I am a little confused about what do with questions that are just asking

"I want this and that (...) and I want it to look exactly like that (...) please help"

without showning ANY own effort?

According to this answer those kind of answers are not welcome

also the so tour says those questions should not be asked:

Don't ask about... Questions you haven't tried to find an answer for (show your work!)

But does this mean that I should flag those kind of "helpdesk" questions or not? And if yes as what? low quality ? flag for moderator attention ? Or is just adding a kind comment asking for the asker's own attempts enough?

2 Answers 2


First off, if a question doesn't show any of the effort made to resolve the problem down vote it!

This question does not show any research effort

Down-voting poorly-asked questions is immensely important - if you do nothing else, at least do that!

With that out of the way, ask yourself: is this question answerable? Not necessarily by you, but by anyone! If it's missing crucial details, then select "it should be closed for another reason..." and "unclear what you're asking"*; if it's simply asking too much then it's Too Broad. If you can't even begin to make sense of what it's asking, Very Low Quality is a good choice.

If it's answerable, then leave it be - you may not want to put the effort in, but perhaps someone will. If it turns out that a large number of people have the same question, it could still be useful to keep around. If no one cares to answer it and no one else shares the problem, then it'll end up being automatically deleted after a while - no need to waste anyone else's time by flagging it.

*There's an off-topic reason for these as well with specific guidance - use it if you want to give the asker specific guidance.

  • 1
    Hand-drawn? Hardly - The GIMP all the way, baby!
    – Shog9
    Commented Feb 28, 2014 at 0:20
  • 1
    -1 for using CGI tears instead of drawing them by hand. Commented Feb 28, 2014 at 2:08
  • Remind me next time to just tear out that section of the page and then photograph it on top of a wooden table.
    – Shog9
    Commented Feb 28, 2014 at 2:09
  • Oh, and lines too. Lucky for you I can't downvote a second time. Commented Feb 28, 2014 at 2:11
  • Oh yes, downvoting makes totally sense! I usually do that already, just forgot to mention it in the question. So downvoting + optional comment sound like the best thing to do. But how about the answers that have been made to such kind of questions? I have sometimes seen people giving correct answers to no-effort-shown questions but at the same time the answers were downvoted as well (even if they were 100% correct) Is that something that should be done as well?!? Seems a bit harsh to me since the answerer put some effort in it, although the asker didn't really deserve such an answer...
    – donfuxx
    Commented Feb 28, 2014 at 7:18

First, as Shog mentioned you can downvote it.

But in addition I often find these questions hard to answer, if not impossible. If I ask how to make an apple pie, and I don't indicate whether I know how to bake any kind of pie, or how to peel and slice apples, or even what an apple looks like (I might come back from the grocery store with carrots) you probably can't help me. You have no idea where to start. If the person doesn't appear to have chosen a programming language, an operating system, any frameworks, etc, how can you help them?

I vote to close these as Unclear What You're Asking and in my head I'm saying Unclear What Help You Need. Are you asking "please teach me C#, the concepts of database design, WPF, and how to architect a distributed system" or "why am I getting a null reference exception" ? I can't tell. So I can't answer. And questions that can't be answered should be closed.

If they've managed to provide enough information to make it clear what they want, then consider closing as Too Broad if what they want is "how do you build an ecommerce system?" or "I am writing my own operating system, how do I do that?" If they've written a clear crisp question whose answer would be of a reasonable length, and you can tell exactly what level of detail they need in that answer because you know what they already know and precisely what their problem is, but for some reason you feel they didn't try enough, well go ahead and just downvote. But I bet that never happens.

See also my answers to “first show your effort and then ask for help” comments and Do I have to write “I have tried” when I ask something?

  • I like that apple pie analogy. Because, what do you get when you ask how to make apple pie and have no idea what you're doing?
    – Shog9
    Commented Feb 28, 2014 at 0:44
  • My mother still thinks Canadians consider that a reasonable substitute for apple pie, since she saw it on a Ritz box in 1969. We can not convince her nobody actually made that. Commented Feb 28, 2014 at 0:47
  • appologies if this comment is "Too chatty" but I cant resist.. @Kate, an excellent analogy indeed, keep using it, and please tell your mom, from myself as a canadian, there is NO reasonable substitute for apple pie..... Commented Mar 15, 2014 at 8:01

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