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I know this question has been raised before at policy on "how do I draw this?" questions. I know a lot of us are annoyed by these questions. But I'm not so sure, as in the linked discussion, that these sorts of questions add nothing to the site. I believe they could add something if we had an appropriate tag, such as [how-to-draw], or we came up with better titles that might help others doing a search for such things. A tag additionally could then be a place to first direct people to look to see possibly similar figures that they wish to duplicate.

I feel that the learning curve for either TikZ or PSTricks is steep enough that people can generally be quite lost about how to do even the simplest things. I discovered PSTricks many years ago and got to be quite comfortable with it. I began using TikZ about the time I joined this site. Though there are similarities, much is different. For example, I feel, TikZ requires a much deeper understanding of LaTeX's macro expansion process than PSTricks requires. And, for those people who are new to LaTeX and haven't used any of the graphical packages, I think they can feel quite overwhelmed and lost. Some of the answers/comments to TikZ questions are just rather off-putting, like comments that read "it's in the manual". Yes, that may be true, but the manuals are very long or broken across many different documents; finding what you want to do can be extremely challenging.

I've been thinking about this policy of ours for a while. And it seems that increasingly we're becoming less friendly toward people who may just be totally out to sea about how to even start something. Recently I was downvoted for answering such a question---and, I am not complaining about that; I understand the reason---but, that's prompted me to actually go ahead and post this.

Some of us actually enjoy trying to answer such how to draw questions: sometimes just because it challenges our own understanding of TikZ/PSTricks; other times just because it's fun to create the image. New people are always going to come to our site and post these sorts of annoying questions no matter how much we try to discourage it. I generally only answer such question for people with low rep. counts, which I take to be a sign that they may also be novice LaTeX (and family) users.

I'm actually much more bothered by the repeated downvotes for the OP. I feel it casts us in a negative light when so much of what we do it supportive. I don't think it necessary that we view the people posting these questions as vampires (unless it's the same individually repeatedly posting time and time again the same sort of "do this for me" sort of question).

Could we come up with a policy that would make it more forgiving for OPs who may not even know where to start with TikZ/PSTricks? Could we please find a way not to be offended by these questions? After all, no one is saying, "Hey you there, you must answer my post!". They're just reaching out hoping that someone will answer them.

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    while in many ways i agree with your proposal, i remember a particular influx of "do this for me" questions that turned out to be homework problems. and that is precisely the wrong situation in which to respond with a refined answer. if some way can be found to help genuinely motivated beginners, without servicing parasites (and to reliably distinguish between the two categories), i'd be in favor. – barbara beeton May 1 '15 at 17:33
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    @barbarabeeton Excellent point. I had not thought of the issue of a TeX document being a graded assessment/homework in the sense that it's the document preparation and creation that's being graded. Perhaps then, we should consider formulating guiding lines about what's helpful and what goes too far? – A.Ellett May 1 '15 at 20:29
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    The poster had already gotten the lection on MWEs on his first question but the usual crowd fed him and so he learned nothing. Now he probably also has learned nothing. – Martin Schröder May 1 '15 at 21:20
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    @MartinSchröder Maybe I should be looking at previous posts then.... You're probably right about him/her not learning anything. But still for him as a newbie I feel a soft spot for the challenge of learning these things. At any rate, I'm still mulling this over in my head. On the one hand, I'm definitely bothered by those who seem to put little effort in to their question; on the other, I sometimes feel they might be totally at a loss for how to start. – A.Ellett May 1 '15 at 21:48
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    The problem with some of the 'draw this for me' questions is that they are very hard to see as generic: it's often not clear what part the user is struggling with for a 'fair' edit. – Joseph Wright May 2 '15 at 20:09
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    The main problem is probably that it is not really TeX-related... The problem in most questions is "how does this drawing maps to mathematics*, and whether one uses TikZ or - excuse me - Inkscape is irrelevant to some extent. Perhaps one should think about creating a StackExchange for TeX drawing challenges... – Willem Van Onsem May 2 '15 at 21:51
  • @CommuSoft I use a lot of TikZ in my documents. It integrates well for the sorts of things I need to do in my documents. Most of my questions about TikZ are LaTeX related: but before you can even get down to that level, you need to know how to build things in TikZ. Fully implemented in LaTeX (unlike pstricks which relies on postscript), questions about how to make a diagram with TikZ is a LaTeX question for me. We all have to start somewhere. – A.Ellett May 3 '15 at 0:58
  • @CommuSoft But despite what I just said in the previous comment, I have often wondered about what you've suggested here: should there be a separate site here dedicated solely to something like TikZ or pstricks? – A.Ellett May 3 '15 at 0:59
  • @JosephWright It would be nice if there were a way to classify answers: something similar to tags that could enumerate the methods used. – A.Ellett May 3 '15 at 1:54
  • A low rep count is not, I think, a good basis for deciding whether to answer or how to answer. There have been some users who've asked a series of these questions and have low rep because their previous questions have been down-voted for similar reasons. I think you would have to use low rep as a reason to look at the user's history of posting and then decide. I certainly did not down-vote your answer, but I had looked at the user's previous question which was essentially identical but with a different diagram. – cfr May 3 '15 at 22:44
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    Could we instead ask users to simplify the diagram they are asking for? Often, users ask a series of how-to-draw questions about relatively complex images. What they get in return is a magic spell which compiles to produce the diagram. In a way, this is inevitable: creating the diagram is quite a bit of work so spelling out how to go about it would be much too long for an answer. If users could be encouraged to break their own diagrams down into simpler steps, answers could more reasonably be expected to explain code. Also, breaking a diagram into steps is the first thing needed to draw it. – cfr May 3 '15 at 22:48
  • You wrote unless it's the same individually repeatedly posting time and time again the same sort of "do this for me" sort of question. I think that of course it is not the same individual, but it does not matter. While speculating about the effects how that might seem to the outside world, the idea of getting nice graphics from here might spread and soon, who knows what kind of queue of "draw this for me"-requests will we be presented with. – henry May 8 '15 at 11:54
  • I have a more or less related question. Since I had this thought from time to time: why exactly do we have such a high stake in the site's reputation?. E.g. someone might say "TeX.sx is such a nerdy and annoying site, you do not get any help from there unless you basically write the whole code yourself. Weirdos.". So? :) While I kind of applaud the likes of Harish Kumar and you (A.Ellett) for being so helpful, I lean towards showing a clear line of what we deem inappropriate. – henry May 8 '15 at 11:57
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    @henry Who are we exactly in your final sentence? Who put us in charge? Are we paying the server bills? I want to close half of the TikZ questions if it was to my liking. And I have the means, the yellow badge etc. But it is not our call. Hanging out here doesn't give you a share of Stackexchange network. It only means you like spending time here. Nothing else. Regarding the site reputation; we have spent so much time and effort with having great fun in return. I will be bothered a lot if we screw up because some nerds try to be correct and bully new users. – percusse May 8 '15 at 15:34
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    @henry Perfectly true. If it stays as pointing but not do as we command, we don't like strangers here new user. Moreover, I sometimes (rarely though) like answering these questions. The main question is why do we care ? It can stay open an unattended. Got past front page, nobody would even notice them other than our OCD reviewers and closers. – percusse May 9 '15 at 8:32
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I also discussed this before: Our Do-it-for-me and Draw-it-for-me comments don't reflect our hypocrisy. Can they be improved? and I was under the impression that it was settled. But things have changed since then. Our recent residents are getting really hostile more frequently. There is no other way of putting it. Especially in the chat room I'm witnessing a lot of ah, look at this idiot type of comments on questions and especially drawing attention to a flaming commentary to show off how right they are. And I am actually waiting for the 100th monkey1 to pick up this nasty behavior and change the color of the spirit here which is happening for some time now.

Maybe we should remind ourselves that this is only TeX we are dealing with. An obscure typesetting system for mostly academic purposes, not a cure for cancer. It is fun and beautiful nothing else. So non-TeX people have all the rights not knowing it. And it looks ridiculous and funny when users occasionally come to this site to ask something and see this small print popping under questions with serious attitude telling to do yada yada yada. There is a difference between letting someone know about the style and registering them to your own club.

I don't find this pretentious oh let's teach him how to fish attitude comfortable. Because if you really want to teach (I don't know where this self-confidence comes from too) you try to be nice, you don't prove how correct you are. If there is a duplicate close it. If there is none let them be. We have more than enough means to deal with unanswered questions.

Housekeeping does not equate to repelling boring questions.

There will always be boring questions. But of course if you feel like TeX-SX is your daily dosage of SuDoKu and you don't like your fun being spoiled by users who are not supplying enough fun, then you get grumpy and belittle questions.

Being an old user or hi-rep doesn't give anyone the right to be the discipline police. Especially some users are quite annoying to be the first one to engage with some new users, piss them off right off the bat and move to the next question where they can fix lacking manners of another user with a hearty Welcome to TeX-SX and then following with here are the ways you fail: code blocks, thank yous, MWEs, usernames. I have been tangentially involved in some of those code block compositions. Nobody back then thought that it would be a tool for the etiquette police.

In the meantime, often times a potential answerer has to deal with a overzealous response of the OP leading to read my question properly type of response because someone pissed that user off before we can finish reading the question.

Here are recent three questions that are too broad (asks specifically a certain plot type) and unclear (really? with two downvotes) and the last one is also interesting because OP said something but failed to make the code work (!?). Just go through review queue there are lots of examples.

Syntax/Railroad diagrams in LaTeX

How to make a Minkowski Diagram

Text Bold with fontspec

Yes, we are very friendly indeed. There you go, evidence you wish evidence you find in there, tons of them.


If you had the privilege to hang out in Math.Stackexchange you know exactly what I mean above (which is still apparently triggering Oh, I don't see that happening type of turn-the-other-cheek behavior among us). I'm hoping that you won't classify MSE as a user-friendly place. However, amazingly, here is a blog post showing precisely what is going to happen which I tried to hand-wave above.

The icing-on-cake part is in the comments, I hope it rings a bell. Because I'm out of arguments if you still cannot see. Apparently my crystal ball is pretty shiny.


1 : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hundredth_monkey_effect

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    ...a good read! – Werner May 2 '15 at 12:37
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    As a person who asks TikZ questions, I highly appreciate answers along the lines of teach him how to fish. If I don't understand the code in the answer given, I won't be able to use it again for similar purposes in the future. As an example, I once received a good solution to a problem I posed, but the code was (to me) so complicated that I failed to understand it. When I tried to ask for explanations of the code, I was told to "read the LaTeX2e reference manual". Needless to say, I've never used that code since. – Sverre May 2 '15 at 14:27
  • @Sverre How to fish context here, is not giving terse or extremely concise answers. It is rather answering a question before OP reformulates their question hence learns how to ask properly for the next time. – percusse May 2 '15 at 14:47
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    @Sverre I actually read a good chunk of the reference manual. It's short and clear on most points. So I'd argue it's fair to suggest reading it. For it's a good suggestion. Since it exists on websites, just use FIND in your browser on a page that mirrors it. No need to even download it. – Guido Jorg May 3 '15 at 2:31
  • @percusse I'm not sure I got the point of your post. Are you for answering questions regardless if they have code/other info apart from an image and a request to draw it? Or are you for with some conditions? Sorry, I got both vibes from your answer. :D – Alenanno May 10 '15 at 13:18
  • @Alenanno I answer everything if I'm in the mood, otherwise I don't engage rather than preaching the religion of TeX-SX monk practice via autocomment blocks. Because somebody else might be in the mood and might write an answer. Check the text block I offered in the linked meta question on top of my answer. – percusse May 10 '15 at 13:23
  • @percusse That made me smile, but maybe it's a bit too informal? :D – Alenanno May 10 '15 at 13:26
  • @Alenanno Who said this is a formal encounter? We are actually using for a year already. – percusse May 10 '15 at 13:30
  • @percusse Ah, I haven't seen it being used. – Alenanno May 10 '15 at 13:31
  • Can you extend a bit on the latest edit concerning the MSE stuff? – Johannes_B May 12 '15 at 14:10
  • I feel this is related to overall community behaviour, not limited to the Do it for me stuff. Maybe you can even open a completely new topic? – Johannes_B May 12 '15 at 14:14
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    @Johannes_B What is MSE? – A.Ellett May 12 '15 at 15:14
  • @A.Ellett Math.Stackexchange – Johannes_B May 12 '15 at 15:15
  • @percusse by the way, i want to apologize if my comments came of as hostile, they were surely not meant to be. I bet you know that you could have addressed the issue personally. :-) – Johannes_B May 12 '15 at 15:51
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    @Johannes_B I don't see any evidence of hostility in your comments. I don't see anything unfriendly in 2 out of 3 of those questions. In the third, I see one comment which might come across as unfriendly although I don't see any evidence for thinking it ill-motivated or hostile. – cfr May 13 '15 at 12:52
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I don't like this type of question but not because of the "do-it-for-me" -- after all most questions are "do-it-for-me" questions. The problem is that the question is "cheap", in German I would say "hingerotzt". The OP didn't put any effort in it. There is no information about the system he/she used and for what the graphic is needed. No context or anything, only a picture. Even the name of the user is cheap.

Such questions try to get the maximum with minimum costs, and this imho is disrespectful towards all the generous people who spent their time to answer questions. I feel exploited by such questions. I want to see in questions at least an indication that the asker is aware that they address persons with a free will to ignore the question and not some slaves or machines bound to answer. A minimal example or some context may not always needed but neither is the tip in a restaurant.

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    It doesn't apply to me. And I have the utmost respect to you and also many others here. However; let me put this out in the open so that it is not implied continuously as a self-fulfilled prophecy. I'm not helping people. There is no getting benefit or making poor souls happier type of feeling. We are not a charity foundation. I completely and solely hung out here because I like getting TeX results in short amount of time for my own fun. It might be sometimes generous of me but I cannot expect anything in return. Doing so would make me someone I hope I'm not. – percusse May 5 '15 at 15:58
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    There is no respectfulness involved in any of this. Maybe this is the point that the more we make people satisfied the more we assume that we are owed something. I don't. Tomorrow, the whole thing goes down and I would keep doing this somewhere else. I think TeX-SX problem is that knowledgeable people feel superior to the less TeXnicians. I think that is a very very wrong. We shouldn't confuse TeXpertise with ownership of the website. This is a public domain. Anybody can do whatever they want. If they ask shitty questions, if they try to getaway with little effort, so be it. – percusse May 5 '15 at 16:02
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    They do or don't get an answer. It is up to other procrastinators. We don't get to be the moral compass of internet. That is a fight that we would surely loose. – percusse May 5 '15 at 16:02
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    @percusse: I'm here for the fun too. But there is no fun in answering questions of low qualitity. It is also no fun, when the ratio of bad questions increase over some level. So I'm pursuying my interests when I demand good quality questions. I know quite well that the askers have other interests, and I'm willing to take this into account but not if I get the impression that they ignore my interests completly. – Ulrike Fischer May 5 '15 at 22:40
  • I wish I could have come up with your last sentence. Very well put. That is something I forgot completely to mention that no matter how technical things are this is still a social interaction in essence. Hence, all the social norms apply. I totally get your frustration however, I can't help but emphasize that some half-baked weird system of reviews and rules should not guide us to decide how we proceed with our social engagement with this site. – percusse May 6 '15 at 0:39
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    @percusse: I'm not frustrated. A bad question doesn't throw me in a depression. There are bad questions, they are "cheap" questions. I spent some time to nudge people to improve them to keep the level of bad questions low and the rest I ignore. – Ulrike Fischer May 6 '15 at 7:32
  • you just described capitalism "get the maximum with minimum costs"! – Leeser May 6 '15 at 9:58
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    @Leeser: No, I described an egoist and selfcentered position. Capitalism and empathy for the need of other people are no contradiction. – Ulrike Fischer May 6 '15 at 10:31
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    Another random user chiming in: Miss Fischer's reply sums it up in the best way for me. I just do not get any motivation whatsoever to involve myself and dedicate my time to these type of questions. About the "2 classes" between users, I have been ignorant of that thus far. Besides, I have only experienced a kind attitude on here and any "conspiring" (for the lack of a better word) by users in the chat... good for them. – henry May 8 '15 at 11:46
  • @UlrikeFischer Frustration was unnecessarily strong. My bad. I meant something along the lines of nuisance. – percusse May 8 '15 at 15:39
  • A thousand times yes! I wholeheartedly agree with Ulrike's answer. – jubobs May 14 '15 at 21:53
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I was going to post this as a response to @UlrikeFischer. But then I realized I was saying something more than just a response, so I decided to make this one more idea to enter as an answer as part of this discussion.

Much like in math, when a new field of inquiry opens up, the initial results are relatively quick and easy to solve; as the field develops the results become harder to find and solve, and require ever deeper levels of mastery (and/or cunning).

Similarly, here on TeX-SX, many of the easy questions have been asked and answered. That's not to say such easy questions are still not laying around waiting to be asked. But, for the interested learner of LaTeX (and family), most questions they might come up with have likely already be posted and answered. And thanks to some of the giants on this site, we have some very thorough and elucidating answers (or comments).

Certainly as new packages get developed and attract new users, those rudimentary questions will open up once more. But meanwhile, the questions either become rather abstruse and rarefied, or they are the questions of those---most likely---completely at a loss of where to start.

Personally, I would like to see two developments on this site. One is to develop a repository of well presented solutions to common typographical features: among which would be the creation of diagrams and charts using TikZ, pstricks, Metapost, etc. (more on this in the paragraphs below). The second development is really outside of the scope of the posted question; nevertheless, I'll mention it: a collection of questions and answers on best practices (yes, I know this will result in a lot of opinions, but still I think those could be useful to learners).

Here's one approach I've been thinking of regarding the development of such repositories inspired a bit by @cfr 's comment to my original post.

cfr suggests that the user simplify the diagram or pair down the question. I think this is a great idea. But also, I think some of these posters might just turn around and say, "I don't know how to start any of this." My suggestion is not to make the OP simplify the diagram. Instead, we, as the more seasoned users of this site and more seasoned users of the tools, could create new questions and post answers that breakdown the OP's original question into stages. On the one hand, this creates a bit of work. On the other, it allows us to structure things in a way that is better organized and searchable than a newbie might know how to do.

For example, take the following question Draw a picture where some parts are tables. It can be broken down into various parts. The tables on the left hand side could be structured in TikZ as split rectangles. The table in the center could import a tabular environment into the picture for which there is already a good answer though I'd like to see a way of doing it as a TikZ matrix or a two-way split rectangle(??). The right hand side could just be viewed as drawing connectors between the node: a rather rudimentary level sort of thing to do in TikZ or pstricks, but I don't think we have anything illustrating plainly how to do this except buried in other questions and therefore not readily searchable.

My suggestion is that a solution be posted for each of these aspects of the picture. While we do have some questions about working with split nodes, we don't really have a question which is "how do I draw a split node?" So, we in-the-know could post such a question (perhaps as a community wiki). Then we could answer our own question illustrating the technique (again perhaps as a community wiki). But then this would also allow others to come in and showcase how to do the similar technique in pstricks of Metapost. Then we could go back to the OP's question and in the comments (or in a solution) link to the new posting or show how to integrate the various ideas. In fact, my own question about Setting a length with a key to a TikZ node came up in an initial foray into answering the question about drawing the diagram mentioned at the start of the previous paragraph (I haven't posted anything yet about this because I just haven't had that sort of procrastination time available). In this manner we would gradually build up respositories of techniques. (Right now I can recall seeing many cool things done with TikZ, but then the question is how do I find it 9 months later and when I finally have a project where the cool thing would be useful. Afterall, the original question could have been about something rather tangential to whatever coolness might have been there.)

I know this can be a lot of work. It could get a bit haphazard too. But I think it might offer a solution to how to make these "draw this picture for me" into something more general and useful to current and future users of the site.

  • this kind of addresses the problem that it is often difficult to find the question that one knows is a "duplicate". adhering to the q/a format does make that difficult when a question is phrased in a manner only vaguely related to the appropriate answer, and sometimes the tagging doesn't help much either. i hesitate to change the phrasing of a question to something that looks entirely unrelated (although i don't hesitate to correct the spelling of a command or package name). so coming up with lucid questions could perhaps be a goal for a community wiki meta question? – barbara beeton May 6 '15 at 12:42
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    Some of the original questions, that new ones get closed as duplicates of, sometimes have answers that must be cruel to a newcomer looking for a solution. Some give a solution in form of a one liner, no explanation at all. On the other hand it seems that reading background information has become a little off-trend. Some answers are more extensive, but addressing multiple topics and it is hard to really find the matching line to the problem at hand. – Johannes_B May 6 '15 at 20:17
  • Some of the FAQs we get have nice answers and get updated once in a while, for example the yes, you need to run bibtex/biber. business that gets in every day. For other stuff, there is no real quality control. If an answer is hidden in plain sight, it is still hidden. I think we should somehow rework our stock answers. All of my thoughts are not related to the drawThisForMeBusiness, of course, but i think it is relevant to mention this. – Johannes_B May 6 '15 at 20:21
  • I think there are good ideas here. I still think that we need to encourage users to break diagrams down into simpler steps. If they have no idea where to start, then then could ask about that i.e. 'I want to draw this diagram. How can I break the project down into manageable steps?' But there is a huge temptation for people to respond with code for the diagram. And that is not, I think, helpful. The problem is not just the one @Johannes_B mentions: many answers to newcomers' questions themselves strike me as cruel. – cfr May 7 '15 at 20:16
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    @cfr You cannot pre-intervent. Somebody is looking to draw a log of wood, which frankly is a brown cylinder. Summing up, we have a question for a log of wood, a thermos, a rocket and a beer can, all could be breaken down to cylinders. And if somebody tells you the answer is hidden in how to draw a can of beer it might be confusing/misleading/frustrating. – Johannes_B May 7 '15 at 20:20
  • @Johannes_B Sorry. I don't understand what you said. ('pre-intervent'?) And I agree about the hiddenness. Did I say something which you thought meant I disagreed? – cfr May 7 '15 at 20:24
  • @cfr You want to encourage a new user to break down the question to simpler stuff, i.e. draw a circle, a cube, a pumpkin .... But as soon as the user posts a question, the do it for me part is done. You could set up a page before you answer, read this ... but we all know that it ain't gotta work. – Johannes_B May 7 '15 at 20:28
  • @Johannes_B It depends what you mean by 'work'. Do I think it will stop the draw-it-for-me questions? Of course not. Do I think it might be more helpful to some users than magic spells? Yes. But that is a heavily qualified claim. My point is that if a user wants to know how to construct a diagram, posting a magic spell is not going to help. I think that some users do want this, but certainly not all. So I think it might reduce serial-draw-it-for-mes somewhat, but I'm certainly not suggesting that it will end them. (And it won't do anything about draw-it-for-me first posts.) – cfr May 7 '15 at 20:34
  • @cfr You are right. One german comedian, who also seems to have a medical degree, had something in his program. I'll give you ten dollars, you are quite happy for a few minutes. Later that day, you loose exactly this bill, you will be angry for days. Tha's a bit of human behaviour in our selves. A draw this for me question has a higher negative weight, than one single well-done question could balance. Stupid humans ;-) – Johannes_B May 7 '15 at 20:38
7

I agree with Ulrike in her perspective.

The problems I've noticed are various. I understand that being polite is good and I often try to word the (few) comments I post in a neutral manner. And I'm also lenient to new users (especially completely new ones). But being polite and lenient doesn't mean and/or justify feeding the vampires.

While I really love Tikz, really, I think that answering the "gimme teh codez" questions is not only not helpful to the OP (in the long term), but it's also harmful to the site in the way that we are simply a free workforce for people too lazy to even describe their problem, let alone post some code attempt.

I don't demand that the code being posted works excellently, but I appreciate that there is an effort. It also depends on the case, I've answered questions without codes where I thought it was appropriate. Maybe I'm even wrong in those cases, but it was my call. And indeed, it's not even a "is there a code in it?" problem. It's more of a "do I think this user attempted to look into it before asking?" which is often not the case.

And it often happens that when I'm looking for how to answer a "draw it for me" question (for my own curiosity), I stumble upon very related and sometimes exact duplicates of the same question. This means that the OP didn't even take the time to google the general problem, let alone dig into the code.

By the way, I don't find these questions to be boring. Any Tikz-related question is fun for me (and often I resist the urge to just post an answer). What I don't appreciate is the thought that I'm almost supposed to give an answer when the OP only posted an image with some "Any help is appreciated. Thanks." with no context, no effort whatsoever or even a slight mention of said effort.

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    @percusse When you see a very complicated Tikz graph that requires work with no effort to at least draw a node, and the OP doesn't care about learning but just to "give the code already", then that's a vampire. See also The Help Vampire: A Spotter's Guide. I don't think I'm being picky or pompous, I have said I like answering questions and I have to admit I'm a bit torn on this issue, but I prefer cooperating with someone than working for them. But I want to reiterate what I said above: It's not even "is there code" problem. – Alenanno May 10 '15 at 13:42
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    @Alenanno The problem with the "Vampire spotter's guide" is that it's about judging what we cannot know. We can't know whether the OP has googled the question. Perhaps the OP wasn't able to decipher the search results. Perhaps you want the OP to state they googled and list what they found: personally, I don't care what they googled and didn't find; I just want a question. "How do I draw this?" is a question. – A.Ellett May 10 '15 at 15:09
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    @Alenanno Regarding duplicates: finding duplicates isn't particularly easy even when you know the keywords to search on. In many of these "How do I draw this?" question, the OP may not know what to search for. You come from a position of epistemic privilege which means you are in a better position to get more productive google search results. For those new to LaTeX (or even just TikZ or pstricks), such insight has yet to be gained. – A.Ellett May 10 '15 at 15:15
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    @Alenanno Finally, there is an art to writing good questions. Many of us lack this skill. I can't tell you how many times I cringe when I reread some of the questions I've posted on this site. They are clunky, or too long, or confusing. But that may attest to my own confusion about what wasn't working in my code and my difficulty in understanding how to even frame the question. – A.Ellett May 10 '15 at 15:23
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    @A.Ellett Yes, we can. Just mentioning what you searched and why it didn't help is good enough. I can't read minds, but I can read an explanation in a question. You say you don't care, but we're discussing about what constitutes a standard. Just asking "draw it for me" is not a standard I can agree with. Finally, writing a question is not always easy, I agree. But writing a badly formatted/written question that can be improved, is better than writing nothing, don't you agree? – Alenanno May 10 '15 at 15:39
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    It's dialogue on this topic that I was looking for. And I'm happy to see so much conversation back-and-forth on this. You've contributed to this conversation, and I am grateful for that (even while I don't necessarily agree with all your points). :-) – A.Ellett May 10 '15 at 16:01
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    @A.Ellett This site has always been quite polite. It's one thing I like about it! :D – Alenanno May 10 '15 at 16:02
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    @percusse You're generalising my discourse a bit. I'm not blocking anyone's access and not everyone that doesn't add some code is an help vampire. I'm just saying that I'd like to see some cooperation when someone asks a question, cooperation that can be expressed in various ways. And indeed, like I said, it's not a black & white issue: not all questions without code are bad. It depends on the case. – Alenanno May 10 '15 at 22:14
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    @percusse I'm not, I was just expanding on it. Name one thing that contradicts what I said in the answer and I'll tell you why it doesn't. – Alenanno May 11 '15 at 20:44
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    @percusse I always said it depended on the case and it was not a question of code or not code. From my answer "It also depends on the case, I've answered questions without codes where I thought it was appropriate." By the way, today I've been working on a code for hours for a question without code. That goes to show that I don't see it as a B&W issue. I'm one of those 10 people you mention. Also, it doesn't help the discussion if you keep calling people pompous just because they (slightly) disagree with you. – Alenanno May 11 '15 at 20:49
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    @percusse I'm trying to understand your point of view, that's why I'm asking you how you think this situation should be handled. I'm in the chatroom as well if you prefer talking there. I'm open to have my mind changed, but I want to know your arguments and how you want to change the situation first. I think that's reasonable. – Alenanno May 12 '15 at 10:34
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    @percusse What do you see to be "self-important" or pompous in my opinions or statements? I have shown multiple times that I can change it if given arguments that stand on their own merit. All you said is that you don't like some reviews and some comment blocks. Those are not arguments. Why does it bother you? If you really want to play by the things you said, then they're free to comment and review as much as you are free to answer questions you deem appropriate to answer to. This is their, mine sandbox as much as yours. – Alenanno May 12 '15 at 14:51
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    @Johannes_B Yes but... I never saw anybody make fun of anybody in the question comments. In chat I have personally never seen any, but I'm speaking of what I've seen. If I saw somebody making fun of the OP I would flag the comment. But saying "Please add your preamble" or "Can you post a MWE?" are not what I consider "making fun of". This is considering you used that wording but maybe you meant something else. – Alenanno May 12 '15 at 15:32
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    On the other hand, many answers lack a minimal working example and can be answered, making some assumptions (that may proove wrong), some cannot be answered. Asking for more information (mwe) is better than leaving the topic alone, ok some other might pick up on that, but maybe not. While going through the unanswered, i have seen questions containing an MWE and never got any feedback at all, no comment nothing. – Johannes_B May 12 '15 at 15:48
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    @Johannes_B I largely agree although there are references here to stuff I'm not aware of. I'm sure I also make mistakes and express frustration or irritation. But it does not follow from this that I am motivated by hostility or pomposity or whatever it is meant to be. What bothers me about this most is the assumptions being made about why people do things. Not only do I see no justification for those assumptions, I also think that, from a pragmatic point of view, those assumptions are counterproductive. They are a sure way to encourage hostility. – cfr May 12 '15 at 16:51

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