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Does SO encourage developer laziness?

When I'm faced with a programming problem I first try to solve the problem by myself, I read API documentation, search Google, try again, and only as a last resort I post a question on SO or some specialized forum.

I've seen lots of people ask questions on SO before even trying. There are even those expecting others to do their homeworks for them. Also, it seems that there are always programmers ready to answer even the most simple question, in an attempt to win some reputation points (I've done it myself :).

So, do you think Stack Overflow encourages this behavior? or is it just an unwanted side effect? Or maybe it's just me who's wrong?

  • 1
    Should be on Meta.SO. This is too localized for Programmers.
    – Josh K
    Jan 24, 2011 at 20:05
  • 2
    Isn't the word "laziness" with an "i"?
    – jball
    Jan 24, 2011 at 20:26

3 Answers 3


What you call lazy others may call it "being efficient".

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    +1 - Modern world good programmers don't need to research the hell out of every line of code they write. Sometimes we just need to get the job done and move on. AFA laziness...that's why Joel and the team was smart enough to invent the downvote. If anything, SO has made me think harder before I ask a stupid question and get justifiably flamed. Jan 24, 2011 at 20:11
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    Usually what takes time to learn stays in the head. Jan 24, 2011 at 20:15
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    @adrianboimvaser - Unfortunetly, that's the attitude I got from a lot of my college profs. In reality, this attitude discourages open discussion's in the hopes that a person will tumble over the answer in a random research. If you want to learn things, become a lifelong learner. If you want to get something done effeciently, ask for help. I see no advantage to taking a journey alone...that is unless your too lazy and if that's the case I have no sympathy. Jan 24, 2011 at 20:22
  • My point is that it is repetition that solidifies our knowledge. This is what does and should take time...it is experience. I really don't get anything out of punching through my debugger for 4 hours only to find that the reason I can't reproduce an issue is because a couple lines of code were optimized out by the compiler. Jan 24, 2011 at 20:42

Well, before StackOverflow was used like this, people did the same thing on other forums and usenet groups. StackOverflow might be better implemented than those other options, but people who are lazy will always post before trying on their own, to SO or some other site.

  • 3
    +1. It doesn't so much encourage laziness as just makes it easier to be lazy.
    – Adam Lear StaffMod
    Jan 24, 2011 at 20:07

Posing a question at the same time as researching the answer on your own may be a little "efficient." Not if you count the time wasted by others researching the answer in parallel. However, that only counts if you discover the answer on your own.

I don't think these questions are a waste of time, but they could be better serviced if the user can and would flag them as conscious effort to answer need not apply. In other words, if you need to research (or need time in general) to answer, don't and move on. If you know the answer immediate, please answer.

I think you mean to say, does StackOverflow discourage a person to develop themselves?

At which point, no. People who would seem discourages to develop themselves and learn, would rather choose to fail if the option to get a quick answer wasn't present.

Which would reflect on how they were raised, or if they continue to act how they were raised (given a productive upbringing).

Said laziness always exists, whether they are given a cushy job where they get all their work answers from StackOverflow, or they sit on welfare is not the caused by StackOverflow.

See "Do guns kill?" Whichever a person lands on that argument will determine how they answer here. If there is a conflict in those two answers, the person exhibits bias.

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