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New users tend to jump right into asking a question. If anything, that is probably the reason they made their account - for access to the awesome community here. However, sometimes new users stumble a little on their first question by accident.

I think that if they had read more of the documentation here - such as the help vampire page, Jon Skeet's Writing the perfect question, the stackoverflow faq, the meta faq, the faq for all stack exchange sites, etc. - that they would fare a lot better.

Would it make sense to give out 1 rep per examination of each of these articles for new users as an incentive to learn about the guidelines, rules, etc? I know that there is not currently a framework in place to facilitate that, so I am not exactly sure what other way to offer the exams would be, but it seems like it be a win win scenario to give new users a tiny amount of rep for reviewing important documentation.

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You can already get the Analytical badge for reading the full faq. (Well, visiting it at least) –  Bart Jan 10 '13 at 21:03
    
@Bart - Good point, badges are good incentive. I am not sure if rep would be a good idea, so I thought I would just see what others thought. –  Travis J Jan 10 '13 at 21:04
    
@Bart I'm not sure why, but I have never been awarded that badge. And believe me, I've tried. </badgewhore> –  mikeTheLiar Jan 10 '13 at 21:04
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@mikeTheLiar - Read the FAQ. Click on every topic link, expand everything. –  Oded Jan 10 '13 at 21:05
    
@mikeTheLiar I just clicked all the links on the right side. –  Austin Henley Jan 10 '13 at 21:06
    
@Oded I know how it's supposed to work. I've just never been awarded it (yet). –  mikeTheLiar Jan 10 '13 at 21:07
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I'm ambivalent about this. While I like education, much of this material boils down to "be considerate;" it's all far too long, and some things can only be learned by tripping over them anyway. –  Robert Harvey Jan 10 '13 at 21:11
    
@mikeTheLiar, yeh, took me quite a while to get that one to show up. –  Lance Roberts Jan 10 '13 at 21:18
    
@RobertHarvey - I like your comment, it seems to answer the question (specifically with regards to the issue of learning by doing) and there does not seem to be much to add here. Can you please migrate it to an answer. I tried flagging it to indicate it could be an answer but I had already upvoted your comment. –  Travis J Jan 19 '13 at 19:37
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2 Answers

up vote 4 down vote accepted

This is all a new user needs to know to become productive right away on Stack Overflow (it's in the http://stackoverflow.com/about page):

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While I'm all for education, much of the material you linked boils down to "be considerate" and "have a little common sense." It's all far too long for the first-time user, and it's not intended for them anyway. It's intended for those folks who need a bit of remedial training in how to interact properly with other professionals in a Q&A setting, not a forum.

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We should give them enough rep to make comments (50 on SO) if they get through it all (i.e. earn the Analytical badge), which will have the added benefit of cutting down on new-user Meta posts about not being able to make comments.

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The Analytical badge can be earned by visiting all sections, not necessarily reading any content. I'd say we leave the rep privilege in place for some actual proof and deal with the occasional question here on Meta –  Bart Jan 10 '13 at 21:19
    
I think this is too much rep to hand out at first all at once in my opinion, I was thinking smaller amounts. 50 rep is equivalent to a bounty. –  Travis J Jan 19 '13 at 19:34
    
@Travis, remember that we give out 100 rep to any user who joins another SE site. –  Lance Roberts Jan 19 '13 at 19:38
    
@LanceRoberts - True, but that is still with the caveat that you must have already earned 200 rep on your own. –  Travis J Jan 19 '13 at 19:39
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