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It seems that so many new questioners ask poorly worded questions, or tag their questions incorrectly or misleadingly. Since there is a sidebar describing how to format, how to ask, and how to tag, would it be worthwhile to mention certain oft-seen problems? For example, "please tag this as homework if it is homework?" Also, so many new users ask short questions, and then the first 5 comments they get are "please show us your code," or sometimes very insulting versions thereof. Perhaps users with a rep less than some threshold should be told "your question appears too short. please provide code or more detail."

I know that there are always improvements that can be made, and I assume that somewhere there is a ridiculously long list waiting to be voted up and/or addressed. It just seems to me that if new users could be prevented from asking poor questions, or if they received more guidance asking questions early in their SO career, their first experiences would be improved. I know there will always be some who ignore on-screen guidance, but I suspect some normal and potentially useful contributors are scared off after their first round of insults.

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Nothing can prevent crappy questions. Users who are going to ask them, don't read the FAQ, and are no more likely to read a sidebar. :) – John C Jun 16 '10 at 14:02
I sort of fear that is the case, but I am hopeful that some of the people writing crappy questions do it accidentally. – MJB Jun 16 '10 at 14:10
See also Show mini-tutorial instead of question dialog for users with low accept rate/votes ... Short version: USERS DON'T READ! – John Rudy Jun 16 '10 at 15:25
OK, sorry for asking again. I did search here to find relevant discussions, but I obviously did not use the right key words. Forget I asked. – MJB Jun 16 '10 at 15:46
Don't sweat it; I was going to vote as duplicate, but this really isn't a dupe of that question. There was another I was looking for (where I posted "users don't read"), but I couldn't find it either -- and suspect it was probably deleted. :) – John Rudy Jun 16 '10 at 18:17

Jeff and the team have been adding a lot more in-context screen tips to help the users experience. I am always interested in hearing specific suggestions where this could be improved.

The tricky part is preserving the overall user experience. In your example, "please tag this as homework if it is homework?", you are asking 10s of thousands of users to heed a warning about a really, really small percentage of posts.

There is a tendency for people to want to add a reactionary, preemptive hint/warning for every aberrant behavior ever encountered. It adds up. You have to strike a balance:

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Of course, to be honest, I don't see the majority of posts. I only see a small percentage, and this issue seems to come up quite often in that small percentage. While I agree that you don't want to affect everyone, wouldn't it be reasonable to assume that new users, defined by rep or age of account, might need those warning signs? Not the 11 (or 9 unique) signs on the right, but perhaps the 5 on the left? – MJB Jun 16 '10 at 16:40

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