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Does SO keep track of the number of questions a user has read/viewed?

If so, would it be possible to keep new users from posting a question until they've viewed 5 posts?

This could be done by adding an additional step to the sign up process, where a list of the best SO questions would be presented for the new user to choose from.

This would give new users some perspective as to how they should be participating, (how to ask a question, appropriate answers etc.)

Of course, there will be people that just click on the first five posts they see to bypass this requirement, but at least we'll have known they put forth some effort here...

I'm just getting a little fed up with the "give me full source code please" questions.


Here's an example of a question that should be displayed in front of a new user, to discourage similar behavior:


I proposed this idea because I think that some new users don't understand the nature of questions on this site. It's very tempting to come on here and ask others for source code before realizing that the nature of such a question is inappropriate. I believe that some new users may benefit from [some process related to my suggestion] because if they do care to build a reputation on here, they do not have to suffer the initial embarrassment of asking a poorly worded question. I feel as though if this happened to me, I would abandon the account (since I could not delete my question), and be discouraged from participating here again. Most folks [especially those that are new to coding] need to learn by example. I think that the intent of new users that ask for source code is split between those that don't want to do any work, and those that don't know how to learn without seeing something tangible. Those that learn by example would probably take the time to read both a to-do and to-don't example question and become a more educated question asker. I don't believe that everyone will participate in this exercise, but feel that it might help more quickly educate those that do.

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I had read hundreds of questions here before I registered to ask my first one. I don't think it would be easy to keep track of this. – Dennis Apr 13 '12 at 18:38
I've been following stackoverflow long before I made an account. I only made an account when I actually wanted to make a post. So in that case, I viewed 0 questions before I made my first post. In other words, I don't think your idea will have the intended effect. – Mysticial Apr 13 '12 at 18:39
How could viewing (or at least, opening them in a page) 5 random posts (I say "random" because it'll be difficult to make them related to what a user wants to ask. To give him similar questions there are already other mechanism in place, and not always they succeed) prevent a help vampire, or a person in real need, to ask a question? If I want to ask something about javascript, and you compel me to scroll over 5 best questions on C++, Android, Java, PHP and SQL, will I really think twice before posting my question? – Damien Pirsy Apr 13 '12 at 18:42
I did add, "This could be done by adding an additional step to the sign up process, where a list of the best SO questions would be presented for the new user to choose from." – Matisse VerDuyn Apr 13 '12 at 18:42
To choose why?? why do I need to choose a question unrelated to mine, which doesn't solve my problem, and which only annoys me? If you want to present similr question, this is already done right after writing the title. And judging from the tons of dupes, this doesn't always work either – Damien Pirsy Apr 13 '12 at 18:44
@DamienPirsy you aren't understanding the purpose of this exercise. that process has its own positive qualities. – Matisse VerDuyn Apr 13 '12 at 18:47
What you want to exercise? It's not different than making you accept the Licence terms before installing any software. We all know nobody cares about that, and nobody says "No, I disagree". Why don't just make him wait 10 minutes from registration to asking? afterall, you just want him to post in a hurry, right? – Damien Pirsy Apr 13 '12 at 18:50
placing this question: in front of every new user's face before they post their first question might help the few who do care, and would then not be discouraged from participating in the future. this should not be compared to reading the TOS. – Matisse VerDuyn Apr 13 '12 at 18:57
I don't think this will help one bit. This is going to be one of those "yadayada, don't care, next, next, let's ask my question" kind of situations. New users will learn anyway by actions of the community. And those who don't would most likely not benefit from your proposed process either. – Bart Apr 13 '12 at 19:03
those who do care already put the needed efforts without a useless step, as proven by the hundreds nice and good questions asked daily. Those who do not care won't care after your solution either. – Damien Pirsy Apr 13 '12 at 19:07
@DamienPirsy that's a very close minded, uninformed, and a non-psychology based response. some people just don't know what to do from the start if they aren't given an example. – Matisse VerDuyn Apr 13 '12 at 19:09
You're mistaking the "some" with the "all", Herr Freud. You want to enforce a mechanism to everyone just for the few who will learn how to behave correctly anyway, right after the first downvote. The real problem are the majority who do not care, and this is not the solution for them, nor the way to "save" them, nor something useful. This is not being closed minded, au contraire: this is knowing people and not being overly idealistic – Damien Pirsy Apr 13 '12 at 19:14
what solution is ever a panacea? – Matisse VerDuyn Apr 13 '12 at 19:16
None, that's why you shouldn't have proposed this imho. Your suggestion came as such, as a solution for all the bad questions, not as a solution targeted to those 32 people who actually care – Damien Pirsy Apr 13 '12 at 19:17
This actually isn't a bad idea, so +1. I agree with some of the other sentiments that it probably won't work and is fairly trivial to get around, but I'm also in the camp that says what will it hurt? If it deters some of the bad questions and doesn't provide too challenging a barrier, I say go ahead. All valuable contributors to anything ever will spend a few minutes looking around before opening their mouths, so it's unlikely they would even bump into an error. – Cody Gray Apr 14 '12 at 7:49
up vote 7 down vote accepted

Possible: yes.

Useful: I'm not convinced

It takes 5 seconds to open 5 tabs which seems to be what would happen if the requirement was known publicly and if it wasn't known then it would be frustrating trying to guess.

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This question (…), which you answered, actually provides good insight into what a good/bad question is, i.e. your comment "Compared to a lot of questions it's actually quite well written. It has a minimal example of relevant code, and a clear, well scoped, answerable question posed with it. – awoodland". – Matisse VerDuyn Apr 13 '12 at 19:06
it appears as though you've thought of this before... wouldn't getting this example out to new users actually be of some benefit? – Matisse VerDuyn Apr 13 '12 at 19:06
@MatisseVerDuyn - I've thought about it a lot. You can force people to click things or jump through hoops, but you can't force people to appreciate or comprehend or even read more than the bare minimum. – Flexo Apr 13 '12 at 19:10
If you wanted something to "test" question askers you could set a "puzzle" that asks people to say which question is better out of a pair of questions, one disputably good, one bad, repeated a few times. But every barrier you raise that is perceived as "silly" has collateral damage for the kind of users who do ask good questions. The "bad" askers are going to get through either by brute force (1000 monkeys, infinite time) or by skim reading and doing the bare minimum which has "got me this far in life so can't be a bad thing right?" – Flexo Apr 13 '12 at 19:13
I'm sold on your opinion. – Matisse VerDuyn Apr 13 '12 at 19:13
@MatisseVerDuyn Comments based on practical experience or comments which don't follow your line of thought are not necessarily uninformed. – Bart Apr 13 '12 at 19:15
I'd love to see a solution, but I don't see one that doesn't annoy "good" users without actually solving the problem – Flexo Apr 13 '12 at 19:18

I don't think this will be a good deterrent of spam or bad questions. Any spambot can easily view five initial questions in less than a second. Similarly, I don't think forcing the kinds of people you describe to view a few questions will significantly alter the way they will post their questions. They will most likely just click on a few just to get it out of the way; this is far from the intended effect.

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So what you're saying is, "there's no hope... a bad question asker, is a bad question asker." What I'm saying is, "A bad question asker might gain experience from the behavior of others, and learn to behave properly a little faster." – Matisse VerDuyn Apr 13 '12 at 18:45
Well, I'm not saying that there's no hope. But I don't think it's a problem that can be solved by giving them a menial task that takes a few seconds to do. This is like giving an disgruntled child a pamphlet on anger management. They probably won't even open it let alone read it. – tskuzzy Apr 13 '12 at 18:49
again, what you're getting at is that there's no hope. – Matisse VerDuyn Apr 13 '12 at 18:51

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