As useful as forums can be for people learning coding/languages, why do some people feel the need to denigrate others on here who are not at the same level as they are? Do they not remember what it's like to be just starting out coding, or just learning a new language? Why do they feel the need to put down beginners? Why do they have to doubt that the person asking the question has truly looked for an answer before posting it on here?

I have gotten lots of help on here for things that I most definitely have tried researching via Google. A lot of times it may come down to my not knowing the specific terms or wording to lead me to the answer I need, so I come on here. And most of the times, people have been very helpful. But there are also a number of times where people just felt the need to be smug and superior and I don't understand it. As if they were born with it? Do they not remember what it was like to be starting out, or to suddenly not really be sure how to word what you are looking for? (sorry, but just so very frustrating sometimes)

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    The short and long answer is SO is not for learning a new technology. There’s tutorials, documentation, books, classes, videos, etc for that. It’s for established practitioners asking questions encountered during professional work. That’s what Q&A is for (and alps why we don’t refer to SO as a “forum”).
    – Dan Bron
    Jan 16, 2020 at 19:08
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    @DanBron That's no longer the mission of SO; it's now open to anyone who codes. #welcomewagon
    – canon
    Jan 16, 2020 at 19:15
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    Did you read the tour and the help center when you first began to participate on the stack? The tour explicitly declares that stacks are not forums, and then explains why. Jan 16, 2020 at 19:25
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    You haven't shown an example, but make sure you aren't confusing criticism of the effort put into your question, and criticism of you. Regardless of skill level or background, we require quite high quality and effort of people posting here, and some people are more vocal about that than others. I'll admit that some people could be a little less sharp in their criticisms of effort put into questions, but we're also inundated by crap all day (to be blunt). A lot of us get tired of essentially "do my homework" questions, and you may have been final straw after a long day of moderating bad posts. Jan 16, 2020 at 19:27
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    There's no denigration of users as you assume, just judging for helpful or non helpful contents posted. You shouldr ead about the help center at specific sites how to post helpful and acceptable content. Jan 16, 2020 at 19:42
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    @πάνταῥεῖ There was a dismissive comment on the OP's latest SO question which I assume prompted this meta post. That comment has since been deleted.
    – canon
    Jan 16, 2020 at 19:52
  • @πάνταῥεῖ "There's no denigration of users" SE is very quick to delete comments (Or the users do themselves).
    – dustytrash
    Jan 16, 2020 at 19:55
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    why do some people feel the need to denigrate others on here who are not at the same level as they are? - stack overflow has 12m users. Among any large enough group of people (and 12m people is large enough), it's inevitable that some small percent are going to be bad apples, because humanity, as a whole and individually, isn't perfect. The question is, are those bad apples being moderated successfully? Maybe there are possibilities for preventive moderation -- blocking of abusive content -- rather than corrective moderation?
    – dbc
    Jan 16, 2020 at 20:00
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    The initial comment on the user's last question suggested that, if previous attempts at searching did not turn up anything, then perhaps they should try searching on Bing. The comment expressed a belief that there were "Thousands of answers here on SO". I deleted that comment, because comments like this, while not "toxic" in my view, serve no purpose because they convey no meaningful information. An automated system flagged it for mod attention, and it was deleted 30 minutes after posting. Not bad for a site that gets millions of comments per day.
    – Cody Gray
    Jan 16, 2020 at 20:03
  • @CodyGray - I wonder whether some sort of guidance could be implemented during commenting then? I.e. if a comment suggests that the poster "Search on X", maybe an "Are you sure about this comment" popup could appear with some guidance on when comments like that are appropriate? At least once I recall commenting, "Searching on google I found (the top link) which seems like it might solve your problem". Adding some additional "Are you sure about this comment because [xxx]" popup wouldn't offend me when I made such a comment.
    – dbc
    Jan 16, 2020 at 20:07
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    @CodyGray I thought that comment suggested that if the OP's search hadn't returned anything, they must have been using Bing. It was more of a M$ zing... unless I read it wrong. Either way, it still wasn't helpful.
    – canon
    Jan 16, 2020 at 20:14
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    For future reference: meta.stackoverflow.com/q/262527/2191572
    – MonkeyZeus
    Jan 16, 2020 at 20:17
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    @canon Oh, maybe so... Bing jokes stopped being funny at least 5 years ago, so that interpretation likely fell off my radar. Going back and re-reading it, it wasn't really clearly written enough for me to be sure what was meant. Another good justification for deleting it. Also a justification for not getting bent out of shape because someone was trying to make a joke. Their failing at humor is not a criticism of you, the question-asker.
    – Cody Gray
    Jan 16, 2020 at 20:21
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    @CodyGray a better, more relevant joke would have been to suggest that if they hadn't found anything useful, they must have been using SO's site search. :P
    – canon
    Jan 16, 2020 at 20:27
  • Also a justification for not getting bent out of shape because someone was trying to make a joke. It doesn't sound like that's what happened.
    – BSMP
    Jan 16, 2020 at 20:28

3 Answers 3


This comment says it best:

The short and long answer is SO is not for learning a new technology. There’s tutorials, documentation, books, classes, videos, etc for that. It’s for established practitioners asking questions encountered during professional work. That’s what Q&A is for (and alps why we don’t refer to SO as a “forum”).

Taking a look at your latest post on Stack Overflow, using a forum or a teaching tool, I'd guide you to the answer by asking questions much like the comments on the post are already doing:

If you're parsing line by line, you can keep track of what the current and last lines contained, right?

You'd probably answer "yes" and maybe show the code to do that. I'd ask if you could parse a String of any given length, if you said "no" I'd ask you to Google it...

However Stack Overflow is a wiki. An exact answer would only be useful to you. In fact as a learner, the exact answer wouldn't be very useful to you as taking the above steps and finding the answer yourself would be. (But again that's not what SO is for.)

  • Interestingly, the person who was very rude to me has deleted his comments on that question.
    – BigRedEO
    Jan 16, 2020 at 19:31
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    I have been trying to break it down - first researched reading a file line by line. Then I researching echoing it line by line, then I've researched findstr (and the like), trying to narrow it down - just hoping to find a question somewhat similar to mine to take that and work it to what I need. But I haven't had much luck narrowing it down to my specifics yet.
    – BigRedEO
    Jan 16, 2020 at 19:33
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    Maybe they didn't delete the comments. Maybe they were flagged by other user and deleted by a mod. If you see rude/unkind comments, flag them and do not engage the user who posted them. The vast majority of the site's users are kind and polite. But with thousand of users we are bound to have a few with less than stellar behavior.
    – yivi
    Jan 16, 2020 at 19:35
  • Thank you @yivi - was not aware there was an option to flag comments!
    – BigRedEO
    Jan 16, 2020 at 19:41
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    @BigRedEO Now, step back for a second. You are a member on stackoverflow for 7 years, according to your profile. So you are using that network for years, but yet you don't know that you could flag comments. Think about that: you are a member of that community for years, but you didn't bother to learn and understand the rules and practices of that community. This is not meant to insult you, but to make you clear that there is much more to this than "experienced users are such jerks".
    – GhostCat
    Jan 16, 2020 at 20:01
  • @BigRedEO just be careful with that feature. Sometimes constructive criticism is painful to hear... and our natural, knee-jerk reaction will be to flag anything which offends our ego. Moderators, for expedience, may just delete that comment regardless of the flag's veracity -giving us a false sense of righteousness. So, fight that impulse; our ego actively impedes our growth.
    – canon
    Jan 16, 2020 at 20:03
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    Moderators, for expedience, may just delete that comment regardless of the flag's veracity @canon It has not been my experience that moderators delete genuinely useful comments. OP is much more likely to have their flags declined if they flag things like duplicate suggestions or requests for clarification.
    – BSMP
    Jan 16, 2020 at 20:17
  • @BSMP Certainly, moderators try to preserve useful content... but they've definitely been empowered and encouraged to err on the side of killing comments -particularly following the rollout of the welcome wagon.
    – canon
    Jan 16, 2020 at 20:24

Why do some people on Stack Exchange seem to only denigrate users on here?

To a large degree, that basic assumption is a big misconception.

Sure, sometimes people are annoyed, and they let that emotion guide their communication.

But: when we just look at those users who write impolite (or worse: rude) comments, you will find one thing: they do much more than "only denigrating" other users.

Those people that write such comments, those are the active users who try to uphold quality. And who probably look for interesting, well-written questions worth answering.

So, pro tip: every time you find a user who gives such a comment, you should do two things:

  • flag the comment for being rude (and later check your flags, to see if the moderators agree with you!)
  • but then click on the link that takes you to the profile of that user

Then: study how many answers that user wrote. Probably dozens, most likely: hundreds. Look at the counters how many times that user voted, or edited other posts. Chances are: pretty high counters. Meaning: most such people are contributing lots and lots of answers and moderation work. Day by day by day.

What I am trying to say: those people who come back and give you comments (even when their language is too aggressive), those are the people who made you come to this place. Because, in the end, you are looking for volunteer experts who are willing to spend their free time to help you with your problem.

So, just for a second, look at this from that perspective. You come to that place so that highly experienced professionals help you for free. But when they say something that you dislike, all of a sudden, the same people "only denigrate" other users?!

And to explain to you why that rudeness happens (been there, unfortunately done that plenty of times): out of frustration. In contrast to popular belief, Stack Overflow isn't programming school. It is a place for professionals and enthusiastic amateurs. And when you are an expert, and you look for interesting questions, and then you wade through endless endless waves of "plz do my homeworks for me" and "I need answers with code and explanations ASAP"... at some point, you snap.

And as wrong as it is, you might unload your frustration onto the next question, albeit that question is just "slightly off". We are all just humans here.

Long story short: it is wrong to be rude to new users. But that works in both directions. Being a "newbie programmer" isn't an excuse to come in unprepared, with unrealistic expectations.


There are quite some aspects, but it comes down to that Q&A is not the best tool for learning programming from the very basics.

People get lots of help here every day but they basically need to present a new answerable question. Quite a lot of the beginner questions are, you can probably guess, already asked before. Thorough research is needed before asking and even searching is something that must be learned. An answerable question must contain all the required information to give a unique and not too long answer. It requires a bit of skill to ask such a question. Asking for opinions or online resources is often off-topic on the Exchanges, new users often forget that.

But otherwise, if somebody knows the answer and has time it will be given freely. There is the occasional snark, mostly in comments, but we have ways to deal with that. Snarky comments can be deleted and the commenters suspended in the worst case. Use the flag to bring such cases to the attention of a moderator. A bit of a thick skin helps, but that is true in general in the Internet.

Please start learning to program somewhere else and then after the first steps are made come back to sharpen your skills. Don't give up and you'll see what Q&A can do for you. Good luck. And don't forget that downvotes are nothing personal.

We have not forgotten how it was when we started to program (although in my case the Internet wasn't popular and I learned with books and friends alone, there was nothing else). But we can't or won't answer questions that aren't answerable or not a good fit.

There was once the idea of some sort of academy where users can learn to ask questions, the idea was promoted by a user called Shog, but it didn't fly. Maybe it would have been a good idea.

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