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It's exactly this sort of autistic 'oh look at how closely I follow the rules' nonsense that made SO (and Wikipedia, but that's a different discussion) basically worthless for everybody who is not a first-year student any more, so basically all people who have actually something to contribute is actively hindered in contributing.

Pray tell, what is there to ask about bash that isn't programming? Now the SO zealot will say 'well the history is bash is not about programming', which is technically correct - and 'technically correct' is the worst kind of correct in existence. A question about the history of bash is close enough to being about programming, let it be.

(I don't know if the GP's question was actually about the history of bash, it's just an example of a situation I can imagine in painful realistic detail how it would go down)

Way to dump on autistic people, man. You really think they don't have enough problems, you gotta blame them for this too?

If you wanna make something better, call out specific behaviors - ideally, punctuated with specific examples - and explain why they're harmful. That way folks who care can learn something, and teach others. Yes, even if they do have autism.


Because when somebody says 'watch out where you're going, are you blind' when somebody almost runs them over, they mean that they think the person driving has 0% vision and that all blind people drive over other people? I'm not sure what your point is.

Instead of devoting paragraphs on 'detailed behaviors - ideally punctuated with specific examples', I use one word that perfectly conveys my intent. Not a single person (who is not autistic, which does make my post a catch-22 situation) would think that I actually meant that I am blaming people who are medically diagnosed as scoring high on the autism spectrum for the demise of SO.

(come to think of it, and given the context of this whole inane thread, I'm not sure if maybe you are just parodying the GP - if so, nicely done, and I admit it went over my head until after writing the above)


>this sort of autistic 'oh look at how closely I follow the rules' nonsense //

He's not referring to autism he's referring to a sort of pharisaical uber-pedantry that fails to properly acknowledge the purpose of the rules, and the purpose of the forum, instead looking only at the letter of the regulations. You might call it lack of a good faith effort to interpret the question positively.

I'm guessing you knew that.


While your defense of his vitriol is noble, I'm less convinced of his good intentions.

Sadly, this isn't the first time I've run across statements like this; they're all too common in support emails sent to us at Stack Exchange. Rather than making an effort to express their concerns and disagreements, all too many people jump to the assumption that because someone disagrees with them they must have some deep-seated problem that they're inflicting on others rather than dealing with.

Perhaps it is cathartic for the person writing, but it is frustrating and wholly unproductive for everyone they subject to it.


OK, as you suggest, I could counter with plenty of examples of questions about bash that aren't about programming, but - for the sake of discussion - let's assume those are all close enough since bash is most likely to be used by programmers than non-programmers.

where do you now draw the line? do you have a line at all? if not, don't you end up with something like yahoo answers that already exists and is pretty much useless to everyone?

The SO founders decided to draw the line at 'programming questions', then built a framework to enforce that. I don't see what's wrong with that.

P.S. If you're going to reply, can we keep it civil, please?

(edit: wow, someone really has it in for me today)


We consider questions one by one, just like on the first day SO opened (yes I was there), and the really idiotic ones are downvoted once or twice with their grey headline signaling to everybody who knows the mores of the land 'stay away'.

Everybody who isn't interested in more generic questions, recommendations for libraries, opinions etc stays away from those threads and everybody lives happily ever after.

What is more important is what shouldn't be done - pages and pages of rules and exact definitions of what is and is not worthy of being a question, with a bunch of language lawyers (who, by the way, for the most part have very little content knowledge yet don't let that stop them from having an opinion on everything) spending ungodly amounts of time combing through the details of every post to judge what does and does not conform to the all mighty 'rules'.

I have several times had people with no knowledge (judging from their comment history) and much less time on the site than I have, jump on questions or answers that didn't fit their mindlessly rigid mental image of 'how things should be' and actually detract from the usefulness of the question by their whining about formatting, phrasing of questions, how other content is linked etc.

'Foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds', illustrated nowhere as dramatically (and saddeningly) as on Stack Overflow.

I'm way more bitter than I should be over something I rationally should just shrug of. But dammit every time something good pops up, the idiots take over after 2 or 3 years. Most Usenet groups, Slashdot, BoS forums, this site - tragedy of the commons, it's perfectly rational and explainable, I understand how and why, and still I hate when it happens, every time.


I was also right there from the beginning - before, in fact, since I listened to the podcast when it was just an idea Jeff and Joel were discussing. I remember them dealing with issues such as scope and clearly expressing a desire for it not to be too broad.

You're right, though - it can get far too pedantic. anywhere you have a subjective rule, that's a danger, I'm afraid. I don't use SO anywhere near as much as I used to, so I'm not a good judge of quality over time, but I still find great answers there 99% of the time, so it's definitely getting more right than it is wrong.


I was also there at the beginning (the beta). And both of you are right. I don't use SO much now either. Really, the only time I see it is when it pops in a search. And then, the question/solution is usually closed.

What I don't get is I've seen questions that were answered closed? Why close any question that's been marked as answered?


I would buy you hacker news gold for this rant. So true.


I don't see why this was downvoted. I don't necessarily agree with you, but there was nothing objectionable or even necessarily logically wrong with what you've said.


Nobody "has it in for you". You are exemplifying the poisonous, high-handed attitude which the rest of this thread is talking about, which tends to completely ruin forums for asking technical questions: you assume by default that the user is wrong and that the appropriate way to open the interaction is to build a case for the prosecution, even though 99% of the time a question about bash will be about programming (not e.g. 'who is the author of bash'). That's why you've taken a beating on score here. The internet points don't matter, but please reconsider the way you approach question


I fail to see what he's done that's so awful. He noted that SO was designed a certain way, for a specific purpose. There was nothing poisonous or high-handed about what he wrote. I don't see how you can say that.


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