I just asked this question recently. The questions that I wanted to be addressed were quite clear. I even said that I understand the downside to my current approach. However, this is my own personal project, developed by me and I wanted to format an std::string using printf style formatters. I am trying to learn C++ after staying with C for a loooong time, yet the general consensus that I gather from the responses is that I need to somehow forget my C skills when playing with C++. I don't work that way. My old habits die hard, so I need to transition them. Once I've finished learning whatever I'm learning now, I'll move onto another part of C++ and practice things the C++ way, and then move on again.

To me, I feel like a few of the responses are condescending and now feel that experimenting with C++ is discouraged. I know what I am doing is not considered the “C++” way. I thought I let people know that in my question.

Personally, I have always felt that there was noticeable condescension on StackOverflow at some level or another. I am guilty of it myself, and have now come to realise that it belittles one's will to experiment or deviate and could potentially be offensive to people who have trouble learning things using mainstream methods.

I am not offended at the responses to my question, but just a little concerned that if this condescension does exist [outside of my own mind] or gets worse, that some people may eventually feel too discouraged from asking questions on StackOverflow.

Am I alone in my beliefs?

closed as off-topic by gnat, Nathan Tuggy, Ward - Reinstate Monica, Werner, Shadow The Princess Wizard Mar 6 '16 at 7:35

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  • 5
    See: Is "Don't Do It" a valid answer? which discusses a similar issue – devinb May 21 '10 at 9:54
  • while I don't see much of an attitude in the answers to the question you highlight, I have also experienced cases - but this is in a small few cases (unfortunately, my very first question was met with snark). Personally, I don't see it being of any higher incidence than any other place, and I don't think it is an issue around the SO network. – HorusKol May 21 '10 at 11:45
  • As a side note, yes, you do need to forget a lot of C skills when learning C++. There are a whole lot of things where the right way to do them differs widely between the two languages, and you do yourself no favor by taking time and effort to create a middle course. (Your practice may well go from C with Classes to C++0x as you learn, and that's not bad, but in this case you're working hard on meshing a C feature and a C++ feature that don't work together.) – David Thornley May 21 '10 at 13:47

I read your question and all the responses, and honestly, I'm not seeing any condescension.

It's fairly typical to get advice along the lines of "maybe that's not a good idea?" when you ask any SO question. It's certainly happened to me more than once..

Wouldn't you want to ask questions in an environment where your peers will question and -- gently -- challenge your assumptions? That's basically what I was seeing here, and I thought it was entirely respectful and honest.

(and, if you do have responses that are overtly rude or disrespectful, please flag them for moderator attention. We want to know about them, and we'll deal with them! We enforce civility here, as much as we can.)

  • Yes, the particular case I presented was not a good one. Nobody was really out-of-order here, but my concern has been ongoing. I'll be sure to top this question up if I ever come across something that I find more conspicuously condescending. It just happened that this answer gave me a realisation that I've probably been too discouraging to other people, and that's something that SO doesn't need. Discouragement away from something bad is not always encouragement towards something good. – dreamlax May 21 '10 at 10:49
  • @dreamlax: Post another question if you can find an example. Keep in mind disagreement and discouragement are not the same... People can disagree with your solution and encourage you to use a better one... – The Unhandled Exception May 21 '10 at 14:42
  • Condescension is based on interpretation, especially through text. Consider this answer from user Jesper. His first line: "What exactly do you not understand about the code?? The code adds an action listener to the button..." can be interpreted in 2 ways. 1) Jesper thinks OP's code is extremely simple and is making fun of OP for not understanding it. OR 2) Jesper legitimately don't know the exactly part of the code which the OP is having trouble with. Do you see the difference in interpretation? – NoName Jun 24 '17 at 9:04

You have one idea about the best way to learn C++, and some experienced C++ programmers have another. I don't see any condescension there, and you did in fact get a number of answers that directly addressed your question. If you can't bear people suggesting (quite politely in this case) that you might be going about things in the wrong way, perhaps SO is not for you?

  • The particular question that I provided wasn't a very good example. I don't doubt that everyone's intentions are in the right place, and like I said, I'm not offended by it (this is, after all, the internet), but now feel as though I shouldn't be as experimental with my approach to learning C++. When someone tells you that what you're doing is wrong or bad you are discouraged from doing it again. What I find particularly interesting in this case is that I now feel discouraged from doing almost anything experimental with C++. I'm sure I've said something to other people and had the same effect. – dreamlax May 21 '10 at 10:25
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    "perhaps SO is not for you?" - now that's condescension :) – Kev May 21 '10 at 12:05
  • @dreamlax: I think you're taking it too personally. Nobody said you shouldn't be experimenting with C++. What people said was, the C++ style you were avoiding because you weren't comfortable with it was there for a reason and you should try to use it. In fact, they were encouraging you to experiment with C++. – The Unhandled Exception May 21 '10 at 14:41

Condescension is defined as 'Patronizingly superior behavior or attitude'. This attitude is not present in the answers to the question you linked to.

  • +1, well said. I didn't feel the answers or comments were condescending – The Unhandled Exception May 21 '10 at 14:39

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