I'd love to just ask a simple question and not have to worry about spending a large amount of time to make it perfect. Why is Stack Exchange so strict on question format and content?

  • By the way, I haven't seen any SE site that requires your formatting be all that amazing up-front. If by "format", you mean "includes enough of the checklist of necessary items", well, that's probably because those are necessary. Jun 24, 2017 at 4:12
  • By formatting I was mainly referring to how I can post a question and instead of getting an answer, someone makes an edit that doesn't offer any real benefit besides maybe looking a bit better.
    – pro
    Jun 24, 2017 at 4:18
  • 4
    What's wrong with an edit making looks better? Answers can still be posted at the same time.
    – Jamal
    Jun 24, 2017 at 4:24
  • 6
    As someone who spends a lot of time voluntarily making other people's posts look better for no direct benefit to me, I can say with some assurance that editors and answerers aren't always the same people, and when they are, editing often makes someone more likely to answer, not less. So objecting to one positive contribution on the basis that it wasn't the specific one you wanted seems remarkably short-sighted and really just a bit ungrateful. Jun 24, 2017 at 4:55
  • Are you saying @PeterMortensen shouldn't edit your post to fix the correct spelling of Stack Exchange. do u wnt txt spk for q & a 2 lmt pst 2 140 chr?
    – rene
    Jun 24, 2017 at 7:07

1 Answer 1


You're not the only one asking a question, in fact there are lots of others doing so. So much so that there are more people asking questions than people answering them.

This means that your question is basically competing for attention with all those other questions asked by other people. Answerers will naturally rather spend time answering well written, easy to understand, clear questions than meandering streams of consciousness.

If you can't be bothered to write the best possible question, why should anyone bother to answer it when they could answer the question of someone that is prepared to do that instead?

The more poor quality questions that answerers have to wade through to get to the answerable ones the more it will put the answerers off, after all they are here to answer questions, not to simply look and fail to find questions to answer. As a group we indicate poor quality questions using downvotes and closure for two main reasons:

  1. to tell the asker that they need to improve the question as it likely cannot be answered in its current form

  2. to tell any potential answerers not to waste their time here so they can spend their time helping someone else who has maybe written an answerable question.

There are people who try to clean up questions where it's possibly to do so by improving the grammar and spelling but they can only do so much if most of the information required to answer is still in the poster's head rather than in the question itself.

  • Optimizing For Pearls, Not Sand
    – gnat
    Jun 24, 2017 at 18:38
  • These are definitely good points, but what about when a question is well thought out and writted but still gets downvoted? This has happened so often to me that most of the time it's not even worth asking questions anymore because I will not get an answer. In the past I was still a learning programmer and I remember many times where I would spend ages writing, trying to ask a question and never get an answer for one reason or another. I think I am just generally upset about the way people behave on this site. I've rarely actually been able to get help. Thank you for spending the time to reply.
    – pro
    Jun 24, 2017 at 19:01

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