This hasn't happened to me in particular, but I have always been a bit paranoid that maybe a coworker might see me asking a dumb/easy question or maybe a particular user doesn't like another user so they purposely down-vote their question.

If this isn't a feature, should it be one?

  • 1
    This would be super trivial to circumvent by logging out, and looking at your user profile. And it really should not be a feature - if you need something to be anonymous, stay anonymous in your profile
    – Pekka
    Apr 2, 2014 at 15:32
  • 2
    Re the downvotes: be aware that voting on meta is different. Votes can be of the normal form but can also simply be disagreeing with the idea. I personally don’t like this system and would be in favour of a change to separate voting for the idea but that is the current system; think of it like a referendum Apr 2, 2014 at 15:52
  • Uh, couldn't you just create a separate account for asking questions you don't want associated with your primary account? There's nothing against the rules about having multiple accounts, unless you start voting on and otherwise interacting with each other's content.
    – Aaron Bertrand Staff
    Apr 2, 2014 at 16:21
  • @RichardTingle, the downvotes really are disheartening. I thought I had posted a valid question. It really discourages me from wanting to ask another question on here. Apr 2, 2014 at 16:36
  • 1
    Yeah, I know what you mean, I felt the same way with my first question. The problem is that Meta has to struggle by with a site designed for main sites Apr 2, 2014 at 16:38
  • 3
    Meh, it's meta. Hopefully the discussions you generate, and the things you learn from them, are more valuable to you than arbitrary Internet points that really mean nothing. People don't agree with you; so what? Don't take it personally. Is it really that important to get patted on the back so that some number on your profile goes up?
    – Aaron Bertrand Staff
    Apr 2, 2014 at 17:41
  • @AaronBertrand, Yes. Yes it is. Apr 2, 2014 at 17:56
  • 1
    Shrug then perhaps meta is not for you.
    – Aaron Bertrand Staff
    Apr 2, 2014 at 18:00
  • @AaronBertrand, I was just kidding ;) Apr 2, 2014 at 18:01

4 Answers 4


No, this should never be a feature.

Your posts here are to the benefit of everyone, no exceptions. That's what the CC licence is all about!

If you don't want to be recognized by your co-workers, use a pseudonym and keep all personally identifiable information out of your posts. If your co-workers know about your current account, create a new one (provided the two accounts never interact, e.g. vote, edit, etc., that is a sanctioned use of extra accounts).

Leave it to the system to deal with serial voters (accounts voting on the person rather than the content).

  • I was viciously frowned upon when I asked about creating a second account for different types of questions. And I think it's impossible. See I'm in ban - writing comments almost every day. Because I couldn't answer both meta/SO/SU. I have only one account. Who is responsible will answer.. in the future. So don't be so categorically and both "create 2 accounts". Be careful with such issues like "colleagues" and competence in a real world (which could cause you your life). I see you've gathered +17 votes with your post because of showing "the rigor of niceness" to traditions and rules ... GL!
    – Xsi
    Apr 2, 2014 at 18:59
  • @Xsi: Evading a question ban with a second account is indeed not allowed. Apr 2, 2014 at 21:05

Blocking unspecified people (e.g. unknown work colleagues)

Stack Exchange questions and answers are for everyone, so this one is a non starter. Answers are not primarily for you, they are a "repository of knowledge", similar to wikipedia, always remember this.

However; most workplaces should be pleased to see (well written) questions (basic or otherwise) as it shows a desire to improve your own knowledge. However; if you really worry about this then just leave your name as userxxxx or use a nickname (as I think you have). You should not be posting your full code anyway but a simplified example that replicates the problem; so recognising the code shouldn't be a problem either.

I want most of my questions to be visible (publicly) to my work collegues, but not all of them

There is no rule against having multiple accounts as long as:

  • They are not being used to overcome a ban
  • They do not interact in any way (especially voting for each other)
  • They are not used to do anything a single user couldn't do: e.g. double vote on a post.

So if you like you can have both high level and basic accounts

Blocking people who are causing you problems

This is a legitimate concern but the wrong solution; if people are acting in an unproffesional manner then flag.

  • This is not at all similar to Wikipedia with the 2nd source with links on official resources. In wikipedia any article is one (not many answers) but one single article. And there's no silly limit of 30 000 characters. Wikipedia accepts any info that's is on the net and is official (one could translate..etc).
    – Xsi
    Apr 2, 2014 at 18:53
  • @xsi I said "like Wikipedia" not that it is Wikipedia. It's the same concept of a community created resource for everyone Apr 2, 2014 at 18:57
  • Wikipedia is more of creating. This is more to ban. IMHO. When I created on Wikipedia - it's more like a good comment here. No sanctions. Bad info. Ok it exists "here is an official link for you take and enjoy". A comparison with Wikipedia is totally inappropriate.
    – Xsi
    Apr 2, 2014 at 19:02

Most certainly not.

If you are worried about someone knowing what questions you ask you can just open a new user and use it for your "embarrassing" posts.

The focus here is not about users but about the content that they contribute. Personal considerations should not come into play.


The social solution

You should work on the relationship with your coworkers. The question was by definition not easy because you had to ask someone. Even if the solution turns out to be easy, you shouldn't be afraid of asking. Be proud of your questions: proud of the time you put into trying to solve the problem, proud of the time it took to formalize and put down your thoughts, and proud of you wanting to learn.

Any good programming environment should appreciate the value of helping each other. We cannot program in a vacuum, and nobody can know everything. We know stuff together, not by ourselves! If you believe your coworkers are smarter than you, try to ask them if you have any questions before going to Stack Overflow. Even questions that on the surface looks easy! Showing your weaknesses will usually strengthen your relationships, not weakening them. And I think you will realize that they, too, don't know everything, and they can help you develop your troubleshooting and answer-seeking skills.

And if you happen to be in an environment where asking questions can be detrimental to your career or social status, where people stab each others backs for asking "stupid" questions: Get out! It's not healthy to be there!

  • 2
    "The question was by definition not easy because you had to ask someone." A thousand times no! The fact that someone had to ask the question does not make it "not easy". There are hundreds of stupid questions (yes, "stupid") asked on SO every day.
    – Louis
    Apr 2, 2014 at 16:21
  • Louis, it wasn't easy to OP. A question meeting the SO quality standards is hard enough in my opinion. (I assume we are not talking about the downvoted and closed crap we all see every day) Apr 2, 2014 at 17:54
  • About weaknesses. No in the Internet space especially in StackOverflow (see this question with -24 votes) just showing those ..just a hint of weakness will demolish your personality immediately (in this cruel competing world).
    – Xsi
    Apr 2, 2014 at 18:51
  • Xsi, voting on Meta is different. The downvotes here means that people do not want this kind of funtionality, not that the question was bad. Apr 3, 2014 at 8:27

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