Most of the time if a question is poorly written, doesn't show any research effort, doesn't demonstrate a minimal understanding of the problem, and simply asks for a solution like: I need this - do it for me, thanks.; I just downvote and vote to close.

But I feel like I am a one-man army...

Why do others choose to answer those poor questions? Why do they not follow the principles of Stack Overflow? What is it that makes those people race to answer? Can someone explain this behaviour to me? I can't myself think of anything besides the rep points.

What is the point?

Besides waiting until 5 other quality users come around and vote to close the question the user gets what he wants and runs away with a huge smile on his face. Is this the sort of place Stack Overflow is becoming?

What should I do?

I consider myself a good user and it breaks my heart - exaggeration seeing this happen. I don't want to just ignore all of this - I want to stop it, but how? Is anything planned to help resolve this issue? Am I the only one bothered by this?

  • 27
    Know at least it's worse elsewhere. At least we have a few one man armies here Commented Feb 28, 2014 at 11:04
  • 16
    If you want to be part of a community, you need to be prepared that people won't always agree with you.
    – yannis
    Commented Feb 28, 2014 at 11:04
  • 8
    You are not alone. I haven't participated on the site for a really long time which I largely contribute to ending a lot of days on SO with a feeling of What is the point/Why do I bother? I hope you do find a way to stop it, and I can identify with every single thing you write above.
    – user213634
    Commented Feb 28, 2014 at 11:15
  • 5
    How would you feel when you see a question like this and more so ever, the answers to it. Just so that you know, you're not alone :)
    – Rahul
    Commented Feb 28, 2014 at 11:27
  • possible duplicate of Off topic questions have to be cleared out of the way, but NOT via closure
    – gnat
    Commented Feb 28, 2014 at 11:29
  • 1
    related: Stack Overflow technology makes me write bad answers
    – gnat
    Commented Feb 28, 2014 at 11:29
  • 1
    @Ɍ.Ɉ let's not be rude, let's help this guy get banned from asking questions (JK one, two more questions he will have only himself to blame...)
    – user221081
    Commented Feb 28, 2014 at 12:26
  • 13
    Calling out individual new users on Meta to organize a downvoting mob isn't really appropriate, IMO.
    – Wooble
    Commented Feb 28, 2014 at 13:15
  • 1
    For borderline cases, if I have the time, I'll try to improve the question instead of down voting and nominating for closure. Commented Feb 28, 2014 at 17:52
  • 5
    SO used to be a pretty hostile place to questions like those. Which worked, it scared people away. That has ended with campaigns like the "summer of love", removal of close reasons, excise of the accept rate display, filtering and outlawing of comments, artificially inflated close queue that made users hesitant to close, etc. The quest for geometric growth was a strong one. That has ended too. Commented Feb 28, 2014 at 18:57
  • 2
    @Mehow, yet you are the standout in the VBA tag for very long and detailed answers, sometime to old questions that have been already adequately covered, but including some very low quality ones that the community has deleted which you then complained about on the basis of the effort you'd put in. Not trying to be antagonistic, but I'm staggered how you've framed your view
    – brettdj
    Commented Mar 21, 2014 at 5:05
  • @brettdj This (December 17th) is a perfect example of the effects of participation here on Meta.. My highest rated VBA answer was given in August 2013, which is about 4 months earlier. My participation on Meta has taught me NOT TO ANSWER POOR QUESTIONS. Knowing that now, I feel really bothered when I see people do that all the time...
    – user221081
    Commented Mar 21, 2014 at 8:12
  • On top of that, the question itself is not THAT poor, it's quite specific Do I use loops or is there a more pretty way? Well, I thought there was that's why I answered so I think you actually have not chosen the greatest example to have sarcastic GO on me... Voting is anonymous but since you "accuse" me of upvoting I might as well ask if you're the @downvoter...
    – user221081
    Commented Mar 21, 2014 at 8:15
  • 1
    It seems this question was migrated from Meta Stack Overflow to Meta Stack Exchange, despite the fact that the issue and many of the responses really are specific to Stack Overflow. What's the procedure for moving it back? Commented Sep 18, 2015 at 18:49
  • 2
    Does this answer your question? Why reward an answer to a low quality question?
    – Rob
    Commented Jun 28, 2020 at 21:30

14 Answers 14


Can someone explain this behaviour to me?


Short term gain vs long term health of the community. Many people who come to Stack Overflow and see a question they can answer, will jump and answer it in the hope of gaining reputation.

They do not think of the community as a whole or the long term benefits to the site of not doing so.

They gain an immediate satisfaction of a green +10 (or however much) notification and a much delayed loss of reputation when the question gets deleted (if within 60 days). This reinforces the behavior that is bad for the long term health of the site.

What should I do?

What you have been doing. If you feel like commenting on such answers and explaining why they are not helping, that would be great, though I have personally encountered aggressive responses to such comments.

In short - this is the battle between the core people of the community - those few who care for the long term health of the community vs the greater numbers of people who are only in it for themselves (whether spammers, give me teh code, answering bad/off-topic questions etc...).

From A Group Is Its Own Worst Enemy by Clay Shirky (which discusses online group dynamics):

Members are different than users. A pattern will arise in which there is some group of users that cares more than average about the integrity and success of the group as a whole. And that becomes your core group, Art Kleiner's phrase for "the group within the group that matters most."

  • 14
    You're right. But such questions usually do not get deleted, and . Similarly, people love answering FAQs rather than voting-to-close (even those with all privileges).
    – devnull
    Commented Feb 28, 2014 at 11:18
  • 1
    accepted. I'd want anyone who ever comes across this question to read your answer. Totally agreed.
    – user221081
    Commented Feb 28, 2014 at 11:19
  • @devnull - this is an interplay between path of least resistance (aka less friction) and pretty much what I wrote above. It is easier and more gratifying to answer than not answer and put an effort into closing.
    – Oded
    Commented Feb 28, 2014 at 11:20
  • @Oded There's usually more to it than that. Even if the question has been voted-to-close as duplicate, you'd see answers flowing in.
    – devnull
    Commented Feb 28, 2014 at 11:22
  • 2
    @devnull - Sure - not saying that's the full answer, but mostly it is. Don't forget that people here on Meta tend to be more aware and savvy about the community (these are the people who form the core of the community, after all) - there are many more who don't even notice the flags.
    – Oded
    Commented Feb 28, 2014 at 11:24
  • 9
    I care about long term community health and I'm stuck at 440 rep on SO. For me it seems that reputation system is simply badly designed for current conditions, promoting ones that try to answer everything and grab rep faster - especially in more popular tags, where most of challenging questions are already asked long ago.
    – Mołot
    Commented Feb 28, 2014 at 11:26
  • 1
    @Mołot - suggested edits are your friend... As for the issues we have we reputation and quick gains over long term are difficult to solve. Not sure there is an answer to this problem.
    – Oded
    Commented Feb 28, 2014 at 11:27
  • 2
    @Oded I don't know that, too, but as long as this site will reward wast answering to everything more than it rewards carefully written answers in obscure tags (where there is still a plenty of place for really new questions) this will be happening. People will do what site rewards them. It rewards for answering more than it rewards for flagging to close, so people will prefer to answer than to flag to close. That's how site decision makers decided to train newcomers, so that's what you are getting from newcomers.
    – Mołot
    Commented Feb 28, 2014 at 11:32
  • 2
    @Oded and just by the way, suggested edits are not my friend. They usually gets rejected because someone who does not need to suggest edited at the same time, sometimes leaving obvious errors I fixed in my sugegstion. I hardly see a point in suggesting edits any more on SO until this gets fixed.
    – Mołot
    Commented Feb 28, 2014 at 11:42
  • Sorry to hear they are not working for you, @Mołot :(
    – Oded
    Commented Feb 28, 2014 at 11:46
  • 3
    @Mołot What you write here, especially I care about long term community health and I'm stuck at 440 rep on SO sums it up really well for me too. Combined with the mehows original question, there's most of the reason I haven't really participated for almost half a year, and don't expect I will again anytime soon.
    – user213634
    Commented Feb 28, 2014 at 12:03
  • 1
    @AndersUP and I'm 12k on Drupal Answers, 18k network, so it's not like I can't answer, don't know my tools etc... It's just the site design unsuitable for such crowded places as SO is.
    – Mołot
    Commented Feb 28, 2014 at 12:06
  • solution for this is to make FGITW dance roomba
    – gnat
    Commented Feb 28, 2014 at 13:05
  • 2
    @Mołot Fortunately you don't need very much reputation to contribute significantly to the health of the site.
    – Servy
    Commented Feb 28, 2014 at 18:41
  • 1
    @mehow Oded alludes to this, but A Group Is Its Own Worst Enemy is a good read. The bit is in "Things you have to accept #2" which reads "The second thing you have to accept: Members are different than users. A pattern will arise in which there is some group of users that cares more than average about the integrity and success of the group as a whole. And that becomes your core group, Art Kleiner's phrase for "the group within the group that matters most."" (Oded, think you could add a link to that in your 'in short' bit?)
    – user213963
    Commented Mar 1, 2014 at 23:54

Why do others choose to answer those poor questions?

Because they know the answer.

Why do they not follow the principles of Stack Overflow?

Because only a very small portion of users is aware of or cares about the site's principles. Being active on Meta might skew your perception a bit in that regard. By far the majority of users is here to get their info. And those who do actively participate are also largely looking for an answer to their problem, or are happy they can finally answer something.

It's only a small section of users whose participation goes beyond that.

What is it that makes those people race to answer?

See the first point above.

  • because there are very few sites which delivers the solution that fast..also some users like me are new to this although this is not an excuse but you'll should direct them to follow the rules just like in my case
    – Shalini
    Commented Feb 28, 2014 at 13:40
  • "the majority of users is here to get their info", and I don't think there's nothing wrong with it. If everybody using SO would be required to sign some proclamation of principles, this would be quite an empty site. This site needs the users who want the info. The users can't really be changed, and they can't even be filtered too much, so the site must find other ways to deal with the situation.
    – hyde
    Commented Mar 2, 2014 at 9:17
  • 1
    I answered a poorly written simple question today just to help the person, because I understood their question and it was simple. I like to help people, and happen to believe that as a part of the community, I would be able to be a part of it. I think if a very well worded answer fulfills a simple question, that in the future, people can read it and benefit. I don't see it as a conflict with the highest interest of the site. In fact, I am trying to help the site. I didn't realize there was 100% agreement on that, since I see it being debated constantly among high rep users.
    – peege
    Commented Jan 8, 2015 at 15:41

Why do they not follow the principles of Stack Overflow?

To a large degree, the principles are not clear and have become less clear over time. I've been contributing to Stack Overflow for almost five years and have lurked on Meta off and on during that time. On some topics, I'm completely perplexed about what is and isn't acceptable.


There is a class of questions that boil down to "I wrote this code and I can't find my bug." A long time ago, it was trivial to close these as "too localized," which seemed completely in line with the principle that posts should have value to future readers.

But then the following things happened:

  1. Too Localized was removed as a reason to vote-to-close, and none of the remaining Off Topic choices are a good fit.

  2. Guidelines were added that explain exactly how to ask this type of question. ("Questions concerning problems with code you've written must describe the specific problem — and include valid code to reproduce it.")

  3. These types of questions started getting significant up-votes and answers. Even when the bugs were trivial things like typos, syntax errors, missing libraries, etc.

This seemed to be a complete 180 change from the original principle that posts should be valuable to future users. Every time I've tried to get clarity on whether this was an intentional change, I could find high-rep users who said yes and ones that said no.

Over time, it seemed the find-my-bug questions were here to stay. Clearly some users enjoyed earning rep helping out people, but I suspected that lots of other users didn't want to bother with these types of questions. It seemed it would be useful to everyone if you could either search for or filter out these types of questions, depending on your preference.

So I created a find-my-bug tag, and for a week or two, I tagged a few questions with it. I then received a stern warning from a moderator that this tag was inappropriate because it was "meta". I didn't understand what was meta about the tag, so I re-read everything I could find about SO tags, and I asked about it in this forum. Nobody was able to clearly explain what made the find-my-bug tag meta, nor was there agreement on whether questions of this sort should be closed or answered.

Thus I argue that at least one principle that seemed to be clear in the beginning is now mired and unrecognizable.

Inappropriate Closures

And, while I feel your pain on the bad questions, I'm more frustrated by moderators and users with ginormous reputations who improperly vote to close perfectly good questions. I can't tell you how many times I've been typing an answer to a good question, only to see the banner appear saying that the question has been put on hold and answers won't be accepted.

For example, questions in the line of "Is there a programming tool with feature X?" are objectively answerable, but sometimes closed as Off Topic because they're asking for a recommendation and thus likely to be subjective. This is simply false. These questions are not asking for recommendations for a "favorite" or "best" tool; they are asking if such a tool exists.

That's a key distinction, and I don't see how SO users can rise to the ranks of moderator and not see that. Maybe I'm wrong, and I'm misunderstanding the intent behind the prohibition on recommendation questions. In either case, it demonstrates that the principles are not clear even to very experience Stack Overflow contributors.

  • You might want to listen to the latest podcast. It actually briefly hits upon the off-topic closure for recommendation questions, especially in relation to the new Software Recs site. And of course the issue has been discussed plenty right here on Meta.
    – Bart
    Commented Feb 28, 2014 at 18:34
  • @Bart: Podcast? What podcast? I'm doing searches, but I'm not finding any podcasts on SO or Meta. Commented Feb 28, 2014 at 18:59
  • blog.stackoverflow.com/2014/02/…
    – Bart
    Commented Feb 28, 2014 at 19:24
  • 7
    Yeah, I've definitely seen a trend towards more debugging-specific questions as a result of the insistence that question askers show their effort. Sure, it's nice to see someone is putting effort into their question, but more often than not, it's just changing what would have been a widely-applicable question into a very narrow debug-this-exact-situation question.
    – Troyen
    Commented Feb 28, 2014 at 21:18
  • 3
    This answer is clearly going against the tide and has a decent number of upvotes - that at least shows that the goal of SO is, and has always been, a moving-and-not-clearly-defined target...
    – assylias
    Commented Mar 5, 2014 at 0:38

tl;dr - It's not as bad as it seems, most people coming to the site in this manner find themselves question blocked quickly, or (possibly) worse, depending on how many times they try to skirt the block.

Questions that state an odd set of constraints wrapped around what is typically a fairly simple problem aren't always bad. Back when we had a tag, I used to follow it because it was often applied to any seemingly beginner problem with odd twists. I very much enjoyed keeping myself sharp by working through solutions to these problems, especially ones that specified a certain maximum complexity. Interesting ones came in the form of "The GNU standard C library implements strtok() and the re-entrant strtok_r() as such, your job is to implement both without using (something)." You just knew there was a programmer on the other end of the line, by the 'dafok' overtone of the question alone.

Times have changed, and what used to be considered the bottom of the barrel is now something we'd breathe a sigh of relief at seeing - an actual programmer, someone interested in learning about the craft asking a question that isn't just solved by rudimentary skills. I'm eating every syllable of demonstrate a minimal understanding, while Shog is the one that put it in place, I came up with that particular disaster of a phrase. What I meant to say is this person isn't able to think about and solve problems like a programmer would, and that's not a good reason to shut down a question alone. I need to learn how not to think out loud. That's not an artifact of being a noob, that's an artifact of entering an industry where you're not likely to flourish. I'd never make it in ballet or on Broadway, but if that was the only way I had out of a bad situation, I'd probably at least try.

We tend to mirror the industry, we always have, and I'm not going to stop reminding people of that. The industry (especially in Android / IOS / PHP) is seeing a lot of people trying to get jobs within it that probably aren't ever going to be qualified. They may be able to memorize most of the standard library for some language, but they're not ever going to think like programmers because they aren't ever going to be programmers by the way in which we think of the craft today. They don't have natural talent, and the only nutcracker they'll ever dance in is a series of uncomfortable code reviews.

Angst around this is understandable, but a mirror can't fix things in what it shows - it just shows stuff (well, unless it's a magic mirror, but I'm restricted to one Hogwarts metaphor each month and I used mine weeks ago). I'm all for the "everyone should know something about how to code" movement, I think that's healthy and may lead some to discover talent that they wouldn't have otherwise. But, not everyone should be writing code for a living, just like you'd probably rather not see me in tights.

If you see aptitude in someone as evidenced by what they've put in their (please show me how to do (simple thing)) question, then take the opportunity to be a mentor and help elevate someone that can dance apart from those that just sort of wiggle and flop. If you don't see it, don't answer - use your votes as you see fit and move on to something more interesting. Don't worry about what other people answer, horrible questions are deleted quickly. Rewarded or not, some will just keep coming back and trying again and again and again until they get an answer - silence isn't going to (and doesn't) slow them down much.

Those that come to the site with that sort of expectation don't last long, and (if persistent enough with the same quality) find themselves unable to ask at all. I can't begin to tell you what you aren't seeing, it's pretty smelly.

But it's not specific to our community and what we're trying to build, it's .. sort of everywhere. I want the (salary/notoriety/both) of a programmer therefore I will become one is a far cry from I can't go to bed until this works - what you're seeing is the delta between the two.

Just be professional and polite, no matter what you do, because that's also a big part of what we're about.

  • 1
    "I can't sleep until this works." Thank whatever gods may be someone else understands that feeling.
    – RubberDuck
    Commented Apr 25, 2014 at 13:40

You're not alone. It breaks my heart when I see someone get 5 upvotes for posting an answer saying

You need to use $(".foo") instead of $("foo").

Either ignore it and move on, or downvote the person who posted an answer, comment and move on.

  • Most of the time those are converted to comments. Commented Feb 28, 2014 at 17:52
  • 3
    @GIJoe No, not quite. (The smarter ones add a story after telling that there was a typo. And keep repeating it.)
    – devnull
    Commented Mar 1, 2014 at 3:56
  • 2
    Why would you downvote a correct answer?
    – Brad
    Commented Mar 1, 2014 at 4:49
  • 4
    @Brad: because it's only ever useful -- perhaps -- to the person asking the question. To make the answer valuable, it needs to explain why it's the right answer. That allows someone to learn how to solve the problem in general, and not how to fix the one specific issue that one time.
    – siride
    Commented Mar 1, 2014 at 5:31
  • 1
    @siride I completely agree that a correct answer explains why it is the right answer. Completely agree on that point. That doesn't mean the answer has to be particularly long... I misunderstood your point, I thought you were complaining about concise answers.
    – Brad
    Commented Mar 1, 2014 at 5:33
  • Despite there being a short answer, why would that be converted to a comment? It answered the question and I'm assuming there was a small description following that explained why that change was made. Commented Apr 23, 2014 at 14:55

I had to use up my remaining 10 close votes today in like under 10 minutes while just searching the new questions that were coming in. Like 6 of them seemed back to back to back...to back. Downvoted them all, since most didn't have a downvote yet, and voted to close them all as too broad, since they were give me the code types.

I also noticed that all 6 of those were from users with 1 rep. So they likely just started an account today. It seems as though they just create a new account for each bad question they ask at times, but I don't have any way to prove that.

You are definitely not a one man team. I make two. And there are at least a hundred others probably that are very active. There really is just that many poor questions.

What can be done to help alleviate the sense of going nowhere fast?

I honestly think people like you, who are good at reviewing should be given more tools. Like 80 votes in the close review queue per day. And 20-50 more close votes to use randomly throughout the day.

It's really a big jump from a user that say has 40,000 reputation and has been with the site for 2 years, but can only do 40 close reviews a day ... to a moderator who probably has similar stats and everything, but can now close any question immediately with just 1 vote and can close an unlimited amount of questions per day.

  • 1
    That would be awesome to get 80 close votes xD
    – user221081
    Commented Feb 28, 2014 at 11:08

As a 10k user, actively delete poor questions that have poor answers - especially those that have poor accepted answers (as the roomba scripts won't delete questions that have accepted answers).

By deleting these questions quickly, the people who are getting +15 from an accepted answer that really should have never been answered in the first place don't get that rep and will hopefully think twice about answering a very downvoted question again. It's not that it's a penalty for doing it - but it's "you never should have gotten this in the first place."

If you have less than 10k (though 10k can do this too), look at cliff questions and downvote the answers that are not helpful.


You already did everything you were supposed to do:

  • You downvoted the question, showing that you don't find it good enough.
  • You closevoted the question, showing that you don't think it's a good fit for the site
  • You informed both the questioner and answerer in comments about your views.

I don't want to just ignore all of this - I want to stop it (...)

That is not ignoring the issue, as you put it. So right now, the appropriate course would be to move on and hopefully find better questions next time that you can answer and upvote. We have lots of them.

P.S. The identity theft issue could be flagged for moderation.


I figure that most people answering (or asking questions) don't care about maintaining the site, they're chasing the magical rating at the end of the rainbow. The rating they achieve stokes their ego, not understanding they can't use it for free coffee or even a gold-star on their foreheads.

I like answering questions, but find myself cleaning up other people's messy questions and answers more often these days, and voting to close often; It's kind of like my meditation, ...or maybe penance for past sins of only taking and not giving back to a community. I hope, in some small way, it helps the viability of SO, because, in between all the stupid ... err ... "innocent" questions, are some really good ones that I benefit from too.

So I persevere in my tweaking, massaging and clarifying, and a lot of weeding, and periodically answer, and hope it helps some up-and-coming smart-person-in-training in the long run.

  • In my opinion, The Tin Man, you were overzealous in undermining a stack-overflow question for lack of "evidence of effort" when the question is generally applicable to the Ruby community. It only makes sense to undermine someone else's question for lack of effort if the question is so specific to their own needs that it is useless in a more general sense. For generally applicable knowledge, I think it does a disservice to the community to insist upon case-specific information in a generally useful public stack-exchange thread.
    – emery
    Commented Apr 28, 2016 at 20:07

Why do others choose to answer those poor questions? Why do they not follow the principles of Stack Overflow? What is it that makes those people race to answer? Can someone explain this behaviour to me? I can't myself think of anything besides the rep points.

I'm one of the people that often answers questions you think are poor. Oded♦ seems to think this has to do with reputation, but I can tell you right now that I don't care about reputation. I answer these questions to help someone.

When I do answer these questions, I try to answer it in a way that guides them to the correct technical answer while guiding them towards asking better questions in the future. I also edit their questions where it makes sense to do so, and leave comments as to why the edit was made so they can learn from it.

Everyone starts somewhere, and a big part of learning software development is learning how to ask a question and frame a problem. The people that post "do it for me" questions, I don't bother answering but I do leave a comment explaining why their question is useless, both to them and the community.

The people that post good questions about basic things, I always answer. Yet, I see people close these questions all the time. Just because a question is about something simple doesn't mean it isn't a valid question, and I think all of the folks downvoting and closing these questions should take their elitism elsewhere.

  • 4
    This false conflation of beginner's questions with lazy, fix-my-code/do-my-job, and generally low-quality questions comes up every time question quality is mentioned. By and large, I believe closevoters know how to tell the difference between someone who's just starting out in programming, has tried like hell to understand what they're doing, and is honestly stuck, and someone who wants to be spoonfed code she can copy-paste into her Flappy Bird clone. The problem that OP is concerned about is the latter kind of question, and the people who enable that kind.
    – jscs
    Commented Mar 1, 2014 at 23:15

It makes sense to downvote and remove a question for lack of effort if the question is very specific to the needs of the person asking it. For example:

In my Rails project with this controller code ((long code snippet)), when my specific variable @myvar is being cast to a string, it causes a bug in my other method my_method ((another code snippet)) what is wrong?

That's a lousy question, because it's diving too deep into one person's code without asking anything specific that is clearly useful to other people. However, "lack of effort" shouldn't indicate a downvote for questions that might be useful to other people. For example,

How do I configure a git repository to ignore a specific file if it is pushed to the repository?

This is an example of a better question that wouldn't really require evidence of effort. If the question isn't a duplicate, if it is specific, if it might be generally useful to the community, then providing extensive evidence of effort will only serve to make the thread less useful to the community, because the evidence of effort will be specific to the person asking it, whereas a simple answer can be seen and used by all.


It increases reputation, which is why they're answered.

Others might come to StackOverflow while doing their research. StackOverflow already is a repository of "I have this (simple) problem, how to best solve it?", even trivial questions fit in that purpose.

Maybe it doesn't follow the principles of StackExchange, but it still fits the format. Knowing that, maybe the principle need fixing, rather than the rep. system.

On the other hand, if there is a duplicate answer (that was obviously similar, not totally differently phrased. Phrasing is the hardest part!) I feel like that should get a hard penalty. Fragmentation of answers will not lead to optimal and beautiful answers.

I do think a question is only appropriate here if it is something many others might also find. Something like "Why does strreplace not do what I expected it to?" answered with "This excerpt from the documentation shows you've flipped needle and haystack" might actually help a lot of people out, even though it's trivial. Something like "Find my typo" or "watch me mix up my variables" and even "I don't understand variable scope" will (definitely?) not help anyone else and is better asked elsewhere (although I wouldn't know where).


Besides waiting until 5 other quality users come around and vote to close the question the user gets what he wants and runs away with a huge smile on his face

Let him get away with what he wants and also let 5 other good users like yourself to put the question on hold. Everyone is happy with this win-win situation. The user gets his/her question answered and Stack Overflow community maintains content quality.

I don't think we need to go further and become anymore villains.

  • 6
    The point of closing is to prevent people answering -- aren't the two conflicting? Commented Feb 28, 2014 at 11:35
  • 1
    @Qantas94Heavy The goal of closing a question is not to stop people from answering. However, questions that need additional work or that are not a good fit for this site may be put on hold by experienced community members. Two different things in my opinion. Commented Feb 28, 2014 at 12:01
  • I'd believe that to fulfil the purpose of closing questions, that would require us to stop people from answering these questions -- if we don't, then there's no reason why anyone would care. Commented Feb 28, 2014 at 12:13
  • 10
    The goal of closing questions is most definitely to prevent people from answering. And that prevention might be required for a variety of reasons. Especially if the question is off-topic, answering it will only reinforce the idea that answers can be gotten for whatever question. Who cares, as long as I get my problem solved ... so no, it's not a win-win situation.
    – Bart
    Commented Feb 28, 2014 at 12:15
  • If someone is spending her/his own time to answer a question then who are we to stop them, I dont get it. Yes, the site has some rules/guidelines and also has provided tools (such as close votes) to remove any content which is not good/appropriate for the site, simply use them. Commented Feb 28, 2014 at 12:21
  • 4
    I don't see that as a win-win at all (or at least not a win-win-win). It's a win for the person who asked and the person who answered but not for the community. Closing questions after they have already been answered is not nearly as good quality control as closing them beforehand. After all who cares whats on topic if you can get an answer anyway? Once the question is answered none of the winning parties care that it then gets closed, but the site is still bloated with terrible albeit closed questions.
    – OGHaza
    Commented Feb 28, 2014 at 13:09
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    @OGHaza This is a free and publicly open Q&A site. Someone posts a question and other users provide answers on their own time and using their own knowledge. Site makes money from ad impressions and increases its financial valuation by boasting a huge user base. There have been rules/tools in place to control site & content's quality. Commented Feb 28, 2014 at 13:47
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    Rules and tools are in place to deal with problems, and unwanted scenarios. Problems and unwanted scenarios (unwittingly) created by users. Problems perpetuated by users answering such questions anyway. With users who perform janitorial tasks being far outnumbered, you're part of the problem if you allow such questions to get continued responses.
    – Bart
    Commented Feb 28, 2014 at 14:11
  • @AzizShaikh I don't see how that relates to my comment, I'm well aware how the site works. Bart sums up my thoughts well.
    – OGHaza
    Commented Feb 28, 2014 at 14:23
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    If people post terrible quality questions and still get answers, there is no incentive to post high quality content. Every time you answer a bad question, you're training the OP to ask more bad questions. Giving positive reinforcement to negative behavior is most definitely not good. -1
    – Doorknob
    Commented Feb 28, 2014 at 16:55

the user gets what he wants and runs away with a huge smile on his face

Isn't that a good thing? I don't understand why it's bad that someone asks a question and gets an answer and both parties are happy about it. Why does it have to do with reputation? I suppose the solution would be to make reputation work better. I believe it is a minor problem that easier questions/answers are much more popular because more people are dealing with them.

I don't think it matters that someone got reputation for a dumber answer, the answer is what matters not reputation. I'm against downvoting and I was affected by it in the opposite way as the OP here. If you're concerned about other peoples reputation, then it is you who is concerned about reputation. In my experience it affects me most when I get negative reputation. That's when I want to stop using stackoverflow and that's what drives me away. The worst thing about this is that you can't say much, all the ways are blocked. I know it's done for good reason and I don't disagree about the rules, but human nature requires emotional reaction and there is no way to deal with it. However, the reason for using this site is to find answers, not reputation. That's the reason I'm here.

Your first sentence is an opinion. Is it possible that you might downvote an answer that you think shows no research, where in fact the person spent time researching but could not ask well because of lack of skill? After all, that's why people come here. While I would agree that multitude of poorly written stupid questions is a bad thing, that's exactly why you close the questions. The mechanism is already there, is there need for more restrictions?

My personal recommendation (based on my own personal beliefs): Don't downvote when the vote is 0 or negative already (more often than not this is you being a dick). If you close the question (unless this user does this often), there is no need to also downvote it. Don't forget that user is unable to delete question if it gets popular, even if the user regrets it and thinks it's a dumb question. since it's popular, people must be searching for it so even if it's not that great it must be useful and that's really what it's all about. Helping each other.

Edit: I am proud to get negative for this answer. Thank you, you proved my point.

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    Sorry, but you're wrong. The StackExchange sites are for collecting knowledge, not about getting answers to your immediate (and personal) problem. If the question is too low quality to be of use to future readers, it should be downvoted, closed, and deleted. It should not be answered, particularly by users who should know better. If the answer is poor, it should also be downvoted and when possible deleted. This is fundamental to the way that SE was designed from the start. If that's an issue for you, you should look for a different site that is more to your liking.
    – Ken White
    Commented Feb 28, 2014 at 23:07
  • Sure, I agree. The last thing you said could be said to anyone who says anything against, including OP. I know that you would like me to not be here, but I don't care, sorry. P.S. I must say, power is not to be able to silence the minority or someone just because they have different opinion. This is not power, it is a weakness (like hiding in a group).
    – Chemist
    Commented Mar 3, 2014 at 14:49
  • @Chemist I think you have totally misunderstood my rant. I ain't bitching about this site being shi**. I am asking why this place is slowly changing into a troubleshooting tool for newbs.. there is a huge difference between what one unit wants and what is represented by a community, what we (yes, we) fight for... I think Ken White explained very very well the idea of Stack Exchange Q/A sites
    – user221081
    Commented Mar 5, 2014 at 8:05

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