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The current text (for SO) on the right of the new question page states:

How to Ask

Is your question about programming?

We prefer questions that can be answered, not just discussed.

Provide details. Write clearly and simply.

If your question is about this website, ask it on meta instead.

Fact is, we have several "programming" questions being asked on Meta, and recently about websites.

Could it be that "this website" is potentially confusing for someone who wouldn't be at ease with English? Maybe they think that website questions should go there. (I don't think it's a majority of what happens in misplaced questions, but let's focus on this case).

Maybe this last sentence could be changed to something like:

If your question is about stackoverflow.com itself, ask it on meta instead.

There would probably be less of a risk of misunderstanding, in this particular case.


Edit: Example of misguided user (thanks to Grace Note):

oh sorry. i tried to post the question in stackoverflow and the dialog told me to post it here ... so where shell i post it??

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1  
(The example is about SO, but SF and SU could have the same change, of course, to be consistent) –  Gnoupi May 11 '10 at 8:38
2  
I think you have evidence for your hypothesis right here. –  Grace Note Jun 30 '10 at 13:17

2 Answers 2

In addition to changing the wording of the "ask it on meta" line, I think that sentence should be moved to the end of the sidebar.

How to Ask

Making the read the faq and asking help links a little bit more prominent than ask it on meta should help to alleviate at least some of the problem.

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I think this is particularly problematic for users who are not good at English:

If your question is about this website

They may think that:

Sure, my question is about programming, of course it is about this website, since Stack Overflow is about programming.

I suggest stating clearly the kind of questions that would be asked on meta to avoid confusion as much as possible:

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"on this website" isn't any clearer with your formulation IMO. "> Yes, it's a bug on this website I'm writing". –  Mat May 9 '13 at 11:54
    
@Mat You can have a bug on your website, but you don't file bug reports of your own website on another site. I actually disagree with the OP on "this website" being "a website I am writing", rather "this website" still refers to Stack Overflow with the kind of confusion stated in my answer. There are people asking questions on XCode and Android on meta. Clearly these confused users are not asking about websites. –  Antony May 9 '13 at 11:58
    
You're being way too subtle there. If you go that route, you don't ask technical questions on meta either. And "this website" can totally be confusing. Not everyone speaks perfect English. (Re: your edit: yes, indeed. If they already can't understand "this website", adding more text before that won't help, especially if it contains "if your question [...] support [...] bug [...] click here") –  Mat May 9 '13 at 12:03
    
@Mat If "this website" can be totally confusing, think of this as bumping the feature request. –  Antony May 9 '13 at 12:07
    
@Mat One thing I want to mention is that instead of arguing whether something is going to work or not, why not put it into test? There are programming questions on meta every day. We can put up a change for a week and see how things go. We can evaluate different proposals afterwards. There is no point wondering if something works and never actually make a change to the current design. –  Antony May 9 '13 at 12:16
    
I'm not preventing anyone from implementing this, just giving my opinion that it's not likely to be effective. That's just my opinion. –  Mat May 9 '13 at 12:18

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