Don't Answer Don't Ask to Ask

Every now and then, in online chat rooms I hang around in, someone pops in and says something in the lines of,

Foobar123: Any Java experts around?

And there comes a snarky reply:


This is bad form, for several reasons. What the person is actually answering here is,

SnarkyReplyer: Look, I won't help you with your Java question, but I will take the time to send you this link which is essentially me saying that you shouldn't ask if you can ask, but rather should just ask your question. However, note that I am myself not just telling you to ask your question but also kinda passive-aggressively scolding you.

It's a Mobius strip of irony, really. SnarkyReplyer is caught in an endless loop of "don't-ask-to-ask" while engaging in a variation of don't-answer-just-to-say-don't-ask-to-ask'. A conundrum!

Now, Foobar123 is left wondering whether to feel ashamed or enlightened, and still without any Java help.

What should SnarkyReplyer have done instead? Perhaps simply state, "What do you need help with in Java?" thereby breaking the cycle and potentially helping Foobar123 with their issue. This swift and simple approach is like an antidote to the venomous spiral of meta responses, which, while sometimes well-intentioned, usually just make the chat as productive as a hamster on a wheel.