I am aware that there are blog posts (eg. Jon Skeet's post on how to write good/perfect questions or some user blogs referencing questions which are poorly specified) which provide guides or examples of "good" or "bad" posts in StackOverflow.

Would examples of "bad" or "unrecoverable" questions be a way of educating new users (eg. < 100 rep) of some ways they should not be posting? I've heard about the sample questions that (I think) were asked for the site proposal but I'm not sure where they are, and maybe making them more visible to new users would be helpful? (N/B: I actually am not sure about a site proposal or proposed questions for SO at all, since I'm pretty sure it never went through Area 51...)

Some things I thought I'd like to note if such a list was constructed:

  • it'd be a good idea to show why such a post would be flagged (eg. an example of a question that should really be on Programmers.SE would be helpful to someone who might ask a question about an interview question, such as this question)
  • having good questions that had poor grammar/spelling and conversely, showing questions that were perfectly legible but are content poor would be good ways to encourage users for whom English is not their most proficient language to post questions, and perhaps be less discouraged by language barriers?
  • a (somewhat controversial) possibility would be to expand the list to include questions that have been flagged by the community? This could easily be a bad idea and could be used to target, discriminate or embarass certain users, so I merely propose it as a matter of discussion on what such a list could look like.

This was just a simple idea that may be helpful in encouraging new users to make better posts and decide whether their material is really SO appropriate, despite the 10000 bells and whistles that go off when they post already.

  • I agree we should have 1 or 2 canonical example "not constructive"/"not a real question"/etc questions, but they'd have to be carefully chosen to cover a wide range of possible criteria for flagging questions with that reason. – darvids0n Feb 3 '12 at 6:51
  • @darvids0n that's a fair point. I edited my question to suggest another way of constructing such a list. Having more questions, or ways of suggesting to a user that their post is starting to resemble a sample post of "not a real question" would be interesting (and also very difficult to implement, I'd imagine?) – blahman Feb 3 '12 at 6:58
  • The first thing that came to mind while reading your suggestion was this post, but that's probably not what you had in mind. – Brian Reichle Feb 3 '12 at 7:40
  • @BrianReichle Uh...well...I guess that's a good example question...but, um...it's not quite what I was thinking of. It does however, now prove a challenge to not start laughing loudly in the office and looking rather crazy. – blahman Feb 3 '12 at 7:43
  • For questions, generally anything that's closed = bad. It's not the whole shebang, but it gives you a piece of the puzzle. – casperOne Feb 3 '12 at 12:00
  • @CasperOne That is a good metric for "what is a bad/inappropriate question on SO". Having said that, is it as visible to a new user? Maybe one could argue "since they're just a new user, if they actually care about SO they'll endeavour to find out what's a good/bad question for SO", but making it more visible/accessible would be good, wouldn't it? Especially without having to "name/shame" a user with a poor (possibly their only) post? (I'm somewhat hypocritical here, considering the suggestion I made in my own post...) – blahman Feb 3 '12 at 12:12

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