I recently started using Stack Overflow, and I am struggling. I am new to programming in C# and WPF and I am struggling to use the site. I have only posted three questions and I have answered one. At the time of writing this, I have 1 reputation point having lost two within the last few hours trying to ask a question.

My situation is this:

I cannot ask questions, because almost every low-level 'easy' programming question has already been asked on this site. If I do, I risk my question being marked as a duplicate, losing some reputation, and being redirected to another similar post which I have either not seen somehow in my research, or I have ignored because it does not help me.

I have no problems with this, however sometimes my problem might be different to the 'similar post', and I have to go back to my original question and edit it to show why my problem is different. By the time this happens, most people are ignoring the question because it has been downvoted and marked as duplicate, and the question may not be read again for anyone to even see my changes.

The fix for this is quoting questions which were not useful, and why, so that people can't mark it as duplicate, right? However most of the time I don't even know why it doesn't work, because the other questions usually involve other references or classes which I have never used! So how am I meant to know why it doesn't work?

I am now at the point where I cannot ask questions because two of mine have been downvoted and the third received no votes. I have no privileges on the site because of my distinct lack of reputation as a result of this, so I can't even post on the Stack Overflow meta.

"You can gain reputation by answering questions" I hear you say! Again, all the 'easy' programming questions have been answered, and I simply don't know how to answer any of the other unanswered questions.

As a result, I find myself scrolling through endless questions on this site, trying to find the one answer which applies to my situation, if there is one.

Is there something wrong with how I am using the site? Is it just me being oblivious? I feel like Stack Overflow has existed for so long that every 'new programmer' question has been asked, resulting in all of my questions being duplicates and all of the unanswered questions either being other duplicates or so complicated I can't possibly try to comprehend them.

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    Tip: Learn to use Google. Not just typing in full sentences, or pasting the error message, but using Google how it's meant to be used, and making use of the extra features and operators it gives you. Learn to pick the keywords about your problem and search for those; learn how to exclude things that don't help. Learning to be a programmer takes years, but knowing how to Google will help you immensely.
    – ArtOfCode
    Aug 8, 2016 at 15:43
  • Write into your question detailed, what you tried, why it doesn't work, in which directions do you want to go! As more details you give, so will you improve the chance of your question.
    – peterh
    Aug 8, 2016 at 18:42
  • Another tip: find the question, what will be probable "duplicate" of yours. Find out, if it really answer your question. If not, write in your original post, that: "It is not duplicate of <link>, because I am asking for ..., while that question essentially asks for ...". For example, here on meta SE I could avoid the duplicate closure in this way here.
    – peterh
    Aug 8, 2016 at 18:53

1 Answer 1


Is there something wrong with how I am using the site?

Yes, you're not doing your research before asking your questions. If any question that you might have has already been asked before then you probably shouldn't be asking that question again; you should be spending the time and effort necessary to find those questions before you ask them, rather than just asking frequently asked questions so that other people need to find those duplicate questions for you.

You should be using SE as a resource to find existing answers to your questions, rather than as a place where you ask every question you have before looking for existing solutions. This is what SE should be for most people in most situations.

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