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? Sep 11, 2012 at 20:01
  • 3
    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, 2012 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, 2012 at 20:04
  • That wasn't my question. What would happen if a user completely ignores this new box? Sep 11, 2012 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, 2012 at 20:05
  • 7
    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 Sep 11, 2012 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, 2012 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, 2012 at 20:08
  • 3
    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. Sep 11, 2012 at 20:09
  • 11
    "What have you tried?" <insert wall of code here>
    – user149432
    Sep 11, 2012 at 20:11
  • 4
    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."? Sep 11, 2012 at 20:13
  • 2
    @BilltheLizard What are the chances a novice will bother reading it?
    – Kermit
    Sep 11, 2012 at 20:13
  • 3
    Probably not as good as the chances that they'll just leave because we've added too many form elements. Sep 11, 2012 at 20:15
  • 9
    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, 2012 at 20:21
  • 2
    I'm not sure about this... But that single-item list on your question really bothers me! :)
    – bfavaretto
    Sep 11, 2012 at 21:34


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