I have noticed that many questions get down voted or closed so often it's very intimidating for new users. I understand that Stack Overflow is for high quality questions that are helpful to everyone and not just the OP.

So my question is this:

Is there a list of other sites that are for the basic/trivial questions? Maybe we have other sites within the Stack family of sites that are more useful for this kind of question? Maybe we don't have a site (might be a good idea to have a Stack site for new users who need basic help and understanding?).

And you may say "Learn the basics first" or "Read the documentation". I find that many users have read the documentation or have searched for documentation with no luck. Maybe they found the documentation but just don't understand what is happening or how to apply the information to their code.

Sometimes it takes a veteran of the language to explain what's going on in order for the new user to understand.

Rather than down voting the user out of existence, maybe leave a link to a help site for basic questions and then have the post locked. Down voting because you think the question is not helpful to Stack Overflow is fine; however you end up scaring off people who might become useful contributors to the Stack family in time.

I propose (if we don't have yet) either a link to a list of useful sites for new users who need basic help or a Stack site to fill that need.

I believe this would kill two birds with one stone. Veteran users will be able to maintain the integrity of Stack Overflow as a high level resource for coders and provide new users with the help they need and guide them to being better coders instead of scaring them off from coding to start with.

I think it would be cool if we had a Stack site where "unworthy" questions could be asked and users could be helped by people who want to help with those kind of question.

Edit: rephrasing as this is being taking wrong:

I see many questions being down voted (rightfully) but also seeing rude/negative comments on the OP's question. Sometimes indirectly rude, sometimes more to the point.


After reading and responding to many comments I read a comment that basically sums up why my question is not valid in this context. I do not want to delete my question as I believe others will find it and come to the same conclusion I have with reading this single comment.

Thanks to fbueckert I have now a clear understanding of what SO is. As I came to StackOverflow believing it was one of the many Q&A sites for programmers turns out I was wrong (more often than I would like to admit).

This sums up what for me is the answer for my question:

SE is not for learning, in the tutorial or teaching sense. It's meant to create a repository of knowledge. If you're trying to learn a topic, this isn't the place to start.

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    Users should just improve the quality of their questions, who exactly is going to answer those "unworthy questions" if they are beings closed by the very people who know the answer to them currently. Why would any of those people close the question at SO but answer it at another version of sO. The questions shouldn't be answered until their quality is improved – Ramhound May 5 '17 at 22:11
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    As stack overflow is for question that help more than just the OP. Another site could be used to help the OP on question they may need help understanding because thus far they do not understand something you may see as simple or basic. My point is instead of running someone off of stack overflow with downvotes and negative comments(especially users who are very new to stack) it would be more helpful to provide a link to a list of sites designed to help "noobs" or have a stack site for such people. – Mike - SMT May 5 '17 at 22:42
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    Saying "Users should just improve the quality of their questions" is a coup out. Sometimes the OP can not articulate a better question because they have no idea what is actually wrong. I am not defending question that show no attempt at solving the problem them selves or question that are obviously asked several times by others. I am trying to advocate for people who are just stuck or lost and could use some help understanding. – Mike - SMT May 5 '17 at 22:49
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    It's definitely not a "coup out" hundreds of people ask well researched, clear, concise interesting history high quality question daily. A small minority of questions asked daily are low quality – Ramhound May 5 '17 at 22:58
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    "My point is instead of running someone off of stack overflow" Only people being ran off are those users not willing to improve the quality of their question that's being closed by the community – Ramhound May 5 '17 at 23:00
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    I just think there needs to be more options than just downvoting the user and being rude to them for not knowing something. How is downvoting a question being rude to the author of that question? – Ramhound May 5 '17 at 23:02
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    If you just open an account you are expected to read the instructions laid out in front of you. – Rory Alsop May 5 '17 at 23:06
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    You offered no specific examples of being rude except downvoting. Additionally, take this question, your not willing to even consider that it might be the author of these questions that need to put more work into their question instead of the community changing to suite their standards. – Ramhound May 5 '17 at 23:06
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    Nothing's stopping you from asking trivial questions on Quora, Reddit, Yahoo Answers, EE, or any of the zillion programming forums out there, for which Google has the list you seek. – Jason C May 5 '17 at 23:24
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    @SierrMountainTech No, let's not. There's no reason to be. Just step back and think about the situation you're describing for a second: You're describing a user who googles for something, comes to SO, finds it isn't the right place, and then immediately gives up or otherwise is completely unable to take the next step, find another place to ask, and solve their problem. That is, you're describing somebody for which the sole determining factor in whether or not they ultimately complete their task is whether or not we give them URLs of other sites. Realistically, they're beyond help. – Jason C May 5 '17 at 23:36
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    So, to sum up: There are users that don't read, don't want to follow the rules, don't care about writing good questions, but we should look beyond that and help them anyways. There's going to be some users who want to contribute properly, and you'll see it in their first posts. You'll also see those who put in zero effort, never listen to feedback, and want their problem solved right now, damn the topicality! Nope. If users refuse to adapt, then good riddance. – fbueckert May 5 '17 at 23:44
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    Downvotes are not personal. They are taken personally quite often, but they are judgements on the post, not on you. That said, with you deleting it, I can't see it, so all I have to go off of is your say so. That said, if it's got massive downvotes, I'm going to go out on a limb and say it deserved it. If you got a comment saying you were lazy, flag the comment; that's rude, for sure. If you got a comment saying it looked like the question was lazy, that's not rude, depending on the wording. Could be non constructive, but not rude. – fbueckert May 6 '17 at 0:02
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    Comments are not, and will never be, required. Downvotes are signal to future readers not to waste their time. Don't even try to push that, because it's been beaten to death. If no one comments on why, then the tooltip is a good reason; this question is not use, or does not show any research effort. – fbueckert May 6 '17 at 0:09
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    There's the rub; SE is not for learning, in the tutorial or teaching sense. It's meant to create a repository of knowledge. If you're trying to learn a topic, this isn't the place to start. If you get stuck, sure, show where you're stuck, what you've tried, and what doesn't work. Don't ask us to teach you; show us what you've learned. Many new users think it's their right to be taught here; it's not. If you want help, you'll get it, but being perceived to waste expert's time is not taken well here. – fbueckert May 6 '17 at 0:19
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    @SierrMountainTech I took a look at your questions at SO and don't see any that were made massively downvoted. So what happen to those questions that were? You have a single question with a downvote, and it was caused by a syntax error, yet you didn't provide the syntax error in the question, screenshots, are helpful with compilation errors like you had. Where are these massively downvoted questions of yours? – Ramhound May 6 '17 at 1:02

There is endless guidance on how to actually ask a good question, that is on topic.

That is the Learning you mentioned.

An unworthy site, if you think about it, would be the worst of all worlds. It would attract terrible questions, and so you would not get high quality answers or answerers.

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    If you are unable to understand something how can you ask a good question about it? Some times its not easy to see what is wrong or why something is not working the way you want it to. People have a tendency get angry with bad questions rather than explain to them how to ask a proper question or help them understand what is wrong so they formulate a proper question. – Mike - SMT May 5 '17 at 22:45
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    Incorrect on both counts: 1) asking a good question is relatively straightforward if you are prepared to read all the guidance and put a little effort in. After all, you expect people to put some effort in to answer them. and 2) there are many people here who offer guidance without getting angry at all, but the vast majority of this guidance is distilled into those pages that are shown when you first visit a site, and are accessible from the help link up the top, so there is an expectation that you will at least have read that. – Rory Alsop May 5 '17 at 22:50
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    I would disagree. Just because the rules are laid out does not mean one understands. There are language barriers and words that may not be familiar. I just don't think people should rush to down vote and leave unpleasant comments just because they OP was unable to articulate their question just how the person reading it would like. It would be better to leave a link to a place where their question would not be met with such negativity and they could learn the basics before moving onto stackoverflow or other stack sites. – Mike - SMT May 5 '17 at 22:59
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    I see a large number of people helping new users, in fact first posts from new users end up in a separate queue specifically for this reason. You'll find a lot of the problems people have is ignoring those who try to help, or ignoring the message they get when a question is put on hold. A down vote is not negativity. A close vote is not negativity. Learn from them. Those are the basics you can learn – Rory Alsop May 5 '17 at 23:03
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    A low quality question often isn't written by somebody with a language barrier it's written by somebody who isn't willing to read feedback on what they wrote in order to improve the quality of the question so it actually can be answered. If there are so many of these "potential gems" you should edit them so they can be reopened yourself! – Ramhound May 5 '17 at 23:04
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    In most cases, simple problems like formatted code, or even supplying code that generates then error yournasking about OR telling us exactly what the error is actually the problem. NONE of those problems are language problems because people know how to ask a question, you wouldn't walk up to somebody and ask how to fix a Stackoverflow error, and end with just that and not provide specifics. Those are the questions being downvoted not potential gems.... – Ramhound May 5 '17 at 23:10
  • @Ramhound where that would be ideal this is not the case. I see question downvoted all the time that are not horrible question. Or missing the basic info needed to actually troubleshoot the question. Sure there are people who ask really bad questions that have no real content to work with. But this just part of whats being downvoted. – Mike - SMT May 5 '17 at 23:13
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    If it's missing the basic information then the question it's not clear and it should be downvoted until it's clear and if that doesn't happen the question should be closed and eventually deleted. If you know what's missing suggest the edit yourself. If these potential gems are being downvoted then improve then yourself so they receive upvotes instead – Ramhound May 5 '17 at 23:19
  • There is often not enough time to "suggest" the edit. As user delete their post from massive downvotes or they are closed by mods before anyone can assist. I have been in the middle of answer many question that I am happy to help with when the question has been closed or deleted before I could submit my answer. – Mike - SMT May 5 '17 at 23:22
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    So it's closed. Did you know that if an edit is suggested, it goes into a review queue, and it could potentially be reopened. If people are removing their own questions because of downvotes, then nothing can be done for those people, including answering their future questions because that's the type of behavior that results in question bans. You improve enough questions you'll end up with the ability to review questions and take part in the process instead of saying it's being done wrong – Ramhound May 5 '17 at 23:25

If a question cannot be edited by others to be made useful to more than one person, it's not worth the time it takes to edit or answer. This is a basic economic reality: one-on-one tutoring is vastly less cost-effective than compiling general teaching material, because it costs the same (or sometimes slightly less) but benefits many fewer people.

So no, there is not likely to ever be any site, Stack Exchange or otherwise, that can do this. If you want one-on-one tutoring for programming, try something like HackHands (disclaimer: I am registered as an expert there), and pay real money-dollars for it, to the tune of $60/hour or more. Expecting a site to provide that kind of value for free is just unrealistic.

All that said, it is often possible for a poorly-written question to be fixed up as long as there's something there to work with. For example. If a question can't be fixed, consider how terrible it must be by comparison.

  • So as I said, maybe we could provide a link to a list of sites that can be useful to a user who is unable to ask question due to their lack of understand. The list I was thinking of would contain links like the one you provide in your answer. Just like we have a link to How to ask a good question. I think we can have a link to a list of useful sites. IE codecadamy.com and other. – Mike - SMT May 5 '17 at 23:11
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    @SierrMountainTech SE is a business, why would they waste resources to advertise their competitors? – Ramhound May 5 '17 at 23:17
  • @Ramhound I never paid for access to this site. It literally cost nothing to get on and ask questions. To be honest I don't know what a "competitor" would be for stack as I have only used it as a way to figure out problems with code. Or learn something about features in said code. – Mike - SMT May 5 '17 at 23:20
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    Stackoverflow sells advertising.....I could list one competitor, but I dispise that website, so won't even mention it by name...because it's everything you want but has none of the qualities of SE (like actual answers to your question from people who know the answer) – Ramhound May 5 '17 at 23:21
  • fair enough. It is unfortunate though. There is not a way to be truly helpful to the new users who may need it. Just downvote/close the question and move on. It just feels like a superiority complex to me. "your question offends me so I must take it down!". I can see where it is a good idea to downvote and express to users the best ways to go about doing things. However I do not understand the knee jerk downvotes and comments that discourage further interaction with the stack sites. – Mike - SMT May 5 '17 at 23:27
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    Has nothing about being offended, that doesn't happen, it's about the quality of the question being so poor that I am unable to make heads or tails out of what is actually being asked because there is literally no information being supplied. This has nothing to do with a language barrier in most cases.For whatever reason, people forget how to ask people questions, if they have to use written language.They forget the basics like formatting the information, giving enough information to actually duplicate the compilation error, supplying the input and expected output of an excel document formula – Ramhound May 5 '17 at 23:31
  • I am sure you downvote following the guidelines and provide a lot of good information. This is evident by your score. It is however happening. Not everyone follows voting guidelines just like not everyone follows the guidelines for asking questions. – Mike - SMT May 5 '17 at 23:45
  • My score, you mean the meaningless reputation I have earned? – Ramhound May 6 '17 at 0:57
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    @Ramhound: Rep isn't meaningless. It's just meaning-impaired, since you don't get it by being right, but by being judged helpful. – Nathan Tuggy May 6 '17 at 1:15
  • @NathanTuggy I have never been given reputation for submitting an answer that contained technical inaccuracies. – Ramhound May 6 '17 at 1:33
  • @Ramhound: Technical accuracy is (usually) necessary but not sufficient. But I don't understand why you would (correctly) defend the usual link between accuracy and rep on the one hand while claiming rep to be "meaningless" on the other. If rep can only be gained through technical accuracy, it can't be meaningless: it must, at any rate, represent ability to be accurate, along with perhaps any number of other positive or negative qualities. – Nathan Tuggy May 6 '17 at 1:52
  • It's meaningless to me, my answers would be accurate and high quality if I had 1 reputation or 1,000,000 reputation. – Ramhound May 6 '17 at 1:54
  • @SierrMountainTech There isn't very many rules to voting you basically can't serial downvote people and you can't vote yourself – Ramhound May 6 '17 at 1:56
  • @Ramhound: It's true that unbiased third-party validation of expertise doesn't prove the expertise in a formal sense, and isn't necessary for it to exist, but let's not kid ourselves: this is very similar in general form to the argument that one does not need a degree to be a scientist. It's formally true, but of extremely limited applicability, so usually it's misleading and indeed contrary to practical reality. Someone with 1m rep is far more likely to be correct than someone with 1 rep, even though there is no absolute certainty of this. – Nathan Tuggy May 6 '17 at 2:32
  • @NathanTuggy We all had 1 reputation at one point. Which means we all submitted an answer when we had a small amount of reputation unless all your reputation came from asking questions. I didn't ask a single question for about 3 years and had thousands of reputation at the time just from answers – Ramhound May 6 '17 at 13:14

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