I am currently kind of struggling with how to react to people who obviously put no real effort in trying to find a solution for themselves. I find myself to get more and more uncomfortable about those kind of questions and to react harsh or rude and would like to have a recommendation on how to handle it.

I don´t mean "basic questions" like it was a topic here but putting no effort in finding solutions to "harder" questions and improving yourself and your skills.

Take this question for example. I think I gave quite a good answer. Changing or adding rewrite rules does not seem like a basic problem for me, but you can find quite a lot about it and the code I provided should be a good starting point to move on and learn more about it, improve the code and fit it to your needs and so on.

But comments like "Where do I add it?" always make me think that the one I answer to is not interested in learning something before and after we solve his question. And solving that specific question is then, in the end, just part of a more or less clever hidden "write my code for me", through a series of questions.

And I think this behaviour might become risky, too. Just throwing code at people who are not trying to understand what is going on there, is kind of like giving them a loaded gun and telling them, that they should probably not shoot at other people or themselves but that it´s up to them. Can you understand that reference? (I struggle to write in English what I think in German about this situation, sorry.)

I don´t think that providing code examples is how Stack Overflow (should) work and I am more and more often just deleting my answer after typing, because I think "Hey, you made no effort, why should I?".

How can I handle these situations/questions better or how do you handle them?

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    I just tend to ignore questions with poor research effort and sometimes don't even reply on simple comments as I expect someone to atleast know te basics. From time to time, if something really grabs my attention, and looks interesting and might be helpful to myself, I will go and sit down and write specific code. Commented Nov 18, 2015 at 13:12

3 Answers 3


First and most important — don't let it get to you. :)

someone is wrong on the interntet http://imgs.xkcd.com/comics/duty_calls.png

You are not here as someone's personal tutor. You are here to gratiously volunteer your time and expertise to the goal of collecting knowledge about WordPress development. Focus on that goal.

Handling comments

You don't owe anyone to discuss your answers. The comments are inappropriate for extensive discussions and more so for asking more questions.

If you consider your answer written to the best of your time/ability and final, then you can politely state just that.

Also please read this thread about third comment rule. It's not official or anything, but it's helpful in situations like this.

Handling code

I completely agree that code snippets are the plague of WP development.

Personally I love writing code that solves elaborate issues (extensive or tiny either). However the value of writing code rapidly drops off for more common tasks. Those benefit greatly from canonical examples and documentation (which answer can be by the way), rather than hundreds of takes on same thing.

There are couple of ways to write without snippets:

  • explain concepts and link to documentation, for competent developers that is often a most important part — a clear place to start or continue research;
  • write in pseudo code, explaining the tasks, logic, and API being used — just not an actual PHP code;
  • write general code which explains the relevant APIs, but not necessarily caters to the very specific demands of the question.
  • Thanks, this helped me. :-)
    – flomei
    Commented Nov 18, 2015 at 11:07

ANSWER: I try to answer questions not based on what the OP merrits in terms of effort, but what would benefit them (and future users) most.

More often than not pointing to the right spot in documentation is most beneficial.

My rule of thumb is: always feel good while answering. If I feel the slightest trace of regret for providing a ready made solution, I don't push the button. I did not delete any answer on a "this person doesn't deserve my work" feeling yet, but I was about to, once.


Thank you for the question and the answers. Very helpful points on how to handle this issue, at least for me. I especially love the third comment rule (which I mostly applied wihout knowing so far).

I agree and embrace both Rarst's and IXN's points of view.

  • "Prick" is the colloquial term I use when talking to myself and referring SO users who are breaking SO posting rules and lack common sense from my personal point of view. Being both the parties involved in this conversation I tend not to get offended, no matter the language the other guy uses.
    – tao
    Commented Nov 30, 2015 at 12:15
  • I just loooked it up and it has meanings I didn't know about. It's harsher than I thought. I appologise.
    – tao
    Commented Nov 30, 2015 at 12:20
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    Apology accepted :-) Commented Nov 30, 2015 at 12:21
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    @Pieter, you deleted your comments! Now I look like a complete nutcase talking to myself. :-)) Not that far from the truth, actually...
    – tao
    Commented Nov 30, 2015 at 23:08
  • Ehmm....who are you talking to? :) Commented Jan 8, 2016 at 18:16
  • Two nuts and an old suitcase.
    – tao
    Commented Jan 8, 2016 at 18:24

I think you are judging others by your own level of knowledge. Being a newbie is not for a lack of research and laziness. It is lack of knowledge. And it is normal. Everyone started from somewhere after all. "Where do I add it?" is IMO a valid question from a newbie, if this is not clearly explained in the previous answer.

Keep in mind that many people are self-taught. When you are starting, you don't know for example that most pieces of code go to the functions file. This may seem strange for someone who has studied WordPress or php in a class, but is normal for someone who tries to teach himself.

Even very basic questions, like "Are .htaccess commands case sensitive?" are not the result of lack of research. I spent 5 days reading about how to form my .htaccess yet I somehow couldn't find that piece of basic knowledge.

And let's be fair, I have rarely seen someone ask for a very complicated code solution and then ask where to put the code in. In general, the guy who lacks basic understanding, will make a simple or general question.

Keep up the hard work anyway. I think that trying to help others understand, helps me as much understand better what I think I know. This is a stronger motivation for me than reputation.

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    I also self-tought myself everything related to web programming. And I always understood, that I need to know or understand other things in order to get something specific done. Developing for WordPress includes for me that I get a (more or less) good understanding of how the whole "ecosystem" works (hooks, filters, plugins, functions.php, everything...), especially when I want to push the boundaries of what something can do right now. I have the feeling this "will to understand" is lacking in the question I linked to.
    – flomei
    Commented Nov 23, 2015 at 8:59
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    In the end I am not answering question for the benefit of the person asking it, I am answering for the 100 other people that will come here for an answer to similar question. In a way this actually emphasizes the importance of an answer to be newbe friendly, but it also means that it s pointless to bother with the exact small details of every question unless it is very obvious how to handle them. Commented Nov 23, 2015 at 11:34
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    Oh and you will be surprised with what kind of questions people with no understanding will ask, after all the form is there and it doesn't cost money to aks question that is so broad it is impossible to answer and on the other side makes it clear that the person asking has no real clue about the subject except for being familiar with some related buzzwords. Commented Nov 23, 2015 at 11:34
  • Very good point about the answer's value for many more people than just the OP.
    – IXN
    Commented Nov 23, 2015 at 19:13

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