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Is it just me or that Stack Exchange (especially Stack Overflow) is almost useless?
(4 likes)
SO (=pun there), I get a task at work: "Do something that no one knows how to do but you'll figure it out
because you can think logically and just try things (yeah, as if that's how computers work...)".

Google = No luck....

I thought I'd roll the dice on SO. I was explicit about being bound to a certain technology. I got these
type of answers:

1. "I know nothing about your technology but I will post something remotely related and maybe I'll get
a point anyway"
2. "I know nothing about your technology. So, I am going to ask YOU about it"
3. "I use something else instead of your technology, so I am going to dirt on your technology, imply
you are an idiot for using it and provide an answer to your question using my technology"
4. "I know the answer but that's pretty valuable and I ain't giving that for free. I will, however,
demonstrate my superiority by nit-picking into your question. What OS do you run? What color is
your mouse pad? "
5. "I am absolutely not even remotely related to this field but I am going to be an SO nazi and find
something in your question that might prove grounds for deleting it. I will ask you to edit it 10 times"

Eventually, I found the answer myself!
So, I thought I will provide the answer to my own question and help society as a whole! Ahh, no...
can't do that! You need more reputation.
So, I can spam any question I want, regardless of my reputation but answers are limited? What if I
am a super smart and useful member to SO and I never intend to ask anything, just answer to the
questions on board?

Sooooo.... I edit my question to include the answer. People tell me: "just add it as an answer!" But
I can't... Soooo.... Some unrelated admin gets called in, he votes it for removal and some other
unrelated admins obviously side with him.

Soo... That particular technology, even though I solved a problem with it and am willing to
provide a "hello world" and discuss it with other people, still has zero results in google because
the only thing even remotely resembling a guide to get started (my question and answer) - got
deleted...

It doesn't take me more than 2 minutes to find a silly question like: "How do I print "Hello World" in
Java?" and people would answer the hell out of that and no one seems to mind...

Actually, anything useful other than asking questions, I cannot do because I don't have the rep...
Even though I sometimes have the answer for a tumbleweed...

I mean, the number of questions where 90% of the discussion is whether this question is "good"
is appauling... And the number of times I've seen someone ask for help with something and
people be like: ditch it, use this instead... I mean, has it ever occured to you that you are not
the only guy using a computer out there?

I think some SO members are snobs. It's no longer about securing IT information for all and
helping engineers out - it's about forming the perfect question and collecting points like there's
a reward or something...
Now you've got my interest piqued as to what the question you asked was. It doesn't look like you asked it here...
Shows I completely missed the point of your rant :-)

The responses to your question seem to indicate it was maybe a bad question.
I'm wondering if you wouldn't have gotten the same reception here. Apart from the closing and deleting of the question as irrelevant.

In terms of the responses the People in category #3 are at least trying to be helpful.
Category #4 are also possibly trying to help, but your problem is possibly bigger than you think it is.

And yeah, the people in Category #5 are why I don't visit StackOverflow much.
You're not the only one disgusted with SO. I sometimes find answers there that I need via Google, but I would never ask a question there. I've seen too many people get flamed for asking questions that have been addressed before, or not formulating the question correctly, or writing something that is an opinion or generates discussion instead of a straightforward question. It's ridiculous.

It's a very hostile environment and I blame their point system for that. Everyone is in competition to get reputation points, but it doesn't result in better answers. Just question nazis.
Following are my views ( obviously tailored/made mild because of the 'be nice' rule). I am a StackOverflow user as well as a CodeRanch user.

StackOverflow is not useless and my experience of using StackOverflow ( as well as Javaranch ) has been pretty pleasant. When you accuse something of a charge, wouldn't you at least back it with information that at least justifies a portion of your claims. I mean you have not even mentioned your relevant SO post here.

I wonder how your post managed to get two likes. If 'being not nice' is against rules and if we shouldn't even quote company names in jobs Discussion forum while 'ranting' about our workplace, I don't understand how can you speak negatively about StackOverflow openly and get two likes.

You say that asking a question that asks how to print HelloWorld is a silly question. I don't see that as a silly question.

Edit : Perhaps it's an apt MD post. Now I see how you got two likes.



 

Stefan Evans wrote:I'm wondering if you wouldn't have gotten the same reception here. Apart from the closing and deleting of the question as irrelevant.


Certainly not. The main motto of CodeRanch is that we're a friendly place for programming greenhorns - as it says besides the moose on the top left of the page. On CodeRanch there's a much more friendly atmosphere than on SO and people have a lot more patience with answering questions. And no nasty downvoting and close voting.

Besides the atmosphere, CodeRanch and SO work in fundamentally different ways. CodeRanch is a forum, SO is not a forum; it's a question-and-answer website. There's almost no room for discussion on SO. You post a question, you get one or more answers, that's it. Here on CodeRanch there is much more opportunity for discussion with others, which makes it much better as a place to learn new things, in my opinion.

There are good ways and less effective ways to ask questions on the Web. It sometimes amazes me how vague people are, sometimes they write little more than "I wrote a program, it doesn't work, how do I fix it?". They forget that other people don't know anything about what they are doing and what they do and don't know, and expect to get exact answers. So, it's important to think about how to write your question in a good way, if you want high-quality and useful answers. We have some tips about it in our FAQ: HowToAskQuestionsOnJavaRanch

But on CodeRanch, we at least won't shoot you down if you didn't include all the relevant information to your question the first time.
(1 like)
 

Chan Ag wrote: I don't understand how can you speak negatively about StackOverflow openly and get two likes.


I don't see how expressing a negative opinion about a site (or a technology, or a car, or a restaurant, or whatever else) is a violation of "Be nice". Now, if the post had been "Bear is a doo-doo head" or some other personal attack, that's a completely different matter.

The "no company names' rule is a separate concept with its own reasoning.
 

Bear Bibeault wrote:

Chan Ag wrote: I don't understand how can you speak negatively about StackOverflow openly and get two likes.


I don't see how expressing a negative opinion about a site (or a technology, or a car, or a restaurant, or whatever else) is a violation of "Be nice". Now, if the post had been "Bear is a doo-doo head" or some other personal attack, that's a completely different matter.



What you have stated is interesting to know. Personal attacks directly or indirectly means people have stooped at really low levels. And when they do that, they are best ignored cause you can't tackle them without stooping at an even lower level.
Oh, I wasn't attacking SO. Just mindlessly drivelling. I did say it's ALMOST useless

Anyway, the question was about CICS EZASOKETS. My task was to write a test system with one COBOL-CICS server
that communicates with a client via EZASOKET calls. The client could be anything (so, I obviously made it in Java ).
It's really very hard to find anything useful about CICS EZASOKET API. Try it

Eventually, I wrote a minimalistic server that can get a message across and wanted to provide that as info people
could see when they google EZASOKET but it got deleted and the bottom line is that much less info is available now
on the web about this because of their zero-tolerance. I think I didn't ask anything extraordinarily stupid. I do like
to think I understand what SO are trying to achieve but I was also looking for a solution to my problem - or any clue
whatsoever.

I think the only person who understands EZASOKET calls and is active on SO was newbie bashing me. He was
constantly asking what COBOL dialect and whether I was using the mainframe or emulator as a host. He actually
knew quite well that I am using MF COBOL and Enterprise Server (a PC emulator of a mainframe) but COBOL is one
of those languages you can't just copy-paste from the internet and compile anyway. I was providing a view on how
an EZASOKET server program looks. How are the API calls structured, how does the data going back and forth looks
like and I also wrote I will help anyone willing to get this program running.

And yeah, I bet a 65 year-old, classically educated mainframe developer would find parts of my code that aren't perfect
examples of coding but I explicitly stated this.
Oh, and that sever, BTW, kicked our production system's ass because it is just damn simple engineering and it's 350
lines of code. It is basically a gateway to other transactions on the server so the input/output is the same but my
EZASOKET boy wasn't written by a big, heavy organization but by one naive script kiddie.

(1 like)
If you have info on your subject matter that you'd like to make sure is available to google searches, we'd love to have you post it here. Please check out the Campfire forum where you can make blog-y posts on useful stuff like that!
I know it quite well how difficult it is to find answers to advanced mainframes questions.

If you are still looking for an answer on the EZASOKET API, perhaps it won't be a futile task to compile that information again and post that question again. Why not save that information somewhere so you can post it again without having to compile it again.

Also there is a forum called www.ibmmainframes.com that could be of help.

At times there are responses that don't make sense. Sometimes the response is by someone who does not understand what they are responding about. But if you want to get the maximum benefits of using a forum, I recommend using your own judgement of how to take a response or a suggestion. If it is applicable to your setup, let it be. In my opinion politely stating something is not applicable in your context is much better than saying the suggestion is made by someone who purposely wants to find reasons to close your question. Even if the other person had the intention of nitpicking on irrelevant things to get your question closed, I think the best way is to still listen to all feedback/suggestions and state it is not applicable because of reason X. I would certainly not recommend mentioning people purposely want to close your question.
 

Chan Ag wrote:

Also there is a forum called www.ibmmainframes.com that could be of help.



LOL, I did try to follow that forum but if I felt "bullied" on SO because of one ONE mainframe guy; imagine what it might be
where you are SURROUNDED by that folk!

I actually did post a much more simple version of my inquiry and got no response - and I am kinda happy it turned out this
way because their response tends to be quite rough. Here are some selected quotes from that forum:
- "Even if your program linked successfully, doesn't mean it is worth running"
- "would it be so difficult to try to find out by Yourself?" (that's, like, 20% of the answers to any question)
- "Maybe computer programming is not for you"

These are copy-paste quotes, not making things up! I didn't even try to search, just opened 2-3 random threads...
I will post the CICS Sockets server COBOL code on this forum (you must have a Other languages > COBOL section, right?), as this forum appears to be well up on the google search results.
 

Jesper de Jong wrote:
Certainly not. The main motto of CodeRanch is that we're a friendly place for programming greenhorns - as it says besides the moose on the top left of the page. On CodeRanch there's a much more friendly atmosphere than on SO and people have a lot more patience with answering questions. And no nasty downvoting and close voting.



Agreed. I've asked my share of stupid questions here (cough http://www.coderanch.com/t/648143/java/java/variable-uninitialized cough) and people have been nothing but patient here.
 


It's really very hard to find anything useful about CICS EZASOKET API. Try it.



Really? Google brought up quite a bit. I didn't see a RedBook on it, but I didn't dig very deep.

Then again, I'm used to using the IBM manuals directly. Most people hate those things.

It's possible that you got the worst of 2 worlds on SO. SO can be abrupt at the best of times, but speaking as a one-time mainframe Systems Programmer, those guys can be real jerks, so if that's who answered, it's about par for the course.
(3 likes)
I find there's a bit of an anti-SO culture here, and while I understand the sentiment (I'm not very keen on being a contributing member on their site myself) I *definitely* wouldn't say it's useless. I click links to SO on a daily basis, to find quick solutions or at least hints to some problems I'm facing.

I honestly don't see that they're "not nice". I see curt, impersonal, direct answers to questions, that sometimes point out that the OP is going down the wrong path. We're at a point we feel mistreated if answers aren't loaded with smiley faces and here you go and it was a pleasure assisting you.

Stefan already mentioned reasons for some types of answers of categories 3 and 4. We do it here too. We ask people to question the path they're taking, rather than the way they're going down their chosen path. 2 probably fits the bill as well.

The responses of category 5 are a bitter result of the format they've decided they want their site to be in. With the internet being loaded with discussion boards, creating a place that is just Q&A takes some draconian rules. I don't like their format, but I understand it's unique, and the measures it takes to preserve that. They're doing well for a reason.

As for category 1, take a look at our book promotions. If there's something for people to gain, they will do what they can to get it. If they can get a book by asking questions, they will ask inane questions. If they can get points by responding to questions, they will post dumb answers. This is everywhere.
Actually our format is if not unique unusual; we do have to take draconian measures to maintain the friendly atmosphere. We ban spammers for example, and most people using this website are not aware of that.
I agree 100% with the OP. This just happened to me (again). Here is the question I posted -> https://stackoverflow.com/questions/48705292/copy-three-dimensional-arraylist-as-pass-by-value

when the person with the highest points just replies "ArrayList<ArrayList<ArrayList<Integer>>> Ouh !"... this comment gets upvoted while your question gets downvoted... it really makes me think the smart people have left this site all together.

That being said, is there a better platform out there for coding questions?
Welcome to the Ranch

We are the best
 

Sam Parson wrote:That being said, is there a better platform out there for coding questions?


Yes! This one! Here's a direct link to our beginning Java forum.
(1 like)
StackOverflow is not noob friendly. It's where all the professional developers go. If you are posing the question, you should be able to format it in a way that is intelligble, percise, with no ambiguity. Also, it must be specific. There not their to write your entire program for you. Let's face it, if you are noob then things as based off my experience will be hard for you to meet. If you are a noob, I suggest you go to a more friendly dreamincode.net. They have a few regulars that will do a great job help you through the whole process. If you aren't a noob, make sure follow the guidlines and don't post bs questions.
I would not say it is useless, but it is unfriendly. I got the idea that some people get a kick out of putting other people down, and thinking 'they are smarter' and the poster is stupid.

William Ng wrote:StackOverflow is not noob friendly.



No, it is just not friendly, period, to be honest.

(1 like)
Jon Skeet, the top question answerer on StackOverflow, recently wrote a blog post about StackOverflow culture.
I think that actually one of the most off-putting things about that site is that the meta-commentary tends to be more visually prominent than the actual questions and answers.

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