There appears to be a particular user who is reposting questions from online quiz/testing sites and (what I would call) trolling for solutions.

Taken singularly the questions aren't terrible (they're certainly not high quality, as Yannis has seen) but altogether, the behaviour seems a bit abusive.

Then again, maybe it's just me?

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    From what I've seen, he's someone trying to learn by working his way through a series of online programming challenges, and he's coming to Programmers for help when he gets stuck on one of them. Personally, I don't see anything wrong with this.
    – Rachel
    Commented Nov 6, 2012 at 21:15
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    @Rachel: That's understandable, but at what point did PSE stop becoming a site that was for professionals by professionals. More and more there are questions from people who don't have the first clue about what they're doing. Commented Nov 6, 2012 at 23:17
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    as far as I can tell, two questions of total five fail the what have you tried criteria for making a good question. And there are other two are slippery in that regard.
    – gnat
    Commented Nov 7, 2012 at 7:12
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    @gnat and Yannis helpfully pointed that out to the user so he'll know how he's expected to write his questions for next time. We can't expect every new user to know how to write questions that keep up with SE's high standards, so if we want a high question quality then we'll have to have a bit of patience and teach new users how to write high-quality questions that meet SE's question guidelines. You should seriously see some of my first questions asked here..... they're embarrassingly bad and I'm glad they're deleted :)
    – Rachel
    Commented Nov 7, 2012 at 13:21
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    @SnOrfus: At what point dis PSE (or SO for that matter) start being a site for professionals by professionals? I never noticed that, and I hope I never do, because I've been around the Internet long enough to observe that when you start acting elitist and stop welcoming newbies, that's invariably the beginning of a state of terminal decline for your community. Commented Nov 15, 2012 at 18:55
  • @MasonWheeler: I'm pretty sure it was, and always has been, from day 1. I agree with your observation, however I disagree that it's applicable. New people to the community and new people to programming are 2 different groups. Here, I am advocating for the former, and against the latter. At some point, answering the questions of every person with a keyboard and a compiler becomes a net drain on the collective knowledge of the community. Schools exist for a reason and I hope to be a part of a community that builds on that base, and requires it, instead of attempting to replace it. Commented Nov 15, 2012 at 20:39
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    @SnOrfus: I don't think we should "attempt to replace" schools and formal education, but we definitely should be supplementing them, especially since there are plenty of very gifted programmers who, for whatever reason, don't have the benefit of a formal CS background. (The two obvious reasons being lack of money and still being too young to go to college.) There's no good reason to exclude such people, and plenty of reasons not to. Commented Nov 15, 2012 at 22:44

2 Answers 2


The key point about a site for professionals, from my perspective, is not that each and every question will be about an advanced topic that only those with years of experience can answer; instead, on a site for experts, we should merely expect people to be professionals when they ask their questions.

A question about a relatively trivial concept for experienced programmers is okay as long as the asker attempts to solve the problem, shows research effort, explains where he or she is stuck, and provides the community with a starting point that isn't day 1 minute 1 of Intro to Programming.

To be a professional on a Stack Exchange Q&A site, one only need to ask questions that are serious. In this case, as Rachel says, he's asking about questions he's stuck on, and he's attempting to learn on his own. This is the clear markings of a professional who will one day become an expert.

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    If you check the revision history of his last question, you'll notice that it took some persuasion (including a few downvotes and a closure) to get the kid to tell us what he had already tried. To be perfectly honest at first I thought he was just copy pasting the problems, but he did update his question and showed (at least to me) that he had tried to work the problem on his own.
    – yannis
    Commented Nov 7, 2012 at 9:59
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    Ok @YannisRizos, I did answer based on Rachel's comment, but if the guy is improving, then I think that's awesome, and it's exactly what we hope people will do... go from zero to hero, that is, and start writing good questions. ;) If he starts to head the other direction and post low quality stuff, then I agree it doesn't belong. From the most recent posts, it looks like he got the hint.
    – jmort253
    Commented Nov 8, 2012 at 3:07

The one you link to has attribution to the original post and isn't a cut and paste copy so doesn't fall foul of the plagiarism rules we have.

As long as he keeps improving there's not a lot we can do.

  • I don't know that there's a lot that needs to be done. The community is enforcing our expected standards. The views and votes on those questions have dropped off over time. I see that as the community pushing aside the marginal questions. Hopefully, the user will start improving the quality of questions based upon the feedback that's been given. Looks like it's one that just needs to be allowed to play out.
    – user53019
    Commented Nov 14, 2012 at 16:08

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