Tricking Programmers Into Being Helpful

People[1] accuse Stack Overflow of being unwelcoming to newbies. Older programmers complain that the site quality has decreased because of the influx of low quality questions.

I am part of the latter crowd. I expect that if I give out my time to help somebody, they will reciprocate and invest time into understanding the problem and redact a concise question. Unfortunately when one goes through review queues on Stack Overflow, a good portion of the asked question is copy pasted textbook exercises.

Here is a thought:

Even though answering computer puzzles is annoying on a Q/A website, there is a whole bunch of websites specializing in just that—interview preparation courses.

What if we mixed the two? Imagine a service that gives you short programming challenges. Except these would be generated from low effort Stack Overflow questions1. Posted solutions would get sent to Stack Overflow until an answer is accepted. After that the question would stay up, but answers would no longer propagate as we don’t want to spam the Stack Overflow questions.


  1. Maybe only in part. Ideally the service would have more structured problems too. [return]