If you do a Google Search for Stack Overflow sucks, you get countless rants and complaints.
I know all of the senior contributors have seen Michel T Richter's Why I no longer contribute to Stack Overflow
Most of his reasons are very personal, but in the comments section are many frustrated themes like:
- "I just wanted help..."
- "By the time I changed my question the way the moderator wanted, it was closed and or deleted.
- "If I got some guidance, I wouldn't have a problem asking correctly"
And there are others who want to answer questions, but find it difficult:
- "by the time I find the question, 3 other's are answering them..."
- "I know I had the right Idea, but I didn't phrase it right..."
I understand why questions and answers by us junior developers are often unwelcome.
Stack Overflow wants to be a repository of good questions and answers. Questions that are original, insightful, and well phrased. A standard many of us junior developers (and many mid and senior) are not capable of meeting.
All the rants are right. As frustrating as it feels, Stack Overflow isn't a standard Q&A forum. The standards of participation are high. And the reason that junior contributors feel unwelcome is because they are.
Stack Overflow isn't interested in being helpful to individuals, so individuals who can't contribute to that standard are unwelcome. That's the harsh truth.
Maintaining these high standards is hard enough without having to be overly patient or polite. Very hard policing 3.7 million developers with an itch to scratch in the Q or A department.
As a result, Stack Overflow is inundated (correct word?) with unwanted questions and answers. The task of policing them seems to be growing exponentially.
I wish there was a Stack Overflow for dummies
Another site of Stack Exchange (dummies exchange). A real Q&A. With lower standards where us junior users contributors can come and ask our silly questions get constructive feedback on better question asking form.
Those of us who want to take a shot at helping can do so in an environment that is less harsh and scary.
The dummies site would serve multiple needs:
- Developers could ask for emergency help
- "low hanging fruit" for those who want to be of help
- Us Junior or new contributors would get constructive feedback and learn how to contribute to the Stack Overflow standards
Hopefully fewer "unwelcome" questions would find themselves on Stack Overflow
Questions that don't meet Stack Overflow standards can be "demoted" or moved down to dummies.
They will benefit by getting the attention they need and somebody will happily help them. It will be easier to deal with "unwelcome" contributions. Little fuss about closing or deleting. Just deal with demoting or promoting.
Think of it as a sandbox or help-with-homework or dummies Forum, but I see a lot of good coming from this.