Joel Spolsky recently tweeted a message about some phrasing in a question that was a strong indicator that the question was inappropriate for Stack Overflow.
buddy if your stackoverflow question includes the words "I want to make some kind of programming" you might be asking on the wrong site— Joel Spolsky (@spolsky) November 28, 2017
to my surprise, this elicited some strong reactions from other developers chastising him for turning away beginners from the site.
Here's the thing about Stack Overflow:
See, I'd hate to turn new developers away with them feeling resentment toward the community, but it's also important that they understand that Stack Overflow was not designed for the problem they're currently facing, which is typically:
Joel's tweet spoke to me as the standard "Sorry, wrong number" response.
Others found it rude…
Rude as fuck and disappointing to hear from someone in the business of helping people learn things :-/— paolo f. (@0x00A) November 29, 2017
…or commented on how elitist it was…
Except Google doesn't always turn up the answer. That's why the site exists.— Zach ❤️ Inglis (@zachinglis) November 29, 2017
Being a programmer open to helping others is part of the job. Being elitist reflects poorly on you.
…but I think they're missing the point.
When it comes to asking on Stack Overflow, we don't want to tell beginners "Go away, and don't come back!", instead the message is:
I attempted to make the point with a terse analogy of "Librarians don't teach literacy".
Literally any code training site.— Timothy Leverett (@zzzzBov) November 30, 2017
Librarians don't teach literacy.https://t.co/Pm6IWFit4D
…but in my haste to make the point I overlooked the ambiguity (and, let's face it, librarians do teach literacy for many topics so there's my foot in my mouth and me wishing for the millionth time that twitter had editing functionality). What I should have probably said was something along the lines of "Libraries are not useful to the illiterate". In any event, consulting a librarian is not what I would consider the right choice for someone who is illiterate and can't read at all.
Libraries are largely useless if you don't have the necessary baseline knowledge of how to read and write the alphabet.
With that all said, please do learn to program if it's something you find interesting.
There are so many better resources online for getting started as a programmer it would be a massive disservice to point beginners at Stack Overflow.
And once you've learned the basics: if you have any specific answerable questions that you've thoroughly researched, please ask them on Stack Overflow.