What do we call someone who asks a question and never responds to answers/comments?

Think of it more as "a pattern of behavior" (somebody who has asked many questions and never responded).
I had unresponsive in mind, but that doesn't say that they asked in the first place.

  • 4
    You mean on a Stack Exchange site?
    – Alenanno
    Dec 7, 2011 at 9:57
  • 2
    Was it a rhetorical question?
    – user13141
    Dec 7, 2011 at 9:58
  • @Alenanno: Yes, and preferably in general wider use, as well.
    – Kris
    Dec 7, 2011 at 10:00
  • 4
    Unengaged, disengaged? We often speak of someone being engaged in conversation when they're actively involved in a two-way communication, and it's certainly possible to speak in a disengaged tone when you don't really care what you're saying or what reply you might get. Dec 7, 2011 at 19:00
  • 3
    @Kris, Please edit the question and indicate where you plan to use the desired word or phrase, and what slant you prefer: pejorative, neutral, other. Does it make sense to offer a bounty for answers to an underspecified question? Dec 12, 2011 at 3:07

13 Answers 13


Perhaps drive-by asker or drive-by participant, to convey that he comes in, makes his post/comment/etc, and then continues on his merry way. Related, from @onomatomaniak in comments: ask and run.

In other contexts we call someone who takes but never gives -- for example, communal snacks at work -- a mooch (or moocher) or a parasite. Depending on the specific case I don't see a problem with using those words online. Freeloader also comes to mind, though it is more general.

Edited for question revision: mooch, parasite, and freeloader are all perjorative; the drive-by phrases are probably slightly negative but not as much as those.

  • I liked the thought experiment on the lines of drive-by asker.
    – Kris
    Dec 12, 2011 at 11:02
  • 4
    In the vein of drive-by asker, there would also be the ask and run.
    – user13141
    Dec 12, 2011 at 12:03
  • 1
    @onomatomaniak, nice one! Dec 12, 2011 at 13:27
  • @onomatomaniak: Now we are getting pretty close. What I was thinking was just that, the hit and run driver's equivalent in a general sense.
    – Kris
    Dec 13, 2011 at 7:16
  • +1 Way ahead of other suggestions. Drive-by as a prefix tops! Thank you.
    – Kris
    Dec 18, 2011 at 14:04

I like nonreciprocal.

re·cip·ro·cal Interchanged, given, or owed to each other


Distracted. It's possible that a person who was interested enough to ask a question, but didn't follow through with the process of discerning a helpful answer, was distracted by something else. It could be a shiny object, or it could be a sick child. It could be one or more of any number of things.


I don't think there is a single word that captures what you want to say. These terms come to mind:

  • unappreciative of the help offered

  • uninvolved in the learning process

  • exhibits poor etiquette concerning questions asked

  • lacks follow-through

  • is half-hearted (or apathetic) about his questions

  • Thanks, @TheEnglishChicken. Wish there was one that captures most of the above list!
    – Kris
    Dec 8, 2011 at 3:13
  • Wish there were some which are neutral, though.
    – Kris
    Dec 15, 2011 at 13:05

How about deadbeat? In the same way that a deadbeat dad spawns a human life that he does not concern himself to care for, a deadbeat asker could be construed as a person that spawns a discussion that he neglects to contribute to.

  • +1 This is very much like it. Can only use in a negative sense. @David Rivers: But whatabout Sarah's [see above] concerns?
    – Kris
    Dec 13, 2011 at 7:10
  • I understand, but lack sympathy, for such a distracted asker. The scenario reminds me of agreeing to have lunch with someone who then spends the entire time playing with her mobile device. If an asker is going to provoke a conversation, then she should have the respect for answerers to see it through. Dec 13, 2011 at 19:55
  • @David Rivers, & Kris Unless they're expecting emergency-level information, I'd say the distracted lunch partner is exhibiting a highly objectionable form of rudeness, because it's a one-on-one, personal situation, etc. I'd rate lower the rudeness of the stack exchange asker distracted from the expected and desired follow through. I'd suggest a sliding scale of perceived rudeness dependent upon the distraction involved. If due to an emergency, I'd not see it as rude. Of course, we're not privy tot that info. However, I think deadbeat dads are in a (low) class all their own.
    – sarah
    Dec 16, 2011 at 4:25
  • I am not looking for terms with negative connotations as such, so how negative something is, is not really an issue anyway. Still researching for a phrase that is convenient and, maybe, politically correct as well.
    – Kris
    Dec 16, 2011 at 5:36

I'll suggest the following adjectives:

  • unresponsive: not reacting in a suitable way to what people say or do. (unresponsive to: Helen has been unresponsive to all my suggestions.)
  • impassive: not showing any emotion.
  • impervious: not affected by something or not seeming to notice it.
  • insusceptible: not easily influenced or affected.
  • pachydermatous: thick-skinned (see its definition below).
  • stolid: showing little or no emotion or interest.
  • thick-skinned: insensitive to criticism or hints.

If you ask me which one I prefer, I say thick-skinned. Unresponsive is also a good choice and can be used in more formal contexts. Note that the above terms may have different meanings in different contexts. I gave the related meanings with respect to your question.

  • You make it difficult to choose from equally good alternatives! However, any of these could also be someone who formally does respond in some way. It isn't obvious that he failed to respond. See also the new edit.
    – Kris
    Dec 7, 2011 at 10:07
  • We are now closer to the answer. We need something with the sense of coasting [Theta30] (hence, ?coaster) and the currency of unresponsive [Mehper C. Palavuzlar].
    – Kris
    Dec 10, 2011 at 8:02
  • @Mepher Could you expand on that answer? Perhaps giving more detailed reasons you'd pick one of those words? Or even a better description of what they mean? Dec 11, 2011 at 12:24
  • 1
    @Pureferret: Here you are. Dec 12, 2011 at 8:09

I'm entering this as a separate answer because it's a specific solution for this site whereas the prior answer was a general one.

Lexical Leech

  • In the right context that's perfect! Dec 18, 2011 at 16:45
  • 1
    I am powerless to resist any opportunity for alliteration. :) Dec 18, 2011 at 16:50

There is a thread over on meta SO that references this idea named The Help Vampire problem. I've pasted the question below, but the answers in the thread are very interesting.

What is SO's long-term solution for the Help Vampire problem?

Quote from article follows:

Identifying Help Vampires can be tricky, because they look like any ordinary person (or internet user, whichever is lesser). But by closely observing an individual's behavior using this handy checklist, you too can identify Help Vampires in the field:

  • Does he ask the same, tired questions others ask (at a rate of once or more per minute)?
  • Does he clearly lack the ability or inclination to ask the almighty Google?
  • Does he refuse to take the time to ask coherent, specific questions?
  • Does he think helping him must be the high point of your day?
  • Does he get offensive, as if you need to prove to him why he should use Ruby on Rails?
  • Is he obviously just waiting for some poor, well-intentioned person to do all his thinking for him?

  • Can you tell he really isn't interested in having his question answered, so much as getting someone else to do his work?

  • Thanks, you've taken quite some trouble! A simpler way would be to just post a comment like "Related: The Help Vampire problem meta.stackexchange.com/questions/19665/the-help-vampire-problem -- I found the answers there very interesting."
    – Kris
    May 17, 2013 at 12:08
  • @Kris - thanks! I'm just getting the hang of how things are done around here, so I wasn't sure if that was kosher across different boards! May 17, 2013 at 13:05
  • If you have the privilege, you could up vote the question as well.
    – Kris
    May 18, 2013 at 4:12

Unconcerned and indifferent came to my mind.

EDIT: Monica's answer reminds me of spectator, bystander, or onlooker.

From my personal experience: in a software company there are typically three roles involved in a code review process, namely author, reviewer, observer.

An author is someone who posts his or her code for review. An reviewer is someone who must review the posted code and take some action in order for the code review process to proceed. An observer is someone who has access to the posted code and may or may not want to take a look at the code. What's more, an observer is not required to do anything if he does not want to.

I would say the question raiser in OP's case is an author the moment he posts the question on the site, and later he becomes an observer.

  • It would indeed be nice if he's actually observing. :) How'd you know?
    – Kris
    Dec 12, 2011 at 10:48
  • @Kris In the code review process, you are entitled to observe the whole process and provide comments, however, people wouldn't know or even care whether you really do so. For example, when I am assigned an observer role, I usually pay little attention to the posted code and focus on other tasks unless I am really interested in the code others write.
    – Terry Li
    Dec 12, 2011 at 14:36
  • Sure, that is true in code review. My comment refers to the one who asks a question and ... :)
    – Kris
    Dec 13, 2011 at 7:13

I think "Moocher" fits this nicely, especially the Wiktionary definition:

A person having a tendency to repeatedly ask help of others, especially if they are making little effort to help themselves. Usually used as a pejorative

  • +1; moocher (or mooch, the noun form) captures the essence of this type of questioner. And also brings to mind the classic Moose the Mooche.
    – Gnawme
    Dec 18, 2011 at 5:53


A new coinage inspired by "autodidact", but Google did find a lone antecedent.

  • Can't see how the root didáskein, (Gk: to teach) is associated with the idea at hand. Hypodidact could probably imply an under-tutored? educationally-challenged?
    – Kris
    Dec 17, 2011 at 4:32
  • 1
    Granted, I am not a Greek expert. Studied the roots as an etymology aficionado, but essentially clueless in the workings of the actuall language. But in English usage, as "didact" means "one who teaches", I would think "hypodidact" means "one who under-teaches" as opposed to "under-taught". Dec 17, 2011 at 5:23

I didn't restrain myself to think of this as just a "pattern of behavior" but also a relationship between the participants of the discussion, and a symbiotic one at that.

Of the different symbiotic relationships, commensal and parasitic were more relevant to the question. (Commensal, "of a form of symbiosis in which one organism derives a benefit while the other is unaffected". Parasitic, "drawing upon another organism for sustenance" or "exploiting another for personal gain.")

Since commensal is neutral and parasitic is malicious, commensal qualifies as my answer. A commensal poster if I may.


What do we call someone who asks a question and never responds to answers/comments?

You might call him/her a person who never gives/leaves feedback.

I'm tempted to add lurker, one who lurks, in particular a user of an Internet chat room or newsgroup who does not participate

But in the OP's question the user asks questions and then "disappears". Perhaps a neologism is in order, a stealth poster, a person who posts an answer and then limits his participation to reading.

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