Why StackOverflow sucks

StackOverflow is a monster Q&A machine. If you have a programming question, StackOverflow is probably the best place to ask – you have a better chance to get an answer on SO than anywhere else.
The paradox is that SO is not interested in users getting answers to their questions. Usually Q&A sites want their questioners to be happy, but not SO. SO wants great questions and great answers. Hence the reputation system and an army of Nazi retards moderating everything they can see.
If a question is considered poor by the user with moderating privileges, it will be downvoted, closed and finally deleted. But that is not all – SO has an automatic ban system. Users providing questions & answers that received low marks can be banned by robots.
One of the first questions I answered on SO more that 2 years ago was:

Here is a task:
“3 brothers have to transfer 9 boxes from one place to another.
These boxes weigh 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 11, 14 kilos.
Every brother takes 3 boxes.
So, how to make a program that would count the most optimal way to take boxes?
The difference between one brother’s carrying boxes weight and other’s has to be as small as it can be.”
Can you just give me an idea or write a code with any programming language you want ( php or pascal if possible? ).

I thought the question was interesting and after spending some time found a solution based on checking all permutations of 9 weight numbers, it appeared to be blazingly fast. I posted an answer, and my answer was accepted by the questioner.
Sure that was not a great question. Also the question was not properly tagged – with ‘php’ and ‘pascal’. I guess ‘php’ tag was a mistake; the questioner got a whole army of moderating idiots attacking his question.
The question received 17 downvotes. The question got the comment `Smells like homework to me` and the comment got 14 upvotes; the presumption of innocence does not work on SO, and a guy with the editing privileges tagged the question as ‘homework’. Later on it was closed by the moderator called Bill the Lizard with the following resolution:

It’s difficult to tell what is being asked here. This question is ambiguous, vague, incomplete, overly broad, or rhetorical and cannot be reasonably answered in its current form.

Strange resolution, isn’t it? The question was answered…
The strange guy Bill the Lizard did not stop after closing the question. More than 1.5 year (!) after the question was answered he returned to it and deleted both the question and my answer (my answer probably because it contradicted his resolution).
If you think your post was not well accepted on SO, just think of the whole picture.


I was saying in this post “If you have a programming question, StackOverflow is probably the best place to ask”. It was when SO started some years ago; not now.

Today your chances to get a useful answer to your question on SO are close to zero. Instead you get a lot of comments arguing for example that your question does not fit SO or wrongly worded or else and nothing useful.

SO today is yet another trolls&noobs zoo.

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373 thoughts on “Why StackOverflow sucks

  1. Agree 100%. How did Joel allow his brilliant site to be taken over by the Q&A police? Far too many questions with sensible answers are tagged with that inane comment (“It’s difficult to tell what is being asked here. This question is ambiguous, vague, incomplete, overly broad, or rhetorical and cannot be reasonably answered in its current form.”) And always interesting to see people hiding behind pseudonyms (Bill the Lizard. WTF?)

    • Agreed million percent. I asked a question like the author and mentioned specifically “If I post the question in wrong forum please let me know. I will take off it immediately”. Then a GREAT COMPUTER GURU call Len#$@^&& comment and edit my question (Took off “If I post the question in wrong forum please let me know. I will take off it immediately”. saying fluff the question). Then he down voted me after that I tried to ask a different question. The system did not allow me to log in. Thank you very much Len$^$$@$$%&&&

      • Going to a single site for: [All-things-programming] is like going to Microsoft or IBM or Oracle for all of your programming needs.

      • Agree! I search and search and search…. search results are SO and SO and SO…. I read and sift and read and sift through the questions and BS answers described above… Pardon my French, but “Fuck” SO just let people answer the dang questions! Your F’n up the search results with all the BS, waisted “STFW” answers that you provide! LMAO (ok, finished.. thanks) :)


      • 100% lol. People nubs just delete instantly. Especially Dill the Wizard, like ?! he’s just delete moderator because everything needs to be moderated and he’s like “let’s delete stuff” so like “let’s not let good answers on the site” lol.

    • 95% of the newbie users does not take the time to read the FAQ. I have read it and I also asked a lot of questions and I received none of the negative effects you have described here. I think that you are over reacting to a corner case. Of course you can have your opinion but don’t expect anyone to consider you a competent anyone if you call SO a “trolls&noobs zoo” en masse. The terminology you use suggests that you are one of those adolescent males who are perfectly described by ESR in his essay. I feel sorry for you.

      • I find it very Ironic that you make this troll post while stating that SO is the perfect place for your questions

      • He isn’t… If you don’t ask a question in iron clad terms, you will be downvoted. I had a question today which was basically “I don’t know how to set the Z-Order of elements in WPF” and I couldn’t remember the term Zorder so I worded it in a much vaguer sense than that.


        And because my question was vague, I got 3 downvotes from idiots who don’t know WPF and couldn’t comprehend why I would be having a problem. Few minutes later though, a smart person gave an answer that was absolutely obvious given the question. It’s just that I was learning the language.

      • One of the many sad things about the internet is that it gives people like you carte blanche to troll on any site you like.
        You are obviously a SO fan-boy but why comment on here trolling??? Who is adolescent again?
        The article does not describe a “corner” case, it describes something that many people (myself included) go through with that horrible site. Every single time i follow a link from a search engine onto SO i am faced with the same BS about a question not firtting this criteria or that criteria and the ego games on that site…..whew!!!. You angling to be a mod on SO then????

      • @DardD : that’s funny : the question you asked was closed, then reopened and now have 12 upvotes… It appears that moderation process on SO is not that bad. :-)

    • Agreed with you. I got expelled from the site, while asking proper questions and getting proper answers. I got down votes for spelling I guess, when English is not my language. Very annoying.

    • Bob Rioux (Bob R) I just went through a pissing contest with two morons at stack overflow. I have been scheduling leagues and sports for over 35 years. The first 15 years it was all done by hand. In the mid 1980’s a friend, who just happened to be a computer programmer, and I started to write a “league scheduling” software program. It took us 3 years to get this program to the point where I could schedule 248 teams in 17 divisions for 33 weeks in less than 2 hours. Prior to that it took me 8 – 10 days to create the schedules by hand. What was significant then and still today is no one else has figured out the permutation & combination issues to create proper, balanced round robin schedules providing equal distribution of; all teams, home & away status, and time slot placement. I was contacted about a year ago by Stackoverflow and asked if I would submit info about our schedules and how we create them. I said sure because I know it would help those that like to delve into calculating team pair matrix’s. The problem is most programmers and math enthusiasts are real good at what they do, but they lack the background of years of manually creating league schedules by hand. I spent many hours over a 6 month period putting together 4 presentations and published them over the past 3 months. In the past week I have been attacked by the NAZI police about putting my name Bob R on the bottom of two of the presentations. I feel like I’m being attacked by left wing socialists that have nothing better to do than have word fights with contibutors over a few words, or 4 letters (Bob R). Their demeanor was insulting. I wrote back and told them what I thought of their manor of treating contributors and said don’t worry, I’ll fix the problem by removing all 4 of my posts immediately. Which I did. They are nothing more than a pack of morons trying to micromanage insignificant words. They need to get a real job working for the government as left wing socialist democrats.
      Bob R

      • UPDATE…..I don’t know if I am violating protocol, but I just received my 4 day suspension notice from ChrisF at stackoverflow. He said after 4 days he will reach out to try to resolve this matter… and that I can get my reputation restored. I sent him the following message:

        There is no need for a timed 4 day suspension. Just make it permanent. You people must be crazy to do what you are doing. You’re like NAZI word police and I’ll have nothing more to do with Stackoverflow. I was contacted about a year ago by someone from your organization and asked if I would submit information about creating league schedules.
        I spent many hours over several weeks writing 4 documents I thought would help others. Look where we are now. A pissing contest about absolutely nothing. I don’t have the time or desire to deal with your organization. After 35 years of experience creating all kinds of sports league schedules, and creating a one-of-a-kind league scheduling program, I have nothing more for you.
        Bob R

        PS I find it interesting you ended your note to me above with;
        Stack Overflow moderator

  2. For Delphi programmers, SO is a better knowledge base and has a better reactivity than the official Embarcadero forums. I use to spend a lot of time answering in it, and I’ve learned a lot from other’s questions and answers.
    SO is not perfect, moderation can be to blame sometimes, but it is

    • Crap, double pairs of less than and greater than will kill parts of a comment.

      Here is what the quote should have been:

      Oh BTW: I have reduced my StackOverflow presence. It looks like the success of StackOverflow made them instantiate many moderators. A lot of those moderators work under the mantra “we follow the rules strictly, and favour punishment over encouragement” (some even talk about “changing heritage“). That’s a real pity, as I see a lot of StackOverflow users get scared by the very active downvoting, question/answer closing and even deletion of material that is in essence valuable, if it were edited up a bit. Deleting content is always bad, as it increases the link rot that StackOverflow are trying to prevent in questions/answers as per their FAQ. Links are the foundation of the web.

      Alas, devoting real attention to the quality of StackOverflow requires putting real energy in it, which for some of the moderators seems to be too much to ask.

      • I agree! I asked about 20 good questions and answered about 100 questions successfully with no problems and only ever had about 10 downvotes and no closed questions or deleted questions or answers, then I post one question that I thought was fine and was answered by many people who thought it was fine and ONE mod got me banned, blocked, and more. The list of rants goes on and on, but what you said pretty much sums it up…

  3. Yes, I always feel in posting on SO that I must be on my knees, in a supplicant posture, cap in hand, avoiding directly looking at the great and good, grateful for only mild admonishment. That said, if you are deemed worthy of constructive replies the quality is usually very good. Just remember to thank the commenter profusely!

  4. Similar issue exists in portions of wikipedia, and I suppose in any large-enough self-moderated communities.

    I personally would like to see rules that moderators have to use their real names, and be validated (in some way or another) as being who they claim they are. Anonymous moderating persona always tend to behave “weirdly”, while moderators that use their real names and credentials don’t IME (or don’t anywhere near as much).

    • Facebook & other similar communities should be good indications that real names DON’T improve the quality. It’s also impossible to find impartial human moderators.

      There are two ways to solve this problem and neither of them is without their own problems:
      1) clearer rules (read: more rules), but this for example will make moderating more complex.
      2) less rules (the example question & answer were deleted because of some rule), but this for example will lead to more questions bloat.

      • > but this for example will lead to more questions bloat.

        Is question bloat really a problem? There is a voting system, and there are modern search engines. Good question will bubble up one way or another.
        And “less good” questions may sometimes be a matter of perception (as in Serg’s or Jeroen’s examples).

    • I do not think that using real names can change the situation. I had experiance with ruth watters in physicsforums. He had real name but no competence in the basic calculus and you see in the proof http://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=277816 his ignorance served as a ligitimate ground to attack participants. I have got to understand that his only purpose there was to be a good citizen: to promote American fascism/imperialism.

      Bill of piece Lizard is of the same filthy kind. He bans you for for the false reasons. Twisting and looking for false reasons is a sign of being wrong.

  5. About the problem you submited:
    It is very interesting. I think it is a kind of integer linear programming problem.
    Your solution is effective but it is brute force. It works fast for few boxes and brothers. Try to increase the numbers.

    your question could be rewritten in the following way:

    Y = [ sum (ai*Ai), sum (ai*Bi), sum(ai*Ci))], i = 1..9 where
    ai is the weigh of the i box,
    Ai = 1 if the first brother take the i box, 0 otherwise,
    Bi = 1 if the second brother take the i box, 0 otherwise,
    Ci = 1 if the third brother take the i box, 0 otherwise,

    Y is a vector and it’s the target function.

    The solution is Y0 = min(Y), varing the variables A, B, C ( they are vectors, A = [A1…A9] ).

    Bill the Lizard can you solve this? :-)

  6. Stackoverflow will turn into a HR sourcing portal, I think it was never something different. It’s better than other social forums where recruiters post a question and wait for a result. In general compare Stack Overflow to a ‘Rating Agency’… When I remember the specialist forums on linkedin on a specific SAP module, I found people there obviously in consulting positions at customers sites having no idea what they do, they asked for whole designs and not questions about exceptional situations only a few people run into once or twice in their life time … I would not waste my time neither on linkedin nor on Stackoverflow.

  7. That moderator should have deleted both the question/answer for raising his action stats.
    I was thinking of staying away of StackOverflow but sometimes they ask nice questions (only looking at delphi section), maybe I will stay away and return when I’ll be an old useless retard who thinks I know everything and have nothing else to do in my life (just like elders playing games in facebook) than being a Nazi moderator there. Sometimes I see a nice question, make an answer, try to post it and the question is gone :/ I believe they don’t really care if you actually want to help someone.

  8. You can always ask your question on Experts Exchange or Yahoo Answers….. ;-)

    Sometimes the moderation, which is community moderation remember, can be a little over zealous. But plenty of time moderation is applied well. Have a little forgiveness.

  9. I think the opposite. Stack Overflow needs far more moderation to get rid of too many useless questions. In the beginning it was a great site, now it’s full of newbies asking questions they could solve themselves using the old RTFM or performing a simple search. But most became so lazy they ask and wait for someone else to find them the answer (see for example this today one: http://stackoverflow.com/questions/12459128/how-can-i-read-and-write-data-from-an-xml-file-using-delphi).
    Your questiond did look like the search for a homework solution indeed, the problem with “homeworks” is they are usually too localized to be of general interest (but too many questions on SO are as well). The “reason” to close it was wrong, there are better “reasons” available for such kind of questions.
    Anyway the “homework” tag has been deprecated (http://meta.stackoverflow.com/questions/147100/the-homework-tag-is-now-officially-deprecated) :)

    • Kent,

      Or maybe they should start a super-duper Stack Overflow, just for you and your illustrious peers. And you can go there!

    • You don’t have to answer a question that’s been asked before. You can choose not to open it or post a reply that redirects to a previous question. The fact is stack overflow is full of rude people, I agree with the posted below that maybe you can create a super stack overflow where no duplicate or similar questions are ever asked and life is perfect.

      • So, if you created a second SSO (Super Stack Overflow) then we would have two places where if a question never asked before would get canned immediately once they realize you are not part of the inner circle. And, consequently, this thread would evolve into: Why Super Stack Overflow Sucks.

  10. Contrary to what Kent Morwath says, I believe SO should allow “stupid questions” from “newbies”, sometimes people start learning to program on their own, having no clue as to where to start, they are forced to ask “stupid questions”.
    Let’s not get into the documentation of Delphi after D7(and most likely other languages, some programming terms could be hard to grasp also), sure, they can google, but if one asks a simple question and it is answered, then any future question can be marked as “answered” and linked to the first similar question already answered.

    Programming should be for everyone interested, anyone else ever wondered why the strange names i.e. “user100212312″ exists? well, I’m pretty sure that a fair chunk of those people are developers that are hardcore in other languages but “newbies” in the one they ask, it’s a pity they hide their real names… but it is what it is.

    • Most of those “newbies” don’t try to search in SO as well (and Google would return SO links as well) and make questions they could answer themselves with a little effort. But they don’t, they just ask and wait for someone to solve their problems – hey, why use the brain? The fingers are easier! Many of them (and not newbies only) will also accept the “wrong” answer because it is “easier” than the “correct” one. This way more newbies will thing the “wrong” answer is the way to go. Very useful…
      It’s a common pattern, some site starts with a good idea and early users feed it with good contents, then lazy people discover it and turn it into a mess of useless contents. It happened in newsgroups, it happened in forums, it happened in SO.
      I asked SO to delete my account, and that’s another reason some user are identified by userXXXXXXXX names – your answer stays even when your account is gone.

      • “your answer stays even when your account is gone” – another interesting SO feature. Users can edit questions of others, but sometimes they cannot edit or delete their own question – because a moderating nazi considered editing as vandalizing, and a moderator locked the question.

      • You don’t help them by just closing/deleting/etc. the question, people will always have something new to learn, if one cannot accept that, it doesn’t mean that you deny others the right to learn just because they are at the beginning.
        Please note that not everyone is savvy in searching for answers, be it on google, SO or other services and applications.
        On SO’s about page it’s written:
        “We don’t run Stack Overflow. You do. Stack Overflow is collaboratively built and maintained by your fellow programmers.[snip]”
        I can’t help run SO if I’m not “helped” in integrating…

      • But StackOverflow is not a forum. It should be a repository of (good) questions and answers. If you fill it with a lot of “rubbish”, it becomes useless quickly. Also report StackOverflow rules fully, there also “Have you thoroughly searched for an answer before asking your question? “. Too many don’t. If they don’t know how to search, they will never become good developers. One of the basic skill is how to find information about your issues, and only if you can’t really find any – ask. Too many don’t, not the minimal effort, it’s just so easy asking someone else to search for you… and that’s wrong, very wrong.

      • Well, some google and go through a few pages and don’t find their answer or maybe their answer is slightly different and they just need a push in the right direction. Some even post a question and work hard on their own to solve it while waiting for an answer. The fact is the internet is not perfect, and honestly people that lack patience or have to read questions and downvote them or leave rude responses should accept the fact that the site will become garbage that is known for its pretentious users.

      • Kent Morwath, you are wrong! Yesterday I posted question related to OpenCV/C++ problem. It was related to code I found in a book written by University professor. And there was some error which rendered code non-compilable. In a book written by University professor, with PhD and great experience in a field on OpenCV. So, I sent him e-mail. I sent and email to publisher. I asked on OpenCV forum as well. I googled. Then, I asked on StackOverflow. Within 30 minutes I was downvoted 4 times. Then I snapped. I updated my question and I wrote what was on my mind in a harsh way. Something like “What do you want from me? Should I been smarter than the guy who wrote a book on this subject and holds PhD?. Should I been ashamed that I ask question?”. Also, I posted a link to a question that I just answered to some other poster just to show that I am not lazy. Then, one person helped me with problem. Then another. Then they even started to argue in between them what is right answer. Then (it lasted for several hours), I received response from OpenCV forum where it was treated like a normal question. They pointed to me that since recent versions of OpenCV there is a bug which prevents conversion of one type of vector into other type of vector. They hope it will be resolved soon. If the bug was older, probably it would show in google search. So the question was not superfluous, but actually required very good knowledge of OpenCV framework, especially the last updates. When I came back to Stack Overflow to say what I just found out, downvotes on my question disappeared, and after whole situation, my reputation even increased a little bit. So, what is a point? Stack Overflow become a place with too many “trigger happy” persons, who even without REALLY reading or UNDERSTANDING questions, downvote it. Just like it is a kind of a video game “Let’s shoot them”. And Kent, one more thing: I am 44 years old. Being there when Apple IIe was considered a great machine. Being there when Java and C# still didn’t exist. Being there when internet started. Being there when some of the Content Management Systems and Forums were created and even took active role into creating some of them. And after all of that, on some online community I have been bashed probably by some frustrated kids? Even if I asked obvious question, maybe it happen after coding for 10+ hours when tiredness takes it’s price. Is that a reason to receive numerous downvotes? But the thing I am sick and disgusted the most are people like you – you just assume that other people are lazy and that they want other people to solve their problems. To be honest I am GLAD that you deleted your account on SO, because with your attitude you don’t deserve to be there at first place.

      • I wa banned from asking because some jerky mod kept using lousy reasons to close my qustions. Then about a week ago, i got locked out, so i told them i want to get back in and the jerks said they dont have time for one “meaningless persons accout”! The bitches actually wrote that!

    • If you want a site that allows any Question just drop by the cesspools called Yahoo Answers. There’s a reason SO and the other SE sites are useful, because they don’t allow crap. Poor questions attract poor answers. There’s thousands of people who have been rubbed the wrong way when they got called out for their laziness, but there are millions who have benefited from the quality questions and quality answers which were promoted by the system.

      • Nope, I don’t agree.

        I asked this question on SO:


        The response was getting banned from SO when my account was disabled.

        And, I was not being lazy. I just didn’t find the response above before posting on SO.

        But, the good side is I don’t bother w/ SO any longer because better sources exist.

        And, BTW: SO stills sucks not because of what they are trying to do but because of the narcissists that control the site.

        It is basically a pyramid scheme of egos.

        The bottom feeders pumping up the egos of the ones above them.

      • I accept all that down voting on poor answers and questions but sometimes even a good question gets banned because it is overtly broad . How can a broad question be of poor quality? And what is more depressing is that you move forward towards an automatic ban which is handled by some guys who are just a human being like us and can do this thing just out of immaturity.

      • Really millions? Can you prove that? Why do people like you and Kent assume that people are being lazy because they post a question for which the answer might be obvious to you and Kent. Rude moderators only cement the stereotypical idea of geeks by most non-technical people (that’s probably 98% of the planet) as arrogant, self-appreciating nerds with no social skills (social skills= how to be polite and talk like a real human). In this day and age of rushed, unrealistic deadlines, newbies are trying to get to the point, i.e. the answer as soon as possible. What’s wrong with simply asking? That was a rhetorical question. The answer is there is nothing wrong to ask.
        As for doing “research”, I can’t count the number of times that I’ve been looking for some information in a topic and I find tons of blogs and posts that appear to be helpful but are the SAME EXACT RESPONSE (word for word) that someone copied from somewhere else and then posted as “their” answer or opinion. I say “their” because not once do any of them ever say ” well here’s how Microsoft suggests doing this” in other words giving credit to the original source. Personally, I find them (a) laughable (b) annoying because they don’t even have the class to give credit. To make matters worse often there is another solution that is a better fit for what you want so you have wade through dozens of these posts to find what you are looking for. So in my opinion I don’t see anything wrong with someone asking for help, no matter how trivial the question. The folks at SO clearly do. Perhaps they weren’t listening to their teachers growing up “there’s no such thing as a dumb question”

    • Or just start Stuck Undertow for newbies. Since they have such derision for them. Hmmm — I bet at some point in the beginning of those ‘illustrious’ careers they needed help from someone too.

    • Very good point. When a newbie answers a question, another newbie of yesterday gets a chance to answer it. When she speaks up, the assumptions she had been making come to fore. Somebody then points out how the assumptions are wrong. This helps everybody including those who have not thought through the nuances. The question asked can sometimes spawn a dozen other questions, especially in the way a newbie puts it.

      If SO moderators were running Apple, Steve Jobs’ iPad idea would have been voted down and they would have finally kicked him out. Reason, if he’s lucky to get it: PC already exists and there is a linux desktop. Nobody would want a tablet.

      SO is doing a yeoman’s service by keeping all the geeky morons in one place.

    • A good manner is to upvote those answers that were helpful to your problem. That includes searching for similar questions an upvoting similar answers that are (partially) helpful for your question. A “thanks for your help” also is not part of a question, you can leave it in a comment if you really dare so to express your manners but also keep in mind that it is borderline, the well known “Thank you in advance” for example is not good manners but an insult. Each community has it’s own set of manners and new users need some time to adopt. Most of this is outlined on meta pretty well.

  11. David Heffernan’s reply here (and he is a moderator of SO) has answered all questions about whether one should ask a question on SO. They want you to go elsewhere, like EE, Yahoo or Google answers. I.E., Don’t bother us with your questions. You better be an expert programmer, with a unique, thoughtful and well researched question.

    I enjoy it when the OP fights back on some of the BS comments on an otherwise reasonable Q.

    I check SO everyday but it will be a cold day before I will ask a Q there every again as I was made to feel like an idiot after my last question! End of my .02 cent rant.

  12. One of the main things that bugs me is that people are getting shy asking questions. Not only newbies (often people that just started and don’t even know how to properly search: we can teach them how to), but also experienced users (that ask questions immediately marked “too narrow”).

    StackOverflow used to be a place with a positive vibe, where comments, edits and guidance would make their users become better users.
    That vibe is fading very quickly.

    • StackOverflow is not “rent-a-coder” or “rent-a-consultant” – for free. Questions should be “relevant to more people than just you”. If you have a very specific issue while developing a commercial application, and you can’t solve it yourself, maybe SO is not the right place to look for a solution. I encountered people who when pointed at the relevant documentation to solve their issue with minimal effort, wanted ready to use code. Such people will never learn. They’ll just keep on exploiting others. If they go to another site, the better.

      • @Kent I totally agree what SO is not a rent-a-something.
        But SO needs to be interesting for the experts too, not only for answering questions, but also asking questions that only a few might encounter (but when they do, are tough to solve). The combination of depth and breadth is the actual gold of SO. If it is only aimed breadth, than SO is just an advertising company and the people answerin g just repuation collectors.

      • Kent

        Who cares if someone wants to use your precious code? So what? If you’re writing custom code for them on a continual basis then that’s your problem and maybe you do need to bill them. I “borrow” code all the time and have no problem with others borrowing mine. Why reinvent the wheel each time, in particular when perhaps it’s a standard routine or such?

        We are NOT curing cancer, or abolishing hunger. We write code. Most of us are not doing anything new that someone, somewhere has not already done. There is no harm in providing help, even in the form of code to others. You’re not giving away state secrets or instructions for how to build a weapon of mass destruction.

        “Lighten up, Francis” Sgt Hulka, 1981

      • You’ve completely lost sight of the people. It’s all about the PEOPLE. If you don’t want to help someone and make their day go a little bit better, what are/were you doing there? It sounds like it’s a place for some to bask in the fact that they know something someone else doesn’t.

  13. The moderators of stack overflow are interested in several things. Not just whether 1 out of 4 billion humans who asks a question gets a helpful answer right away. Also, they care whether the other 4 billion people who might in future search for an answer can find it. This in the end is the reason for the close votes, the downvotes, and the deletion of the question that you felt you personally owned, and felt upset about seeing deleted.

    Meanwhile, we have this problem online where the noise always threatens to drown the signal. Why don’t you also mention that EVERY answer you make on embarcadero’s forums is deleted after a while, to make way for new message? Or that every blog you ever comment on will eventually be deleted? If you want something to stay around forever, and you want to own it, host it yourself.

    If SO didn’t have downvotes, closing, and deletion, it would no longer be a place where you could find answers before you even ask, to hundreds of thousands, maybe millions of programming questions, only almost every major programming language that there is.

    I don’t agree with the hive-minds at SO about what is a question worth asking, worth keeping on the site, but the hive-minds are doing something important. They’re preventing an explosion of noise from taking over the site. There are a million ways of doing that, and maybe it’s better that they are doing it at all, rather than letting it just rot.

    The deletion of ALL slightly subjective questions still has me upset. And the greatest questions ever asked on SO have ALL been deleted, and the one you mention isn’t one of them. There were thousands of great “subjective” questions that SO had great answers to, that the SO mods deleted. But I’m still not sour on SO. There is still a lot of good there.


    • @nicoco: You can tell when someone is angry because this Godwin’s law thing happens.

      The first time I had a question closed and deleted I was similarly angry and upset. Moderators pointed out to me that I simply wasn’t aware of how they worked. I pointed out that regardless of how they work, the way it works sucks. There was no solution, I just had to decide that knowing this is what StackOverflow is (a hive mind system) I can leave it be, or participate inside their rules. So far, I continue to participate inside their rules. I guess Serge feels otherwise.


      • I don’t feel love or hate towards SO now, after being nearly 3 years on SO. I understand how SO and other crowd projects like Wikipedia work, it is kinda “The ends justify the means”. The Godwin’s law point was reached long before my post, I just added a little personal rant.

    • No need to support the bad users of SO. I am using SO since 4 years. I must say that It sucks because the users with highest points always dis encourage new users with Bad words.

  14. Yep, previously I have successfully posted questions that actually returned some small amount of + reputation. Now, with my latest question I get flamed and a repu of -3!

    Give a few nerds some power and the following happens:

    Power corrupts. And, absolute power corrupts absolutely.

  15. The thing is: The money is on SO. They did build a great knowledge base, an impressive interface and now they only thing that matters is that companies keep looking for skill workforce there. Big recruiters have HR who will just go and check the reputation; and they will be happy with the results; that will keep them there.

    Why will they be happy with the results? because users with high rep are either 1) elite members that get over 100 upvotes per day and 2) debuggers – guys who fix a code and get accepted answer plus a few upvotes. Those are guys wih <50k rep

    The debuggers are good material for companies, while this lizard guy is just part of the elite which cannot be contested :). That's the reality of power it's not just SO

    Your example was a question that 'an expert' won't like. Because it is a 'do my homework for me' ; and I actually agree with those who downvote. Closing the question however is they key there.

    What I see as the real machine behind SO demise is that all those moderators and expert downvote very, very quick (in a matter of seconds) making a question virtually unreachable because the system will show it last to any reader. That's why SO sucks; that downvoting can and I believe IS used abusively: anything that a few moderators think that threatens their comparative reputation will be eliminated.

  16. Agreed! And I think stack overflow is overly commercialized and in many cases too well rewarded by search engines like Google. Countless times I’ve found the stackoverflow answer to a question be useless and/or incomplete, but it shows up first in Google.

    The fundamental problem is that SO wants highly detailed answers from their community but offers no reward or remuneration in return, and they try to use gamification to turn it into some form of psychological gratification – which even programmers who are very intelligent are still susceptible to (who doesn’t have an ego after all?) Once people stop caring about their meaningless reputation, SO will stop doing so well.

    • That will never happen – gamification mechanics work because human psychology is highly predictable in certain aspects, and the few outliers don’t make any difference – StackOverflow has plenty of programmers to “choose” from.

  17. I agree with Robert.

    Sometimes I’d rather pay for a service in which I can ask everything I want no matter how stupid and newbie are the questions, and get the right guidance to continue learning fast without getting lost with a ton of documentations(whatever call me lazy), rules and exceptions, instead of a nazi site that’s based on EGO. Moderators earn only points and reputations, no money, so welcome to the brotherhood and ask the perfect question that can help the whole world, not only you, or else we are gonna punish you, you dumb. Today my “stupid” question got -20 points and was closed. If I had put my real name on it with my personal information I would have felt completely depressed and humiliating. So it’s not free, it could have been really expensive on my dignity if I was a real person there.

    • In that case, pay. Such services exist. But you chose to go on Stack Overflow, whose purpose is *not* to answer your question or help you. Stack Overflow is not a helpdesk. Stack Overflow is a repository of knowledge. And if I, as a 60k rep user deem your post bad, then I will edit it. And if I cannot edit it, I will close it, and then either the system or a bunch of users delete it if you don’t improve it to get it reopened.

      If you don’t like this system, go to a different one where you pay to get service. My goal is not to help you and you alone, it’s to help the other 10k people who will see that question after you left the site and never came back.

      • And that’s why nobody who comes to SO as a newbie and asks questions stays to answer questions once they learn more, because of this stupid attitude of the people they encounter first. In case you don’t know it, the first impression counts. If you think you’re better than newbies because of your 60K reputation, why don’t you go work for one of those paysites and at least make some money, Boy Genius?
        I gave up SO long ago and rather go to newsgroups. I get the same help there plus when I try to answer something and make a mistake, I don’t get downvoted or have people place a dunce hat on my head.

  18. Few things that I’ve noticed:

    1) Some people ask some kind of questions and they get up voted. Also, their questions don’t get closed, they seem to be appreciated. So maybe you need to ask a similar question, you do it because you know that it will not get closed, but you get down voted and closed. An example:
    2) Sometimes you really need to ask a question, which is in the “how should I do this?” form. However isn’t like all other banal “how should I do this?” questions. You searched a lot before asking it but you didn’t get the answer. As you post it some users start down voting it and it will get closed;
    3) You see something like a question with two very similar answers, one with 40 up votes, the other with zero up votes, which is ridiculous;
    4) The luck plays an important role, which it shouldn’t play. All the 3 points that I posted above are somehow related to luck.

    • @ramy1989 Me too. I also saw many times that very simple and general questions such as “how should I declare XXXXX in programming language XXXX” upvoted many times (and the answer lies in technical documentations easily to be read online) while high tech questions being downvoted ???

    • “Should I learn C or Python” is considered a “Gorilla vs. Shark” question. A silly analogy in my opinion, but it was made by SO creator Jeff Atwood, so there’s nothing you can do about the policy of rejecting comparison questions unless they’re so incredibly specific that you must do all the research on both alternatives before asking the question, and then can answering yourself. Only to realize that you’ve wasted half of your research time on the wrong choice.

  19. If SO is wanting to be forum with GREAT information, they can certainly fool the H out of me…
    Every time I search for something in google, I get results from SO… NEVER have I gotten a result that was REMOTELY satisfying… NOT ONCE…

    The forum sucks and should be taken off line

  20. Yeah, I’m inclined to agree. I made the HORRIBLE mistake recently of accidentally posting a question more appropriate to cross validating than SO (fine line though since it involved both stats and programming, as most R questions will) and my question got downvoted then closed. But luckily someone actually helped me before it was closed. I don’t know why you would even bother downvoting me, I’ve only managed to scrape together 5 reputation anyway as a total newbie! It seemed mean spirited.

  21. Today I have asked to be removed from SO.

    A few days ago I asked this question in SO: http://stackoverflow.com/questions/14541668/operations-between-different-enum-types-are-allowed-in-another-enum-declaration

    (After my account deletion I’m “user1816693”)

    As you can see, Eric Lippert make fun of my formulation saying that it is ambiguous and not a question at all: “Since you did not ask a question in your question, I’ll pretend that you asked some interesting questions and answer them: Eric Lippert”.

    Eric Lippert is so intelligent that not only can answer any question, he even can find interesting questions when there’s no question at all. Eric Lippert fans are familiar with his ability: “its amazing how so many of your best answers begin “let me answer the question you didn’t ask but should have”… – Michael Edenfield”.

    There are so many fools that don’t know how to ask questions, and it is so hard to imagine what this stupid newbies should ask: “Indeed, one of the hard parts about not knowing an answer is not knowing what question will elicit it. Eric Lippert”

    Eric is so important in SO, that he is allowed to comment a personal issue that has nothing to do with my stupid question without question:

    “A while back someone set up a Twitter feed to do just that; a robot crawled my various postings and tweeted each one. The Twitter account was “ericlippert” and had my photo attached to it, so it was reasonable for people to believe it was me doing that. The guy did not think to, you know, ask me first if that was OK, which it most certainly was not. Since that violated Twitter’s terms of service, I now own that feed. :-) Perhaps someone else has built such a robot; I don’t know. I am flattered by the attention; I’m surprised anyone else is interested in this stuff. – Eric Lippert”

    Now we know that the account that echoes on Twitter Eric Lippert posts, was not created by Eric Lippert,-(he doesn’t believe to be interesting) but by a fanatical fan (perhaps Michael Edenfield?).

    In short, I got more answers to my stupid question without question, and it was well received with several upvotes.

    As you can see, the response of Eric Lippert is documented and explanatory, There is no doubt that Eric Lippert is an authority on C# and computing. But he ruled that the issue is a “known flaw” of the compiler, and another person determined that the issue is a “compiler bug”. I agreed with the latter, and marked his response as the answer. Then I received two anonymous downvotes, and Eric Lippert; Michael Edenfield, and others voted my question for close… and the question without question was closed.

    I’m not saying that Eric Lippert is nazi retard, but he is a presumptuous and poorly educated geek.

  22. I agree that the moderators have become over zealous in the past year or so, to the point of scaring users away instead of encouraging them to stay, learn and do tribute. It’s getting out of hand. I had a question closed, reopened, upvoted, downvoted, and eventually answered by tbe chief architect of C# for Microsoft. It was insane.

    However, a few points:

    1. Part of the purpose of the site is to be a reliable archive and source for answers to programming questions. To that end, its important to keep the archive as clean of incorrect or misleading answers.

    2. The question you mention is almost certainly homework. We’ll offer direction, but doing someone’s homework for them doesn’t help them learn.

    3. The question is called the “bin packing problem.” It’s one of the first things taught in data structures courses at university. Your solution works great for small numbers of items, but for, say, 10,000 items, it becomes intractable as the number of possible combinations is a factorial. There’s a mathematical proof showing that this is an NP-complete problem. We use this to teach students to develop heuristics (algorithms that are sufficient, when the perfect solution of trying every combination is untenable). While you’re answer is technically correct for the question as asked, and shouldn’t have been deleted or down voted, it addresses one specific case and not the more general problem. I wouldn’t have down voted it, but I can see why others would be concerned.

    You sound like a smart guy – just the kind of person we need contributing to these communities. Don’t let a few bad experiences dissuade you from participating.

  23. I am a beginner and I was banned on StackOverflow as I was obviously asking stupid questions… a beginner asks. Can you suggest me an alternative? Where I can get answers to my questions and quick responses.

    • I have found coderanch.com (javaranch.com) a very friendly place.

      Moreover, I realized the best thing to do is probably language or framework specific.

      For example: if I have Grails/Groovy issues I goto grails.org or the ML.


    • @Daniel While I was studying at university our professors usually encouraged us to ask. They had a habit of saying that no one question is stupid. I really don’t know what SO wants to accomplish with such a strict rules?

  24. I see three big problems with the StackExchange sites. I see the same problem you see in the Android site. Some people seem to have nothing to do than make minor nit edits to questions, and they tag many questions as too localized, rather than letting the community decide if it’s interesting.

    The other issue, I see with StackOverflow, is that there are simply too many questions. I ask a question, and it may get a comment or an answer within the first two hours, then it disappears into the ether.

    The other issue is with the StackExchange network in general. Let’s say I have an issue with OpenSuSE Linux. Do I go to superuser.com or unix.stackexchange.com? Let’s say it’s with Ubuntu. I have a choice between the specialized knowledge but less traffic site of the ubuntu site, or I can go to the higher traffic superuser.com.

  25. I’ve also found that when you have a rather difficult question, no one even looks at it until a bounty is attached. Experts of subject matters like the quick wins and are basically trolls looking for easy questions they’ve probably answered a 100 times already to gain reputation. points.

  26. Agree 100%, one point I would add is that it is full of amateurs. 15 year olds, full of confidence inflated by point system and don’t have a clue about the real world. Also, SO is a good example of a democracy ruled by teenage idiots, too many hasty decisions and very little far sighted thought.

  27. Just had an answer deleted which had up votes, I guess it wasn’t a brilliant answer but it helped a few people. I will now be reluctant to answer.

  28. Pingback: A Criticism of Stack Overflow | WHERELIONSROAM

  29. It is Q&A by the Nerd Nazis.

    I tried to ask a question this evening, first use of the system, followed their instructions for spacing to format the code, still got formatting errors. Attempted to edit to correct the format, and was told that I didn’t edit enough characters. Deleted and attempted to submit the question over again, and was told that my new question was a duplicate of my first deleted question.

    Hey Rainman, what do I have to do to just post my damn question?

    It is worthless system run by control freaks who make progress impossible. How did the people who run it avoid becoming TSA screeners?


  30. I HATE THE DOUCHES ON STACKOVERFLOW I WISH WE COULD BOWCOT IT used to use dreamincode but when I google something those bastards are the first up

  31. My god, the community is absolutely crap. It is full of rude, egomaniacs who feels the need to control everything. Your legitimate question WILL be closed if they feel like the question is not up to their standards. The answers are 5% helpful answers and 95% rude comments. Oh, Have I mentioned how rude they are. Sure these people know plenty about programming, but I wonder how many people have been turned off from the site. If you are a new programmer, it is guaranteed that your post will be closed and downvoted to oblivion. They will find a reason to criticize the most irrelevant things in your post.
    There is no sense of community at stack overflow.

    • Yep, when I Google something nowadays I use the minus (-) sign.

      An example follows:

      Java programming -stackoverflow

      Try something like the above and soon you will never consider SO again while resolving all of your programming issues.


    • I have found I am much happier when I use the following construct (an example):

      Programming best practices -stackoverflow

      The minus (-) sign removes all references to SO in the Google search.


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  33. I agree, I hate SO. Stack Overflow. Two years ago I actually opened my own open source, supporter of the open Web Q&A forum. Mind checking it out?


    I feel like often times people have good forum ideas and they’re too restricted. I never delete ANY post unless it outright states it needs help hacking someone. I close the thread and say that the only hack allowed is modifying systems and rooting phones, not what ruins privacy. I love the idea of Stack, but I feel like I captured an intelligent yer very friendly community.

    As far as your site and this article, very cool!

  34. I thought it was an ok place until today… I was frustrated with my code so I posted it on there with the details of what I was trying to do… forgot to actually say “What is wrong with this code?” and before I got a chance to fix it it’d been downvoted 5 times and closed. And of course, then you have 20 minutes to vent about it before you can post again with that little line added in there -.- Of course what pissed me off the most were the 3 comments that all said “Where’s the question?? duuuur There’s no question! Wtf do I do with this, there’s no question?!” You’re not little kids! I think you can figure out that the question is “what am I doing wrong?” or at least comment something like “would you like to know what’s wrong with your code?” That’s what I would do! Anyway. Done venting now lol. SO is stupid, I just wish it wasn’t the most helpful place for good answers…

  35. I Agreed, i am not allowed to ask Questions anymore because i made a mistake in one of the Answers i give. I have since Answered many more questions. But i am not allowed to ask questions. It’s some stupid rule i am kind of getting frustrated with SO.

  36. SO is a site for code monkeys they will get angry if you ask why it works that way, and they set up robots to tell them what to do. Technocrat’s heaven, thinking men’s hell.

    • Again, this begs the question: How can any of the meta links or FAQ ever help those that have been banned from SO?

      Are these links provided as a consolation prize or sleep medicine?

      At the end of the day for those of us that have been banned from SO the site still just sucks.

      Folks that have posted legitimate questions have been thrown into the vampire pit and banned.

    • So what is the point of all those nicely worded bullets and FAQ once someone is banned?

      Who is served by such a ban?

      And, yes I google: with this operator in the search dialogue: -stackoverflow.

  37. I usually don’t ask questions on SO (mainly because I’m a habitual self-learner) however when I have my experiences have been negative. For instance, take this question I posted yesterday: http://stackoverflow.com/questions/16869616/winsock-coalescing-send-calls

    Since the subject matter is slightly exotic,and although I could’ve explained more compactly, I felt I should elaborate on context to ensure there were no misunderstandings and also given that [in my experience] users on SO are more interested in pushing their opinions rather than just answering the question I attempted to circumvent them by denying the possibility of more broader solutions (for valid reasons).

    Ofcourse this backfired and what ensued was a pointless argument in the comments due to what was essentially miscommunication on either my side or theirs; eventually I had enough and it boiled down to a flame war (I’m far more overt in my flaming if it comes to it)

    One person did provide an answer (which was precisely what I was after it turns out) and interestingly I assume he was a newbie to the site based on his reputation unlike the others. Ironically, maybe the newbies are the best to go for for answers on SO.

    • I guess the moderators deleted the original comment thread while I was writing this, however the later ones are still there in response to the other ‘answer’

      • I like to help people on SO. But I don’t score a lot of points because of the nazi moderators. I’ve had to work hard for the points I’ve earned. But then they’ll pick on something stupid like how I worded a method of doing something in Ruby as “old” as opposed to an “alternate” method when a new method had been developed. Geesh, it’s just symantics. A lot of DH’s on there, especially the ones with > 100k points.

      • SO is just like those web software projects that get very denormalized over time because a few Alpha types get control of the project and the management is over a barrel.

        To keep the competition down after the Alphas run-off the better programmers the aim then becomes to hire the marginally competent programmer that stands no chance to reveal what they are doing with the project.

        Your best bet is: coderanch.com.

  38. Great article! And that sentence: “Geeks immediately turn into Nazis when they see WRONG TAGS” is golden! Last year 15 year old kid was a candidate for moderator. 15 year old kid!!! Ok, thats not so bad. But, what made me angry was when I took a look at his profile and found out he put programming languages he hates which I personally consider as quite immature and dissrespective. For me its equivalent to: “I hate: Germans, Jews, Japanese…”. Makes you wonder what kind of people sit in SO HQs when they call very immature kid to be a candidate for a moderator. I also saw cases when people were insulted because of their questions. I remember one of them very well: “You are miserable!”. I have a decent reputation, but I start to hate it more and more.

    • SO no longer irritates me since I began using -StackOverFlow in my Google searches.

      So for the sake of sick curiosity what languages did the kid put on his hate list?

      No, wait, don’t tell me: Java was at the top right?

  39. I disagree – what is the likelihood of that question/answer combo helping future SO users? The main purpose of SO, in my opinion, is to build a comprehensive knowledge center that future programmers can reference when facing similar issues. Highly specific questions are unlikely to help future programmers.

    • This mindset is like only seeking cures that will cure millions of people, or only putting out fires that risk burning more than 20 people. It’s not about the question/answer database. The QA database is only a means to an end, and that end is HELPING PEOPLE. If you’re not helping people, there’s no point.

    • Disagree. Typically, general questions are easy to research. Specialized questions are much harder to research, and putting the information in an quick, easy-to-find place is far more helpful than say, copy-pasting documentation.

  40. A simple answer to my simple question was considered cryptic, by one of those retarded moderators, do you find it cryptic $inc = $a>$b ? 1 : -1; for ($i = $a; $i!=$b; $i+=$inc){}, then he tagged my question as hardly understanable, fk. shit tards those peoples dont even know basic of programming, how do they allowed to moderate.

    • Ha, this question is now gone:
      “This question was removed from Meta Stack Exchange for reasons of moderation.”

  41. I contribute on SO in the C tag and there’s very little of what it’s reported here. While there are users that come and ask horrendously formulated questions, people still bear with them and provide answers. And while there are snide remarks, the people who make them are admonished by myself and other similarly-minded posters.

    All a user needs to do not to get any down-votes or have their question closed is post a small, compilable example of what is available and how it should be extended and even if that’s not there, people will make an assumption and still attempt to provide a helpful answer. After all new users are a source of reputation for the casual contributor and it’s nice when you’ve clarified things for some poor bewildered soul that is dealing with pointers for the first time.

      • You must be one of the vampires on SO (oh yeah, “were”). I’ve seen this remark of yours quote a few times already. Here, I’ll answer it for you: You can’t do ANYTHING on SO if you’re banned. That’s why they call it banning.

  42. Their recent fad is closing/deleting the so called list questions: when one asks for a list of things. I agree the polling questions that asks for the best/favorite/suggestion/recommendation/option things are bad and should be closed. But those questions where the aim is building a comphresensive list of something should stay. Most of these questions have lot of upvotes (2000+) and an even more marks as favortie, which means they are useful for the community. One example that’s fortunately kept: http://stackoverflow.com/questions/388242/the-definitive-c-book-guide-and-list

    But this one with 7000 favorites got locked/closed: http://stackoverflow.com/questions/194812/list-of-freely-available-programming-books

    Seemingly someone among the moderators wrote a book and don’t like the free concurrence…

    I once asked a question like: What optimization techniques GCC employ? I just wanted to learn how does the most popular compiler suite works at the lowest level. It’s perfectly valid question as I found no such list of this the web… It got closed as not constructive in 10 minutes, because I asked for a list, pfff… Then I rage-deleted the question…

  43. The only solution to this is… make a parser for it and use that. Not worth to deal with idiots like David Heffernan. Infact due to growing disgust towards SO. I may opensource it!

  44. Best of:

    > an army of Nazi retards

    In my experience, a perfect characterization!

    > Yes, I always feel in posting on SO that I must be on my knees, in a supplicant posture, cap in hand, avoiding directly looking at the great and good; grateful for only mild admonishment.It is basically a pyramid scheme of egos. it is full of amateurs. 15 year olds, full of confidence inflated by point system and don’t have a clue about the real world. Also, SO is a good example of a democracy ruled by teenage idiots I HATE THE DOUCHES ON STACKOVERFLOW I WISH WE COULD BOWCOT IT used to use dreamincode but when I google something those bastards are the first up Yep, when I Google something nowadays I use the minus (-) sign.
    An example follows: Java programming -stackoverflow Technocrat’s heaven, thinking men’s hell. Help Vampires: A Spotter’s Guide shit tards those peoples dont even know basic of programming, how do they allowed to moderate<

    • Hmmm…let’s see if this formats better:

      Best of:

      > an army of Nazi retards

      In my experience, a perfect characterization!

      > Yes, I always feel in posting on SO that I must be on my knees, in a supplicant posture, cap in hand, avoiding directly looking at the great and good; grateful for only mild admonishment.

      >It is basically a pyramid scheme of egos.

      > it is full of amateurs. 15 year olds, full of confidence inflated by point system and don’t have a clue about the real world. Also, SO is a good example of a democracy ruled by teenage idiots

      > I HATE THE DOUCHES ON STACKOVERFLOW I WISH WE COULD BOWCOT IT used to use dreamincode but when I google something those bastards are the first up

      > Yep, when I Google something nowadays I use the minus (-) sign.
      An example follows: Java programming -stackoverflow

      (Note: I’ve been doing that mentally in the past–now I know how to just get rid off all the SO junk. When searching, I consider SO results spam. I wonder whether if enough searches are done with -stackoverflow, if google will consider ‘deleting’ SO from it’s searches.

      > Technocrat’s heaven, thinking men’s hell.

      > Help Vampires: A Spotter’s Guide


      > shit tards those peoples dont even know basic of programming, how do they allowed to moderate

  45. Stackoverflow is a total waste of time, when I browse this website I read about nonsense, it’s full of anti-professional and anti-academic answers that they are based on ignorance and pessimism of it’s members.

    The bottom line is that I do not get an answer, so it’s worthless to me.


    1. Start making mass complaints in google to bring down it’s pagerank, because the content is worthless also the website is pathetic not deserve to be at top all of the time.

    2. When you do a google search add “-stackoverflow” to avoid visiting this website.

    P.S. I was searching about the difference of printf() and cout, unfortunately browsing stackoverflow 10mins ago and some one answered by doing a speed benchmark!

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  47. Exactly, I just got banned today, even before that I hated how the whole system works at StackOverflow.
    I searched Google “why stackoverflow sucks” just to see if others agree with me, 5 minutes ago and I found this.

  48. I think that Serg is overreacting a bit. But the thing is that stack overflow is a great resource for many things. For me – checking out the most voted question with the PHP tag was a great way to see how other people approach certain problems, and to learn best practices or PHP functionalities I never knew about.

    On the other side there are people who want free code and/or are lazy. Even now, checking the newest questions results in at least 1/4 of them being … spam.

    And then there are moderators. I can’t argue that some of them aren’t assholes, I’m sure many are. And just because you met one asshole moderator who deleted your valid question / banned you because he woke up on the wrong side of the bed, that is not representative for the whole community. Neither for users or moderators.

    I am a fairly active user, and although some of the restrictions to questions / answers piss me off, I just go with it. Stack overflow can help me in certain situations, and it can’t in others. But this doesn’t mean it sucks.

  49. Pingback: Collection of Great StackOverflow Answers | TechSlides

  50. Just got banned myself from SO. I always dreamed about the fact that programmers were there to help each other out. And there are many of those willing to help IF you can find them through all the other drivel floating around on SO. I get the feeling that the hunt/chase for reputation has exceeded what SO has been designed for, Programmers helping Programmers. I answered a couple of questions just to be down voted so quickly that I eventually deleted my answer. I know for a fact that my answer was point on to what the question was asking, but the comments even range on the absurd, addressing issues outside the scope of the question. SO is still a nice system, but it is being ruined by the rep and badge hunters!!!

  51. I just requested that SO delete my profile yesterday. Got sick of being disparaged by Robert Harvey and Bunni and the like who just live to crush new users out of existence on SO. It’s sad that folks who really want some help can’t seem to get it without sucking the dicks of the mods on SO. They can go fuck themselves.

  52. sorry but Fuck SO ! they just don’t understand that there are people who are starting, beginners ! i tried to answer question but they are way high than my level (I’m honest here) but i still feel the need of asking questions !
    please does anybody know a good forum where we can still ask questions and not be ashame of !

  53. According to my profile on stack overflow, I have asked 0 questions. Yet I have been banned for asking too many low quality questions.

    Can anybody make sense of this?

    • thats because they have accumulated too many questions into their database, I think soon it will be out of space they have no option but moderate, delete and ban.

    • How about Reddit? There’s a general programming subreddit, as well as subreddits for every language you can think of, various types of programming such as web and mobile, etc.

  54. I agree 1000% Stack Overflow sucks. The moderators are programmer Nazis. My two biggest pet peeves with the site:

    (1) ” Here’s a link to a link that shows a link where you click on a link to a link that links to your problem”. [Yes, I embellished a little but the point hopefully has been driven home]

    (2) “What do you mean it does not work, I tried it and it works.” [But never does the person provide you detailed, concrete explanation as to how they got it to work].

    It is so disappargin to go on that site and be lectured to by nazi respondents.

    • Unresolved duplicates is a problem with multiple feature-requests pending. I don’t know about others, but when I say “It works for me”, it means that I copy/paste your code directly to the compiler/jsfiddle/whatever and pressed “Play”, and it performed just as OP expected it would.

  55. I haven’t read all the posts here. I don’t have time, forgive me please (I will gladly do it in the near future because the topic is interesting). I just want to leave my own brief opinion on StackOverflow. (And.. My English is not ideal, so my apologies).
    I am very new to StackOverflow and my first impression is very bad. After my first post (the link is below) and behavior I experienced especially from one of the of veterans of SO I can’t recommend this site as a reliable source of information. If such things happen every day there so now when I see the assessment of some questions or answers, I can’t be sure if they are really good or bad. I realized some of the SO veterans (especially those who have pretty big reputation) can behave very irresponsibly and many posts are disqualified just because of their likings. And vice versa: they have many tools to create an artificial impression that some questions or answers are e.g. very good. I am very disappointed with the SO assessment system. Thus from now on StackOverflow is not on objective source of knowledge for me.

    Below is the link to my first and I think the last post I placed there:


  56. Some of the comments here are really funny. Sure, SO has its faults, however it’s a great knowledge base.
    As long as you don’t want someone else to write you a whole algorithm without you doing any work, you’ll find most info on how to create that algorithm yourself, and I’m (how others here say) 1000% sure that most of you have found plenty of useful questions/answers on there.
    I don’t get it why you guys get so pissed off because some of your questions get down-voted or blocked, I hardly ever seen questions being blocked without a reason.

  57. they are bunch of crazy ppls, format freaks who have xyz fobias, if questioner is posting something that itself explains he need to know and learn but moderator would expected him know everything, if he knows everything why would he be posting. It feels sometimes the forum is becoming closed discussion group for high nose peoples, any begienner lurking there would be hounded badly. I guess thats what happens when you create voting system, everyone ranging from poster, answerer and moderator wants to increase their count.

  58. I feel your pain. I’ve seen questions about emulators that have been answered on the game section that haven’t been the same issue as me, so I’ve posted a question about an emulator cheat function for Pokemon Emerald. And I got downvoted and put off topic. I later seen a question on the game section about playing MineCraft in school, and they gave the guy a batch file. I asked a question about playing a game like AQW or another online game coded with java with the batch file.(My classmates won’t shut up about not being able to play, and looked at me like I was a god because I got MineCraft working with something nabbed from the internet). And it got downvoted and out off topic. So I’ve asked a question about Just Cause 2 if cars could get dirtier by driving offroad in the gaming section, and two hours later there was one guy answering with “Did you notice it?” (Of course not or I wouldn’t post you fucking retard) and it had four downvotes. This site is terrible, I don’t even know what I did. I wasn’t posting porn or asking how to pirate EA’s new DRM game or something.

  59. SO is misunderstood by newcomers who just think it is a Q&A site where every single question is valid and needs to get an answer. I agree that all questions are strictly legit because when you wonder about something, you just do. The thing is that no one on SO wants to spend time answering questions that have been answered a thousand times before and you’d just find an explanation using an internet search engine. The site has a threshold and if your question does not pass it, just deal with it. Post it in a forum where there ARE people willing to answer. In my opinion this threshold on SO is definitely not too high. I agree that newcomers who post a “bad” question will not get a gentle response but this is well documented. You can’t just barge into a community and expect the spotlight to shine on you and everyone falling at your feet to answer whatever questions you may have. You wouldn’t come at a math experts meeting and ask why 2 + 2 equals 4.

    Read the FAQ and you’ll make no mistakes. I like how SO wants to profile itself as a site with a certain level.

    • >You can’t just barge into a community and expect the spotlight to shine on you and everyone falling at
      >your feet to answer whatever questions you may have.

      That’s the whole POINT of Stack Overflow – to answer whatever questions people have!

      >You wouldn’t come at a math experts meeting and ask why 2 + 2 equals 4.

      I would go to a hospital and expect to be treated, even if I wasn’t in critical condition or I couldn’t exactly explain how intense my pain was or how often it occurred in a four hour period.

      Stack Overflow isn’t some bunch of experts talking to themselves that gets interrupted by someone asking a question. It’s a gathering of people ostensibly for the very purpose of answering each other’s questions. To close questions then, is absurd in all but the most extreme cases.

  60. I too said goodbye to stackoverflow. if the questions are allowed only from experts then i dont think its for me. If i ask a stupid question about HTML it may be because my expertise is in something else and i just want to fix something in HTML to get going. So If i am asked to go and do research for few days; then think i can find the answer by myself

  61. SO can help, but the way it actually gains such a lead ahead of alternatives is too intransparent, makes me feel that it is somehow unfair in the end. I also think their site is a more unpolite place then the forums I visit, so I’ll stick to these. I’ll just talk with people the human way.

    The unfair thing is actually to force good questions, because the question goes into the intelectual property of SO. One time I asked on SO, it was downvoted -4 immediately, since I probably hurt some python purists with a complicated problem. After improving my question to be 95% of my answer, I was actually too dumb to realize that now I shouldn’t post it to SO. Of course, it’s good to share your knowledge, but in this case you will just make SO confident in forcing people with problems to do work for SO and their rules. That’s not what I want the internet to become, it’s indeed like a dictate.

  62. Agree, agree, and did I say agree?

    Here’s the thing that irks me most about SO. A lot of people are beginners and don’t always know the best way to ask a question. Heck, they are probably just figuring out what to even begin to ask! They go on SO thinking they’ll get useful information. They post their code thinking “Golly, I’m being helpful by putting it all out there,” and then it turns out you have to be very specific and “self-contained.” If the people there who answer questions can’t copy and paste it into their compilers and run it within a minute, you’re apparently wasting everyone’s time. It’s too bad they don’t realize a lot of the people asking are beginners but do they care that they are beginners? I guess that’s the question to be asking. Sure they are volunteers but one has to wonder how much real volunteerism there is when they’re all bitching.

    A lot of them complain about wasting time, yet they spend just as much time belittling the person asking or others answering questions without actually answering the question themselves. Is SO some sort of strange programmer version of high school? It’s one thing if a person says “Listen, you didn’t ask this in the best way, so clean up your question. Then we’ll help.” But to have person after person downvote you and gripe about how you asked a question? Some of the behavior is rather…feminine. Obviously by asking a question you are there for a purpose and by posting a mistake you are attempting to learn. No wonder so many people shy away from programming/IT! To think, I could be working with these people someday…

    Fucking assholes.

    • “Some of the behavior is rather…feminine.”
      I don’t agree with that. Stackoverflow is all about male dominance and ego-fighting. As a woman I even need to cover my gender on tech sites to avoid the potential abuse, so I don’t think anybody would dare to behave in a feminine way on Stackoverflow and sites like that. If you don’t like a behaviour it doesn’t mean that’s feminine. Feminine is not a negative attribute. I agree with you in everthing else you said. Stackexchange sites are built in a way that usually attracts narcissistic people without real knowledge.

    • That’s right. There is a saying: “There aren’t bad questions, there are bad answers only”. If somebody tells you that you ask bad questions, well… it’s nothing wrong with you, it’s definitely something wrong with him :-))
      (I hope I wrote it good. English is not my speaking language ;-)

      • My thoughts exactly. I haven’t dared to post a question on SO after seeing some of the absolute vile attitude some (not all, mind) of those folks seem to have. It seems that what should be a helpful environment for those who have questions about programming has instead devolved into a haphazard hive of self-entitlement and ego-stroking for those who seem incapable of remembering that when they were starting out, they, too, probably had questions such as this once upon a time. I can understand wanting folks to be capable of answering their own questions, but throwing folks into the fire because they dared to ask it is unjustifiable and just an exercise in being a jerk, IMO.

  63. Hate that place, they really think a lot of themselves and are rude, treat their visitors like crap, especially if you are a newbie. I refuse to go there anymore for questions. Seriously, they don’t have better things to do with their time than delete a response that said “thank you for your help, it worked, but I found x worked, and y didn’t” — as being irrelevant? They can go eff themselves as far as I’m concerned. Stuck up bastids.

  64. You’re right kellmoony, they are stuck up assholes but they really do come off catty. For a place that seems to be mostly populated by men I wouldn’t expect that kind of behavior, and I’m a woman. It’s a huge ego trip for them, that’s for sure.

    I read some of the previous comments regarding quality questions. Listen, if they want to have quality questions and eliminate waste from their database, why aren’t they developing a system that siphons people to what they need? Asking if people are beginners, intermediate, or advanced programmers and directing them to a set of questions or a section of the site would be more useful than downvoting people for not “researching their question enough”. People do their research on SO, can’t find what they are looking for because– lo and behold– questions are asked to be specific and self-contained! Can you generalize from that?? Then they have their suggestions for questions that are supposed matches to what you are asking. Even the seasoned posters there will point out the differences between linked questions and admit you can’t generalize because languages yield different results.

    It’s better to ask an actual person who has to stand by what they say to you with full consequences than assholes on the internet. Anonymity does not grant the right to be rude. I am becoming increasingly disenchanted with online resources.

    • Totally agree. I have been helping out on SO for a while now, but I am getting more and more annoyed by the way things are going. Even if you give an answer that worked for you, you will get downvoted to such an extent that you loose more than what you gain. There is always someone that got out of the wrong side of the bed and decides that in his all knowing mind he will punish whom ever gives a “poorly” formatted question or answer. One is better of researching on your own than making use of SO.

    • And why do they get to pipe in with meaningless comments like “That is a meaningless comment and not relevent and blah blah. Closed.” when anyone else can’t say “Thank you that worked for me, or didn’t, or this happened.” What I’d like to post “Stick it up your a$$es you unsociable IT dweebs.”

  65. I agree. I just wanted to lament my experience with them. I posted the seemingly innocuous question: “Is there a C# library somewhere to read the gyroscope and/or accelerometer from an iPhone or iPad connected to a Windows7 PC via bluetooth? I mean, is this sort of thing even possible?”

    Within seconds, the Nazis decided to down-vote me and tell me that they can’t offer suggestions to find off-site resources. It probably won’t get answered now. Where am I supposed to ask a question like that? Is it that unreasonable of a question?

  66. I TOTALLY AGREE!!!!!!!!!!!! little pieces of mod s* that dont take any time to answer anything just wring their hands over stupid s*. I posted simple questions, that would be easy to answer, i made it really easy to answer, and narrowly focused. sometimes it is the little things you need to know and not some elaborate BS. its like you cant even ask a simple question in good faith, only to get greeted by these mf aholes then what is the point of a site like that. they can all completely f* off. maybe somebody can invent a site where they dont have this sort of BS going on. IF YOU DONT WANT TO ANSWER THE QUESTION, FINE! IT IS OK! BUT DONT COME ONLINE TO F* WITH THE POSTER BECAUSE THEY ASKED ONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  67. Actually it’s a QA site for programmers to turn to when they hit a wall. The question above isn’t written by a programmer because no attempt has been made to write code. A non starter that can be progressed by reading the most basic of tutorials online isn’t a wall, it’s laziness.

    • Gee, there are a million html and css and whatnot questions up there – but its just for programmers, I see. Since they’re so rude, maybe they should just put up in the header “We don’t answer html, css, javascript, etc. questions, so bugger off, non-programmers.”

  68. Ross: “it’s a QA site for programmers to turn to when they hit a wall”

    It used to be an open forum to discuss programming, ask questions, and get feedback. And while we’re at it Ross, since this site isn’t strictly a QA site, and since you seem to know there are most basic tutorials online, could you point me to the tutorial where I can find how to read the gyroscope and/or accelerometer from an iPhone or iPad connected to a Windows7 PC via bluetooth?

    In fact, that wasn’t what I was asking on SO. I was simply wanting to know if that kind of thing is possible. Apparently asking questions offends people.

    Remember kids, when Google fails you, DON’T ask someone else!

  69. I’ve been using SO for two weeks, and boy, many of the legitimate comments here immediately resonate.

    The site, apparently, encourages people to post a question and answer it yourself if you have gone through it the issue during your previous work/project, so you could keep it as a way of coming back to it if the problem arises again. In addition, it could help a lot of other folks who might run into a similar issue.

    But no! The almighty moderators, who did not understand what the question was, had to take it upon themselves to put it on hold.

    Another thing that really upsets me is that as soon as I attempt to search on a topic, SO results get on top of the first page. And the majority are not relevant or very narrowed to other problem. I am always looking for in depth “articles” or well written blogs — not a quick dirty answer, which SO claims is so against.

    Yes, there are times a very specific problem should be answered in such fashion. But being a developer means that you need to read many chapters and articles to get your rolling. SO results are far from being comprehensive, yet they constantly beat other search results that could, very well, make the developers far more well rounded in the long term.

    I just can’t stand SO.

  70. The problem is the ‘reputation’ thing, people feel like they playing a game and winning (money or) something + let’s not forget the ego boost they get – ‘Yeep, I’m good .. if not the greatest’ … been there (to the G*eks * F*gs section) done that, but that was in the past

  71. >t’s a QA site for programmers to turn to when they hit a wall”
    Not true. I’ve gone there for years asking simple stuff like CSS menu problems that I just cannot figure out. I don’t GO there, I Google the problem and it often comes up. I’ve never been treated badly until recently. There are some nice people who DO help but there are some anti-social super geeks who do NOT know how to interact with other humans. They think they are superiour and guess the f*k what – they aren’t. I’d like to tell them that, but they can’t hack hearing the truth — they’d just delete and close the post. Thin skinned ass wipes.

  72. I believe this isn’t a problem with SO but with all online forums general. For example, go to Wikipedia, and you will find an army of Nazi moderator retards just like on SO. These “moderators” spend enormous amount of time on these sites doing “work” and do not get paid. Why on earth would someone do this. Because the way they get “paid” is not with money but with power and the reason they keep doing it is because they enjoy telling other people to go fuck themselves and abusing their power. They get a kick out of downvoting questions, closing a thread, and people pleading to them wondering what’s wrong, and them telling these people that their question was not good enough. It’s not about the questions and answers, but rather the power balance and abuse between the moderator and the new user. This is sad, but it’s just human nature. These moderators probably do not have an outlet to get their power fix in real life so they go to these virtual worlds. I have long stopped asking questions on SO, or on any online forum for that matter.

  73. Wow, where were all you guys when I needed you :P? I knew I wasn’t alone in my feelings about this and experience with these issues.

    I wrote about this exact same thing the very same week as this post was originally published:


    And also posted officially on Meta Stack Overflow (in my hopes of having a meaningful discussion about the issues):


    Could have used the support. But, all in all the idea of having a meaningful conversation that results in steps being taken towards improvement seems moot, because Stack sites, I think, really do operate exactly how they want them to and they need only say “If you don’t like it, don’t use it.” – Which is just a shame because ideally, they can be very useful.


  74. Pingback: Stack Exchange: Helpful vs Elitist | Bryan Hadaway's Web + Tech Blog

  75. make me look stupid or not make any sense. Every now and then, my not so clear questions or “lack of efforts” questions according to them get bombarded with downgrades and irritating sarcasms from mods.

    Luckily for me, I can take a hit. But for some, downgrades and harsh criticisms are very discouraging to people (newbs) who are taking up an interest in coding. The worse is, you get downgraded and left with no response. You’re left to think “what did I do wrong?” “did i say it wrong?” “was i stupid to bring that question up”

    I don’t buy that whole “I don’t have time to respond to unclear questions.” That’s pretty BS to me. The way I see it, if you have time to downgrade or post a rough comment to a question, you may as well spend that time to encourage the person to rephrase the question so that he/she can be helped.

  76. Half of the time, SO is good for web dev/design/coding newbs like myself. I’ve had many people giving me valid criticisms and helpful answers. I could say as a newb, I do learn a lot from SO. The other half is really really bad! Being new in coding, I’m not always sure if i’m asking the questions with the right words. It could be a valid question (to my own sense) but my coding dictionary is still thin that might make me look stupid or not make any sense. Every now and then, my not so clear questions or “lack of efforts” questions according to them get bombarded with downgrades and irritating sarcasms from mods.

    Luckily for me, I can take a hit. But for some, downgrades and harsh criticisms are very discouraging to people (newbs) who are taking up an interest in coding. The worse is, you get downgraded and left with no response. You’re left to think “what did I do wrong?” “did i say it wrong?” “was i stupid to bring that question up”

    I don’t buy that whole “I don’t have time to respond to unclear questions.” That’s pretty BS to me. The way I see it, if you have time to downgrade or post a rough comment to a question, you may as well spend that time to encourage the person to rephrase the question so that he/she can be helped.

  77. Well, I also had the joy of getting moderated by Bill The Lizard today. My crime was, linking to a solution on my own blog, which had the answer. I’m guess I’ll never contribute to the SO community again.

    • If it was a ‘link-only’ answer then it’s clearly a right move. Many a times we face broken links and this is why SO discourages copy-pasta of links. Post the relevant code/instructions (in addition to the link) in the answer.

  78. I try to be the good helpful guy in SO, but sometimes the swarm of SONazis downvoting, criticizing and moderating everything is overwhelming. I can’t even make a bug report or a feature request at meta without being criticized. Yes, a bug report! I found a bug and I reported it. No one upvoted me (thankfully no one downvoted me either). Immediately a comment arose criticizing a phrase I used (just a phrase, in a sentence from the 10-20 sentences) in the bug report and in a matter of minutes, the comment got two upvotes.

    Oh and the feature request, I had pretty much no support except two upvotes, against 12 downvotes and a flurry of critical comments and answers. All I did was to make a suggestion to improve the quality of the content posted by new users. (And by that, HELP the community have less shit to moderate. But no, they LOVE moderating all that shit, and they ain’t gonna let you stop them.) When I responded to the criticism, no one had anything to say.

    I watch everyday, newbies being scared away when they innocently come to SO to learn. It’s a real shame. Sometimes I stumble upon questions from back in the 2000s and admire how welcoming the community was back then. I wish I had known SO then, but then I also don’t wish it because it might have molded me over the years into yet another SONazi.

    It’s also funny how people are throwing downvotes around. It’s almost as though they are earning money by providing service (some occasional questions and answers) for the sole purpose of pushing the banknotes up someone’s butthole (downvoting). I stopped downvoting anything for many months once I realized it’s eating into my reputation score as well (not that I care about the number, but I don’t want to lose my privileges.. I’m aiming for 2000 for the non-reviewed edit privilege). Before that, whenever I downvote, I would leave a comment explaining what’s wrong. Now I just leave a comment, because I don’t get why I should be penalized for trying to improve the quality of something.

    The concept of the site is great, and I admire how driven it is. It has helped me in many situations to find many answers to the programming problems I faced. However, I find that the community is heartless and unwelcoming. It’s very very sad, and it really reflects badly upon the broader community of programmers.

    • Yeah, I’ve given up on ever trying to understand Stack sites. I’ve only ever been polite and helpful and have mostly only received petty, rude, juvenile and mocking behavior in return.

      I thoroughly enjoy constructive criticism, it helps us all to improve our communication and skills, but most people on these sites don’t understand the difference between constructive criticism and rude criticism.

      And since they continue to be rude and falsely defend it as something else, there’s never any ownership of this behavior, hence never anything in way of a healthy discussion to help improve the situation.

      What causes even more confusion, is that the message doesn’t really get to the bad apples (though, if it does, they only further prove our points by lashing out with name-calling, sarcasm and other attempts at belittling, ironically), but it gets to a lot of the very helpful and polite, mature experts who don’t cause this problem, only they sometimes take offense assuming the finger is being pointed at them.

      What we end up with is a serious denial of the problem even existing. Because “good” experts inadvertently create a straw man argument defending what they stand for, not really registering that some of their peers really aren’t the most polite of people.

      Like I said, this is all moot and a vicious cycle of never having a meaningful discussion (with both sides), trying to do so in Meta as many of you mentioned, just results in being attacked. Nothing is going to change, and it’s pretty much a waste of time to try and understand this anymore, I’m done discussing it, I’m even unsubscribing from this comment thread because I’m tired of even thinking about it, it’s trivial and pointless and a dead end.

      Bottom line, the elitists like their club and they love being able to flex their intellect to show superiority over beginners and then there are enough experts that really are there to help with grace and politeness that want to share their knowledge with others, not impose it, that makes it just good enough to come back and use when we really need some help… but, very very sparingly.

  79. About two hours into exploring SO and discovering that the time was wasted; I gladly deleted my account! I have better things to do, such as answer real life questions. I am holding a middle finger up to SO.

  80. I agree with you. SO is not even an Open Source Community. My experience with SO is quite negative. It’s like you have to apologize every time you ask a question. I even had one moderator stalking my answers and being impartial. Not even trying to help other people counts, what counts is that you generate visits(mainly with your questions not your answers). The SO moderators have a very bossy, smart-ass, me-genius-you-dumb-fuck arrogant attitude (a bunch of social lepers with no life).
    The sad thing is some enterprises are beginning to accept SO (and its shitty medals and points record) as a credible way to determine whether you are a good programmer or not. I hope some other alternatives come up soon.

    • I am not saying that SO in useless or fails as a general concept at all. It is a wonderful collaborative tool, but i think the requirements to be a moderator should be far more strict. For example in the CS site that i posted, proof of expertise – such as a M.S or PHD in CS EE Computer Engineering and or maybe Math – should be required before becoming a moderator. This could be an avenue for SO to begin to hook into the edu market and improve the accuracy of E-Learning.

  81. I do agree!!! I have asked 4 questions. 2 of them (which I consider very vaild) where not anwsered and the comments were very hostile. I am a student, I tend to do research from that research questions and doubts arise. How the heck should I clarify them? Well, by asking… right? There should be someone with the answer and the knowledge. They should show that knowledge and help other people.

    • Which is why Stack has long considered removing it, since folks like you always point this question out as the reason why you should be able to ask your book recommendation questions.

  82. You are simply jealous of the success that it has in helping people like me to tackle programming problems. Why don’t you have some constructive criticism instead of regarding the entirety stack overflow as being terrible? I am sick and tired of this crab in a barrel mentality you people seem to have. This is why we stagnate in productivity and innovation because you people are so obsessed with status recognition that you will hold back millions of people from learning something that can benefit not just themselves but the entire world at large.

    • We could give a rat’s ass about status recognition. Ours or anyone at Stack Overlord. However, your attitude gives a good indication you could do well there as a moderator, “answerer” or whatever your aspirations are there, if you aren’t already.

  83. My experiences with SO is summed up by your post, which reminded me of this post on SO: https://meta.stackoverflow.com/questions/133655/should-users-provide-op-legitimate-links-as-their-answer-if-it-helps-in-answer

    Also, whenever I would use the SE network of sites, my IE browser (only one I can use for work) would automatically switch to “Compatibility Mode.” Mind you, this would only happen when using the SE network, nowhere else. I asked this question on SO, explaining what I just explained above, and got a comment from a moderator, “Don’t use compatibility mode.” Well, isn’t that the purpose of my question? To figure out why compatibility mode is being switched to automatically when on the SE network of sites?

  84. Yes I too ran into Bill the Lizard and can see I am not alone in thinking he uses his delete finger far too often so add me to the list that named and shamed him

    I did ask him to undo the delete but he’s too stupid to admit when he’s wrong

    • absolutely. People who ask stupic questions like “what is a stack?” and “what is C++” get hundreds of upvotes, but people like me who ask “real” question get negative votes for unjust reasons like “your question is not clear”. I told the moderators to justify their edits and deletions, and they suspended me”.

      Stackoverflow is a good Q&A website, but the moderators are way to shitty.

  85. of course the same thing happened to me. I asked a question regarding my college assignments task I didn’t ask them to do those assignments I just asked them how to dolike give me some idea how can I start it so I can figure it by myself and do the assignments by myself. but these mod nazis jumped into my question and said it’s too broad and make it narrow so they held the question. seriously. how come they judge my question? it doesn’t matter it’s broad or narrow if they know the answer then they can provide unless simply leave that’s how it should be. even if it’s board it’s not their issue it’s my question. they said then there are too many possible answers. this is really stupid if there are too many possible answers then they can simply answer it with what they know then I can pick the most right question and acknowledge them this is what I want.
    but since it doesn’t fulfill their mentality they simply held my question. this is completely BS Y!A is much better actually. this happened twice I also got a couple of down votes. I would say stackoverflow is full of asshole. that stack is full of assholes and they overflow so the entire site rotten in the same place. I would never go there again.

  86. I would say that the main problem lies in the flagging system. -Any- five users with flagging privileges can close a question. There are probably thousands of these users, and once a question has been flagged by somebody, it only takes four more people to click on “close” so the question goes to the canner. Four is hardly a concensus, and since you get badges for doing review tasks, there is even a greater incentive for people to close questions.

    I have no hard evidence, but I believe that the amount of questions closed is almost the same as the amount of questions flagged.

    In addition to all of this, there is now an even worse tendence in SO: the points race.

    Even though “unworthy” questions are quickly dismissed, burned and closed, interesting questions that require some brain usage for an answerer are ignored even quicker, as it takes much less time and effort to solve an obvious PHP question, and is much more likely to get upvotes. Since it’s now all about the reputation points, all those interesting questions get completely ignored.

    SO used to be the place where every question was answered, but now it’s just a repository of burned “unworthy” questions, overanswered simple questions, and completely ignored interesting questions.


  87. There will always be somebody who’s not happy about something, we just have to learn to accept it.
    I think SO has provided me with lots of answers to many questions over the years.
    I don’t post questions and only post answers from time to time.
    Yesterday I posted an answer that got down voted to a comment. The user who posted the question (with 50 points bounty) is thanking me, but can’t vote my “comment” and give me the bounty.
    The moderator who transformed it to a comment posted this:
    “This does not provide an answer to the question. To critique or request clarification from an author, leave a comment below their post”
    SO has it’s down parts, but I think we can all leave with that.

  88. Oh yes, you’re totally right. SO is full of retarded kids which have nothing better to do than tag and down-vote questions which are for some vague (yes, I am using the word) reason not good enough for their cause. There’s no real difference between good and bad questions, you only can get bad or good admin looking at it. And of course, if the admin decides to down-vote it, there’s legion of people stroking themselves and following.

  89. When I initially commented I clicked the “Notify me when new comments are added” checkbox
    and now each time a comment is added I get four emails with the same comment.
    Is there any way you can remove me from that service?
    Bless you!

  90. Same findings here. My favourite author once wrote about church architecture that it wen all wrong about the time when christians turned into catholics. That’s what SO’s become, a church.

    When I entered the site, after a while I started to fell like when I entered an online game for the first and the last time of my life. I thought playing with other people would be more fun than playing only with a computer, whatever smart programmed. In about ten seconds I got a load of hatred aimed at me, ‘nOOb piss of, here play the real men’ or something like that in about thousand different wordings. About the same stuff one get when trying to ‘infiltrate’ SO.

  91. Yes, SO has changed when operators gradually become nazi robots. I has join SO 5 years ago and then after one year (last year) without take care it. Now when I want to contribute back for SO, but I can not recover the account because the openid has lost.
    The first feeling when come back is too much aggressive mod comment and edit but very little useful answer because people answers nervously. Now as a new-commer, I can not vote or comment, and with 2 in 3 total question get vote down: one without reason, one just a mistake in sql syntax (has fixed). The 3rd answer have no response, make me can’t answer more. Now the only thing can do is giving the questions while i dont need :)

  92. it is so s**t it is part of the INTERNET NOISE, it should be BANNED.

    It is just an army of academic retards like you say, +1 to you sir!

    I bloody hate it mentions so many words it constantly pollutes my google searches, and just about at one point it was almost useful. Sorry dude but you have to suck cock if you want to do well there and not everyone likes cock do they.

  93. SO is full of idiots when it comes to Java and Python.
    I keep a search on this only to filter out the stupid answers that my colleagues from india and china use it as a manual. The worst anti-patterns are to be found here

  94. SO has actually been the source of quite a few negative experiences for me. Early on sometimes the responses made me want to give up programming so I wouldn’t have to deal with similar people. I’m glad though that it’s different camps and indicative of everyone. The thing to understand about engineering I think is that the hardest and most important thing is DEFINING THE PROBLEM. Engineers come to grasp this out of necessity as computers are amazing yet so dense that they need the problem to be defined in EXCRUCIATING detail. So much detail that engineers need an incredible grasp on the problem definition to the point of knowing the solution in order to execute good code. SO nowadays has a lot of people who want this problem definition defined to them. Often times a “fuzzy” or “bad” question, if it were able to be restated in a proper way wouldn’t need to be on SO because that level of definition and understanding of how to ask the questions allows you to google it. Instead of becoming of resource of programming insight SO is becoming a repository of patch-in’s for bad documentation.

  95. So in short, SO mods are so badass, so very badass, that they now give out bad stinky ego farts all the time :) (Sorry, another badly burnt user who could not resist)

  96. agree 100%, i see post on SO when lot of people wanted to see a solution and the “nazis” close with out anwser…

  97. A better model would be to allow users to vote with their wallets. If you think someone asked a good question (e.g., if you had a similar question and came looking for an answer), or if an answer provided you real value, you should put your money where your mouth is. Moderation then becomes less relevant. FTA:

    “Imagine you’re a programmer. For us coding geeks, sites like Stack Overflow are a lifeline to getting work done. In fact, we’re reasonably convinced that when Stack Overflow goes down, all programming around the world just stops. (Well, at least that’s the excuse we use.) Yet, when we read an answer from someone who has fixed that (Javascript) problem we’ve spent hours debugging, we want to kiss that person’s feet with the appropriate Wayne’s World salute. It’s times like those when a thank you and a (worthless) upvote just don’t seem enough. That person saved us from hours of wasted effort and aggravation. That geek deserves more.”


  98. My favorite SO rape is when I ask a question, this is my question, this is the question I want answered.

    And then others come along and edit the question and turn it into a question I didn’t need or want answered.

    And then their question is closed for being off-topic or whatever.

    Joel can have his playground, but it has certainly soured me on Joel or anything out of Fog Creek.

  99. thank goodness I’m not the only one that can’t stand the moderation on SO. My favorite is no homework questions? You don’t need to do my homework thank you (uh oh, I’m being polite… )just maybe give me an answer that isn’t “study more” or “read the API.” If you can understand the API and you have a minimal understanding of your question why would you be asking it? Stack Overflow exemplifies why forum moderators have no place on this planet except in the ground.

  100. (Sorry for my English):
    I say: if StackOverflow’s current flawed grading system policy doesn’t change the number of its active participants will be still limited to people who are rather more cunning than really smart, creative and open-minded. For me SO in current condition is more like narrow-minded source of knowledge focusing more on ‘canonical answers’ where many people who could contribute really interesting thoughts and sometimes very innovative solutions of various problems are just afraid of taking the floor in order to avoid often unfair severe public humiliation.

  101. If silly questions are being down voted and closed now – that’s for a reason. When SO started, there where no such questions. That’s not the current situation. There are already lots of questions and answers for most of these questions that the new users are coming up with. Most of these questions do not show any sort of effort. A simple google search would’ve shown numerous articles and SO answers regarding the same stuff. They don’t even bother to check the suggestions while typing the question… hence, IMHO they should be closed to keep so clean.

    • “Silly question” is a very vague notion. Silly questions for whom? After all complaints I saw here It seems that for SO’s veterans and moderators silly questions are often those which are just boring (sometimes aka too difficult to answer :).

      • What should be done with questions such as “I try program. Labbel1 = hello. Didn’t work.”
        Personally, I am sure there are two cardinal rules to posting anywhere: 1. Always try to be helpful. 2. Never insult anyone. So (If we can agree to those stipulations) now what do we do? Would it be most helpful to all to delete the question? To point the user to some online tutorial? To make all questioners click a checkbox saying they have researched the best they can before asking their question? One does find questions such as in my example on SO from time to time.

      • What I am trying to say is that both you and Tilwin have valid points. There is no such thing as a silly question but there is such a thing as a lazy question, and we wouldn’t want the site overrun with lazy homework questions! After thinking about this, I feel if someone asks a lazy question it is by far the best to point them to an online tutorial rather than deleting the question or chiding them.

  102. The problem with your question is that it could be asked in 100 different ways with 100 variations and all of them would still be useless for SO. That should be posted on an Algorithm StackExchange website, if any, because really the language doesn’t matter, it’s a logic problem that could appear on https://projecteuler.net/ and would be fun to solve. Other than that, it won’t help me resolving a real life programming issue.

    • It would help me. The very guts of programming is problem-solving. Right? I mean, that’s why programs are written, as a solution to a problem. In fact, programs are often referred to as solutions. So an exercise in any problem is going to help you with whatever practical problem you encounter. I recall my high school geometry teacher telling us that “you may never use all this stuff in real life, but math teaches you how to think.” He was right.

  103. SO’s Bill The Llizard is an asshole. The biggest asshole in the whole SO site. He shuts down everything without even reading or thinking about it 1s.

  104. I agree with most of the comments here. I had only made two posts on SO, and had no problems, but I did notice quite a bit of rudeness and putdowns. So I wasn’t surprised when the mods attacked my third post, and also my fourth post. It almost seems as if once the mods get hold of you, they won’t let go, kind of like an annoying cloud of mosquitos.

    I think what happened in my case is I pissed off one of the biggest egos on there by pointing out a logical inconsistency in the comment he made to my question. Next thing I knew, the question was marked a duplicate. It wasn’t. The alternative question they pointed to did NOT answer my question. When I pointed that out in my edited code and with a comment, I was good and mad. I was also right, and even the mods could see that, so the duplicate question status went away. It just made them look stupid. But the whole experience sucked, even though I “won”. It took more time and energy to defend myself against these baseless and inane attacks than anything else, and my question remains unanswered. It’s probably deleted by now, I don’t know.

    BTW, I looked at a few of the questions this egotistical jerk had answered and saw he makes a habit of putting people down. He told one poor guy his brain was not wired right. All this guy did was try to declare an inherited class incorrectly. They can sure dish it out but they sure can’t take it!

  105. SO is definitely hit or miss. There are useful answers on there but what a P.I.T.A. to ask a question there. Seems most “vets” are more interested in “appearing” right about something, stroking their ego, or arguing over petty inconsequential bs rather than DOING WHAT THE SITE CLAIMS TO BE ABOUT — which is answering questions and providing tangible help to people with questions.

    People there would seriously rather spend 2 hours correcting “there” and “they’re” instead of tackling the actual question. What a waste of efficiency.

    • The SO community only wants questions that they can answer (and add to their reputation points). Any question about modifying an algorithm that isn’t simple or easy to do, like depth-first-search, gets flagged for removal. Some guy told me that nobody wants to read the “crap code” I came up with. That crap code came from the “Introduction to Algorithms” book written by Cormen!

  106. Couldn’t agree more with this post. A couple years ago it was so much better, now it’s junk. No one receives answers that are worth while, but they’ll receive 50 down votes in less than a 1 minute and have their account suspended even if they post all their code and precise issues. I understand if people just post “help me” and no code, no questions, and it’s a homework assignment, but come on, just down voting every single post and then trolling the person who asked. It all seems to come from their moderators and veteran people too. Guess a couple rep points got their ego trip going.

  107. I agree in parts. The worst part of SO is that you have to word question perfectly and give it a perfect structure code separate text separate blah blah every time even if the question has only 5 lines it makes sense when there is large numbers of line of code and looking through may get difficult .The Most annoying thing about SO is the highly privileged mods or troll looking for points edits and down votes by invoking any rules declared SO which in many cases without properly understanding the question .I have faced the all the things @serg said put up a question which could’t be answered by anyone and later it was flooding with negative votes not because the question was idiotic was speculative and expletives* . and in the end i received a question ban and next time i found a really interesting question answered it and user accepted and commented as exactly what he wanted and reverse scenario happened .What i find ironic is that some of the rules which are stated by SO are openly flouted as some question popular among SO users are exactly what SO emphasizes not to be its very irritating .Seriously to ask a question you have to get so much prepared like going for a war .The next thing is fake voting up for points seriously grow up guys.Then last when user asks for question most people like to help out what wrong in that if somebody suggests wrong answer if that person is notified then nothing is wrong about it but ,if the answer is exactly what user asked is it fair to compete by voting down your competion its not that i worry about loosing points eventually if you get negative votes for answers you might get banned for that also now they

    Wait! Some of your past questions have not been well-received, and you’re in danger of being blocked from asking any more.

    For help formulating a clear, useful question, see: How do I ask a good question?

    Also, edit your previous questions to improve formatting and clarity.

    Really what wrong did i do by asking a question that go question which was termed broad and another question that 2 negative votes

  108. Don’t worry people, I’m also sick of Stack Exchange and will be launching an alternative I coded these months, before September. Just wait for it! You can also reply to this comment to suggest some features you wish to be there, there is always room for new features even though the software is done!

  109. Couldn’t agree more. Yes, I’m new to XCode 5.1.1/iOS7.1 SDK programming, and as such, seem to bump up agains seemingly trivial questions all the time. I have been programming in lots of other languages and platforms since circa 1980, back in the day when Grok meant something…
    Usually I find my own answers after what seems like about 5 months of ratting around – and occasionally I made the mistake of seeking answers on SO. Well, 5 such questions got me banned – now I can’t ask any more. So that one’s out.
    Turning as one does to the Apple Developer Forums – what do I find… you guessed it. Much the same breed of trolls. There is one person there goes by the name of Simpsonics, with 2,831 posts to his credit. Does this person need a life or what? If answers are less than helpful, don’t be surprised, because mostly you get the old “What? you want us to write your code for you??” type of response.
    anyway .. rant rant… But I’m staying with XCode, and learning a lot because occasionally there are people on the Apple site who do give full answers, and are most helpful. I have learnt to just ignore the others. I have also started my own wordpress site, where I keep useful bits of code for things I have managed to fix myself, so I can come back to them later when I need them.

  110. Absolutely agree.
    I found SO a few years ago and thought it was great.
    I asked a few questions without 100% understanding the rules, and I was quickly punished, and after a little while was banned, and so have to answer questions before I can ask any again.
    I don’t mind contributing, but it is hard to compete with the best programmers in the world which is what it ends up as.
    I just want some help once in a while when I can’t find the answer, and to be honest, if I don’t know it and can’t find the answer easily, then I bet the others with less knowledge who are also interested.
    If there is a better place, please let me know.

  111. Tried contributing on SO for a day and immediately hated it. Ironically enough work isn’t this much work! I’ll still go there to grab snippets of code and to gloss over any interesting comments about why something works in practice and in theory, but I’d rather be writing code.

  112. It happened to me..

    The strange thing is, some people answered the same question well.
    But some people, degraded my question and made I sure that I was baned to ask any new questions.

  113. I know this is an old post and all but that question is such a bad question to ask.

    I will totally agree that the question you asked sounds like either:

    – An interview question
    – Or a homework question
    – Or an exam question

    Stackoverflow gets a lot of exam/homework/interview questions on its site and some are answered (rarely, or ages ago when the site first started); so much so that people can cheat at exams using SO now if they Google search with the question.

    This why people will not answer such questions, it’s not about SO not wanting to help people but about your question being one of those questions which is seen as falling into those categories.

    It should be noted that SO is about solving problems, not on-demand code writing. As an answerer I hate it when a person asks a question without any visible effort their side and just says “write this in a language” without adding “so I can peddle your work as my own”.

    I am more than prepared to help, advise and discuss but I am not there to free-freelance your work for you, thank you very much.

    Also you want to pass your course/homework/exam? Well do the work, I did so why should you be any different? I hate it when people want to cheat at their job, being something they are not.

    It does not matter if you are innocent, the internet is not. We don’t know you in real life, how are we supposed to know you mean well?

    As for coming back 1.5 years later: the site is always cleaned up and changes as the community does. If your question was deleted it was seen as cleaning up the database.

    Also insulting answerers in your update doesn’t go a long way to getting their sympathy.

    • That is not entirely true.
      When I posted question about Virtual 8086 Mode (for my OSDev Project) on SO, Bill the Lizard screamed, “modifying memory isn’t good practice!”, and downvoted my question. Then, another moderator came across my question and downvoted me again for “not being clear”. The moderator probably didn’t even understand the question.
      Stackoverflow moderators are jobless fat people who only have limited knowledge in some high-level languages like VB.Net, C#, and Java.
      It is true that homework/exam questions should be banned from stackoverflow, but whenever people ask “real” coding questions, like those in “C” and “C++”, those questions rarely get answered.

      — The joke answers by stupid, jobless moderators (usually high-voted) that annoys me
      me: …………. How can I implement this virtual 8086 mode handler in my OS (stdlibs are supported, libgcc library is used)… (I get -30 votes)
      moderator: Smells like homework!! (gets 124 up-votes)

      moderator: Your question is unclear.

      moderator: Your question exposes privacy onto the internet.

      I really think that the reputation policy and the up-down voting system is what messes up so personally. I really want those “features” removed from that so site, so that the moderators can’t damage SO any furthur.

  114. 95% of the newbie users does not take the time to read the FAQ. I have read it and I also asked a lot of questions and I received none of the negative effects you have described here. I think that you are over reacting to a corner case. Of course you can have your opinion but don’t expect anyone to consider you a competent anyone if you call SO a “trolls&noobs zoo” en masse. The terminology you use suggests that you are one of those adolescent males who are perfectly described by ESR in his essay. I feel sorry for you.

  115. The whole problem with Stack Overflow (SO) and its sister sites is, was, and always be its rating system.
    The original intent of the rating system was to cull poor answers to posted questions. But then a “Points” system was initiated and the whole system was perverted into a social site where Type-A types compete for recognition. And you can’t have people asking questions that are “ambiguous, vague, incomplete, overly broad, or rhetorical” since such questions will skew the Points of the answerers.

    I never post questions on SO. I will Google my question and then, if a SO hit comes up, I’ll read the “Q” & “As” and get the gist of the answer I was looking for.

    Of course, I always do my homework first and use Google/SO as a last resort. As (also) a teacher myself, I am well aware of lazy students that turn to sites such as SO as a first resort. Did they not know that the teacher also has Internet access and knows all the sites and all the software sites and where “Usual Suspects” are? If I see plagiarism, I simply give the student a Zero for the HOMEWORK and a link to where their answer came from. I find their lack of effort disturbing. If they want to argue with me, I suggest they take it up with the Dean. The Dean is much less tolerant than I am on issues of cheating, usually giving the student a Zero for the COURSE and putting them on Academic Probation.

    • Curious…. is this mostly for students who just copy large portions of codes and try to “dress it up” to look like their original work? Would they be free to use language/script features though? For example, I was thinking about writing a function in Python to see if a list already contained a value, but then I noticed
      if (match[i] not in list): does the trick, so I just used that instead.

  116. It all comes down to what we learned in first grade: “There are no bad questions.” There’s a reason for that premise: implying that a person’s question is bad makes the person feel bad. The person is already in a humble spot by asking the question. If their question is shot down, then they feel stupid. The person is much less likely to ask another question and will probably go into a passive mode of behavior. It seems that the stack overflow forgot this. Doesn’t stack overflow want an engaged, active community?

  117. Heavy handed and arrogant mods are discouraging experts from starting or staying. They wonder why they can’t keep good experts – check out the policies and actions of moderators. Experts leave before they even cross the 500 point level…the “10k challenges” are missing the point.

    • You can’t be an expert at SO. The community dislikes complex questions that experts enjoy asking and will down-vote those questions if they can’t answer it. Wankers.

  118. Well in their defense, the community is quite willing to help if you can share/let them know what you have tried irrespective of the question difficulty level. If you expect spoon feeding to your questions, you’re in the wrong place indeed.

    • The SO community definitely isn’t helpfuly. They flag down difficult questions about algorithms that they can’t answer and up-vote simple questions. Cs.stackexchange is for computer science researchers that expect research-level questions only.

  119. Well, hopefully a lot of people will be reading your article, agree with you and avoid polluting SO with such useless questions from a community perspective. If there’s no bad questions indeed, there are bad places to ask some questions. You could ask your local butcher about Mechanic, don’t be surprised if he send you to the garage instead. The web is FULL of sites where you can ask whatever you want, however you want, just go to any of these places if you don’t want to follow SO rules…

  120. Yeah…there have been lot of. Shitty policing going on SO. Those ppl have no ideas about the question nor ans, just poking their big nose in the matters that their retarted brains can’t understand

  121. I am trying to learn different programming aspects on my own, and when i struggle with something i search and search, but the moment i get the idea to post my question on SO i quickly slap my face. Last week i gave it a shot in the hope that SO has gotten any better, but the moment i posted my question it was immediately closed, why ? No one knows. They tend to make you feel stupid, and that you do not deserve to ask any question. I mean even if the question seems really really stupid you do not make the asker feel stupid, it is the same as a good professor. If you ask him a question, he does not implicitly tell you that you are a moron, instead he guides you to find the correct answer that will satisfy you. With SO this not the case. I think most of the people that do such things on SO are people with problems or have been molested when they were little.

    • Because SO is a site made by Programmers, for Programmers. Answers for stupid questions can be googled or found in study books easily. I find answers for 95% of my questions without even asking them, cuz i can google right.

      • SO is moderated by users that only like easy questions about algorithms and will downvote the difficult ones. Cs.stackexchange is only for research-level questions. I’ve seen this all too many times to call it just coincidence.

  122. Actually SO is a fantastic site BECAUSE it has great questions and great answers. I hate it when people ask to have their homework done, and I hate even more when I google for an actual question and get directed to something as specific as someone’s homework, because that would mostly be useless for my problem.

    SO is great.

    I know this may seem egocentric, but: I’ve asked multiple questions on SO. One was closed because it actually was a stupid question, but the other ones were upvoted and yielded good answers.

  123. I feel like adding: The mods are actually terrible at times though. Sometimes I google something, only to reach a question that has been closed because it’s “too specific” – with thousands of views in a matter of weeks or months.

    Mods are terrible in most communities though. Give people power and they abuse it. It’s pathetic.

    • The mods are horrendous at stackoverflow. I had asked a question about modifying mergesort using pseudocode and it got down-voted. Then I asked a question about selection sort using pseudocode and it got 4 up-votes! Mergesort is a more complex algorithm than selection sort. This has happened so many times that I’ve realized that stackoverflow users only like easy questions that they can answer (and increase their reputation) and will downvote hard questions. I was told to take my question about depth-first-search to cs.stackexchange.com, but when I ask questions there they tell me “it’s too basic and doesn’t contribue to anything to theoretical knowledge”. So basically, stackoverflow is for working developers and cs.stackexchange is for PhDs. Everyone else who is learning algorithms can go take a hike!

  124. Agree! Stackoverflow.com is sh*t! I just started graduate school in computer science and have been learning basic algorithmic theory. I go to stackoverflow to ask questions and I keep getting downvoted because my questions are “about theory and not about implementation”. They send me to cs.stackexchange.com where I post my questions about the mergesort algorithm and they downvote my questions because “….this site is about concepts, algorithms, principles, etc. behind computer science, not about code or implementation….” What? So, where can a person ask a question about modifying an algorithm? Is stackexchange more Nazi or Fascist? I think more Nazi because they thoroughly and systematically terminate any honest, sincere attempts to learn.

  125. I also agree…its the worse website on the Internet. I wish the Internet would gang up, moderate itself and ban it from the Internet. I get banned just for asking any question whatsoever.

  126. “smells like homework”…and what if it is? No one is explicitly asking you to do the whole problem for them but if their book isn’t much help and their professor isn’t available, the next best thin is asking someone who know how to do it and can get you started. Claiming a question is homework and refusing to answer because they should “figure it out themselves” is a poor excuse not to answer the question if you can. In the business world,perhaps someone is stuck on something technical they don’t normally deal with and need a quick answer…so give it to them without the snark or a lecture on how it’s such a n00b question to ask, it’s not what they should be doing, or claiming the question isn’t valid.

  127. even some of my questions on design paradigm and security got down votes and now i can’t post a question. i got badges the algorithm ignored that. I told them to jerk off!! good old forums dedicated to their technologies. Suck it SO!!

  128. Can’t agree more! stackOverflow sucks sucks sucks!!!! It is just disgusting! They do not give you an answer to your question, but simply keep saying your question does not fit this website or it is vague, etc. I have had questions which did not receive a single answer there but was given effective solutions in other websites. I just hate stackOverflow. They’re the worst snobbish!

  129. That question indeed smells like homework and (having taught programming) I am strictly against homework: http://meta.stackexchange.com/a/70155/133368. It’s good if that question tickled your interest in algorithms, but why post more than a nudge in the right direction?

    Also, you getting worked up about the close reason seems silly. There used to be very few close reasons and if you wanted to vote for closing a question, you just had to pick one, even if it was a bad fit.

    Just to provide some context: I have basically stopped answering years ago (http://stacksbi.wordpress.com/2011/03/20/sbi-is-leaving/) and have had a few rows on meta with the mods and with Jeff. (In fact, we in the C++ chatroom might have been the inventors of the term “meta police”.) I received emails from Jeff asking me to stop arguing on meta and some of the mods do not like me at all (mainly because I didn’t).

  130. Very true. I once answered a question ‘why do we need delagates’ i provided a loose example of passing a method to a cache engine and got horribly attacked because the code wasnt perfect…. but it did answer the question. SO is useful for info on errors still that is it, unfortunately.

  131. Very true. I once answered a question ‘why do we need delegates’ i provided a loose example of passing a method to a cache engine and got horribly attacked because the code wasnt perfect…. but it did answer the question. SO is useful for info on errors still that is it, unfortunately.

  132. I don’t hate SO. I don’t think it sucks, but it does have a lot of problems.

    But ultimately, the worst problem is that SO is a good search engine. But a terrible Q&A site. If your question has already been asked, SO will likely have a perfectly satisfactorily answer for you, that you can find quickly. Even if that particular answer isn’t good enough, there might be more answers on that question, or you could look at related questions.

    If, however, your question hasn’t been asked before, or none of the answers on related questions were satisfactory, good luck. You’ll need it. Between overzealous moderators, micromanaging answers, and ruse comments, you’ll probably never get your answer.

    Especially if your question is obviously related to other questions on the site – nobody sees nuance. Your question could describe in vivid detail why every one of the related questions don’t actually fit your use case, of that the answers are wrong, but you’ll still be marked as a duplicate.

    If, however, it’s not obviously related to another question, it’ll probably be ignored. Unless, of course, it’s a question that could be answered through documentation, then you’ll be downvoted to hell.

    SO. Good place to find answers, terrible place to ask questions.

  133. Many reason SO sucks. But a simpler one is the outright lie. If you post an answer as anonymous with your name and email address you are then sent email for confirmation. Sounds legitimate you say? There is where the lie comes in. The verification email ask for you to create an SO account. Creating an SO account is not under the definition of email verification. Especially for a comment box that said “Anonymous”. SO just wants accounts for whatever google mess data collection mail address database garbage. SO, why not remove the facade of anonymous commenting, or at least do a verification and end it there. Another example of declining planetary intelligence

  134. Thank you, thank you, thank you for this post! I’ve had all of the situations above and I’ve stopped using SO. Too bad. It’s hard to find a replacement.

  135. SO is a nice resource for finding answers to questions, but there are way too many ego-centric policemen on the site. I cringe when I see “closed due to ‘not a real question'”. Since when is any question not a real question? Way too many people trying to one-up each other in their answers.

    I saw a comment just today to an answer, “Downvoting. Quoting just the spec is a poor answer.” So someone asked a question, and someone had the “nerve” to answer it by quoting the exact spec/source of the answer, and the answer gets downvoted because it wasn’t “fluffy” or “English” enough? Get real…

    It’s really a double-edged sword… There are a lot of smart guys (and gals) on SO, many of who you’d like to have on your team — until you met them in person and found out they interact on a real team with real people just like they do on SO. Then, you’d probably change your mind about wanting them on your team and would instead prefer a more junior guy who’s not such a self-centered turd.

    Just my 2.5 cents (from an 18+ year professional developer who’s not a jerk!)

  136. I’ve gotten ans answer to every single question I’ve answered to be honest. There is loads of info on the site about how to ask, and if what you want fits that you get answered. I’m low rep, not moderating etc but I have received a friendly, helpful answer to everything.

    For more vague questions, or situations where no code is written or research effort is made then other sites are the way to go. Sure there’s some dreadful moderation on there, sadly a common thing online, but once you read the help centre and FAQ you can get lots of advice.

    It’s not perfect by a long shot, but I’ve gotten answers this week that saved my bacon in work.

  137. I also used to like SO but it is getting worse and is sure to continue to degrade unless SO changes its culture of treating its contributors like scum who should feel honored to have the privilege to be part of community. The problem with SO is its army of Nazi moderators who seem to have nothing to look forward to in life except the joy of talking down to and arbitrarily punishing others who are trying to be helpful. What SO really needs is a way to up/down vote its moderators. The way it currently works, there is no way to keep moderator-induced misbehavior, idiocy, incompetency or other BS in check.

  138. Totally Agree sometime a question is just a simple question , why the hell they force us to write more and more when all we have It’s just a simple question, we all programmers , short and simple is our motto , why unnecessary complex things?

  139. SO shows perfectly how humans are crappy, they don’t help people for make them happy but for get some kind of reward

  140. The reward is meaningless, but I would just like to get the minimum points to be able to have the “basic” toolset of functions available on the site.

    I’ve spent the last week trying to build up my rep so I can participate in SO. I have gained about 70 rep points, but keep getting them taking away.

    Incident 1: a guy asked a very well worded question in a different language. I answered him in English, spending 20-30 minutes to write a very detailed explanation that perfectly and thoroughly answered him. The mods don’t like non-English questions, but you know what? I don’t have enough rep to edit his question and put the English translation. So they came in and deleted it, and I lost my points. I could have put the translation in my answer, but that seemed to violate the “answering policy” rules.

    Incident 2: Some guys comes on the site, I do research, I spend time writing a nice answer, I give him code. Then, his account gets deleted, and I lose the rep, even though the question and answer could have benefited future readers.

    The barrier for entry is bullshit. I think I will go back to just reading the answers that come up in Google as I have for many years, and not bother participating, as it seems like a second job.

    • The observation about this being a second job is a good one. The people who spend all day there either have to be there for the love of it or because they have nowhere else to be. I think the second category is much larger than the first.

      If one is imaginative, one will get voted down. Regurgitate stuff from textbooks and you are fine. This is definitely not a forum to learn new concepts.

  141. > Yes I too ran into Bill the Lizard and can see I am not alone in thinking he uses his delete finger far too often so add me to the list that named and shamed him.

    That is a very good example of very bad StackOverflow moderator.
    I see lots of people here complaining about him.
    Fuck Lizard Bill !

    (PS: can a moderator be moderated?)

  142. Haha, Bill the Lizard went after my contributions and I was looking for a way to ask him “what the fuck man?” Apparently being an ass is in his blood. Make him suffer people if you have time! :)

  143. I agree completely with what has been said on this post. Good job man!
    I have been struggling with this for a long time, when someone closes my question
    for no particular reason. Or because they think it has to be closed.

    Their closing policies need to be revised, and true there are lot of Q&A
    Nazis there!!.

    Great post, I hope this will somehow help stack overflow improve,
    because it has good potential and it will be pitty if its quality
    gets downgraded because of people like this.

  144. I’ve used SO sparingly for about 6 years (20 questions, 400 answers, 8.5k rep [over 8k from answers]) and I honestly can’t say that I’ve ever had a real problem with how they do things.
    If you ask a clear, specific question, then you’ll get answers. If you want to go helping people posting answers and you post a good answer, it’ll get upvoted (most of the time).
    If you phone it in and just write some namby-pamby useless answer, you’ll get your balls busted.

    I can only assume there’s a lot of people on here who have tried to just pad rep to get higher privileges (like 125 for downvoting, 200 for less ads) and posted stuff just to try and get numbers without caring about the quality of their posts. I’ve received (on average) a little over 2 up-votes worth of rep per answer I’ve given, because I’ve taken the time to make sure I’m giving a useful answer.

    The place isn’t the Nazi police you’re all crying about, just use it as it’s meant to be used (a QA site) and don’t try to pad your rep just for the hell of it. You’ll be fine. If you really want to pad rep, just camp the newest questions for tags you know something about and post on them, you’ll get 200 rep in about an hour. Easy.

    • A few years ago, when linux had a chance of making headway on the desktop, there were people like you who would call the questioner all kinds of names. They would scare users away and have a good laugh about it. We know the resounding success linux had on the desktop, not! Keep it up.

      When a replacement comes along and programmers find other ways to find the answers by cutting and pasting their exceptions in the latest fad language, SO and linux desktop can commiserate together.

  145. If you want to see down votes, just try speaking out against these ridiculous moderating practices on meta.stackoverflow. Go on, try it!

  146. Here’s a perfect example of why SO sucks:
    stackoverflow [dot] com /questions/2520727/why-cant-i-call-methods-within-a-class-that-explicitly-implements-an-interface

    The first reply to the guy’s question criticizes the guy for saying “hello” and “thank you” in his question (and then goes on to end his answer with “thanks”). When the world has gotten to a place where we fault people for being polite in any context, we’re in a sad state.

    PS: Fuck you, John Saunders. Thanks!!!

  147. Well, SO was initially made to answer unexpected errors that arise during programming. That was it, then evolved to a much wider environment. Questions about “how?” and “why?” are discouraged there and questions about “what?” are most likely be answered. The site has somewhat a norm.

  148. I find it funny how some are saying that some of those who ask a question on SO are lazy and their questions are due to lack of search and/or research. From my perspective, a noob, I always found the lazy aspect to be one of not asking questions versus the opposite. Interacting with strangers, asking questions, especially ones that admit ignorance isn’t easy for most people. Specifically speaking, asking a question on SO is really kind of annoying. I would rather just search and find the answer to my problem as quickly as possible. That seems more desirable than copying and pasting relevant code, then forming a cogent question in hopes of getting a correct answer maybe a few hours or days later. Thats all without the noob worry that my question wasn’t properly worded or too “vague”. The bulk of my contribution to SO has been in the form of questions searching for knowledge from others with more experience and know how. This is integral and, even the lifeblood, I might argue of the learning process in almost ANY arena. Thankfully, there are a lot of experts on the site who have gone above and beyond my question in the hopes of providing a more in depth understanding of said subject and thats what learning and asking questions is all about. Thats what good teachers and mentors do. Heres your solution and HERES why it works the way it does. There needs to be more of that, not less. It should be encouraged, not discouraged. In depth understanding eventually prevents more questions because thats the type of knowledge our brains eventually use and work with to solve future problems.

    All of my questions on SO have been preceded by at least 30 google searches framed in different ways as to find a solution that pertains to my specific problem. Maybe I’m unique in that regard, but I doubt it. Especially amongst newbies. I don’t want to ask questions on SO but if I can’t find the answer I will. With that said, I’m considering other resources due to the plethora of reasons listed in the above posts.

    Also, anyone who tells others not to “Thank” in any context is a moron. We are humans first. Conversing in text or audibly should always involve civility and proper manners as a respect for other humans. Ranking/Voting is not, and never will be a replacement for language and normal human interaction. This idea that thanking muddies things up is ridiculous and smacks of reasoning formed by socially inept idiots who don’t know how to say Hi to somebody walking down the street.

    • I totally agree. The best way to encourage learning is to be as polite and helpful as possible. I might add that the best way to discourage learning is to rudely imply the asker is somehow inferior, whether that inferiority consists of laziness or stupidity.

      But in my book, ‘stupid’ doesn’t qualify as a way to put someone down. Some of us have been born more efficient brains for some things than others. Some of us have been born with blue eyes, others with brown.

  149. One other thing. If SO doesn’t want to be a resource as described above, then somebody needs to take their place at the top of all search engine rankings in this context. Its annoying to look for in depth answers and responses to coding problems only to be confronted by a web application that discourages such. Yes, one can find other resources, but whether SO likes it or not, they are the resource that people, like me, who are searching for such conversations continually find in just about every search imaginable that involves a programming issue of some kind.

  150. When getting heavily downvoted on SO when I started out I started putting a lot of effort into my questions. I’d usually write a small application to mimic my problem and post that and always be very careful that everything I said on the site was as per the FAQ guidelines. After 3 months and 5-6 seeminly successful questions in a row I had got up to 19 points and I was quite happy and excited. Then all of sudden I log in and I’ve been banned. You just have to laugh really. I’ve had such great help from people sometimes but the moderation is just some bizarre comedy!

  151. Agree 100%. Total idiots. I usually get very good answer on StackOverflow, unless the mods interfere. They always have some moronic ideas that a question like mine already exit, although I usually spend at least whole hour looking for the answer on the web, and read at least 20 StackOverflow discussion, before I ask a question.

  152. I am learning to program, and often do a simple Google query for how to do something in Python or C. I cannot tell you how many times a crap ton of SO search results pop up, only to click on the link and see that some poor guy got berated for asking a question that he/she “should have just googled.” Well guess what SO your fing links are what show up when you google something like that. They pollute the internet. I hope your organization dies.

  153. I left SO about 6 months ago. The only thing I miss now is the ability to up-vote the other poor sods I see trying to get something useful out of the site.

    Odd thing, it seems a lot of my old posts are being deleted, I wonder with the mass exodus if they haven’t added a bot to remove the posts of those who left.

  154. They should remove the voting system completely Most other forums do not have it I am not any more going to use it very unfair system for those people who need to ask question or help others. I do not like it any more. Cannot delete own account even if just standard user.

  155. I see that about a million people before me agree with this. I had the same experience with SO but I kind of think that most people with a PhD in IT (and the big time answer posters there probably all fall into that category) are assholes. Strange, I never met one who, in the professional field, was friendly, helpful or even a sympathetic person. They all seem to be obsessed with showing to the world how clever they are and how dumb everybody else is.
    I started with SO by asking a question and then tried to answer some questions. I thought my question was well defined according to their rules but I immediately got a downvote because it was “more appropriate for a forum”. My answer was also downvoted. So my reaction was “well that’s it then, I wont answer anymore”. Today I mostly browse SO when I have a problem but hardly ever bother with posting a question anymore. I just don’t feel like getting slapped in the face because some guy has a million points which gives him the power to do so.

  156. I totally see the point everyone is making here. I never really post on there as I too, find it a little daunting. I feel like anything that is slightly wrong, will be down voted. So it’s a bit silly that they make us feel like we don’t want to contribute.
    However, that aside, I work mostly by myself in terms of developing… if it wasn’t for SO, I just wouldn’t have been able to develop everything I have in a timely manner. I actually owe that site a lot in terms of professional development.

  157. Wow. I’m sure there are pluses and minuses, but SO seems to becoming more research focused… from my perspective. Well I’m mostly interested in connecting technologies. Looking back and looking forward. SO is a great barometer of that calculus. I’ve read 1 post in this thread. My response… If you don’t have interesting questions to ask figure it out yourself.

  158. Stack Overflow can drink my overflowing jizz. I asked three questions and got suspended with a threat of banhammering if I didn’t ask my questions in just the right way. Nah, I’m not kneeling down and kissing the emperor’s ring. Someone please make a programming site for noobs. I’ll even donate if you call it “stackoverflowsucks.com”

  159. I even agree with you. But SO was different when it was born. It really changed with the groth of users, and the real users who should be ban are those who does not give an answer to the question but just criticize the question with no sense bullshits. The only way to prevent this users is to create an area on SO and report all them.

  160. Update from 2015.

    It’s getting worse and worse. I can no longer stand the Nazis on that site. It’s just ridiculous. And sad.

  161. all that depends :P but i tend to get good answers from SO, even in 2014/15, but agree that bill the fucking lizard and others might be more interrested in getting rep that anything else, but who can know and does complaining really help

  162. no one even answered my question.. and in making question to hard and to many requirements just to post you Question.. :-(.. I Hope that they will improve there service…

  163. I agree with OP. Downvoting without giving reason is like five me fucking a girl in party while she is not conscious and girl quizzes to find the father of the baby. Moment I ask question with grammatical mistake(Pardon, but english is not my native) they downvote. I mean WTF!!!! Atleast give a damn comment, saying what is wrong there!

  164. Math stack exchange is just as bad. Some serious cunts on there.
    SO takes the PISS, i posted a question, some guy said it was a duplicate…
    had a look at the ‘duplicate’ was on a different programming language.
    Hope these raging peado’s on SO and MSE get attacked by savage dogs….with aids.

  165. Agree with you!
    However I have to say that only Stack Overflow site has such bad downvoting practices. Many others I’m also visiting (like photography, electronics…) has much better climate.

  166. Stack Overflow is not a forum. It is a question answer wiki. It was created under the false idea that past questions are likely to help future seekers and so should be curated. I am extremely frustrated, but I am going to stop myself before I say anything unkind.

  167. I like SO for getting answers to things quickly (better format than a forum IMO) and have over 6k reputation there myself, but every time I see a valid question closed by Bill the Lizard (I see it a lot), I cover my face with my palm in disgust.

  168. The phenomena was even more remarkable when the site meta-SO ( “Meta Stack Overflow is the part of the site where users discuss the workings and policies of Stack Overflow ” ) had its own independent reputation (rep) system.

    You had these technically incompetent members having 10,000 (10k) rep on meta and 100 on SO treating with contempt the SO members (who are the actual SO contributors with) – reversely – 100 on meta and 10k on SO! These meta guys were a much better fit for political matters than programming… [now that’s changed: the rep shown on meta is the SO one, whatever the user meta Q&As are up or down voted].

    All of this is of sensitive nature:

    Of course the StackExchange folks do want and need as much as possible people to contribute to the sites. Not only Q&A, but also 1) flagging q&a 2) commenting 3) voting 4) deleting for high rep members 5) editing … well, all in all, they want you to spend as much time as possible on the sites.
    (My account offers to review hundreds of posts – and I could indeed spend some hours doing that…)

    And that works incredibly well! Look these guys spend a mega huge amount of time on the sites, doing all these administrative tasks! For free! (I guess moderators – about 20 members on SO – may get something, though)

    What’s the secret to have people work for you, for free as in free beer?

    Reputation. Or recognition if you prefer. Some members do actually want to help others, regardless the rep system, and want to share their own skills. But the majority of members, the ones spending days and night on the sites, is dead greedy for recognition.

    Just watch the effects of reputation on questions, and even more on answers (and comments: not the vote [there’s only +votes with no impact on rep] but the answers to the comment).
    A “-1″ (down) vote on an answer is like the poster just got a nuclear bomb, within seconds he has to ask “why did I get down-voted?” (if it’s not obvious) ; the poor guy is like a dog having the tail between his legs. Like a trapped animal, he edits or deletes the answer quick. But, is a “-1″ actually destroying the rep, bad? Nope. A “-1″ just removes 2-rep, while a “+1″ gives 10-rep on an answer. A psychologist would be interested in those members – probably still lacking recognition from their parents/teachers/… probably under-estimated in school / work / home …

    Another interesting aspect is the yearly moderators election. A moderator is the highest level of recognition a member may get on SO (and all SE sites). Out of millions of members, only about 20 users are moderators. A yearly moderator election adds/replace a handle of them. About 30 members apply for “the job”, and everyone having a minimum of rep may vote for their favorite applicant. Competition is harsh.
    Each competitor gives a small “speech”, and the site automatically adds to that a number of figures to show how that particular member is dedicated to the site: presence, rep, number of q&a, edited / flagged / deleted / closed etc… posts.

    Giving recognition to people eager for recognition and letting them rule the site is maybe the problem. But how can SO manages to get people spend time on the site otherwise? What could be changed?

    Firstly, is “rep” really reputation?

    Obviously, rep requires some skills. But, does a user with 20k rep really deserve more reputation than a 5k one, provided that “20k” spends 10 times more time on the site, and gets on average +20 per answer, while “5k” gets +80 per answer, on average? Who is more skillful, reliable?

    And what about the “jackpot” questions: these are ultra-simple questions to which the first to answer gets tons of votes/rep. Why’s that? Because most SO readers are rather beginners, and they upvote the questions they’re interested in, the questions they understand, the simple ones. Here again, the more dedicated users, the ones scanning meticulously the new questions get the more rep. Some users only answered a small number of questions, and may get +1000 rep per answer easily, spread over a few days [there’s a limit on the rep you get per day].

    Occasionally, I see a “40k” answering a rather tricky question with a very poorly skilled answer. He doesn’t get rep, but that shows how the rep system works: the guy probably got his rep thanks to dedication and easy-answers. (to be fair, what I like on SO, is that the site is pretty open: one can check all q&a of a user, his comments etc… to get a more accurate profile that’s not only based on a (rep) number).

    “rep” requires skills, but that’s not the most important factor. “rep” requires dedication, mainly.

    So, how to behave on SO?

    Maybe the rule number one is: get a minimum rep to use the site comfortably to your own interest, basically q&a, having useful features like deletion, view the +/- of a post, close/reopen, view deleted posts etc…

    Then stop running for “rep”. “rep” is not reputation. Really.

  169. That’s assuming you can do anything at all. Apparently there are several sub domains of stack exchange and even though I was able to ask a programming question and get an answer a few years ago, today apparently I can’t do anything. I can’t upvote, downvote, or answer anything. If a question needs a good answer it will have a tag like this:

    “Thank you for your interest in this question. Because it has attracted low-quality answers, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site.”

    However, if a question has already attracted good answers there would be absolutely no need for any new answers which defeats the whole point. If it isn’t properly answered you want MORE answers, not NO answers. If it is properly answered already there is no need to answer. It’s a stupid backwards system overall.

    My profile says I never asked anything at all ever so I am guessing the system purges inactivity. In other words, if you don’t obsessively participate you won’t get to participate in the future. That’s right, I have exactly 1 point reputation because I haven’t logged in in a while.

    Any system that overly restricts it’s users to that extent is going to push away anyone who might have an answer. I also don’t like the emphasis given to voting. The person asking the question should have priority in rating answers, not the people who view from the sides. People also shouldn’t be allowed to vote for moderators. Or anything really. It shouldn’t be a popularity contest. It should just be about questions and answers.

    That all being said, I have no intention on even trying to use that forum ever again. All they want are people who spent several hours a day obsessing. It’s just a trap to generate ad revenue.

  170. Stack Overflow is like “We only want SMART people who ask SMART questions on here, that will be answered by SMART people. If you’re STUPID and you ask STUPID questions on here, because you’re so STUPID, we’re going to down vote your questions, and after asking 3 questions with at least a couple down votes each, you will be BAN from asking questions for two weeks. It doesn’t even matter if the last two questions were asked last year, and you JUST asked the third question today, they will give you a 2 week ban. Basically, if you’re smart, and you already know everything, why the fuck would you even be asking questions on the website? But, Stack Overflow’s like, “Whatever. We only answer questions to people who already knows the answers to their own question, because that’s just how we do.” Fuck Stack Overflow. If there was any other websites out there with better attitude, then Stack Overflow basically will no longer be use. By anyone. Like literally.

    • I realize you are venting; vent away. But it isn’t a stupid / smart thing. I’ve been writing code for twelve years. I’m an expert level in several technologies. Yet I apparently ask stupid questions in those technologies. The problem is that you have people who are so caught up in the curation of these questions and answers. And you know they are monoculture zealots because if they weren’t, they would realize that tech is changing every few years. It doesn’t make any sense to curate software questions and answers.

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