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I am a student/programmer who recently discovered this amazing Q & A network. I instantly fell in love with the quality control mechanism of this site and wanted to be a part of it. And let me tell you this, being new around here is tough.

When I posted my first question, there were down-votes, I didn't know why. Only one of the people who gave me the down-vote actually bothered to tell me why. And his comment, though written with good intentions, made me look bad. And out of nowhere, someone edits my question. There were too many things going on for me to really understand what was happening.

I am pretty sure a lot of users would have faced similar situations when they were new to this site. In my case, I later realized that it was a bad question and deleted it, but it could have been softer. I didn't read the entire FAQ and the parts which I did read were hard to remember. I believe that the best way to learn is by making mistakes.

Based on my experience, I would suggest something like a "Teach new user" button instead of edit, comment and down vote links, where existing users can inform the new user privately about improper questions, quality of the post, etc., and the new user can be given an opportunity to correct himself. This button or link can exist for a week after which other users can down vote or edit the post. This button can remain for all posts made by users having less than 100 reputation points.

This will allow new users to learn from mistakes and the community can show them the way.

Edit: Something I'd like to add to my suggestion. When an existing user informs the new user about something wrong in their post, the post can be hidden from public display to protect the quality of the site. It can be shown to public as soon as the change is made by the new user or somebody else.

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While I don't disagree with your post at all, I think that most of the people who ask a question on SO fall into the longtime listener, first time caller category - where we have come across this place many times googling and finally decided to ask a question. I think it is a good idea, but might end up only finding small audience (that you intend). –  Fluffeh Aug 29 '12 at 13:58
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Why do you say you "instantly fell in love with the quality control mechanism of this site", and then go on to say that the quality control mechanisms should be disabled? That seems inconsistent... –  sth Aug 29 '12 at 14:04
    
What was your question? You have to, have to, have to read the FAQ first. (By the way, both downvotes and close votes are reversible, as long as you fix whatever was wrong with your question.) –  minitech Aug 29 '12 at 14:04
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Downvotes and even close votes do not prevent you from correcting your question, so I assume the privately part of your suggestion is your main objective. The sentence about public feedback making you look bad correlates this. Thing is, public feedback allows others to learn from your mistake, whereas private feedback would only benefit you. –  Frédéric Hamidi Aug 29 '12 at 14:04
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@Max And the general consensus (so far) is that we don't feel this is the solution, for a variety of reasons. –  Dave Newton Aug 29 '12 at 14:17
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When you asked your first question, did you not go through an interstitial with a bunch of suggestions, and an explicit "Yes, I've read all of this" checkbox? Did that not give you useful suggestions which would have led to a better question? –  Jon Skeet Aug 29 '12 at 14:44
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Every single existing user has undergone the same learning curve and somehow survived. Read the FAQ, lurk more and don't take downvotes personally. You'll get along fine. –  meagar Aug 29 '12 at 14:52
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@Max: It sounds like instead of forcing the site to put up with rubbish for a while, it would be better if excited users were simply prevented from asking questions for 10 minutes while they actually read what they've explicitly agreed to. –  Jon Skeet Aug 29 '12 at 15:00
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@Jon Skeet - Sometimes you can't help it. I have learn't my lesson through this post. I hope others will too... –  Max Aug 29 '12 at 15:05
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@Max: Well as I say, maybe if you'd had a forced delay that would have done the trick - without everyone else having to suffer due to your impatience. That's my point: it's the new over-excited "I can't be bothered to read anything, I'll just tick the box" user who's at fault here - so why should the whole site suffer? –  Jon Skeet Aug 29 '12 at 15:07
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@Max: And I'll still stick to opposing your suggestion. I disagree with your assertion that "Nobody can stop users from making the mistake [you] did" - you claim it was basically a lack of patience... so wouldn't a forced delay (e.g. at least 10 minutes from when you started writing the post to when you posted it) have helped? I personally think it's fine as it is. If you're willing to put up a post publicly, you should be willing to take public responsibility for its suitability. –  Jon Skeet Aug 29 '12 at 16:13
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@Max: I think where we differ is whether your expectation of a "softer" environment was reasonable. There were all kinds of pointers guiding you towards writing a question well, and you explicitly acknowledged that you knew what you were doing. I think there's only so far it's reasonable to expect a community/site to go in mollycoddling users. –  Jon Skeet Aug 29 '12 at 16:43
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@Max: It's a fine place for teenagers - I have absolutely nothing against young people posting questions. However, I expect behaviour of them as of other posters: I expect them to have enough respect for other people to think before posting, and to actually read what they agree to. (I should point out that plenty of adults fail in that respect too. It's really not an age issue.) –  Jon Skeet Aug 29 '12 at 17:01
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@Max: Then the system has worked, and doesn't need changing, right? Perhaps if there'd been a "softer" approach, you might have thought it really wasn't that important, and been similarly careless with your next question. –  Jon Skeet Aug 29 '12 at 17:37

2 Answers 2

In the "New Question" page on Stack Overflow there is big part of the screen dedicated to "How to ask":

Clicking the "asking help" link leads to this page which give brief incstructions, and if someone want to really learn from true master, that page also links to "Writing the perfect question" by the one and only Jon Skeet.

More than that seem really pointless. Those who want to learn and improve already got all the tools for this in place.

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In most of the sites on the web, the FAQs are pretty useless and the sidebars are usually promotions or advertisements. Its going to take some time to understand that this site is different. –  Max Aug 29 '12 at 14:19
    
@Max Moving the sidebar to top-and-center (at least for new/low-rep users?) could drive more traffic. I'd be curious to see stats of an A/B test for those links from the "New Question" page. –  Dave Newton Aug 29 '12 at 14:24
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@Max Well, it should be obvious Stack Overflow is not like most sites on the web. I would support something like showing only the "How to ask" section for the very first time user is asking question, when he got only 1 reputation. –  Shadow Wizard Aug 29 '12 at 14:33
    
@Dave Newton - Trust me, it's going to take a lot more than that. And I doubt it's effectiveness for mobile users (like me). –  Max Aug 29 '12 at 14:35
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@Sha Wiz Dow Ard - I don't know really think that will work. And I don't remember noticing anything of that kind on my mobile browser. –  Max Aug 29 '12 at 14:39
    
Wow dunno what's going on but I get influx of upvotes! Hope not serial... ;) –  Shadow Wizard Dec 25 '13 at 9:12

Maybe it is just my view, but after seeing all these crappy SO questions from first time askers, I would really love for them to have to have a period where they need to try to answer questions, or build a reputation to "ask".

I understand it is great for people to openly jump in and ask questions, but it makes for a big effort of managing / fixing / cleaning up poorly asked / formatted questions.

My 2 cents.

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