Some time ago I was (and still am) part of the SO/SE not fun place to learn discussion and attention to the be nice policy discussion. I've found it interesting how those two questions intercept in interesting points.

To avoid you the pain of reading novels of questions (if that isn't you grind):

  • The first question was a response to an advanced question asked in a particular manner that was discarded by the community. Torus is a hot and kind person and to give credit to his name, his reaction (albeit eruptive) was justified. But his point was lost due to people often reacting to the "plainly and direct placed flaws" than to the overall point of the post.
  • The second question was added by an veteran, Jyrki, which showed that moderators are people too. And he/she has an interesting observation: advanced questions are buried among trolls, spoiled brats, and sometimes beginner questions that are fueled by innocence and frustration - which naturally results in moderators response in kind.

Judging by both experiences, advanced/intermediate questions don't get the attention they deserve. But those two questions have one major difference, Toruses shows that advanced questions are misinterpreted by the community, and Jyrkies mentions that noobs have no regard of advanced topics and that they often end up with high votes, but no answers ... disregarded and forgotten by time.

I can't say that I haven't encountered both of these examples in my day-to-day search. And from a noob point of view, I can't answer questions that are outside of my knowledge base (for now), and I do try to understand and answer questions that ask for me to expand my knowledge based on the amount I am comfortable with. But in my daily searches I've encountered perhaps 2-3 intermediate/advanced questions in a week's span.

Now if this was a normal conversation between people in a street/pub this would be enough to spark an conversation and discussion. But for SE I need to rise thee following topics in order to be able to ask a question.

What I can't figure out by myself is:

  • Do intermediate/advanced questions require such knowledge that is up to 10% of the community knowledge base, or are they lost by lack of attention to details?
  • Has the community become oversaturated with beginner users and the only way advanced/experienced users can be happy is to migrate themselves to for example "Stack Exchange (whatever community) expert level" sub SE community?
  • Is there so much new and repetitive content that by default users assume that the question is at beginner level?
  • Or has the community grown so far that it overreached the what it is called expert level is obsolete?

But the main question still stands, regardless of cause, why aren't there more intermediate/advanced level questions?

Disclaimer: Don't downvote Touruses or Jyrki-es question based on an opinion on the one/multiple brass language statements. Look for the overall point.

To find what I am referencing:

1) Torus-es issue is mentioned in the introduction part of his blog. If you plan to read it, read it carefully.

2) Jyrki-es issue is mentioned in an allegory of museum/curators at the end of his question. So keep in mind every time he mentions museum he means SO/SE and by curator he means moderator.

  • 1
    To me this seems very specific to SO. My main is Ask Ubuntu and I would say 75% of questions are intermediate level, people looking to get more from the OS or build software and write scripts etc, so it is a none issue there. Also, probably not a good idea to tell people how to vote, that never goes down well. – Mark Kirby Sep 2 '19 at 14:47
  • @MarkKirby both questions are derived from ME, and i have SO experience. Sure platforms as Ubuntu ask for knowledge level that suprasses begginer knowledge... but you can't judge a basket by the shiniest fruit. But... i do need to distinguish something. When i write SO i do mean Stack Overflow as a company not as SO sub topic. – Danilo Sep 2 '19 at 14:50
  • My point is that it does not seem like something that effects the whole network and seems more suited to SO meta but that is just my opinion. Is SO a company? AFAIK Stack Exchange is the company and Stack Overflow is a part of that company. – Mark Kirby Sep 2 '19 at 14:55
  • @MarkKirby what is AFAIK? I thought it all started as Stack Overflow... sure now it is called Stack Exchange but isn't Stack Overflow root branch? – Danilo Sep 2 '19 at 14:57
  • 1
    sorry, AFAIK is "as far as I know". It seems you are right and SO is a company stackoverflow.com/company that is my mistake. – Mark Kirby Sep 2 '19 at 15:00
  • No problem :D i can understand that it might've been my ignorance. To go back to your original statement. Sure i can understand that this element doesn't hold in Ubuntu,Unix and Cooking ... or in sub communities where by nature intermediate or low level knowledge base is required ... but there is still plethora of communities where this problem still persists. – Danilo Sep 2 '19 at 15:02
  • TBH, I got the idea that torus was convinced he was right. And that's not the best place to be in when trying to work out, and change key parts of a nearly decade old platform. – Journeyman Geek Sep 2 '19 at 15:59
  • Listen @JourneymanGeek i am not defending Torus... there are some points i agreed with and there are some that were too abrasive for my comfort. But his question isn't the point. In my experience through enough time spent chatting with him , his response was pure explosion fueled to underlying issue. That issue can be topic of some other question, but currently main cause of his problem was acceptance on his math question : described in introduction of his blog. – Danilo Sep 2 '19 at 16:12
  • But i feel i must clarify : i put disclaimer out there to stop any community driven users to downvote before reading just because it already has a bunch of downvotes. I don't need on my soul, that someone downvotes or kills the post just because i linked it. – Danilo Sep 2 '19 at 16:15

Honestly? Those questions are a harder ask. They're a delight. But by nature they're going to be rarer.

I'm what you may term an experienced user. And well, my more fun questions on my main site - super user are... often unusual things.

I often go through a sort of OODA loop in problem solving. I often discuss things with the community - this question for example started off on chat, someone got sucked down the rabbithole and got access he needed to solve the issue. Was all sorts of fun. Here I was stuck, and the specific settings I needed were underdocumented. These questions were the culmination of lots of hitting my head against metaphorical walls.

Hard questions have homework. They're stuff that take time and iteration. They have a body of work and effort behind them.

That said, You can ask simple questions well.

You document the information someone answering needs. You're responsive. You show what you're done, and try and feedback what you need to. These also help with harder, or more complicated questions.

"Be nice" on the other hand is a separate issue. From my answer on the second post...

There's always going to be some folks who're primarily going to see SE as a place to ask questions, and not really make an effort. There's going to be the folks who dump misformatted code, or use it as ELIF as a service. Its ok. We can still be civil, and just close, DV or delete these things. On the other hand, its not really healthy to see it as a "us vs them". To see new users as vandals - rather than, well, people who haven't had the same experiences you've had is divisive

  • I don't know what ELIF is. Could you elaborate more? I appreciate your answer - it put some more thoughts in my head. My original presumption was related to that with experience lower level questions became too easy to answer with less effort, and that higher level questions become hard to answer. The effort one would use to ask an simple questions did skip my mind. – Danilo Sep 2 '19 at 16:10
  • 1
    Explain like I'm five – Journeyman Geek Sep 2 '19 at 16:21
  • 2
    As an example of a well-asked simple question, this one from today. It could be construed as a simple matter of just reading the docs. But you'd be looking for a single in a 238 page document. As a relatively new OpenGL feature, it doesn't get a lot of discussion online. This is exactly the kind of thing that SO exists to help with: the title is Googlable, it solves a real problem, and it highlights a small thing that often gets unnoticed in larger documentation. – Nicol Bolas Sep 2 '19 at 18:04
  • @JourneymanGeek could you help me a bit. This question is put on hold as too broad... but you did answer the question in its meaning. I accepted your answer, so clearly there is an direct correlation between your answer and my question. How is this then too broad? I am not frustrated, or angry... i am just confused. – Danilo Sep 4 '19 at 0:49
  • 1
    In a lot of these situations - I answer as a user but I try not to overrule the community when they close something except in exceptional situations. Posts where I answered especially - for obvious reasons. – Journeyman Geek Sep 4 '19 at 0:59
  • @JourneymanGeek i am no trying to force you to overrule community. I am trying to get clarification. Let's be honest, question has -11 votes, so i don't mind closing vote. But i am really confused in which manner this is too broad. As an moderator i am presuming you have more insight into this action and therefore are able to clarify. Honestly pitting you against community don't help me or you - in ethic or moral manner. – Danilo Sep 4 '19 at 14:40

But his point was lost due to people often reacting to the "plainly and direct placed flaws" than to overall point of the post.

I dispute this characterization. I think his point was well considered. Well considered and rejected.

A good theory is like a good table: a well-formed notion (the surface) supported by sturdy points of evidence (the legs of a table). Journeyman Geek's post essentially deconstructed the evidence. And without supporting evidence, it's not a table anymore; it's just a piece of wood.

Even ignoring that response, the provided evidence was never particularly sturdy to begin with. Torus merely said that he felt this was the case, due to a few questions of his. These things could happen for any number of reasons. Why is the reason he puts forth more correct than others?

His table was not much of a table.

And even ignoring the lack of evidence, the points he suggested to be changed frequently don't actually fix the problem he purports exists. If people are disregarding advanced questions, how much rep is attached to questions is not how "advanced questions" are determined.

Bottom line, no "point was lost"; his "point" simply wasn't any good.

Second question

That one doesn't even support your hypothesis. That question is about people's communication on the site, not about whether questions are being ignored. There's no connection between those two points.

Now yes, having lots of bad questions makes it hard to find good questions. But that is a distinction between bad and good questions, not beginner and intermediate/advanced ones. And the question you linked to is specifically talking about bad questions, not beginner ones (even if they sometimes phrase the two as identical).

Basically, you're trying to force a square peg into your round-shaped argument.

why aren't there more intermediate/advanced level questions?


  1. Intermediate/advanced questions typically come from intermediate/advanced users.

  2. Intermediate/advanced users typically have sufficient tools to solve problems on their own. Whether it's Google-Fu, debugging skills, or just persistence, such users don't need to ask much.

The typical intermediate/advanced questions I come across tend to revolve around deep technical details of the behavior of a language or API. This is information that you would use to solve problems, but it isn't the end goal. Such people already know how to solve problems; they just need to know how the tools work.

  • Nicol, nice to see you again. I agree that Tours question was table that wasn't a table, as you said it. And Geeks commen't didn't factor in the point, it factored in the complaint. Main issue can be found in his blog under "1. An "off-topic" math question" Type A vs Type B, with difference in mathematical proof of approaches. - the rest isn't tied to this topic and question. That question is an at least intermediate one. What Torus thinks ins't the part of this topic - but that this kind of question result in specific action. – Danilo Sep 2 '19 at 15:58
  • 2
    There was a whole lot flawed with Torus' arguments, @Danilo. Not least of which was a major red flag to stalk someone who they didn't agree with. I don't think it's good to give any credence whatsoever to their arguments; they're inherently flawed from the get-go. – fbueckert Sep 2 '19 at 16:01
  • 1
    About second question, i do understand that it is very tiresome to go over each comment and each answer to such large questions and answer. That is why i extracted points i wanted to talk about. Jyrki went deeper into topics quoting "master painters occupied top 2 floors and hoodlums are either their customers ... " end quote. Both questions talk about different things, but cross section has ties to quality, type and level of questions. I hope we are talking about same thing now. – Danilo Sep 2 '19 at 16:01

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .