - thank you for your feedback.
    – Alma Do
    Feb 13 '14 at 9:21

Say John is working for Microsoft, he has just been given the job helper customers take advantage of X, he has not used StackOverflow before. (Or is not allowed to use his personal login at work.)

John goggles (using Bing) to find out what problems customers are having with X, the questions he hits has an accepted answer that says “there is no way you can do this because”, however john knows a solution, should John not be able to post the solution?

(I think the problem of new users asking bad questions is a lot more important as it clogs up the sites and stops good questions getting answers. So are now very good at getting rid of “me too” answers.)

  • 3
    If he uses Bing to search he won't ever end up on SO as there won't be any relevant hits until page 7 million Feb 13 '14 at 10:32
  • 1
    @DavidX.Random *googles*(using bing). Missed the joke? ;)
    – ThunderGr
    Feb 13 '14 at 10:33

I disagree with the proposition, because it will only make things for new users more difficult than they already are. The only thing a new user can do is answer or make questions. They can only post comments after they get enough reputation from their answers/questions to be able to do so. If the new users were allowed to comment from the beginning, however, this suggestion could help in the intended direction.

So, bottom line: I disagree with the suggestion with the current system but I think it would be useful if such a suggestion was implemented in conjunction with allowing comments to new users.

EDIT: Thinking about it a little more, I think that, if comments for new users are allowed, the need to prevent this kind of answers will be eliminated, because people resort to making these answers out of inability to comment. So, the fewer flags goal will be accomplished without preventing answers.

EDIT2: As @BillWoodger informed me, new users can also suggest edits to posts. Although this is something that does not help in any of the issues related with the suggestion under discussion, I include it for completion, since I stated above the "only" things new users can do, without including this one.

  • While this is partly correct, I'm trying to keep in mind all viewpoints. Both for new users and for old users (who'll deal with flags, for example). And - most likely - new user will answer new question (within 7 days gap) - because registering to post an answer is very rare case (in normal situation, it will be to post a question as an answer). So if new user is answering old question with accepted answer - good chances are - it will be "I have this problem too". If user wants to answer just some question - he will look to list of unanswered new questions.
    – Alma Do
    Feb 13 '14 at 10:10
  • 2
    @AlmaDo I remember when I was a new user and I could not upvote or comment in a question that the accepted answer and all of the other answers except for one did not work for me, I wanted to tell people that this specific one worked for me somehow. It felt frustrating to only be able to post an answer to tell that and, of course, it was deleted by a moderator with the appropriate explaining comment. The site is already frustrating to new users. We should not make it even more so, in my opinion.
    – ThunderGr
    Feb 13 '14 at 10:13
  • New users can also edit. Feb 13 '14 at 10:55
  • @BillWoodger What can they edit? Their own questions/answers? Of course they can. They are theirs!
    – ThunderGr
    Feb 13 '14 at 10:57
  • No, I mean they can suggest edits on anything, and if accepted from the review, they gain two points of reputation, which can then give them sufficient to do other things. So, since you listed the "only" things new users can do, and in relation to gaining reputation, it should be exhaustive. Even anonymous users can suggest edits. Feb 13 '14 at 11:02
  • @BillWoodger I did not know that. Probably they don't either :). Thanks for the information.
    – ThunderGr
    Feb 13 '14 at 11:16

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