I am here today to ask for a monumental change.

  • A section that asks the user what they have tried

I feel that question quality could improve dramatically and members can help others faster, rather than waiting for the OP to post what they have tried or what system/language they are using. I would like to propose a required section on the Ask Question form that, if the question is programming related, requires the OP to post code of what they have tried. As a topping, could the tag section expand with "include the system or language your using?"

This would alleviate the need to comment, "What have you tried?". I assume it would significantly decrease the number of low quality post flags, allowing moderators to focus their energy elsewhere.

This is a very basic mock-up of what I would love to see:

  • That, it a much better idea than my, and I quote, "Pester Screen of Death". Would you require someone to fill it in? – ben is uǝq backwards Sep 11 '12 at 20:01
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    While I like the idea, I feel that not all questions can be shoe-horned into this format. Specifically, many of the questions that ask for a "why" or a "which" tend to be less applicable to this. – Mysticial Sep 11 '12 at 20:04
  • @Ben There needs to be a mechanism in place that requires the user to enter what they have tried. I feel a pop-up or on-screen message would be ignored. – Kermit Sep 11 '12 at 20:04
  • That wasn't my question. What would happen if a user completely ignores this new box? – ben is uǝq backwards Sep 11 '12 at 20:05
  • @Mysticial I agree. If we can determine whether it is a programming question, then the WHYT section would be required. – Kermit Sep 11 '12 at 20:05
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    Assuming it is optional, the mere presence of such a field might be a gentle nudge to provide the information. Making it required probably will not work since there are some acceptable questions, as @Mysticial has said, that do not have a "what have you tried" type response. But I do like the idea – psubsee2003 Sep 11 '12 at 20:06
  • @Ben My apologies, didn't finish reading your comment. If it is a programming question, it should be required. Perhaps penalize the user for not using the box? – Kermit Sep 11 '12 at 20:07
  • @njk The point I was saying is that not all programming questions have a "what have you tried" type response. – Mysticial Sep 11 '12 at 20:08
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    I'm not certain about "penalise" as @Mysticial has pointed out not everything has code. However, an idea might be to automatically shovel it into the low quality question queue if somebody doesn't use the box. – ben is uǝq backwards Sep 11 '12 at 20:09
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    "What have you tried?" <insert wall of code here> – user149432 Sep 11 '12 at 20:11
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    Instead of an additional input form element, wouldn't it be enough to add What have you tried? right after "what's your programming question? be specific."? – Bill the Lizard Sep 11 '12 at 20:13
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    @BilltheLizard What are the chances a novice will bother reading it? – Kermit Sep 11 '12 at 20:13
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    Probably not as good as the chances that they'll just leave because we've added too many form elements. – Bill the Lizard Sep 11 '12 at 20:15
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    I'm probably in the minority here, but I don't like that SO is turning into personal debugging service. This would just make it official. – JJJ Sep 11 '12 at 20:21
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    I'm not sure about this... But that single-item list on your question really bothers me! :) – bfavaretto Sep 11 '12 at 21:34