Stack Overflow is so easy to get answers on, I'm starting to find myself asking questions on here as a starting point, before even googling or wikiing them. Is this considered rude, or do people like to answer simple questions as well?


9 Answers 9


Simple questions are fine.

No prior work is rude.

Vague questions are rude.

Questions already asked are rude.

Questions that amount to plzsendtehcodez are rude.

Homework is rude.


This is already covered in the FAQ's and in "I'm new to Stack Overflow, what should I consider before asking questions?"

  • 8
    Homework questions written better than a plzsendtehcodez aren't rude. SO is a great place to get homework help if your teacher allows it. Mar 15, 2009 at 3:16
  • 1
    I agree that asking for help with your homework is not rude. Asking for someone to do it for you is. :)
    – EBGreen
    Mar 15, 2009 at 6:16
  • Downvoting. Asking how to make the turtle move isn't rude. Apr 6, 2010 at 23:04
  • @Andrew: LOGO! I'd forgotten about that. Do they still teach it? Apr 8, 2010 at 19:52
  • The question I was referring to: stackoverflow.com/questions/1003841 Apr 9, 2010 at 13:38

I always try to follow these rules before asking questions.

Of course, if they are generic questions that many people can benefit from, you should ask it.

  • Wow that's a lot to digest before asking a question, though it looks to be plain common sense... I wish common sense was more common! Mar 15, 2009 at 3:20

In some cases, I have stopped googling for some programming questions I have, instead searching SO directly.

The reason is that I can quickly discern the quality of the answers in a familiar UI.

For these reasons, I think it's good to make SO the clearinghouse for programming questions that are not duplicates.

  • 1
    Yes good point--I do always check the suggested/related questions before actually posting. Very handy feature.
    – chaiguy1337
    Mar 15, 2009 at 2:32
  • 3
    I've tried searching SO directly, but either my SO-fu is weak or the built-in search engine is weak. Google and Bing both tend to give me good SO results. SO directly, not so much. Apr 8, 2010 at 20:15

I would say no, you shouldn't ask questions without doing prior research, where "prior research" constitutes at least Googling and checking any obvious resources (e.g. for Java API questions, check the Javadoc). But even if you find the answer somewhere else, if you still think it's the kind of thing someone else might later come to SO to find out, I suppose you can ask it anyway and post an answer with the information you found. It seems to me that that would help make Stack Overflow what it was intended to be, a programming question-and-answer repository.

  • Except for the darned inability to mark your own answers as the solution. :/
    – chaiguy1337
    Mar 15, 2009 at 3:25
  • 2
    Actually I think you can, it's just that nobody gets any reputation when you do so. (But we're not here just to accumulate rep, right? ;-P)
    – David Z
    Mar 15, 2009 at 3:50

Some of us can only handle the simple questions :)


I've been guilty of asking questions even if I can give the answers myself. I want to see other people's opinion on things. It never hurts the quality of SO to have more good questions with good answers.


My first gut response is No. It's more from a personal standpoint that it seems that people are lazy in some respects... especially when the correct answer is the first hit on Google or the MSDN docs.

However, at the same time, Stack Overflow does offer something that Google doesn't... community certainty. If you are asking the question because you truly don't know the answer, then even if the top Google hit is the right answer, how do you know that? The voting system on SO at least gives the asker a bit of reassurance that the simple answer is in fact the right one, which provides a little extra value to the person asking the question.


I always bite my tongue, but sometimes I really want to say RTFM (but politely; I wouldn't actually say "RTFM"). It just gets my goat when people ask questions which can be answered perfectly by simply looking at the relevant extremely-accessible documentation (in my case that would be MSDN, either online or installed with Visual Studio). I'm talking about cases where you just place your cursor on the class, member, or keyword in question, and press F1... and the exact answer to your question appears before your eyes.

But I bite my tongue. Benefit of the doubt. (Plus I know the general philosophy of SO is to encourage all relevant questions)


I tend to do this... It's not perfect, does allow duplicate web content to exist, but at least can same the trouble of asking questions that already exist on SO.

  1. http://www.google.com
  2. I then type in "site: stackoverflow.com How To Do X Y Z With UTV"
  3. If I don't find what I'm looking for, then I'll ask it on SO...

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