Stupid People, Stupid Questions, and the Lazyweb

Scott Adams has a great quote:

If there are no stupid questions, then what kind of questions do stupid people ask? Do they get smart just in time to ask questions?

This quote came to mind as I was reading a post by Jeff Atwood on the word Lazyweb:
From www.codinghorror.com:

It’s hard to pin down the exact etymology of the word Lazyweb, but it seems to have one primary meaning:

1. Asking a question of an internet audience in the hopes that they will be able to find a solution that you were too lazy or inexperienced to find yourself.

I don’t mind Lazyweb requests, within reason. Contrary to popular belief, there is such a thing as a stupid question. It’s asked by people who failed to do even the most basic kind of research on their question before they asked. I’m not expecting everyone to read a 32 page document before asking a question, but at least cover the basics before casually deciding to make your problem everyone’s problem.

My wife can attest to my love of answering questions, especially engineering/technology questions. At the same time, one of my biggest pet peeves are questions which are asked simply because the asker has not done any level of work to answer the questions himself1.

For a while, I used to respond to such questions with my Larry and Sergey story. Ask me a lazyweb question sometime and I’ll tell you my story.

When I needed help from a professor in college, I learned to preface the question with a synopsis of what I had done thus far in my attempt to answer it. This seemed to help direct their answers more specifically to my particular failure of knowledge, as well as assure them that I wasn’t being lazy.


  1. please do not ask me what time it is, I’m pretty sure you have a cell phone with a clock on it 

Quotes of 2009, Part 1

I’m usually able to amass my entire collection of yearly quotes on my Facebook page in one go; However, this year I have seem to run out of space, so I’m having to clear it out early. Thus, you can enjoy my yearly quotes a bit early1. Also try to notice a theme; it’s subtle, but I think there is one (although it’s not present in every quote).

“Women. Can’t live with them…..they will not go out with me.” – Vork/Herman Holden, The Guild S2E102

“Engineers like to solve problems. If there are no problems handily available, they will create their own problems.” – Scott Adams

“But let’s remember who made that rule: Goliath. And let’s remember why Goliath made that rule: when the world has to play on Goliath’s terms, Goliath wins.” – Malcom Gladwell, How David Beats Goliath (http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2009/05/11/090511fa_fact_gladwell?currentPage=all)

“Attempt such great things for God that without His help, they are destined to fail.” – E.M. Bounds

“I work extremely hard doing what I love, mainly to ensure that I don’t have to work extremely hard doing what I hate.” – Hugh MacLeod, GapingVoid.com (http://twitter.com/gapingvoid/statuses/1521887425)

“Ideas are Almost Worthless. What you should be focusing on instead is Execution and Perseverance. A mediocre idea with fantastic execution and staying power is going to be an awesome success. A fantastic idea with a guy who cant hold a single thought in his head for five minutes and thinks of another great idea is not going to be anything.” – David Heinemeier Hansson

“Be true to your work, your word, and your friends.” –
Henry David Thoreau

“…honesty doesn’t have to look good.” – Becca Arrowsmith, http://beccarrow.blogspot.com/2009/02/back-from-break.html

“The core skill of innovators is error recovery, not failure avoidance.” – Randy Nelson, Dean of Pixar University

“Let your religion be less of a theory and more of a love affair.” – G. K. Chesterton

“I think my biggest problem is that I ask for competence in the people around me.” – Bill Wadman, http://www.ontakingpictures.com/2009/01/frustration.html

“Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends – hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism – these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history. What is demanded then is a return to these truths.” – Barack Obama

“Don’t undertake a project unless it is manifestly important and nearly impossible.” – Edwin Land, Inventor of Instant Photography

“Talking to girls is lame. It makes my stomach hurt…because I can’t fart.” – Jacob


  1. Enjoy them early on my blog at least. They’re always available on my Facebook page. 

  2. Season 2, Episode 10 

Engineers Explained

In my never ending quest to accurately describe who engineers – and by association, myself – are, I happened to stumble upon this great explanation, attributed to Scott Adams (a.k.a. The guy who writes Dilbert):

From bcn.boulder.co.us:

People who work in the fields of science and technology are not like other people. This can be frustrating to the nontechnical people who have to deal with them. The secret to coping with technology-oriented people is to understand their motivations. This chapter will teach you everything you need to know. I learned their customs and mannerisms by observing them, much the way Jane Goodall learned about the great apes, but without the hassle of grooming.

Engineering is so trendy these days that everybody wants to be one. The word “engineer” is greatly overused. If there’s somebody in your life who you think is trying to pass as an engineer, give him this test to discern the truth.

More after the break…
Continue reading “Engineers Explained”