I've seen an unusually high number of comments lately that have attacked the question or the questioner instead of answering the question. I've even seen comments attacking answers.

They take just benign forms. I saw one user spamming "can you give a complete example?" on every question, and he didn't even ask or answer the question. Mostly, though, this is just a really quick post a snappy comment about lack of example, or about how technically a question wasn't asked. It's like the letter vs spirit of the law discussion.

So has something changed recently? Are we supposed to be colder to new users and stricter about their contributions? Has the overall sentiment of the community changed to where we don't care about bringing new people into the fold as much as we care about perfect content?

Edit: Here's one of the examples that caused me to ask this question. Deepak here has commented on many answers asking to "please show a complete example." This is even when the answer appears to be helpful, or even appears to have a complete example. It's almost like he doesn't know what it means.

Tagging strings in Java

Java:Clarifications in Java Interview Questions

  • 22
    can you provide specific examples? it's hard to react to broad generalizations Apr 6, 2011 at 10:36
  • 6
    What has generally changed over the last year, at least in the tags I am active in, is the increased influx of crap (although a lot is being done to fight it, and the effects are visible. I'm not complaining.) Being stricter about what comes in is, at least in part, self-defense - although that is not a general excuse for being rude to newbies. It's a slippery slope.
    – Pekka
    Apr 6, 2011 at 11:06
  • 3
    And of course - can you give a complete example? :)
    – Pekka
    Apr 6, 2011 at 11:07
  • 6
    I don't think asking for more information - such as a complete example - is a problem. That's basically saying why the question can't be answered in its current form. It should be done politely of course, but I think it's reasonable. I get rather more annoyed by "Improve your accept rate or I won't answer your questions" comments, personally.
    – Jon Skeet
    Apr 6, 2011 at 11:13
  • 2
    The problem is - I have been seeing them, but not necessarily bookmarking them. I didn't think, oh, I'm going to bring this up on meta, I better start bookmarking these. As I see them, I'll link them here. The one example I just went to look at, someone who asked for the solution to a specific and easy problem, was attacked as being "we're not you're code monkeys". The question is now deleted, so I can't link to that. Apr 6, 2011 at 12:03
  • 6
    @Erick: We understand that. The trick is, when you finally get fed up don't post to meta right away, start collecting a few examples. Then post when you've got some evidence. We won't hold you to "beyond a reasonable doubt", but it helps to have something to work with. If it's any consolation I have a similar feeling (where you'll note I didn't follow my own advice). Apr 6, 2011 at 14:23
  • 3
    @Erick in a case like what you describe, going in with a comment defending the OP usually works wonders. We all have a bit of a herd instinct on SO, and one comment in defense will sober everyone up, and make them think again.
    – Pekka
    Apr 6, 2011 at 17:43
  • 1
    Re your edit: But those examples are the asker demanding more detail from the answerer, aren't they? If you don't feel like providing a complete example, you can just ignore the request.
    – Pekka
    Apr 14, 2011 at 14:57
  • 5
    Erick those comments (and BTW @Pekka that user was not the OP) sent Deepak deep into the suspension box for four months. Apr 14, 2011 at 15:00
  • 1
    @Shadow Wizard: so maybe the answer here is these types of attitudes are being noticed, and this is why we have the penalty box now. Apr 14, 2011 at 15:51


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