If you find this attitude obnoxious, condescending, or arrogant, check your assumptions.
We're not asking you to genuflect to us — in fact, most of us would love nothing more than to deal with you as an equal and welcome you into our culture, if you put in the effort required to make that possible.
Still, treating experienced users like hackers in the ways we recommend here will generally be the most effective way to get useful answers out of them, too.
The first thing to understand is that hackers actually like hard problems and good, thought-provoking questions about them. If you give us an interesting question to chew on we'll be grateful to you; good questions are a stimulus and a gift.
Good questions help us develop our understanding, and often reveal problems we might not have noticed or thought about otherwise. Despite this, hackers have a reputation for meeting simple questions with what looks like hostility or arrogance.
It sometimes looks like we're reflexively rude to newbies and the ignorant. What we are, unapologetically, is hostile to people who seem to be unwilling to think or to do their own homework before asking questions.
People like that are time sinks — they take without giving back, and they waste time we could have spent on another question more interesting and another person more worthy of an answer. We realize that there are many people who just want to use the software we write, and who have no interest in learning technical details.
For most people, a computer is merely a tool, a means to an end; they have more important things to do and lives to live.
We acknowledge that, and don't expect everyone to take an interest in the technical matters that fascinate us.
Nevertheless, our style of answering questions is tuned for people who take such an interest and are willing to be active participants in problem-solving. Nor should it; if it did, we would become less effective at the things we do best. We take time out of busy lives to answer questions, and at times we're overwhelmed with them. In particular, we throw away questions from people who appear to be losers in order to spend our question-answering time more efficiently, on winners.
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