As a fairly inexperienced programmer I find sites like these to be endlessly helpful. Without them, my development would be much more difficult. My question is this...

Why do more experienced programmers mock and judge people like me, when we ask (possible dumb) questions on sites like Stack Overflow?

I understand that there is a standard for questions but we visit these sites to get answers and learn, not to be mocked or made fun. Do professional programmers not remember what it was like in their early years? This will probably be flagged as off-topic but I'm interested in what people think.

  • 3
    Can you provide specific examples?
    – asawyer
    Mar 20, 2014 at 13:17
  • 7
    Well, I can repeat what I said in a similar question: I don't mind beginner's questions. But I do want to see that the beginner has tried to solve his/her own problems first. That's an essential part of programming. Mar 20, 2014 at 13:19
  • 7
    That sensational title though. Mar 20, 2014 at 13:21
  • I would expect in most cases, people try before they ask. Can someone at least attempt to answer the question?
    – Nate S.
    Mar 20, 2014 at 13:23
  • 15
    Without examples, this is just a rant. We need examples of the behavior you're referring to. I looked through your posts, but I don't see anything exceptional. Mar 20, 2014 at 13:23
  • Related: Why do people question every question? &seq.
    – AakashM
    Mar 20, 2014 at 13:29
  • 2
    we visit these sites to get answers and learn, please do remember that Stack Overflow is not a tutorial site. The site has some rules and norms, please go through those first. Considerable effort has been put in by various people to tell new users about what makes a good question and how to ask. However, making fun of someone is not a recommended behavior on Stack Exchange sites. Mar 20, 2014 at 13:32
  • 3
    @CodeSlinger We love to answer questions. But those questions should be complete. In this case, you haven't provided us with any specific examples that we can discuss or answer (or even use to correct any behavior that is suboptimal on the part of older members). Give us some examples so we can answer your question. Mar 20, 2014 at 13:44
  • 3
    Your comment is contradicting itself. You say it's just rep and badges, but do you realize that editing and closing gives you absolutely no (tangible) reward? We do it because we care about our community, not for imaginary internet points.
    – Doorknob
    Mar 20, 2014 at 13:47
  • 3
    @CodeSlinger - Programming experience doesn't necessarily equate to one's ability to walk into a room and figure out what's normal before doing something wrong. The ability to ask good technical questions and being a good programmer are two separate things. In this case, however, this question is likely downvoted because it's already been asked and answered. You didn't need to ask this because you could just search. That's not being unhelpful, that's just preventing noise and preventing answers from being spread around on different threads. Also, downvotes imply folks disagree with you on meta
    – jmort253
    Mar 20, 2014 at 14:38
  • 2
    What makes these sites so useful is the very thing that people who don't understand Stack Exchange strive to destroy, and that's the lack of noise. When people on Google search for a programming question, they're likely to land here, on Stack Overflow, because the content is more relevant than some 30 page forum thread with a bunch of "me too" answers and half the people saying "send me the code too pls." Hope this helps clarify.
    – jmort253
    Mar 20, 2014 at 14:40
  • 3
    @CodeSlinger: Downvotes on meta signify disagreement. Also, it's utterly ridiculous for you to use this question as the only example of you being treated badly. That suggests that you really haven't been treated badly before now, which begs the question, why did you post this? Mar 20, 2014 at 14:54
  • 1
    The denizens of meta tend to be the people who are invested in the site. New users rarely have the degree of investment in the site that would draw them to meta to discuss the various politics, features and culture of the site. Realize that not all of this is disagreement but rather "we've heard this before, please read these things before revisiting this so you can be sure you are adding new material to the conversation." The best way to learn what is and is not acceptable is to spend some time on the site and read the highly voted (in each direction) questions over the past week.
    – user213963
    Mar 20, 2014 at 15:56
  • 1
    @CodeSlinger; My point is, you should have compiled a list of examples before posting this question. I don't disagree that new users tend to be alienated, but if you want us to support you, you need to give us something to work with. Mar 20, 2014 at 17:56
  • 1
    @ChrisLaplante huffingtonpost.com/zoe-triska/…
    – asawyer
    Mar 20, 2014 at 18:18

1 Answer 1


I find that it is often the phrasing of questions that lead senior/experienced programmers to be interpreted as 'condescending' or 'hostile' when in fact they're just terse. In the same vein of discussion I find that junior/inexperienced programmers are prone to phrasing questions that can be interpreted as "please do this for me" or "I have no idea what I'm doing and refuse to research" which is equally incorrect.

Ours is an industry built by people who do not require solid communication skills to be successful, some people even believe that those that have them lose them over time as they no longer need to practice and exercise them.

That being said, I do find StackExchange users to be very eloquent when they want to be.

  • 3
    Ours is an industry built by people who do not require solid communication skills I have to disagree. How can a team succeed if the team members can't communicate well?
    – sloth
    Mar 20, 2014 at 13:39
  • @DominicKexel I am of course biased by my own experiences, but I find that the more technical the person, the harder it is to connect and interact with them. Teams of Programmers and Technical people work out their own way to manage and communicate, even if it is trading technical documents and work items in a change management system. Mar 20, 2014 at 13:42
  • 2
    You'll find that most really successful programmers have very effective communication skills. Programmers without at least decent communication skills are very limited in the work they're capable of doing. Many of the most successful SO users are successful because of their strong ability to communicate effectively, moreso than their technical expertise.
    – Servy
    Mar 20, 2014 at 13:58
  • @Servy that speaks volumes in regards to the people I work with professionally. I also agree that SO is a place where communication is king, but not all questions are answered by the most-successful SO users. Mar 20, 2014 at 14:02

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .