In case you were wondering...

I Hate asking questions on programming forums

I love that we have a community to support asking and answering questions. I always appreciate that there are people out there who are 'better at it' than I am to help me out.

But there's something not quite right in how the community acts.

At some point in asking and answering our identity (read: impostor syndrome) gets all excited.

Who asks questions on programming forums, and why? Who answers questions on programming forums, and why?

I'm 'learning' go. I've been doing so for a while, so I'm getting somewhere, but I'm still learning.

I didn't study programming at Uni, and I've only worked with large a development team once.

I don't know how to clearly describe programming concepts, I don't have the language to do so.

I constantly feel like I have no idea what I'm doing, and I've been faking it all of these years, and sooner or later someone is going to find out and I'll never get a job again.

I've tried googling it, but I don't know the keywords.

I've tried reading the website, but I either didn't understand it, or it didn't address my problem.

I'm lost and I'm confused, and I'm on StackOverflow about to ask a question.


I try to be helpful on forums, so I look for questions from people who are 'just behind' where I am. I don't want to explain to someone what the 'terminal' is, but I also don't know the intricacies of the efficiency of a certain type of constructor function's impact on the GC...

So I look for questions from someone about 4 months into something I'm 5 months into.

I constantly feel like I have no idea what I'm doing, and I've been faking it all of these years, and sooner or later someone is going to find out and I'll never get a job again.

But I know the answer to THIS question. So I answer it, and it makes me feel a little warm and fuzzy and justified and useful and good at what I do.

Then I scan through some more questions, on my 'expert high', but there are no more ideal questions.

This asker has clearly mis-understood the whole underlying concept of what they are trying to do. And on my high, I might just point that out, they don't belong here.

This asker hasn't even spellchcked their question, if they can't be bothered, then I can't be bothered answering. I'll just let them know.

Oh god, this question again, did they even google it?

I have no idea what this person is talking about, and I'm an expert, so what they are doing is clearly the wrong way to go about it.

This person hasn't read the 'how to ask questions' post, so I'll ask them to resubmit properly.

I had a problem like this once, but I solved it in a totally different way, so should this person.

That's who's answering.

I don't know the way out of this, because I do both. But here's an example of a really awesome interaction between some programmers:


The asker is asking a question I also had (and asked, because I didn't find this answer until just after asking the question).

They have asked it relatively clearly, but definitely not followed 'the rules'.

The biggest sin is not using the golang playground for the code snippet (a sin I am guilty of).

The first response is perfect.

1) They didn't point out that the asker should use the playground, they just pasted the code in there and linked it back. Now the asker knows, and they can work on the code together.

2) Am I missing something here?. Maybe. Possibly, not sure. It's probably worth looking nicer way of phrasing it (collectively, as in... the community should have a way to really say 'I've looked at your problem, but I'm really sorry, I haven't been able to figure out exactly what isn't working for you, could you elaborate a little about what you are going for"), but it's clear in the follow-up that the answerer really was invested in trying to understand the problem.

Then the next answer is simply a link to where to read in the language documentation. No guilt trip, just a link.

The asker read the link, and understood the problem, and thanked the answerer.

Anyway, just be nice.

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