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I have been hanging around SO for a year and a bit and hugely appreciate the quality of the questions and answers, and the ethos of the site. The polite and constructive atmosphere is very welcome. One thing that I also appreciate about SO is the intention that questions should be specific and have more general applicability.

Maybe it's just me, but I seem to have noticed an increase in the number of "debugging" or "I would like to write a program to ensure world peace - how do I do this" questions. Or maybe I'm getting more aware of what "ideal" questions are.

My question is this: to help ensure that SO continues to grow, in a constructive manner, keeping quality focussed (and other management speak), should there be a more active "question review" process for people asking questions who are new or have limited reputation? For example, could review become mandatory for all questions asked by people who have less than 20 days visited the site or less than 25 reputation? ie the question won't appear unless it passes this review.

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"Review" as in "don't post it on the site before it passes"? –  Bart May 13 '13 at 12:02
Yes, that was what I mean - I'll edit to question to clarify. –  Neil Townsend May 13 '13 at 12:03
Okay, because I guess you're already aware of the review queues we already have? (Particularly "First Post") –  Bart May 13 '13 at 12:03
@Bart Yes - I try to do some "first question" reviews, but unless I'm mistaken the question isn't held until it passes that step. –  Neil Townsend May 13 '13 at 12:05
@NeilTownsend I think holding back all first posts until peer approval would put a rather abrupt stop to the site's influx of new users, since you're essentially taking away all you're applauding in your first paragraph from them - you're silencing them in the rudest possible unconstructive way. –  Niels Keurentjes May 13 '13 at 12:43
@Niels I'm not sure I'm taking it away, as I haven't said anything about the process. I think the process could be carried out in a very polite a constructive way: it would have to require either "approval" or a clear explanation of how the question could be made appropriate. –  Neil Townsend May 13 '13 at 15:09
@Niels I was reflecting on this further, and wondered why you feel something like the current peer review system for edits would be rude? –  Neil Townsend May 15 '13 at 8:33
The current system isn't rude - it doesn't hide the posts, it just flags them for immediate review while out in the open. I said it would be rude if you did hold them back. –  Niels Keurentjes May 15 '13 at 8:42
@Niels Sorry, I must have expressed myself unclearly. I didn't mean to suggest the current peer review system is rude (to the effect of "Only you can see this edit, please wait for peer review"), I wondered why you felt that an equivalent system ("Only you can see your question right now, as soon as it is peer reviewed it will be visible to all, if there any concerns you will receive feedback") would be rude. –  Neil Townsend May 15 '13 at 8:48
Erm no I misread, didn't see you referred to the edit system now, my apologies. The edit system doesn't 'silence' you, as it doesn't affect own posts. For editing other posts it makes sense that vandalism is checked. People will find it rude if they register with an acute question, and then have to wait if someone finds it worthy though. Imagine the backlash you see on a daily basis from closed posts, except that you then close a thousand questions beforehand 'unless approved'. –  Niels Keurentjes May 15 '13 at 9:52
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2 Answers 2

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Every now and then I introduce someone new to the network. We pick a site from the list, usually the one that's closer to their professional interests, and go through the site's:

  • About page
  • FAQ
  • Top questions

All in all, my "intro to SE" process takes about 20 minutes. That's a lot, when was the last time you spend 20 minutes essentially reading the manual before you used a website? Of course not everyone spends that much time (or any time at all) familiarizing themselves with the site before they ask their first question. But some do, with or without help from a veteran user. Do we really want to place yet another barrier in front of them?

I can see how your feature would be (very) useful, but I also feel it would needlessly alienate the (perhaps few) new users who actually care enough to do it right. We are assuming their questions are somehow problematic before we even see them and that's... not right.

That said, perhaps your feature would make sense after a new user has got it wrong a couple of times. If their first 2-3 questions were downvoted and closed, their next one could be placed in limbo until it's thoroughly reviewed.

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+1 "Trust but verify." Give them a chance to screw up before treating them like they will. But maybe tie it to the first post review queue - if their first post goes horribly, maybe their next question isn't so easy. –  Aaron Bertrand May 13 '13 at 13:07
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No, I can't really see the benefit of doing so. The "advantage" is that the bad questions don't appear on the site at all, but you're also limiting the number of eyes on a question and potentially alienating new users who can't get their good questions answers as quickly.

On a site the size of StackOverflow the bad questions are handled appropriately quickly because there's just so many people looking at them, and new questions wouldn't sit in the proposed queue for the same reason.

Now consider a site with a much smaller population. There are less people to filter out the bad questions, so they might linger for a bit longer, but there are also far fewer people to review new questions before they're visible on the site. Not every new user asks bad questions, and it would be a shame for them to be put off and stop using the site (or the network entirely) because their question sat waiting and they were unable to get answers to it.

I'd prefer to have bad questions get through, and be handled collectively by the community rather than just by those who use the existing review queues, rather than potentially lose users of smaller sites because of this.

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