I'm relatively new to SO and there are a bunch of things you can't do on the site without reputation so I thought hey, I'll answer some questions and gain some reputation etc. So I started looking at the newest unanswered questions on the site and immediately noticed 2 things:
Incoming questions are often very vague, or not even really a question. (Here's some code, what am I doing wrong? Without saying what they tried and what the result was. Or: how do I use the facebook graph API? Uh, what have you tried so far, have you read the obvious doc link, what specifically are you trying to do. Or: I need to do so-and-so for a project, I'm too lazy to write the code myself, someone please provide a snippet that does X.)
People are answering these within a few minutes anyway! Often with answers that are actually useful. So there's not much incentive for people to try harder when asking questions.
On the one hand, this makes SO a great resource for newbies or the lazy -- come put very little effort into a question, get an answer and often a useful solution, great.
OTOH it doesn't make SO a great resource for building the canonical list of good questions and answers, which I believe is the charter.
In the spirit of teaching people to fish: Is there accepted wisdom/protocol/methods for answering weak questions with advice on asking better questions, some document on SO or elsewhere that we can point posters to, especially new posters? Is there a gentle form of such advice that's proven useful? Or is it best to ignore the problem, let whoever is willing to answer vague questions, and trust that these questions and their answers won't get upvoted enough to be seen in later searches? (On the good side: when I've found myself on SO because it was linked from outside, especially from a Google query, the questions and answers have been much higher quality; it's just the raw new-question stream that seems much worse.)
(Note: I did search for this question on meta and see some related discussion but mostly in old closed threads, and I didn't find anything specifically on protocol for responding to vague/poorly put questions, so I'm asking this as a new question.)