There is a problem in the Stack Overflow system, and it has to do with the site's users. From what I understand, based on my experience and observations, newbies like me tend to get downvoted when a question is asked, even if the question is relevant and completely new.

I noticed that I am allowed to ask a question and possibly answer a question but not comment on someone else's question. Why not make asking a question be a higher-level privilege than commenting on someone's question, or at the same level? That way people will have to research what they are looking for before posting a question, which might prevent a user from duplicating questions.

  • You wouldn't have been able to post that question with those rules. (And this has been discussed at length here and on Meta Stack Overflow – Mat May 10 '14 at 12:38
  • What do you mean "have a higher priority"? – Madara's Ghost May 10 '14 at 17:04
  • @Mat discussed at length? I want to see, that link only refers me to the main url of this site. You are right that I wouldn't have been able to post this question, but that would make me look for the discussion about this question more thoroughly. – xanderaspiring May 11 '14 at 7:03

The reasons that we require a little rep before commenting is that newbies tend to treat comments like posts in a forum: pretty obvious if you realized that most new users don't understand our format straight away.

We want to protect the sites from being used as forums. For this reason we treat comments as third-class citizens and we discourage socializing on questions and answers (we do support socialization in chat!)

As for the rest, new users are certainly very encouraged to look for a question before answering it. This is what a new user sees:

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It's certainly a kind invitation to search before asking.

The problem is that a number of people just yadda-yadda-skip-skip and ask anyways. There's little we can do to prevent them besides using a rep limit, but that would certainly reduce the usefulness of the site!

  • It might help to also include that you can be banned if your question does not abide by those "tips" - or some sort of "stick" reference. All this fluff is nice, but the users of the site will be rather harsh on a new question which did not follow the guidelines. – Travis J May 10 '14 at 19:23
  • That's ludicrous, people who has the privilege to comment do socialize in some way or another. Allowing new users to have the privilege to comment will not change the way comments are being used. Asking a question in a community is a form of socialization anyways. As for preventing users from socializing in a way similar to chatting, a voting system with points that measures how good you've been doing with comments determines how one uses comments is the solution. – xanderaspiring May 11 '14 at 6:56

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