This user https://stackoverflow.com/users/164299/rachel continually posts questions. Just to absorb the contents of the questions she has already asked would take a year or more I think. And yet the questions keep popping up: https://stackoverflow.com/questions/1653405/books-on-portal-developments. I don't think she is actually reading the answers but just asking lots of questions for getting the reputation points.

Does anything need to be done about such a person, and if so, what?

Postscript: In response to some people who replied to this question, I'd like to point out that a lot of Rachel's questions are not only downvoted but also deleted/closed/disappearing. There are fifteen pages of questions, and only six pages of these have even one upvote. There are three pages of downvoted questions, and I don't know how many pages of deleted questions.

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    There are far worse users. The worst case had 400+ questions and 1 answer. Literally. 1. Commented Oct 31, 2009 at 5:15
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    If the questions are pointless, then downvote them
    – Casebash
    Commented Oct 31, 2009 at 5:22

6 Answers 6


Be sure to flag anything particularly egregious for moderator attention. That's by far the most effective way to deal with this, or any other anomalous activity in the system.

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    In this case, though, the problem is the pattern of questions, so since the individual questions seem somewhat reasonable, it is difficult to point to a particular question and call in the cavalry.
    – delete
    Commented Nov 1, 2009 at 2:01
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    I think you just flag one of them and say "this user is a content-free question spawn", and the mods will go find the others and confirm the pattern.
    – womble
    Commented Nov 25, 2009 at 18:04

Does it really matter whether the user is interested in the answers or not? The user responds to comments and comments on answers, and generally seems to interact reasonably well. The questions are mostly useful (at least the community thinks so, having voted accordingly). If you're the sort of person that prefers answering things (as most of us are), it can seem kind of annoying that you can get this much rep simply from asking questions, but that's how the system works. This user is acting completely reasonably within the rules of the game.

I see no problem here.

  • Actually I think you need to look at the tail end of those questions. Also, a lot of her questions get deleted.
    – delete
    Commented Oct 31, 2009 at 6:28
  • +1. The fact that comments gets answered speaks against rep-whoring. OTOH, I have no idea why he is re-asking questions with slight variations all the time.
    – innaM
    Commented Oct 31, 2009 at 9:37
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    "The fact that comments gets answered speaks against rep-whoring." - does it? Why? "I have no idea why he is re-asking questions with slight variations all the time" - Maybe because he is trying to get lots of reputation points. What else can you make of all those questions?
    – delete
    Commented Oct 31, 2009 at 11:00
  • @Kinopiko: Could you provide some specific examples? I had a quick look but am not seeing the issue. Although a lot of the questions are of the 'touchy-feely' variety, the user has asked some IMO genuinely useful questions, e.g.: stackoverflow.com/questions/1514707/… Commented Oct 31, 2009 at 19:29
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    The issue is the number of questions and their vague nature.
    – delete
    Commented Oct 31, 2009 at 23:43

Pretty sure it's a guy (Raj Shharma) using a female name. That gender flip is done to both soften any kind of land rush of finger pointing for endless and pointless questions and also as an attention and rep-whore tactic.

Can't do much about gaming the males of the site in that way.

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    I'm not in a position to complain about that. You'd think he'd set up with a nice picture of a pretty girl then, if that is his tactic.
    – delete
    Commented Oct 31, 2009 at 6:30
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    That superuser account now has the name "Rachel" on it too.
    – Ether
    Commented Oct 31, 2009 at 17:57
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    This isn't the first time that's happened. I remember a fellow with an Iranian name and location who then switched to "Johanna" of "Dallas, Texas".
    – mmyers
    Commented Oct 31, 2009 at 20:04

As I said in the discussion about Shore, I'm not convinced that these users are in it for the rep. These users don't appear to make use of their abilities (although Rachel has performed edits, rollbacks, and voted) in any real capacity; they instead seem to view SO as their "special trick" for doing and keeping their jobs. Many of Rachel's questions seem worded exactly as they would come assigned from a project manager.

This keeps coming up time and time again. We need a clear way to tag problem users as "not community friendly" and "does not ask questions well". The most obvious way to deal with them is to ignore them, but that means that everyone needs to ignore them. But in a large community there is always going to be someone who will feed the troll, and that's what they count on. They keep coming back with their lame questions because someone is going to answer them and essentially do their jobs for them, because we're cheap rep whores who like answering questions.

I think "beggar" is a more appropriate term for these people. It accurately describes what they are doing: feeding off of the community's good will and giving nothing in return. Once one person catches on to their tactics, there are still ten more well-intentioned people standing behind who are ready to take on feeding the beggar for a while. It's time to say no more.

PS. See also this excellent article about Help Vampires, courtesy of Sam Hasler's post on a similar thread.


I try to help give suggestions to this user as to how to better ask questions, or to edit the questions to get better information, as I frequently start off a response with the fact that this question is overly broad.

Unfortunately some people do have a hard time knowing how to ask questions, and hopefully this user will learn, but I don't see a problem with the questions, as the answers may be a useful start to others, and perhaps can serve as an example of how not to ask questions.


There's no problem in user asking many questions, no matter if for reputation or not, as long as this question are:

  • unique - they are not the duplicates of existing questions
  • with relevant title - so that the title will say what is the question about and will be the phrase normally typed by people searching for the same problem
  • good writter - the meaningfull description of the problem

Such questions will increase our knowledge base, even if they are trivial. Assuming the points above, search engine will direct to them only the people who are searching answers to such trivial problems. Some of them will stay, because they would like the portal where they can find answers to their questions, no matter if trivial or not.

The problem is with questions poor written, but they can be dealt with flags or downvotes.

But the real problem, in my opinion, is something not mentioned here:
accepting wrong answer. This is the worse thing IMHO that user can do: because this will mislead other users searching for help and this can distract them from StackOverflow much more than poorly written questions.

There is a popular saying among Polish academics:
there are no stupid questions, there are only stupid answers

  • 4
    There are absolutely stupid questions. Mostly when the asker is too lazy to do any work. Commented Jun 15, 2012 at 11:38
  • The kind of person who says that saying probably also says "the customer is always right"...
    – AakashM
    Commented Jun 15, 2012 at 12:27
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    You're right, there are no stupid questions. Just a lot of inquisitive idiots.
    – ale
    Commented Jun 15, 2012 at 13:32

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