What's the appropriate response to this (at "Programmers")

"You are asking a fairly wide open question and then asking opinions on possible answers. It sounds like you haven't really done your home work. Please show your research."

I responded with the below and then deleted the question, because I didn't want to be seen as contentious.

"I see posts to the right that ask for subjective advice on things like design patterns and architecture choices. This question is much more focused than that. I spent a good bit of time formulating an exact description of the requirement. I don't see what providing a list of google searches will add. Please read the post more carefully. I would like to add some courtesy remarks, but policy forbids :-)"

It felt like I was just being bullied. I put a lot of work into the question. I don't post lightly. Anyone can say "work harder; you don't deserve help".

What's the appropriate response?


1 Answer 1


I glanced at the question while trying to figure out if I can answer, but didn't look too deeply into the question itself.

The final paragraph of the question is the one that would have been decisive for me:

How might the app reliably and securely persist information about each Main page instance, regardless of which browser instance, window or tab, so that the the server accurately recognizes the correct user/group session participant for that Main Page? Hidden field? localStorage? Something else? Pros and cons of different techniques?

It really feels like one that is asking us to design it all for you. You haven't addressed a problem that you are having. And while you may have some information about the backend design that is already firm, you haven't communicated this in the post.

There are two things that I've written here that seek to try to help people formulate a better question when trying to ask this:

The blue sky nature of the question - that we don't know what the problem that you are having with your design is. And thats where the comment that is on the question is addressing.

The pros and cons is one that we often see and is very difficult to answer. In part, because everyone regards the advantages and disadvantages of a given design (and the different designs is indeed far too wide open to be able to even have a chance at narrowing it down) will add their opinion. This often leads to rather short and unhelpful answers.


Hidden field pro: its simple

local storage con: you've got to use local storage and it's inconsistent across browsers

something else pro: Its something you haven't considered

yet something else con: Its something you haven't considered either

These are all "valid" answers to the question. And they aren't really helpful to you, or to the next person who comes along trying to ask a question about a similar design.

You've given us a requirement. Tell us about your design and specifically where you are having problems. If you are just asking for us to do a design, there are far too many ways for that to be done, and most will be incompatible with some part of your system.

  • Issue might be I'm not a professional programmer, so people might think I'm asking a more complex question or know more. Perhaps better: "One user, multiple logins to app, one user record per login. On page callback or submit, page needs to give app info to recognize which user record to use. Excluding session cache, what are secure and reliable ways to provide that info, and what are their strengths and weaknesses?" It's a very particular point in the design; I'm not having problems so much as hoping other people's knowledge would be more than mine, to help avoid problems. Or still off?
    – wayfarer
    Nov 16, 2015 at 1:04
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    @wayfarer as a professional programmer, there are far too many ways to answer that question. There are numerous designs that might fit into your solutions, or might not. The advantages and disadvantages of any given design depend heavily on the problems you are trying to overcome. Without knowing that, it isn't a question that we can answer in a way that would ultimately be helpful to you or others.
    – user40980
    Nov 16, 2015 at 1:06
  • I looked around S.O. and better appreciate the value of "ask better questions" and "show your research". Yet your hypothetical answer showed that the question was understandable, and that answer could have been extended to "you may want to look at how to communicate between pages" or something like that (which your answer led me to). While it may be better (and easier) to be strict than loose; perhaps there's also a balance between being helpful and using the rules to exert high-handedness. Aside a few stars, better communicators get paid more; what effect does SO's culture have on that?
    – wayfarer
    Nov 16, 2015 at 5:51
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    @wayfarer its not the understandability or the topicality that is at issue with that question. It is that it is too broad - there are too many possible answers (of which most will be noise when considering the core problem). This makes it harder for you to find a useful answer, and much harder for later readers to find a useful answer. The Q&A framework that SE is founded on was a reaction to this signal and noise ratio that is found in forums - making it easier to find the right answer. If that right answer is buried in all of the unhelpful ones, it diminishes the value of the site.
    – user40980
    Nov 16, 2015 at 14:07
  • Ok. I'm getting the formula. It obviously works! And it's interesting to model WHY it works; something to look into. Between the effort I put into the question, my ignorance of the SE model and the particular language of the response, I felt kind of stung. (Though issues with geek styles shouldn't be a surprise; ask my spouse). Suggestions: 1) a standard message and link to a "questions guide" would remove the styles issue; 2) a zone explicitly for newbs to ask "I'm clueless" questions and be patiently pointed toward research topics (and the questions guide).
    – wayfarer
    Nov 16, 2015 at 18:56
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    @wayfarer for the why, I strongly encourage you to read a group is its own worst enemy which goes into some of the ideas of virtual communities - the author is a mentor of one of the founders of Stack Overflow and is on the board for Stack Exchange. We really try to provide material to help people write better questions (on my own - click the profile and look at the faq and faq-proposed tag questions). However, its hard to get people to read this before asking the question. We also encourage people to use Software Engineering Chat.
    – user40980
    Nov 16, 2015 at 19:26
  • very helpful, in many ways
    – wayfarer
    Nov 16, 2015 at 20:51

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