There has been an obvious problem with newbies getting the dialog when they have been question banned, and they don't understand the basics of clicking on the link to get the answer to why it happened. The screenshot looks like:

Quality Question screenshot

so the text is:

Sorry, we are no longer accepting questions from this account. See http://goo.gl/C1Kwu to learn more.

It's obvious they don't get it. Maybe they're non-english-language users, and don't understand the meaning of "See" in this context or the strange hyperlink that faces them, or maybe they have little web experience.

How about we make this more newbie-friendly?

One way would be to change the last phrase to something like:

Click here to learn why.

Anytime we get a lot of questions that show non-understanding of what's going on, that should point out to us that we're having a communication problem with our users. Instead, it seems like newbies come here for support and just get down-voted into oblivion, and we ignore the fact that it keeps happening. Is this really the environment that we want to have at Meta for our sites, or could we instead go with the "There's no such thing as a bad question." attitude (talking about only support questions here).

I'm open to other suggestions on the phrasing and implementation, but we really need to do something, especially with all the non-computer-technical sites coming online.

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    A lot of the times they just quote the error message and never both to read it first go. – random Aug 30 '11 at 13:32
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    I'm sure that's true for some, but maybe a lot of non-english speakers don't understand the word "See" in this context, and the strange hyperlink facing them. – Lance Roberts Aug 30 '11 at 13:33
  • Edited question. – Lance Roberts Aug 30 '11 at 13:47
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    Is this at all much different from the existing request to change that shortened URL into a real link, other than word choice? – Grace Note Aug 30 '11 at 13:49
  • @Grace, this would be a superset of that question, since I think the "See" word is problematic, and requires an understand of English that they may not have. – Lance Roberts Aug 30 '11 at 13:50
  • "Click here" is horrible. However "Learn more" or "More details" as the link text is ok by me – Kate Gregory Feb 20 '13 at 22:05
  • @Kate, I thought it'd be good to just give them the action (reminds of the Dilbert cartoon on the one button), but I'm not hung up on the wording. – Lance Roberts Feb 20 '13 at 22:09
  • @random And the other half of the time, they just shrug and go wreak havoc in the chat rooms (frequently, all of them). We can usually predict within the first two messages posted by 'new users' which users are there only because of a question ban on SO proper. I actually usually grab a copy of link to this ahead of time – sehe Feb 20 '13 at 22:10

There has been an obvious problem with newbies getting the dialog when they have been question banned, and they don't understand the basics of clicking on the link to get the answer to why it happened.

The solution is simple: these users need to go away.

They've had many chances to get it right and failed completely.

And now, because they cannot figure out how to follow a link on the world wide web, we should somehow go out of our way to help them do that out, too?


These users need to find some other site on the internet to post on, because they are no longer welcome here.

Alternately, they can email the address at the bottom of every page and plead their case. And if they can't figure out how to do that, either -- well, God helps those who help themselves.

Is this really the environment that we want to have at Meta for our sites

Yes, in this case, it is. We have standards here, and if you're not putting in the work to demonstrate an absolute rock-bottom minimum level of competency, you don't belong in this community.

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    don't you remember when the web was new to you. I still remember when the concept of hyperlink came out, though I didn't use it then. Every thing has to be learned. It's one thing for Stack Overflow users to be expected to have a certain base level of knowledge, but if we're ever going to expand beyond technical personnel, we need to meet people at the level they're at. A little UI and patience can go a long way. – Lance Roberts Aug 31 '11 at 4:40
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    this is a complete non-issue on every other SE 2.0 site except for Stack Overflow. The scale of the thing means we can't "save" every user, even if we wanted to. – Jeff Atwood Aug 31 '11 at 4:42
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    I want a link on every page to this answer – Pekka Aug 31 '11 at 5:57
  • Very well said. – P.Mort. - forgot Clay Shirky_q Feb 20 '13 at 23:01

Why not just put the short bit of text that is linked in the actual page that is displayed? I don't understand why we need a link to present a few paragraphs worth of text.

The link is bad because:

  • Some people don't understand the nature of FAQ posts, or their firewall may block redirection services, or other reasons why the link is never followed. End result is the text is never read or understood.
  • There's no hope once banned, why even bring them to Meta?

Would it not be better to have sitename.stackexchange.com/sorry instead? It just has to explain the rationale behind the ban, the fact that the ban can't be lifted and an ending paragraph that explains that there is no support available for these cases. Abandon all hope ye who get redirected here.

I really think that bringing them to Meta is the bulk of the problem, because they see the FAQ post with tons of support questions to the right. Why not ask, then?

This also lets the message be customized a bit, as needed for new sites.


I think that this is a really simple fix... try and avoid ever getting to the situation where users get banned. (And obviously make it more friendly in the unfortunate event that they do...)

I don't know if it is already in place, but I remember back in the day when submitting on DigitalPoint, you needed to check a tickbox to say that this post is really suitable for this forum.

Why don't we have something, (for first time posters) that says...

"Are you aware that you are posting on <Stack Exchange site>, this site exists in order to provide question answers for the topic of <Insert the site's overview here>".

So for Stack Overflow, it would be something like.

"Hey Layke, you are about to ask a question on Stack Overflow. That's great, but before you do, we just want to make sure you aware that Stack Overflow is a question answers site dedicated to answering questions which are related to programming

If your question isn't suited to programming, please don't post it here, but ask at one of our other sites".

I think that adding something like that with a checkbox, would reduce the noise and the lack of quality first posters. Even providing some tips, like PEACE would be great.

  • Pastebin:
  • Expected result,
  • Actual result,
  • all (relevant) Code,
  • any Errors/Exceptions

The amount of posts that just say:

Tried this, not working, help?

Is overwhelming and unnecessary if guidance is given to those early posters.

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    The click through before asking already exists. – jscs Aug 30 '11 at 20:06
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    as @josh noted this already exists. And as you can plainly see, it doesn't work (or at least works only a small percent of the time), since these types of users won't read anything you put in front of them. – Jeff Atwood Aug 31 '11 at 4:14
  • @jeff, "See" is a particular English idiom that doesn't necessarily communicate to all foreign users "Click here". – Lance Roberts Aug 31 '11 at 4:41
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    @lance you cannot seriously be arguing that "see http://example.com" is in any way unclear in the meaning of "here is a link, click it for more detail". If you want to save the world, go for it, but I hope you blocked off the rest of your life. I have more productive things, and more useful users, to attend to before I die. – Jeff Atwood Aug 31 '11 at 6:04
  • @Jeff, I'm not sure why you don't have sympathy for foreign language users, but having attempted a few times to learn foreign languages, I understand the pain of not getting the idiom. (And I can be a little dense with English also). – Lance Roberts Aug 31 '11 at 6:06
  • @Jeff, Why wouldn't you want to save the world? Stack Overflow has certainly saved me from eternal tech frustration. – Lance Roberts Aug 31 '11 at 6:07
  • @Lance: SO is an English website and, as such, at least the most basic fundamental understanding of English is a pre-requisite for its use. – Lightness Races in Orbit Feb 20 '13 at 22:49

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