As far as I have understand basic/simple/trivial/naive questions on EL&U are being systematically downvoted while on stackoverflow there is a hot competition to correct or improve and then answer them.

On stackoverflow you can see many questions being edited by one of those who has answered it (I have done that), or on comments users are asking for more detail to answer them.

It seems that on stackoverflow users search for interesting questions to answer but here user search for uninteresting questions to vote down and keep front page clean.

What makes these two communities so different?

  • 2
    Can you link to some examples from StackOverflow about this tendency?
    – Alenanno
    Aug 26, 2012 at 9:46
  • 2
    Some of us do leave comments asking for more details; I've done so HERE and HERE, e.g. As for why that doesn't happen more often, such comments take time, and some users may not have time in the moment to leave the comment.
    – J.R.
    Aug 26, 2012 at 11:24
  • 4
    Please link to some examples from both sites of what you mean by "trivial." Aug 26, 2012 at 12:56
  • 4
    I'll second Bill (who's a mod on SO). More substance would be nice. Re: answers, on ELU, too, people will answer everything. "Someone could ask for a recipe for a really tasty egg salad sandwich and probably get at least one answer before it could be closed." Re: votes, there are hundreds of questions on SO that are at -10 or below, but you'll be hard pressed to find a single question on ELU that has been voted down that much. Re: edits, I have personally made 3200 edits on ELU but only 320 on SO. Anecdotal evidence is anecdotal.
    – RegDwigнt Mod
    Aug 26, 2012 at 15:21
  • @J.R.: I understand and sympathize with your time argument. Is there a page somewhere around here that you could leave a comment linking to in a few seconds? E.g., "Please improve this post by doing your homework," or "I think this post lacks [research effort]." Maybe it should be a page like the FAQ that is easy to link to to save time? Also, if you leave a comment asking for improvement, should you also downvote at the same time or wait?
    – Rachel
    Aug 26, 2012 at 21:44
  • @Rachel: Actually, you need not look any further than my profile. (One day, tired of explaining the same shortcomings over and over again, I decided to address my personal feelings on the matter there.) :^) As to whether or not it's "fair" to just downvote instead of comment, that's a tricky issue. I don't think some who plead for a constructive comment realize that to do so sometimes requires me to invest more time in my comment than it looks like they invested in typing their question. In such cases, I don't have any problem with using a downvote to quickly say, "This question is very poor."
    – J.R.
    Aug 26, 2012 at 22:50
  • @Alenanno Example on SO, the question shows that OP doesn't even know about "== vs .equals()" which is explained in first 10 pages of any Java book and he/she doesn't know how to read a JavaDoc before asking (see question edits): stackoverflow.com/questions/11273440/… Aug 27, 2012 at 12:09
  • @BilltheLizard More examples? See how people like balusc or bozho answer every single question on SO. Or ask them when they vote down a question. Aug 27, 2012 at 12:22
  • @JohnS BalusC has downvoted over 3000 times. I'm sure some of those are on questions. He's also thrown over 1000 helpful flags on SO, so he's definitely involved in helping moderate site content. I looked at a random sample of about a dozen of Bozho's most recent answers. None of them were on downvoted or closed questions. I don't see a problem with either one of these guys. Regardless, I was asking for specific examples of questions you consider trivial on both sites. Aug 27, 2012 at 12:29
  • @JohnS Just to clarify, I'm interested in finding out if there's a significant difference between what's considered "trivial" on SO and on EL&U. Questions that a typical student in programming (normally late high-school or early college) might ask are allowed on SO, but these might be considered trivial by some. Questions that you can easily look up in a dictionary or on Wikipedia are usually closed though. Aug 27, 2012 at 12:35
  • @BilltheLizard I gave an example on SO on my previous comment (before that comment where I mentioned you). On SO usually people who are interested to increase their rep see trivial questions as opportunity. As far as I know on SO mostly questions which are not answerable are down voted after asking OP to provide more detail. Aug 27, 2012 at 12:43
  • In fact the problem on SO is on the other end of extreme: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/2984/… Aug 27, 2012 at 12:47


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