Specifically this question: https://unix.stackexchange.com/questions/194741/script-to-add-date-to-ping-not-working

It was an honest question, but 7 people thought it was ambiguous, but an 8th actually took the time to answer what I missed.

Why is there lost points?

  • 1
    For the record: I voted to close as Offtopic on the grounds that it was essentially a typo: not that it was unclear. For that reason, I would recommend deleting the question.
    – jasonwryan
    Apr 10, 2015 at 21:33
  • 4
    Your question title says "script to add date to ping", but your script logs ping output with a timestamp to a file whose name contains the date, and then your question isn't even about that.  You ask why the loop doesn't work when the loop code is commented out.  I'm surprised it didn't get more downvotes. Apr 11, 2015 at 9:25
  • 1
    From my perspective it looks like you didn't even try first. I like helping people that are confused, but have tried. I dislike helping people that didn't even bother to run a google search first. Question quality aside, your also not likely to help anyone else with that question. SE is more analogous to a wiki then a forum, in that questions and answers should help more then just one person.
    – coteyr
    Apr 11, 2015 at 14:10
  • coteyr, thanks for your insight. In my quest to improve, how might I have searched google for "why this script doesn't repeat"? When I looked at that code, because the first line had a #, I thought that was necessary, not a comment-out.
    – Jason
    Apr 13, 2015 at 12:59
  • coteyr, I did search google. and there's not a lot for someone whos not used to looking at bash scripts to go on. My first thought was to go to people who know this stuff inside-out. And, given that I thought it was CODE related, I though very much that an answer might help others out. It's easy to criticise in hindsight and make assumptions that aren't true. And how is your comment helping anyone, including me??? a dose of compassion my friend goes a long way.
    – Jason
    Apr 13, 2015 at 13:06
  • My comment stands, from my perspective the question didn't even look like you tried at all. It looked like you hit a bump and instead of trying other means (google) came over to SE and posted. I would advise in future, when asking a question, state what you already did, and why you think it isn't working. You can see in unix.stackexchange.com/questions/197885/… that the asker is asking a simple question but explains in detail what he tried and how it failed to work. He got upvotes and answers.
    – coteyr
    Apr 22, 2015 at 20:34

1 Answer 1


It looks like jasonwryan explained your problem within one minute of posting.

I would guess the reason people voted it as unclear is that commenting something out in code appears purposeful -- you actually managed to cut and paste that in without noticing.

I wouldn't downvote this, but I would not compensate with an upvote either. The tooltip for the down arrow reads:

This question does not show any research effort; it is unclear or not useful.

If your mistake was simply a very obvious typo that you didn't understand in five lines of code, then perhaps it is unfair to consider you to have been acting hastily or thoughtlessly. I would give you the benefit of the doubt here, which is why I wouldn't downvote it.

However, that benefit of the doubt is a bit of a stretch, and I can understand someone looking at this and thinking, "You didn't even bother to proofread this, boo -- downvote." Which is why I wouldn't upvote it.

More than 80% of the questions I start to compose here never get posted because in the process of trying to make the question as clear as possible, etc., I recognize my mistake or realize the answer, and that it is of a nature that probably isn't useful in a general sense, or has already been asked and answered. Some of the S.E. mechanisms, such as downvoting and closing/holding questions, hopefully encourage people to think this way.

Note that your question currently does not have any answers and is not useful in a general sense. No one is likely to come around having made an identical typo and find this question. That being the case, it is perfectly fine if you delete the question, in which case you get your lost rep back!

In fact, it would probably be best if you do delete that since it is not generally useful. Perhaps the downvote was meant to encourage you to do so. Although I know not everyone shares my opinion here, self-deleting downvoted answers (and questions, when it is possible -- you can't if someone answers and gets an upvote) is a common practice and helps to keep the site clear of pointless nonsense. Not to say your post is quite nonsense, but it is close.

  • Thank you goldilocks for the informative and useful information. I really appreciate your explanation and thoughtfulness. I'm fairly new/light user of SE so I really do appreciate the insight.
    – Jason
    Apr 11, 2015 at 16:48
  • re "...you actually managed to cut and paste that in without noticing." Considering that it has come to light (in the comments to this question), that the op didn't even understand what a comment in bash was, does this answer still stand? From the question comment: "When I looked at that code, because the first line had a #, I thought that was necessary..."
    – sbell
    Apr 13, 2015 at 15:23
  • 4
    @sbell Like I said, that possibility is why I would give someone the benefit of the doubt here. However, if you're posting code you didn't write that you don't understand that doesn't do want you think it should do, or code that you did write to do something you've never done before, you should make that explicit. Of course, if you are totally new to the genre, understanding what you should and shouldn't indicate might take time to learn, asking questions is how we do that -- I do think explaining yourself if you've cast the first downvote should be mandatory, BTW.
    – goldilocks
    Apr 13, 2015 at 15:29
  • I personally tend to think that the answer stands, even though the poster did not under stand that the comment was a comment, if he did not have that understanding then the first step should have been a bash tutorial, paper, wiki, something. That said, there is nothing wrong with a down vote. It helps keep the site clean and useful, the posters can usually delete their own questions. It's the best way to give feedback that the question is not sufficient quality for the site (flagging too). Gotta start somewhere.
    – coteyr
    Apr 22, 2015 at 20:39
  • @coteyr To re-iterate my own personal feeling, I think if a question is already getting downvotes and you want to pile on anonymously, fine -- there's no point in people leaving comments like, "Yeah, ditto, this sucks" or whatever. But if you are leaving the first downvote, I think it is a shame the system encourages you to think you have done your moral duty by quickly clicking a button and made no effort to explain yourself when this is a pattern of behaviour the system (ostensibly) makes a show of discouraging.
    – goldilocks
    Apr 23, 2015 at 0:05
  • The system encourages you to leave a comment when you down vote and forces you to if you flag. Keep in mind that down votes serve two purposes. 1. To get the poster to post (or edit) better questions, and to get the "crap questions" off the "top" pages. As a frequent user of a few SE sites when I look for questions to answer I usually don't look past the first page. And the first page really shouldn't be bad questions. In this context its better to anonymously (though I usually don't) down vote questions with no comment then to not down vote at all. That said, it's better to leave a comment.
    – coteyr
    Apr 23, 2015 at 19:40

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