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What's a good approach to take to educate new users on how SE sites work? I'm looking at this answer as an example. It would be best suited as an upvote and/or a comment on an existing answer, but the user doesn't have the rep to either upvote or comment.

Since the user only has 1 rep, it's likely that they're simply unfamiliar with how SE operates, so I'm compelled to leave a friendly comment. In that situation, I don't want to just say something along the lines of "you should upvote or comment on the existing answer instead", since I know they can't do that. How can I communicate to a user like that that they should go and earn some rep without coming across like an elitist troll? Do you have a stock message you use in those situations?

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Especially considering it's the author of the book in question. –  ChrisF Feb 3 '11 at 20:18

2 Answers 2

If it were me, I'd go easy on that guy. It appears that he is the author of the book referenced in those posts. I really don't see the harm here. That can only help the site IMO.

(This is a special case though)

In most cases I would simply leave a comment. If you see repeat behavior, leave a bit more stern comment. If that doesn't work, flag for a mod.

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I don't see it as harmful either. Just trying to find a good way to welcome someone new to the fold, as it were. Thanks for your suggestions! –  Anna Lear Feb 3 '11 at 20:37

If the answer is a duplicate, let the community smother or kill it with downvotes. Or they'll just upvote. Who knows how they swing.

If it's a post that says they agree with another answer (e.g. "pip pip what ho and all that! a sound suggestion good vermin!") flag for a moderator to come along and convert to comment.
Or if you're one yourself, convertify that comment-answer into a comment proper.

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I'm trying to avoid having the answer smothered or killed in an effort to not alienate a brand new user who likely just doesn't know better. –  Anna Lear Feb 3 '11 at 20:40
    
Old users post duplicate answers. Doesn't stop them one bit. @ann –  random Feb 3 '11 at 20:41
    
@random Of course they do. I'm specifically talking about brand new users. –  Anna Lear Feb 3 '11 at 20:42
    
In short, stop coddling. @ann –  random Feb 3 '11 at 20:44
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@random I see a world of difference between coddling and not being a douche towards people who've never used the site before. –  Anna Lear Feb 3 '11 at 21:04
    
Depends on if they think their celebrity pushes them over reading or getting used to a community before sticking their foot in @ann –  random Feb 3 '11 at 21:11
    
@random True, but I'm okay with giving some initial benefit of the doubt. In this example, that is a consideration, but most first-time users we get are hardly well-known. (For that matter, I have no idea who this guy actually is either, beyond the fact that he wrote a book on Rails testing. Celebrity status is a relative thing. :)) –  Anna Lear Feb 3 '11 at 21:17
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@Anna Honestly, when being a moderator there is no value or reason to be nice, new user or not. If the user cares, he will fix the problem, if he doesn't, he should be on the site in the first place. Always remember, some users should not be using Stack Exchange. Even new communities can afford losing one or two users who might end up being more of a problem then a solution. Side note: I am generalising to confirm @random's point. We have both had to moderate Super User for some time and learnt the lesson early, and the hard way –  Diago Feb 3 '11 at 21:57

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