The site is gaining traction - awesome, but a big proportion of new questions are people just treating Magento.SE as their personal development team for debugging their store.

We're here to help - not do everything for you

Magento is a complex product, but its also a very straightforward product to debug - even on highly customised stores. Following a strict regiment to break down where the issue could have stemmed from (core/local/community - template/skin/js etc.) is a good way to rule out possible causes. In fact, its the same approach our team has used for 5 years debugging Magento stores.

The only question I have posted on here so far was a guide on Magento debugging fundamentals - essentially a walk-through of exactly how we would debug an issue.

I posted it really to underpin the entire site as it grows, so that there is some kind of reference point for "What have you already tried?". It is a detailed, well formatted post to help people do the first stages of due diligence before immediately just posting vague and localised questions on Magento.SE

BUT - what I want to know is whether I'm helping the site or not by answering a lot of questions (in the comments section) with ...

Follow this guide and report back.

I'm aware we need more questions and users to participate on the site - and I welcome every new question and user (at least I try to!) - but this type of question is so un-valuable - as all we can ever respond with is a series of vague instructions to debug the issue; or worst still, it gets a series of answers that are localised to someone else with the same symptoms - but a different underlying cause.

This question is the epitome of post first, wait for someone else to fix my issue.

I'll admit my comments weren't perhaps too friendly - but am I right or wrong to continue this?

For what its worth, despite the total lack of information - I still managed to post an answer to the users issue - albeit certainly so localised to that user that it will never be useful to anyone else.

Should I continue to do this? Or just let the community downvote it?

Should we (or can we) have a page to point people back to? In terms of "what have you tried" or "read the FAQ's before posting" etc.

Go on ... flame me or applaud me ...

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    ME IS APPLAUDING I'm totaly with you. If you ask me we should close this question as "not constructive" or "too localized". My problem is, that I still have the goals of the beta in my mind. And ignoring this questions leads to a lesser answering ratio. The big advance with the asker you linked is, he knows the houserules (more or less) and marks solutions. What really annoys me are questions with good answered and no response from the original poster :-( May 13, 2013 at 8:42
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    This is a problem on StackOverflow, too, but the volume is higher so it isn't so visible. And, to be honest, if more of us were flagging to close 'too localized' more often, this issue would eventually take care of itself. Nobody wants to have their questions closed - they'll eventually stop asking. Of course, I mean repeat offenders. We'll always have people showing up with "My page loads a white screen" - once we get a nice volume of questions closing as localized and dupe will weed out the signal from the noise.
    – philwinkle
    May 13, 2013 at 14:54
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    Its a problem on all of the SE sites, we can't change that - but the key is how should we tackle it on Magento.SE, especially as @FabianBlechschmidt mentioned, that the site is currently in BETA and does have targets to hit. We don't want to discourage new users, nor have the site full of vague Q&A's. So is funnelling them through the post I suggested a good idea? May 13, 2013 at 14:56
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    I think there are two types of users. the ones who aren't interessted in the community and need to solve problems and the others, who have a look what magento.se is, how it works and how they can contribute. With questions, answers or comments. If you ask me, it is totally ok to scare the first group away :-) But this is unfriendly, so... No idea. May 13, 2013 at 15:00
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    So, don't get me wrong, but if that's the case I would cross-post that debug guide as a meta post. No offense, but it could come off as profiteering to promote your own (already highly-rated) Q&A on 50% of the Q's posted here. I don't think this is your goal -- I trust your intentions. But I think it could be misconstrued.
    – philwinkle
    May 13, 2013 at 20:04
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    That might be a good idea. How does one go about cross posting. I can happily make sure we don't link to our external content if people think we're posting for the wrong reason. May 13, 2013 at 20:28
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    I think you can add your answer to community wiki
    – philwinkle
    May 16, 2013 at 15:02
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    Oh no - the points! :D Okay that might be a good idea - or what about Community Wiki - which is the right place? May 16, 2013 at 15:42
  • Community wiki allows all of us to edit it as we see fit. I think that's the right place.
    – philwinkle
    May 21, 2013 at 19:22
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    I believe the community wiki would be a great place. That being said, I don't think linking to that guide in the comment section is a bad idea. Maybe put a time limit, a day or so, that if the person who asked the question doesn't provide any additional information, that the question then be closed at that point. Then if future similar questions come up and someone finds that closed question, they will know the reason and what they should do before asking. Some persons, myself included aren't familiar yet with all of the SE rules and guidelines.
    – jesseconnr
    Feb 18, 2014 at 16:41

1 Answer 1


What you describe, seems to be a common "issue" with StackExchange and other places where people can post and seek for help. (Let alone other StackExchange categories, Facebook being a bad one)

The only "solution" is to ignore the postings where people don't give enough information. (A smacker for, you can't be bothered to help yourself why should I bother to waste my time and help you), or waste your time asking the user for more information, and hang about waiting for their reply.

The post you link to just looks like a lazy developer. And there's not a whole lot you can do about those, often they are people who don't really know what they are doing, so get stuck and immediately after a failed Google/self fix attempt, just punch the query to SE.

A posting template/FAQ would come in handy, but if that did exist, people would still ignore it. As to you and I, it's common sense to provide as much information about what you tried. But using your linked user as an example. I doubt they tried anything.

Edit: Twitter Response to https://twitter.com/sonassi/status/333714280778190852

It is a toss up between ignoring or asking the asker for more. Downvoting is ok but gives the user no feedback. And close with a suitable "error message", just increases the post count ala bumping, so not sure if "wrong format" closing is a good idea.

The people who "use" StackExchange properly can answer the well asked questions. And the new people wanting to make a start and can waste their time on answering the poor questions. As a points winner. (This is one opinion I can imagine occurring and for a while I used when answering Facebook SE queries, but FBSE tends to get flooded with stuff a LOT)

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