I have recently tried to solve programming problems using questions on stackoverflow and database-administrators sites. I have observed following pattern in my behavior:

Simplier questions are usually quite easy to google and there is no need to ask them (though they are usually more popular). When there is more complicated particluar problem it usually takes more than one question to solve. What I expect are hints rather than answers. After a series of hints I can finally find some final solution of the problem.

There is an example of solving problem, that for me was not simple and I needed series of hints before I got to the final clue:

SQL 2008 Server - performance loss possibly connected with a very large table

Large table with historical data allocates too much of SQL Server 2008 Std. memory - performance loss for other databases

Index seek much slower with OR condition compared with separate SELECTs

For this proccess it is not Question & Answer pattern but rather Question & Hint & Question & Hint & Final clue.

Is a Stack Exchange site like Stack Overflow propper place for such a problem solving proccess?

And if yes, what is the recommended practice to solve series of questions using provided hints and how the questions should be linked?

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    This is basically tutoring, and is a rather different service than answering questions. There is no such site for this on SE. There are of course sites outside of the SE network for tutoring/teaching (namely online classes). – Servy Aug 12 '14 at 19:57
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    Pfff. I often try to give hints in comments to steer the OP in the direction of the solution, rather than handing them the complete solution on a platter. However, those hints usually go completely unnoticed. – Mr Lister Aug 12 '14 at 20:03

That is beauty of the format though. It was not question and hint, it was literally question and answer.

Each post that you use to complete your path were individually separate and self contained. They may have formed the series of connect the dots that you require, but they also form points for many other similar series.

During problem solving, it is often important to start with the first place that something went wrong and continue from there until the problem is solved. This seems to be the same approach you use, which in my opinion is a process of self education and is a very useful tool to use. So, good job.

The main observation to make is that many users will be solving problems using the Stack Exchange sites. Their start and finish points will more than likely vary greatly from yours, but at times will overlap while examining the path to solve their problem.

These paths are numerous, and at times may end up with trivial solutions. The best place for this type of documentation - where you follow a series of questions and answers to find the final solution - is in a personal blog, website, or similar area.


Each question and answer can be used as a step in the series of solving many different problems. Documenting the entire series is best left to a blog or similar and does not fit well with the format of Stack Exchange.

  • So would you recommend to maintain the questions as much separate as possible and perhaps do not link them at all? – Vojtěch Dohnal Aug 13 '14 at 7:44
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    @VDohnal - In general, questions are intended to contain enough information to describe the specific problem so that an answer may be provided. I do not think they should be automatically linked, or linked every time someone finds the post useful. Further, if a comment is left indicating more or related information, that will show up in the Linked widget. – Travis J Aug 13 '14 at 16:31

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