Is there any shame in asking a question on SO?

Why do some profiles not ask any questions?

  • 10
    Some people don't have any questions to ask. There's no shame in that is there?
    – Ether
    Apr 9, 2010 at 17:56
  • 5
    @Ether - or they use the search before and realize that they don't manage to ask a question because it is already asked and answered correctly.
    – Gnoupi
    Apr 9, 2010 at 18:01
  • 3
    See: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/13611/…
    – Shog9
    Apr 9, 2010 at 18:10
  • That would depend on the question.
    – Aarobot
    Apr 9, 2010 at 18:35
  • 6
    "Is there shame in asking a question on SO?" sounds like a fear related to the saying, "Better to be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt."
    – Pollyanna
    Apr 9, 2010 at 19:16

8 Answers 8


I think there is no shame in asking questions. There is more shame in finding out you spent 8 hours troubleshooting something that 100 people could have told you instantly. Use the resources available -- your time is valuable.

  • 4
    And so is the time of those other people :) Maybe 8 hours is too extreme, but basic research is always good. I know that was probably implied in your answer, just wanted to clarify Apr 13, 2010 at 14:33
  • You are right -- I wasn't suggesting people do zero research.
    – MJB
    Apr 18, 2010 at 14:33

There are 2 reasons someone doesn't ask questions, one legitimate and one not

  • the person is used to finding things information on google, and can find answers quickly, and hence doesn't use SO for questions. You certainly should try to find your answer elsewhere first. I know that for me, once I'm googling (or binging, etc.), I'm like a hound who has caught the scent. Sometimes once I find something, I realize I should have just asked it on SO.
  • the person erroneously feels that asking questions makes them look less competent. This is really wrong. Having a lot of questions (and eventually answers also) makes you look like someone who tries to get the job done quickly, which is very attractive to a potential employer!
  • 8
    SO is not for people who "can't search on Google". Don't imply that. Asking a question on SO is not because you are not able to find that on Google, it is to get a well formed answer, which is going to be the first google result.
    – Gnoupi
    Apr 9, 2010 at 18:03
  • 1
    Less is more. Your first version was better. Apr 9, 2010 at 18:11
  • "the person erroneously feels that asking questions makes them look less competent" - I don't know, it might not be an erroneous assumption: stackoverflow.com/questions/1003841/…
    – Pollyanna
    Apr 9, 2010 at 18:43
  • 4
    SO is not my first resource to answer questions, and so I ask few. Of course, this means that it's likely a pretty obscure question, and leaves me wishing the Tumbleweed badge could be awarded multiple times. Apr 9, 2010 at 20:29

I'm a no-question SO profile, so far.

I found SO in my google results while looking for an answer to some question I had. I thought it pretty cool so I stuck around to help answer questions (which is quite educational itself, sometimes).

In other words, the only reason I created a profile was to answer questions.

That doesn't mean I won't ask them too; the only reason I haven't asked any questions yet is that I haven't yet had a question to ask that I couldn't find the answer to, either on SO or elsewhere.


It's an interesting question. If I had to guess there are some people who don't ask questions, because they don't want it logged on their profile (actually I think jeff mentions this during a podcast that people create dummy accounts to ask questions). I could see this really being the case especially with employers using profiles as a way of determining who to hire.

Do I think that they should be afraid? Maybe/maybe not. I could see lots of questions on someone's profile working against them in the interview process. I definitely know people who would hold it against a potential employee. Do I think this is fair, no, but it is what it is. Do you want to work for these people, maybe not, but sometimes you have to take what you can get.

There are other people who just don't ask questions. I haven't asked a ton, because I'm pretty good at quickly finding something out on Google when I need to.


There can be, but not for the reason you were implying. Asking a plzsendt3hcodez question is shameful, at least from my point of view. Posting something that rambles and doesn't lead to a solid question is shameful — maybe not in all situations, but definitely on SO. Not taking the time to proofread what you've written or format your code/output samples generally doesn't score you any points either.

But is it shameful to need help with a legitimate technical problem? The other answerers have pretty much covered that, so I'll just say "no."


There's no shame in asking questions. The shame is in asking too few -- anybody who doesn't ask at least one question a day is clearly just a conceited jer....er...umm...after reviewing my profile, my attorney advises that I take the fifth amendment and say no more on this subject.


Let's start off with saying that shame is subjective. What is shameful for you may not be shameful for me.

With that being said, if you believe asking questions is shameful you can have two separate accounts: one for asking questions and one for answering them. This is allowed as long as you don't upvote yourself.

  • I didn't know it was allowed, interesting.
    – Gnome
    Apr 9, 2010 at 20:18

I'm not often involved in the hiring process, but...

There are a number of cases:

  • The person asks hundreds of poorly worded questions, and gives very few good answers? No thanks.
  • The person asks lots of clear questions, clearly learns from the answers received, gives just a few good answers, and is fresh out of college? Great hire for an entry-level position.
  • The person only answers questions, and gives lots of upvoted and accepted answers? Definite plus
  • The person asks a few clear, hard questions and some random other questions, and has lots of upvoted and accepted answers? Definite plus, equivalent to the previous.
  • The person asks a few clear, hard questions, but hasn't given very many answers? The interpretation of this would depend on how the person came across in an interview; it may indicate someone who doesn't help teammates, or may indicate someone who doesn't get distracted by a website.
  • The person has lots of questions and/or answers that are mostly down-voted, presents an abrasive attitude in them, and is generally confrontational, etc? No thanks.

And I'm sure there are others. I don't see questions as an inherently shameful thing. It's the context and quality and balance that matters.

  • honestly i think the only thing of value here is "The interpretation of this would depend on how the person came across in an interview" as everything else could have a valid alternative explication.
    – user223017
    Feb 13, 2014 at 4:24

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