On a traditional forum when I want to learn more about a subject I can start a thread, ask some questions and then after getting answer I can expand on them. I can ask multiple questions in a single post and ask many follow-up questions.

Obviously, the approach at Q&A sites is different. I don't want just 1 specific question answered. Instead, I want to learn more about a subject.

Which one of the following approaches should I choose when asking questions on StackOverflow?

  • Try to distinguish a few major questions/problems and ask follow-up questions in the comments?
  • Ask a separate question for each problem?
  • (A different solution, please describe in comments)
  • 5
    If you have different additional questions, make them new questions. You can always point to your previous posts in them. Do make them self-contained though. (P.s. you might not want to use the term "spam" for this)
    – Bart
    Mar 2, 2014 at 13:52
  • 2
    Why spam? If each question can stand on its own it's perfectly valid to post each as new question. Comments should never be used to ask follow up questions. Mar 2, 2014 at 13:53
  • The thing is - sometimes the questions don't stand on their own. That's why they're called "follow-up questions". They are asked to e.q. clarify something regarding the main question. But they are necessary though.
    – NPS
    Mar 2, 2014 at 13:54

1 Answer 1


Yes, it's perfectly fine, here is the strategy I am using:

  • Every question lists enough information to provide the answer, but it does not explain why some code is like that, if it's like that because of the previous answer I was given.

  • Some of information in the question may be coming from the previous answer, in this case I would link to it. This is to answer comments like "How did you get that?", and avoiding the unnecessary conversation such as "Are you sure you need to have it so complicated?"

  • The idea is to convince people that you are using approach X, because it's been suggested by StackOverflow, and not because you read about it 5 minutes ago on some forum, and immediately decided to try it. In other words, provide credibility to your question.

You should not ask questions like this:

Hello Stackoverflow users. I recently asked a question [link], so how do I also implement this in it?

And for sure not this one:

Okay, folks, I asked a question recently [link], how do I use the approach in my 100 page code below?

Bottom line, always stay within scope of StackOverflow, having your question answered should not tempt you to ask a bigger question, just cause you think that people are following your questions anyway.

  • +1 on the overall content, which I believe is very well stated and perfectly in line with stackexchange philosophy. However! The word "spam" is not in alignment with SE philosophy. Note the upvotes on comments above by high-rep members questioning the word spam. I have made a "recommended edited" to your answer to better focus it on your valuable contribution (and get you more points). Mar 5, 2014 at 13:05
  • @CoolHandLouis your edit suggestion was plain rude. You can't take an answer and totally change its meaning. If the author agree with you then he will change the post himself. Otherwise feel free to downvote and post your own answer with a different opinion. Mar 5, 2014 at 13:25
  • @CoolHandLouis: I appreciate your suggestion. Please consider that using word Spam does not necessarily imply unwanted information/ads being sent by email, voice etc. You can be spamming your support provider with requests, your landlord with complaints etc. What it means is that you are asking for too much help, and the person starts to get annoyed by your requests. Usually at this point the asker starts to feel uncomfortable.Saying Yes as the first word is to get the OP's attention, without raising their frustration level even more. Then I tried to explain what they should be aware of. Mar 5, 2014 at 14:42
  • IMO your answer is excellent and demonstrates savvy understanding of SE policy and answering. I see your point on the benefits and philosophy to answer the OP by saying "Yes...", and I appreciate your feedback on that! I see the flow for a 3rd party reads the Q/A like, "Is it ok to spam?...Yes, its perfectly fine [to spam]..." and is just a bit "off" in that view. The answer is not just for OP but also for all who read hereafter. Your answer could also help OP by pointing out "can I spam" is prob not the best wording by opening with a caveat like "I wouldn't call it spam but yes! You can..." Mar 5, 2014 at 15:31
  • @CoolHandLouis: I submitted an edit request to the question, so hopefully it straightens out what they wanted to say. If accepted, my answer should be then more inline with 3rd party quick readers. Thank you! Mar 5, 2014 at 18:46
  • The problem with this approach is it could end up looking like an xy problem Mar 5, 2014 at 19:03
  • @davidstrachan: I don't think I substantially changed the meaning of the question, just made it sound more "legal", so that there is less chance of it being misunderstood. Feel free to correct me if you think otherwise. Please be constructive. Thanks. Mar 5, 2014 at 19:17
  • I always try to be constructive especially when reading comments. Mar 5, 2014 at 21:25

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