I've not been allowed to ask questions for a while now and it's quite annoying because there is a clear difference (in terms of community culture) between the sites.

I've had the best luck at Security.se, and found that my questions weren't to badly recieved on Unix/Linux. On the other hand, I've had issues on Stack Overflow* and now Super User.

What is the big difference that makes some of my questions good and/or bad between these sites?

Can someone please help me understand the difference between the sites? How do I ask questions that fit SU better?

*The questions here have been edited so they aren't as bad but their scores still reflect what they were.

  • 3
    It seems you don't have an "internalized" (built-in) understanding of what constitutes a good question on some sites. Not all SE sites are created equal. You really need to study the FAQ and, if you are not certain about a question, ask about it on meta first. You need to develop a gestalt in your head (gestalt = fuzzy category) capturing the essence of what an allowable question is. We can't really help you do this directly; you have to acquire it through experience. Or you can read the myriad topicality questions that have been asked before and go from there. Commented Apr 15, 2013 at 15:56
  • 11
    Also, asking good questions is really, really hard. I think it's harder to ask good questions than to write good answers. Good questions are not just useful at some particular period of time for a single user; they add to the body of knowledge that the site contains, thus making the site itself more useful by having that tidbit of knowledge. Many seemingly-valid questions don't fit that bill. I would suggest that you don't sit around trying to think of good questions. When you stumble upon a problem in life, asking a good question usually comes naturally. Commented Apr 15, 2013 at 15:59
  • Sorry about that. +1
    – user1061912
    Commented May 10, 2020 at 21:03

2 Answers 2


Well, it all boils down to site culture. There's two aspects at play here on the sites you've mentioned. The sites where you've had more success in asking question seem to be more domain specific - theoretical questions work better there. On the other hand SU is more general.

As for specific questions - I've taken a look at the 3 questions on your profile. Two are ok, I edited one.

The stuff you're doing right - You're asking about real problems you face, and are pretty clear about the solutions you want.

On the other hand, I edited a lot of extra information on one of your answers. Keep it focused on technical details - I don't need to know your teacher is polite - I need to know what OS you're using, and ideally what level of permissions you have.

I probably would suggest at this point, getting a mod to get a list of your deleted questions, get a room on chat.se, and see if we can't salvage some of them

  • Okay. See what I can do!
    – Griffin
    Commented Apr 28, 2013 at 16:43

On SU at least we expect questions to be answerable without resorting to speculation and wild guesses. This marks an entire area of questions as off-topic.

Your question on Security of "How does hashing work?" is off topic here because it is vague and could easily be answered by reading wikipedia. We are not your research buddies, we're here to fix your computer problems. Asking how to make a program do something is fine, asking why it does it in the first place or how it does it, not so much.

Similarly SO expects you to have some kind of programming problem, not a "teach me programming" type question. Your questions appear to be "Why/how do I do X" as opposed to "How do I make X work"

Some SE sites are ambiguous and allow vague discussion type questions SU and SO do not.

What you consider ugly we consider clean, what you consider good we consider to be overly vague and your Homework.

One thing to take note of is the tooltip for the downvote arrow, "is not useful" and "does not show research effort" are two important points. While we like theoretical problems and puzzles, the sites themselves are more focused towards solving real problems you face.

Your current downvoted questions appear to be asking for us to find and provide solutions to rather vague problems.

The minecraft problem is more about restricting access to programs on computers, there are many tools on the internet for this and it is not up to us to find them for you.

Your problem with preinstalled Windows is completely vague and you're not actually telling us what you want, only that a laptop comes with Windows preinstalled and asking us what we recommend to do with it, I cannot see anything in that question telling me why that is a problem. What do you want us to help you fix? You say your copy of Windows is locked but not how or why. Many laptops and computers have Windows preinstalled but I do not see what you mean by "locked", are you talking about the Secure Boot feature or something else? Clarity is everything here.

Define your problem properly, then ask a specific question.

  • First) Not my homework, my homework is no where close to that. Second) Giving people the answer isn't important. Having them understand is. When you give them the answer it is like doing their homework for them. Third) I did not ask these questions on here because I knew they would be off topic. Fourth) Looked over FAQ for the 10th time. Still didn't see anything wrong.
    – Griffin
    Commented Apr 14, 2013 at 23:53
  • Also the people in the comments clearly understood the windows question. On top of that. It was a up-voted question until you down-voted it. So clearly that's not right.
    – Griffin
    Commented Apr 15, 2013 at 0:00
  • 1
    Some other sites will allow just about anything
    – random Mod
    Commented Apr 15, 2013 at 0:58
  • 1
    @Griffin your windows 8 question was clearer before your edits, hence you got reasonable comments and answer. I suspect the downvotes were because recovery media creation is now a built in feature of windows and most manufacturers also preinstall a second tool to create it as well, I am amazed no one found a dupe to close it that way instead. Your edit has made your question worse.
    – Mokubai Mod
    Commented Apr 15, 2013 at 6:13
  • 2
    @random It makes you smile, doesn't it?
    – Daniel Beck Mod
    Commented Apr 15, 2013 at 13:15
  • @Mokubai It was far more "clear" because the answer was more simple. That question was worded in a way where I would get the answer I wanted. You seem everyone (including you) thinks I want a recovery media. Yet I didn't. I wanted a way to make a full blown install as in any computer anywhere any time. Mostly due to the fact that I was thinking that if I want to change something it might have a hissy fit.
    – Griffin
    Commented Apr 15, 2013 at 15:16
  • @random Rarely do sites upvote something that doesn't comply. While they may allow it they won't upvote it to that extent.
    – Griffin
    Commented Apr 15, 2013 at 15:17
  • 1
    @Griffin From what you are saying I'm assuming that you want to copy Windows 8 that is preinstalled on one machine to another machine. That is explicitly forbidden by the EULA and so you are not likely to get much help there, otherwise a set of recovery media is as good as a "full blown install" on your current machine. The simple answer as to how you unlock Windows 8 from one machine to use it on another is to go out and buy a retail licence, OEM copies (as come preinstalled on machines) cannot be unlocked as it is not a "full" Windows 8 licence, it is a hardware limited licence.
    – Mokubai Mod
    Commented Apr 15, 2013 at 15:39
  • @Mokubai And that was the answer I was looking for. While there is not a answer that solves the problem it is also not a bad question in the fact that it actually informs future users that this is not allowed.
    – Griffin
    Commented Apr 15, 2013 at 15:41
  • 6
    @Griffin The problem here is from your question you were wanting to "unlock" Windows 8 but I had no way to know that you meant "unlock/upgrade it to a license usable on any hardware." This is a vocabulary or descriptive problem with your question, the particular words you chose mean something specific to you but I have no way to know that from the description in your question. I'm not getting at you but instead am trying to show that it is important to describe the full problem including the expected end result. "I want to unlock Windows 8 in order to install it elsewhere."
    – Mokubai Mod
    Commented Apr 15, 2013 at 16:28
  • 4
    @Griffin this is an example of a language barrier between people who speak the same language and is something of a problem on the internet in general, not just on SU. My interpretation of what you were saying is wrong, but all I have to go by is what you have written and I am sure others would have read it the same way. In this case being more descriptive is not a bad thing.
    – Mokubai Mod
    Commented Apr 15, 2013 at 16:34
  • @Mokubai Going back to my original statement on this is. How is it that asking for a understanding of how and why something works is more like asking people to do my homework than "Hey what's the answer to this?".
    – Griffin
    Commented Apr 28, 2013 at 15:57
  • I wasn't meaning to imply that your questions were "homework" questions (you are generally very direct, if a bit vague) but there is a history of questions on this site that could be equated to "I couldn't be bothered to Google so one of you nerds tell me instead". There are a lot of questions that are better answered by Google as the information is already out there, anything that could easily attract a lmgtfy link-only answer is close fodder in my book. To repeat.. your questions here are directed enough to be fine, but your Security question on hashing is better answered by Google.
    – Mokubai Mod
    Commented Apr 28, 2013 at 20:19

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .