Does the "How to Ask" field guide new users to us?
The sentence they read is "If your question is about this site, ask it on meta." If my question is about C#, Perl, or any other programming language then it is not about this site, except in the case the question is similar to "Is Stack Exchange software written in Perl?" If the users read it as "ask your questions on meta," then the problem is their understanding of written English. This could explain why some users ask questions on this very site instead of asking it on Stack Overflow, though.
I agree, there should be a sentence that users asking questions on Meta Stack Overflow should read when they asking a question. I am not sure about the sentence to use.
"If you want to ask a programming or software development question, please ask on the main site." would not be completely true, as I could ask a question about how Stack Exchange software implements some features: It would be a programming question, but it would be related to SE sites. It would also redirect the users to a single SE site, when programming questions can be asked in different SE sites, depending on the exact programming question.
Even leaving out the few users that are interesting in asking a programming question about SE software (which, I have to admit, they are a little percentage, and generally they are not new users), if the users understood the first sentence as telling them to ask their questions on Meta Stack Overflow, when they read the sentence on Meta Stack Overflow:
- they are confused on where to ask their questions, and they will ask where to ask questions on one of the sites
- they are confused, but as they understood the first sentence as saying to ask the questions on Meta Stack Overflow, they will ask the question on Meta Stack Overflow
- they are confused, but they follow what suggested in the second sentence, and ask their question on Stack Overflow
In the latter case, if they ask a programming question related to SE software on Stack Overflow, there is probably less damage done.
The questions is then, how much users who understood the first sentence as telling them to ask their questions on Meta Stack Overflow would understand that Stack Overflow is the site they are probably looking for, when they read the second sentence?