How do we SE users take steps to avoid people from asking pointless questions whose answers are readily available on the internet or are too trivial? It feels quite bad to down vote or flag the very first question of several users. I feel like we are demotivating them. Any suggestions?

  • $\begingroup$ Have you had a look at this question? $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 4, 2016 at 11:42
  • $\begingroup$ yes i have. but the answer talks about how to salvage something out of a poor question or answer in general, or how we can close such questions. I want your suggestions on how we can prevent such trivial questions. $\endgroup$
    – ShankRam
    Commented Feb 4, 2016 at 11:47
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    $\begingroup$ I was just checking. I guess there is nothing that can be done. Just be friendly, leave a welcome note and hope that the asker is not discouraged. $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 4, 2016 at 11:54

1 Answer 1


You can't prevent people from asking questions 1. That goes against the philosophy of this site.

Here's what the system does: Guidance. It shows you a thousand links that can help you: A how to ask page. And a bunch of sidebars with even more links about potentially similar questions:

Questions that your answer may have already been on

Related, but not relevant

Here's what we should do: Questions that do not show research effort and are not useful for the community deserve a downvote. Questions that fit one of the close reasons should be closed. On the other hand, we shouldn't be shy about giving good questions their upvotes and try to be as constructively supportive as possible to the new users.

I dare say that the biggest problem of Stack Overflow currently is the stream of bad quality questions; and there are filters in place to block the posting of the worst-quality questions, but computers have never been reliable in identifying good questions from bad ones and it's us humans [sic] that decide the ultimate fate of a question.

1: Actually, for people that have asked many poor questions beforehand, a question-ban prevents further questions until their existing contributions are improved. But that's after it's been revealed that without a nudge, the person can't ask further quality questions. (See What can I do when getting "We are no longer accepting questions/answers from this account"?)

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ This pretty well covers it. I would only add that we cater to all levels, and unless something is just a blatant fact (k values, etc.), it can always be expanded upon so that we can become the resource that people go to for even the most basic concepts. $\endgroup$
    – jonsca
    Commented Feb 4, 2016 at 23:33
  • $\begingroup$ Yes but all that can be done only 'after the question is asked'. How about this idea: When users post their first question, it is brought to the attention of other users who have good reputation and then if it is accepted, it can be posted on the site. So, when someone posts their first question, they will get a message that says "Question waiting for approval. You will be notified shortly." or something like that? If experienced users don't approve it, it will never be posted. $\endgroup$
    – ShankRam
    Commented Feb 5, 2016 at 9:10
  • $\begingroup$ @ShankRam I believe that would be even more discouraging. Also it requires high reputation users to be available and that is not always the case. $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 5, 2016 at 10:20
  • $\begingroup$ @ShankRam I believe that has already been requested in meta.SO (and when I feel free I'll add a link to it) but it's still hanging with no official response. It's not practical IMO. $\endgroup$
    – M.A.R.
    Commented Feb 6, 2016 at 14:19
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    $\begingroup$ @IͶΔ: According to quantcast there are many people (~40%) accessing the site from their smartphones. The official SE-App does not show all the things that you get via the desktop version (at least not as I tried it on my phone). So for the young smartphone addicted OPs, there is no guidance in asking stuff on this site. Your turn. $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 8, 2016 at 20:22
  • $\begingroup$ @pH13 feature-request $\endgroup$
    – Jan
    Commented Feb 9, 2016 at 15:01
  • $\begingroup$ @ina: Did you actually write that question just for this answer’s sake? ;) $\endgroup$
    – Jan
    Commented Feb 9, 2016 at 15:02
  • $\begingroup$ @Jan I did? Did I? Does I? Do I? I do? Duz I? $\endgroup$
    – M.A.R.
    Commented Feb 9, 2016 at 15:33

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