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Though its well documented under the FAQ of Stack Overflow regarding "How to ask?", "What to ask?", and "What not to ask?" - there are still many (hundreds) of questions every day that get closed, downvoted, and/or deleted - and all have a comment below it showing the FAQ link by experienced users.

So the FAQ hasn't helped new users or existing users post accurate questions which suit this site, and questions that other users can properly understand and answer correctly. Still every day many flags are generated and many questions are closed.

I think there needs to be some changes in the "Ask" page, through which we can force new users to ask question in some fixed pattern.

My idea:

  1. Separate the question into pieces, of which a few of them must be filled out in order to post a question, such as:

    • explanation of the problem
    • code being used
    • error being received
    • solutions already tried
    • links/images

    Many can be added such a way and we can force the user to fill few(specific number) out of them to post a new question.

  2. Every new question has to be approved by at least 1 user having 2k+ or 5k+ reputation in order to be on the Questions list (this one seems to be some what more strict).

    Putting this kind of validation before the question gets posted on the site will help keep the site clean, there will be no closed, deleted questions, and there will be fewer flags.

Though the SO Team can decide more what is feasible and what can be done, I don't have any more ideas on what can be done. My point is "Something like this should be done."

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The first part seems a dupe of Asking Template. –  Arjan Jun 13 '12 at 5:57
@Arjan nice work, I also tried to search the question related this before asking but couldn't found one..but you did ..good –  MKJParekh Jun 13 '12 at 6:00
I prefer purgatory where users must be penitent in order to find salvation. –  Won't Jun 13 '12 at 14:45
Considering the state of the Close Votes review queue, which requires 3k rep, I think requiring 5k rep would be a disaster. It would make it take very long for questions from new users to appear, often past the point where they no longer care, and would chase a lot of people away from the site. I think even 2k is too high for this. How about 500? That's what's currently required to review first posts, so why make the rep required to approve them any higher? –  Adi Inbar Aug 21 '13 at 4:05

2 Answers 2

It's not just documented in the FAQ. We have a lot of help for new users to begin with. Let's start with the screen every new user is greeted with when they push the ask button on Stack Overflow:

New User Help

Continuing on, we ask them to indicate that they actually read the text:

Everyone Lies (Gregory House)

Then, they'll need to create an account or use an existing OpenID. Depending on what they do, they may end up going through the above 'advice' process twice. Yes, twice, two chances to read the text and indicate that they've done so.

Now, they have found their way to the question box, and what appears? Even more help and tips for asking a successful question:

We really do go out of our way ...

And since markdown can be a little confusing for those that haven't used it much, when the actual question box has focus, we give even more help, along with suggesting ways in which they could improve the title:

It doesn't get much more intuitive

Not shown is the automatically generated similar or possibly duplicate question list.

Despite this and our quality filters, some really poorly written questions make their way into the system. In the grand scheme of things however, they are the minority. On June 8, 5,900 questions entered the system. Our flag level is bordering around 1,200 per day. Of those, roughly 50% are alerting us to a horrible question (or answer) written by a new user. Allow a few percent margin, I don't have the ability to query the data directly, so my estimate is based on a year's worth of observations.

Additionally, quite a few new users initially post questions as answers, I won't bore everyone with screen shots of the measures we take to keep people from doing that.

I think what you're suggesting would impede quality first time users more than slow down or cushion people that don't care about the quality of their writing. I don't think proverbial 'training wheels' would help someone that doesn't read or care much to begin with. In most cases, those people just need to be shown the door, and the system automatically does that. I don't want to force a template on someone that is perfectly capable of writing a coherent and interesting question just in case they aren't.

The idea of some kind of 'first question' queue would just put even more work on the backs of those that want to keep the quality high. Given our question volume and number of unique visitors, that queue would be orders of magnitude larger than the 10k / Moderator flag queues combined and needlessly complicate the first experience for many.

I really think we've done all that we can do to ensure people have a good experience and it's important to remember that the majority of our new users have exactly that.

share|improve this answer
So many red arrows (alerts), I agree with this point of view, first-timers are well aware of the "rules" for a proper question. I've been there and I saw the signs... I've chosen "not ask" many times due to them! –  Zuul Jun 13 '12 at 8:26
Yes this all things are there , well kept by the StackOverflow,Despite this and our quality filters, some really poorly written questions make their way into the system. so I thought about putting one more thing in ask, that force the user. –  MKJParekh Jun 13 '12 at 8:44
There is no doubt that StackOverflow lake any thing done for new user,everything is better explained and well shown. –  MKJParekh Jun 13 '12 at 8:45
@FasteKerinns When I was elected, I also felt the same way. But it's basically to the point that we have enough in place to help whoever can be helped. Those who can't really need to find another place to get answers. I don't think there's much else we can do that won't get in the way of the majority (or create even more work). –  Tim Post Jun 13 '12 at 8:56
Yeh that's true something like "If we are here to help other, then what other are here for" , My main idea was "user comes ignore the FAQ like as all generally ignore the disclaimer about product and start using - at the end the work overload for the cleanup staff<users>" –  MKJParekh Jun 13 '12 at 9:01
@FasteKerinns If they do that more than a few times, they lose the ability to ask questions (that change helped significantly). I'm not sure how much effort we should put into people that just can't be helped. –  Tim Post Jun 13 '12 at 9:04
The "possible duplicates" area can push the preview down out of sight, but you still gotta scroll past it to hit the "Post" button either way. –  Anna Lear Jul 8 '12 at 16:06
I'm so flattered that they named a button after me! Really! –  Tim Post Jul 8 '12 at 16:35
And let's not forget tour. We force that on them, too. Don't we? –  Gordon Aug 20 '13 at 22:11

I actually think that (2) is a decent idea with some modifications.

  • Users with 20 rep can ask questions without any other user's approval.
  • Questions asked by users with less than 20 rep will be placed in a queue, so that no question is left unapproved for very long.
  • Questions can be edited, but not answered, while in the queue.
  • Questions can be moved to other Stack Exchange sites with the right number of votes while in the queue
  • For a question to get approved it needs less votes than to be denied. Something like 3 votes to approve, but 10 to deny.
  • When denying a question, just like when voting to close, a reason must be selected, and that reason will be shown to the asker along with this page, so they know and (hopefully) understand why it was denied and how to ask a better question.

Then again it isn't really necessary either, because questions are usually closed quite quickly when they need to be.

share|improve this answer
That would be quite a bit of additional procedure for something that should be unbelievably simple. Why would we ask even more of the people that make the site great in order to cushion the people that seem determined to lower the quality? –  Tim Post Jun 13 '12 at 7:14

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