Ok, this is not just a simple question but also my opinion over life hacks, and the same goes for every other stack exchange, but the reason I’m writing this on life hacks is because over here I have seen this phenomenon most often.

Like most of people here I came to stack overflow when I had some simple problem with some simple code. Moment I posted my question it was edited and soon after I got my first down vote. This situation has repeated many times. Later on I have discovered many other "stacks" which I find interesting, but everywhere it's the same: remarks like you are off the topic and similar. Soon I was scared to ask question, and now I rarely do.

But on life hack it went even further; someone asked a simple question how to warm up interior of a car during winter as quickly as possible. Since my answer was deleted I can’t remember it exactly but it was roughly "I had the same problem. Try to turn on AC and put it on heating“. After few minutes comments (negative) came. Tomorow someone with privileges deleted my answer and told me something like "The fact that you had the same problem doesn't help and your answer isn't really answer according to our standards"

I don't want to debate this or any other specific case but the pattern: When I discovered stack exchange I was amazed I always liked to learn, liked to learn others and never hesitated to ask for help. Finally I found my temple: place where you can ask something that you don't know, tell others something that you do. I really cannot describe how disappointed I was when I discovered that this temple of knowledge and democracy had guardians. And some guardians!!!!Guardians who would cut you down if you are not playing by the rules which you sometimes don't know or sometimes like myself you just don’t know where else to go.

Now, I know that over here there are many people, and that someone must maintain order so this place could maintain its purpose but let’s not forget why are we here: to learn and to be learned. Giving someone down vote or declaring question to be off topic doesn't help anyone, and which is worse that poor person feels ashamed, confused and-without answer.

So to all of you out there, especially to those with 2k or 3k reputation and all those privileges PLEASE don't make it your primary concern whether question is for this or that site but try to help...even if the question is poor and off the topic. Again PLEASE let’s make this place people university...school for those who couldn't learn things usual way, or just need a quick solution....please think about this and let my question be how do you think we can change things so our primary concern becomes giving a good answer?...Or am I in a wrong place?

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    I can understand your frustration. My best advice is to try to emulate what you see in successful questions: (1) statement of problem; (2) errors, exceptions, or messages that your code generated; (3) short code snippet that reproduces problem; (4) discussion of things that tried, but didn't work; (5) your question. If you take ONE thing away from this comment, let it be this: other users want to know that you've tried on your own. If you don't prove that in question, you risk downvotes. Don't be afraid to post questions. The "guardians" of SO are not as evil as you think.. just impatient. – Lynn Crumbling Feb 12 '15 at 1:09
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    By the way - the meta sites are absolutely the correct place to bring this up, and you may get downvotes, but they do not mean the same as on stack overflow; meta votes are merely "i agree/disagree" vs. on the main sites where it indicates quality of answer. – Lynn Crumbling Feb 12 '15 at 1:13
  • When you get the chance, take a look at this meta post, and the top answer. – Lynn Crumbling Feb 12 '15 at 1:30
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    May I suggest not taking it too seriously. I find myself doing that on occasion. – subjectivist Feb 12 '15 at 2:10
  • @Lynn Crumbling when it comes to code writing I can say that I barely know alphabet,so basically I’m a dummy.Sometimes I don't know how to start a code,plus English is not my native so I don't know many synonyms so sometimes I ask something that could be described as duplicate question. To put it one sentence I don't know what I don't know. Sometimes during copy paste my indents mess up in which case I get the answer "fix the indent" but that's not really problem with my code. Those are the things I’m speaking about. I think we should solve the problem and not to point out irrelevant mistakes. – python starter Feb 12 '15 at 8:01
  • Also, when it comes to research when I started learning programing I did it on my own. Since I didn't like using this type of services to solve problems I started asking friends if anyone can help me, tried to find books but in many cases that didn't help. Then, and only then I came here only to discover things which I have described. But, there are quite a few great people which I would like to mention and thank: Yves Daoust,Beurhan Khalid,Sh1ftst0rm are just some of them, people of great knowledge who know how to give a good answer even if the question isn't asked properly. – python starter Feb 12 '15 at 8:26
  • Bottom line is: true scholar and expert doesn't mind "bad" question; he can give you a good answer or in the worst case ask for clarification, and there are two types of answers: ones that solve the problem and ones that don't (which really aren't answers).I think that everything else is irrelevant. – python starter Feb 12 '15 at 8:34
  • @pythonstarter You keep making statements that are rather personal opinion based. Anyway, not knowing how to ask a question properly isn't an excuse to post a low quality question. We aren't going to just allow every question that it comes into someone's head to ask. See my answer for more details. We aren't going to lower our standards. If you can't take that, then you are at the wrong place. I'd suggest that you try to work with the system the way it is. If you have a gift for educating, that's awesome, you can help new users ask great questions, so they can get great answers. – J. Musser Feb 12 '15 at 11:22
  • I understand what you're saying....but I don't know what the proper response is, vis a vis the question that was (possibly) downvoted incorrectly. Do you have a link to a specific question where you feel that this was a problem? – Shokhet Feb 12 '15 at 17:09
  • @Shokhet I wasn't in a situation that my question was deleted. This is a matter of principal. Because I truly believe that there aren't bad questions...only bad answers. One can ask poor question for million reasons (lack of knowledge etc.) but should we punish him for that and, which is much worse leave him without answer? Anyone can say something is bad but not everyone can fix it (answer it).Now that’s situation where you can show true quality. Also I would like to hear you opinion over answer I gave but was deleted (described in question), I don’t have the link any more. – python starter Feb 12 '15 at 18:39
  • I can't be sure what to say about a specific post unless I see it first. I'm sorry to hear that some of them have been deleted, but do you have links to the especially problematic ones that haven't been deleted yet? (I don't have the ability to see deleted posts yet [add 10 rep please :P]) – Shokhet Feb 12 '15 at 19:42
  • From my question: "But on life hack it went even further; someone asked a simple question how to warm up interior of a car during winter as quickly as possible. Since my answer was deleted I can’t remember it exactly but it was roughly "I had the same problem. Try to turn on AC and put it on heating“. After few minutes comments (negative) came. Tomorow someone with privileges deleted my answer and told me something like "The fact that you had the same problem doesn't help and your answer isn't really answer according to our standards" " This is the situation I was speaking about. – python starter Feb 12 '15 at 20:43

No one is saying these are inherently "bad questions." They are simply not a good fit for this site.

Ultimately, the purpose down-voting (and closing) is really just a sorting mechanism — a selection process to determine which questions are good, which are great… and which questions simply do not work for the folks who are building this site. And unfortunately, that question just fell outside the scope of what we want to do here.

We're all here trying to figure out what a site about lifehacks would be about; but it cannot be about "everything." The question you cited simply pushed that boundary beyond what felt comfortable in making this an all-out, anything-goes general knowledge site.

But failing to provide thoughtful guidance as to why... was a total failure of this community. We have to do better.

  • Oh it looks to me I was misunderstood. I haven't asked any question on lifehacks so far, so I’m not complaining about my problem. I just want to discuss something that I think is extremely important. Also, I would like to hear what all of you have to say about situation when my answer was deleted (it's described in question).What I am trying to say I think we should put knowledge and learning in the first place. Even before things like "quality" "being first hit in Google search" etc. And this isn't just a question for lifehacks; it is for whole stack exchange. – python starter Feb 12 '15 at 18:25
  • @pythonstarter Even if it wasn't your questions, I'm addressing the premise that "there aren't bad questions..." You say "put knowledge and learning in the first place", but we pick these subjects based on the willingness of a community to curate it. You wouldn't shout out a calculus question in a football stadium, but you're saying we should accept any question first and foremost, and put all those quality issues on the back burner — those site and community-building issues we believe accomplish all this knowledge and learning in the first place. – Robert Cartaino Feb 12 '15 at 19:51
  • @ Robert Cartaino of course such ridiculous situation shouldn’t be allowed, but I haven’t seen such drastic example.99,99% are somewhere around the edge, most often it is remark like "question is too broad" in this case I say: yeah it is but does that stop you from giving ONE possible good answer. Im speaking about things like that. – python starter Feb 12 '15 at 20:41
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    @python That example only illustrates a point; read the link. I can appreciate your concern for helping everyone looking for help, but the purpose of this site is to create a canon of knowledge where the best solutions rise to the top, and "one possible good answer" doesn't suffice. You were amazed how easy it was to learn here, but that trust comes from asking folks to think and break down their question so it is answerable. Actually answerable. Completely. An overly-broad premise is only a conversation starter, and there are plenty of places ask them on the web. That's just not what we do. – Robert Cartaino Feb 12 '15 at 20:51
  • Plus, sites like lifehacks are about things we are mostly familiar, but when it comes to sites like stack overflow where many people are dummies like me, at least in the beginning you get a comment "what you tried so far" and you don’t know where to begin or "fix the indentation" although your problem has nothing to do with indentation or something like that.Situations where you know everyone understood your question, but to be honest isn’t 100% "by the book“.And you get down vote.Few minutes later someone else just post entire code, or even write one sentence in comment and solves everything. – python starter Feb 12 '15 at 21:19
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    thank you for your answer, now I see why you are in charge of Community Development, with only one remark: it’s not easy to learn here, and that is the reason why I started this discussion, because of all the reasons I have mentioned before, and those who are at the beginning of learning process are the one in the most need, but at the same time the ones who are making the biggest mistakes. I think that encouraging editing and commenting and discouraging deleting and down voting could solve problems, without reducing overall quality. What do you think about it? – python starter Feb 13 '15 at 9:34

You ask:

how do you think we can change things so our primary concern becomes giving a good answer?

I noticed you use the word 'good'. If one of our primary concerns is giving good answers (which, btw, it is), we will need a way to keep up the quality of the answers. If we don't, we'll get floods of one or two line thoughts/notes, instead of the quality, comprehensive answers we're looking for.

So in order to help everyone, and be helpful, we need to maintain some standards. Letting it go would be irresponsible and counter-productive.

You seem to be thinking in terms of 'being helpful vs. moderation'. You should be aware that they always go together. Always. The point of the site is to give/get helpful, high quality answers, and without any 'behind-the-scenes' work from the community, to maintain and enforce quality, it's all downhill from there.

Basically, no, we won't be lowering our site standards. If you have any other questions, just ask. I'd be happy to clear those up for ya.

  • Just wanted to tack onto Frank's point... you mentioned that Stack Overflow is a "temple of knowledge"; it didn't get that way because the fine folks at Yahoo Answers were allowed to come and post any old string of characters. Answers and questions are peer-reviewed for quality. If a question is not well-thought out, or doesn't show a certain level of attempt to solve the problem, then it will get downvoted and closed. It isn't personal. But when you search google and the TOP 2 results are from stackoverflow.com, and contain viable answers, you start to understand why these standards exist. – Lynn Crumbling Feb 12 '15 at 1:01
  • @J.Musser I don't know why you think I wanted to say that anyone should "lower standards”? I just wanted to say that everyone should think how we apply standards. And since I worked in education (as a T.A.) and realized that there is no bad question, ignorance is a disease and we should be the cure. You should know that lack of knowledge sometimes can block you from asking a good question. – python starter Feb 12 '15 at 8:10
  • @ Lynn Crumbling you said that guardians are impatient. I think that no one who tries to educate another person has any right to be impatient. When it comes to my field of expertise I found many "poor" questions "with no research in behind" but I answered each and every one of those, and offered additional explanations if needed. – python starter Feb 12 '15 at 8:43
  • @pythonstarter You stated that you would like people to be able to just ask any question without worrying about it getting closed. That would be lowering the standards. – J. Musser Feb 12 '15 at 11:18

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