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Emmanuel Raymond
Emmanuel Raymond

Posted on • Updated on

I asked my first StackOverflow question

I asked my first question on StackOverflow today and within minutes, I got answers to my question. Unlike what I read online about difficulties in asking a question, mine was actually easy. Aside from insisting I used a title that describes the question and no one has used before which took few minutes, everything went well.

What was your experience when you asked your first ever question on StackOverflow?

Originally published on my blog. Feel free to check out my other articles.

Top comments (30)

ben profile image
Ben Halpern

I recall things going pretty well besides a bunch of corrections. I remember someone complaining that I wrote “thanks in advance”, and then it was removed.

It was, like, fine, but bizarre.

cannuhlar profile image
Can Nuhlar • Edited

Some people on SO are weird...

evanoman profile image
Evan Oman • Edited

FWIW, this is not an individual behavior, it is a Stack Overflow standard:

kspeakman profile image
Kasey Speakman • Edited

Apparently this was my first question, which nobody answered, and I found out shortly that it was a bug in MySQL.

How do I convert a mysql function result to tinyint

Most of my questions on SO proper are about solving specific technical problems that I already tried solving at length, so I haven't had a lot of issue there. I've started many questions and then answered them myself in the process of writing the question, so I didn't post. Most of my answers on SO are because I had the same question and ran across the unanswered (or not thoroughly answered) question on SO. After I found the answer I needed elsewhere, I went back and added mine to the SO question for posterity. Most of the bad treatment on SO I've seen is from other users, not necessarily from mods. As far as the mods go, it does really hurt the ego to ask a question and get bopped on the head for it. However, I have often observed that people don't bother to think through their questions or even do a quick search for answers before posting.

The main negative experiences have been from the Software Engineering site:

  • Cutting remarks from mods
    • usually upvoted at least 3 times, presumably by other mods
    • Within the past several months, I saw a question where the mod literally mocked the poster's English mistakes. It was upvoted multiple times.
  • Downvotes of legitimate, answerable questions
    • A couple of times, my question or answer got only downvotes, and I just deleted.
    • Sometimes mods are prone to do this when they have a low opinion of a topic. Or in ignorance, they assume the question is unanswerable.
    • I have even gotten "warned" about answering questions which were closed as too broad, even though I did have a concrete answer.
  • Needless edits for rep sake
    • More than once, I rolled them back because it changed the meaning of what I said or was unnecessary.
  • Corrections on technicalities which don't materially change the question.
    • Some people don't understand "spirit of the law" over "letter of the law".

I have actually never asked a question on the software engineering site... or if I did I deleted it. But I have observed all of these on other questions/answers. Although I shouldn't, sometimes I have participated in comment arguments. Disagreement on a logical basis is usually fine, but because of the nature of the site, comments like that are rarely productive. The culture/rules on the Software Engineering site is just a really broken for its stated purpose. And some of the active mods I see on there are toxic.

If you really want to see how people are treated on the site, watch the newest unanswered questions. This is where you can see how mods and other users treat question askers before they disappear from being downvoted and closed.

alexgwartney profile image
Alex Gwartney

Yea stack overflow has a really really bad Iam better than you mind set. I personally feel like they are horrible when it comes to new people. In all honesty if I have questions I come to places like this or slack chat. At least then I actually get help and not down voted. Because people don’t like my question. I have posted things on there in the past and have gained rep ect from it but I get better explanations on other sites and slack chat community’s.

pizmovc profile image

I think its encouraged to post your question, that you also found an answer to.

slaffik profile image
Slava Abakumov

Hugely depends where exactly on SO (like "subreddit") you've asked the question, and the complexity of the question, and the time you did that, and how you did that (proper formatting etc). All that HUGELY affect the response by others and the timing you get at least something.

I asked 1 or 2 times, never got an answer.
Although replied to others and got enough "karma" points to be able to review and edit other questions.

dance2die profile image
Sung M. Kim • Edited

🥇 My First Question

I first posted a question when SO was still in beta.
So many questions were answered (whether they were duplicate or not) without getting downvoted.

At the time, people were learning how to create a great community.

⏳ Until A few years back

I stopped posting and answering on SO for years as my questions were downvoted/deleted.

😁 Present

But now I see why. It was because I was stuck in the old mindset posting questions without putting myself in other people's shoes according to John Skeet's Golden Rule.

gameoverwill profile image
Wilfredo Pérez

I stopped posting and answering on SO for years as my questions were downvoted/deleted.

I did the same, I think the community has lost their sense. Nowadays I prefer this site instead of SO.

mittalyashu profile image
Yashu Mittal

When I posted my first question on StackOverFlow I got 3 down votes. 😂

twentygototen profile image
Martin Davies

Once you reach a certain level on Stack Overflow you get points for reviewing the posts of newcomers - there's a dedicated section on the site for it. The result is that people come across as overly critical and nit-picky. In fact, they just want the extra points

t4rzsan profile image
Jakob Christensen

You do not get SO points for reviewing. You may get badges though but it takes a lot of work to earn badges for edits and usually two or more reviews are needed for an edit to go through.

davedavemckay profile image
David McKay

I had exactly the same experience. In fact it was 1 minute after I posted that a model answer appeared. Amazing. I had to wait 15 minutes before I could select it as my preferred answer, in which time there was another answer, several comments on the answers, and a comment on the question that helped me to clarify it. Great experience. It is not in my nature to not thank people, though.

peoray profile image
Emmanuel Raymond

Well, I think they recommend you don't actually say thank you XD

davedavemckay profile image
David McKay

Indeed, that's my point. I'd rather be able to thank people, and I don't see why it isn't allowed. I do "thank them by voting up" though.

leoat12 profile image
Leonardo Teteo

I don't remember now the very first one because I think it was removed because it was either "duplicate" or "off-topic", but the very first in my history on the site was not answered until now. It was September 2017. I refrain from asking question because of the bad reputation it has. Generally, I find answers to my problems in other questions, many of them are marked as duplicate and when I take a look at it, it is not actually duplicate, it is a completely different context and sometimes the solution don't apply.

I'm naturally averse to asking questions, it is possible to count in one hand how many times I asked questions during my school years and for that reason, when I do have a question, it is a real struggle and I don't like the feeling that SO users are always belittling people's questions. =/

andreasjakof profile image
Andreas Jakof

My first question never got an answer. But the ones after it did. My questions were also never voted down. But I try to make answering them as easy as possible, by giving as much information as possible of which I can imagine being helpful to understanding the problem.
It is a bit like when you get feedback for something you coded, that does not work. You need as much info as you can get to locate the problem.
After that it is usually just some kind of intellectual challenge. And there you have those guys. They love those kind of challenges.

pratikaambani profile image
Pratik Ambani • Edited

Fantastic!!! You people carry a pretty clear/impressive track record on the first impression.

Answers/Comments to my first SO question(Here we go):

  1. Do your homework on your own.
  2. Don't expect us to do your homework.
  3. Duplicate.

Question(somewhere around 2009):
How can I pass data from one page to another in JSP?

Reasons for asking this question:
It was the only second day I had heard of the word "JSP" and I was learning JSP.

No, I was not expecting em to do my homework. I was extremely passionate to learn JSP/Servlet and other technologies which my classmates were not even aware of.

PS: I created a fresh account thereafter and still continuing with the same.

jacoby profile image
Dave Jacoby

I'm looking back at the questions I asked, and they're all over six years ago. Mostly, I have advanced enough and SO's body of questions has advanced enough that I rarely find a question I have that isn't already answered.

I recall that asking questions can be fairly painless, unless it doesn't quite fit under the right domain. Asking a question about the right way to wrangle a project in Git, as an example, might be pushed to the Software Engineering SO as "off-topic", then pushed back, while 'How do I install git in Ubuntu' would stay in Ask Ubuntu.

(Speaking of Ask Ubuntu, I have a question about telling if the screen is locked or not that I asked twice, because one was pre-14.04 and Gnome, while the other was post-14.04 and Unity, with significantly different answers.)

coolshaurya profile image

My question was terrible. But as far as I remember, the answers I got didn't solve my problem because I didn't give enough data. After a month, I figured it out myself. It was my fault for not giving enough data about the problem.
The question. There was a problem with the margin/padding of the body element.

jvanbruegge profile image
Jan van Brügge

My first question was three years ago. I was transitioning from Java to C++. And tried to rewrite my learning project, a toy game engine. It worked well until I was trying to load libraries at run time. Turns out the error message was just bad and my error had nothing to do with the loading, but with my project setup (

After that 5 of my 10 questions were Haskell ones. The people in that community tend to be very nice to newcomers.

gyasikn profile image
gyasik • Edited

The first time I posted on SO I specifically asked for a way to do something in vanilla javascript, NOT jQuery.

I immediately received a bunch of downvotes, edits to my original question, and a bunch of replies with how to do it in jQuery. 😩

Never posted again... lol

thomasjunkos profile image
Thomas Junkツ

I found my first question on SO:

I really liked it (then) and stayed. At programmers.stackexchange I feel the most at home in the Stackexchange universe.