Our community has taken a liking to re-enforcing the misconception that ServerFault is a script writing service. Examples here and here are just a couple recent threads I can point to.

I have no issue with someone who tries, or someone who posts what they've read and just doesn't get it. I have issue with those who don't try at all (or make no indication of their efforts in their posts). It's been my understanding that SF does not condone the "give me da codez" requests. So why is our community so freely answering these?

By responding to these questions before getting what attempts the asker has made only reinforces the behavior. Answers are provided by seasoned and nonseasoned SF members alike. Is this what we've become? How are we to address this issue going forward?

Another one 11/6/2015

And another 11/11/2015

  • A script is just a sequence of commands, a recipe. Some find it easier to write/think in PowerShell/shell than in pseudocode. Commented Nov 3, 2015 at 16:10
  • 2
    That one example is over a year old, the other example was closed and the contributors are all low rep infrequent users. Do you have any better examples?
    – Reaces
    Commented Nov 3, 2015 at 16:16
  • It was recently refreshed by a comment. The other is from a few days ago. Age of a post is not relevant to the issue (IMHO).
    – Colyn1337
    Commented Nov 3, 2015 at 16:25
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    The age of the posts is relevant when you want to claim that something is a trend. It also matters if you want to make the argument that both seasoned and novice users are perpetuating the issue to show recent examples of both.
    – Reaces
    Commented Nov 3, 2015 at 17:22
  • I certainly don't condone them, but there appear to be a minority of users who do. Commented Nov 4, 2015 at 17:01
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    Easy way to get rep on a site that doesn't make it easy perhaps?
    – Sobrique
    Commented Nov 4, 2015 at 18:47
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    @Sobrique Rep isn't the only thing out there though. Scripting is for some of us the most fun part of our job. Meanwhile in larger companies you don't get to do a lot of it (on a lot of our secure servers I only have ssms access, no access to the OS, so no chance to utilize scripts). That's why I at times answer powershell questions, I like writing powershell and don't get to do enough of it.
    – Reaces
    Commented Nov 5, 2015 at 7:14
  • I've learned with age on this site that these types of things don't fit neatly into Boolean logic. Which is why it's nice to have the community police itself. Some days "it" feels lenient and accepting, other days it is draconian and harsh to these questions. To me it boils down to whether it is a "help I'm not a programmer and have been struggling with this script for my needs for hours", or a "gimme the codez" question.
    – TheCleaner
    Commented Nov 6, 2015 at 14:32
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    The one you noticed today was posted and answered by people new to the site. It was (appropriately, IMHO) moved to Unix & Linux which does accept such questions.
    – Jenny D
    Commented Nov 6, 2015 at 17:14
  • Some of these questions would be on-topic at softwarerecs.stackexchange.com Commented Nov 12, 2015 at 8:16
  • Your second another example does not have an answer... So it isn't relevant. Your first another example was migrated, so again not relevant.
    – Reaces
    Commented Nov 12, 2015 at 8:44
  • I did that just so you'd have something more to comment on :D
    – Colyn1337
    Commented Nov 12, 2015 at 20:52
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    @yagmoth555 not to play devil's advocate, but to me simple cmdlets aren't scripting, but that's just my opinion.
    – TheCleaner
    Commented Nov 13, 2015 at 13:56
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    @yagmoth555 MS definitely blurred the line now that PoSh is fully OOP.
    – Colyn1337
    Commented Nov 13, 2015 at 14:39
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    @TheCleaner oh, I see your point, nvm.
    – yagmoth555 Mod
    Commented Nov 13, 2015 at 17:04

4 Answers 4


I don't want to write scripts from the point of view of answering "write my script for me" questions.

However, I favour "teach a person to fish" type answers and sometimes the most effective way to do this, for whatever reason, is to write a script that shows the way, or debug the script for them, or whatever.

  • 3
    If it allows me to work out a problem to better my own understanding, I'll do it. I will answer questions about how to do something in Exchange or PowerShell all day long, and these often involve at least a foreach.
    – blaughw
    Commented Nov 4, 2015 at 18:13

For my money, it is to do with the life cycle of a stack exchange contributor.

When you first start, you are an idealist. Maybe you want to help. Maybe you want to get some rep. Whatever. This is the premise of gamification.

But over time, you realise there is a steady flow of lazy people looking to outsource their work, and you get jaded and stop.

Before that happens, you may well pick up some easily answerable questions.

I find server fault overlaps with my expertise with Unix and stackoverflow. (my other niche of storage fits here, bit it isn't exactly busy).

However but because server fault is professional level, there is very little low hanging fruit - any simpler out of area questions are probably not appropriate in the first place, and neither is the site really busy enough to get much rep from a well crafted but niche answer.

This is why I think "I need a script" might get answered. It is in reach for more people to answer and yet more to know it is right and upvote.

This is exactly the same problem as the fastest gun in the West problem on SO, just from a different angle.


I don't know!

I won't write scripts or code for people on here because it's time-consuming and I don't want to support the code later. I'd rather explain theory, for the same reason you would I think: I'd rather the poster learn how to do their job.

That said, SO is all about code snippets. Who knows?

If other people are willing to waste their time doing other people's jobs, I don't really feel much interest in preventing them, though it is odd.

Do we know whether people who come here for code and get code later come back and ask more useful questions? That is a more interesting question to me than why people here answer coding requests.

  • 3
    I've answered some code requests. My reasoning is that I have a script library in my Dropbox for useful stuff. And when someone asks something for which I have a usage but not yet a script, and I have the time to quickly write it, I do. Scripting is the most fun and the least prevalent part of my job :(
    – Reaces
    Commented Nov 4, 2015 at 8:42

Scripting is on the border of the programming. There are 4 cases which we should see:

  1. Not professional sysadm, not professional programmer. They are asking mostly non-sense questions, which are harder to decipher, as to solve. Anyways, because they aren't professional system administrators, these questions are off-topic.
  2. Not professional sysadm, but professional programmer. If they ask for a script, they want in most cases to learn the operating system, or one of its scripting interface. These questions can be off-topic (sometimes migratable to SO, sometimes not), or on-topic, it depends on the details.
  3. Professional sysadm, but not professional programmer. They ask for scripts very rarely, and their systems tends to have fewer scripts, they favorize the complex software solutions against the scripted toolkit-like solutions. If they ask, their questions are mostly high-level and interesting.
  4. Professional sysadm, and professional programmer. Probably this group has the smallest chance to ask for a script fragment. But if they do, their questions will be interesting and probably ontopic.

As you can see, the situation is similar to your last bigger destruction, the control panel case. You found a group of questions which is offtopic or simply low level in most cases, but not always.

If you construct a new rule, which destroys every question asking for scripts or script snippets, you will destroy a lot of high quality questions as well. You shouldn't do this, it is a massive content destruction, especially if you apply the new rule retroactively.

  • 8
    Nobody thinks questions related to scripting are off-topic. However, requests by people for others to do their job for them have always been frowned upon, so "I need a script to do x; write it for me" is totally out. That's all. "What is wrong with my script" and "what is the technique used to script x" are perfectly fine by me. Commented Nov 5, 2015 at 0:22
  • @FalconMomot I edited my answer.
    – peterh
    Commented Nov 5, 2015 at 0:26
  • This is probably one of your more balanced answers. I agree with the 4 points, however I think you should drop the reference to the old cleanups. We all know you disagree with what was done there, but it doesn't help to bring it up time and again. Also, closing =/= destruction, make sure you keep the distinction in mind.
    – Reaces
    Commented Nov 5, 2015 at 7:11
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    @Reaces That cpanel questions are long deleted since the latest great purging. And their behavior shows clear signs that they are very ready to exterminate a considerable part of the site, again. Well, maybe their behavior won't change only because of my disagreement, but anyways it needs to be documented that a disagreement at least existed.
    – peterh
    Commented Nov 5, 2015 at 7:53
  • @peterh Fair enough, I personally like scripting and scripting questions, and I'm sure a lot of other people do as well. And it is a lot more on-topic than hosting panel questions (any sysadmin worth his salt should have written a few scripts in the main languages of the OS' he supports!), so let's see how this pans out.
    – Reaces
    Commented Nov 6, 2015 at 7:52

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