As Stack Overflow grows, it becomes increasingly ridden with extremely newbie and mediocre questions. It's just natural. The team are fighting hard to keep the crap out, but there are many very basic questions that are okay on their own. They don't deserve to be kicked out* - they are just very, very, very basic and/or localized.

Too much basicness tires users who are interested in discussing more advanced topics.

However, the new users come from different backgrounds and do not always read the FAQ.

Example: A new user enters the 101 stories high-rise (aka Stack Exchange network sites) with a question. Now the challenge is "Which floor/door do I go to?". The friendly receptionists could point to the small print huge table on the wall, or could have a quick interaction by asking few questions (Entry Exam) to determine and direct.

In order to better facilitate new users I would recommend to have some sort of Entry Exam.

That would tell the user where he/she fits best and what to watch out for. Further, by providing a user with a badge (Tag), the moderators can constructively help that user navigate through Stack Exchange.

My question is: Is something like an entry exam feasible?

This could involve something like a popup with yes/no questions like:

What programming language do you use? Java, Python, etc.


On a Mac, what does the Terminal do?

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    Do you have any evidence for your first sentence? Good questions that don't get answered because there are not enough experts and too many newbs who needed to be kept out by an entry exam? – Wooble Apr 3 '13 at 11:31
  • I think the reputation system works well in this regard. If a user knows what they're talking about, they'll have a higher reputation. With this in place there isn't really a need for an entry exam system, because we can already tell if a user is knowledgeable, and if a user isn't, it's not too hard to leave some constructive criticism and possible downvote their answer if need be. – user216620 Apr 3 '13 at 11:32
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    The reputation of a user categorically does not mean that they know what they are talking about @davblayn. It means they know how to use the site that they are on. It's easily possible for a new user to be more knowledgeable than the entire current user-base; everyone starts at 1. – ben is uǝq backwards Apr 3 '13 at 11:35
  • Stack Overflow and Stack Exchange face many challenges in the near future. So far,Stack Overflow has been successful in serving the programming community. An easy way to increase revenue is to expand user base and figure out a way to monetize the traffic. However, with more than 175,000 registered users as of May 2010 and a history of fast growth, the user growth rate of Stack Overflow will ultimately be limited by the population of professional programmers. – Benalmadena Apr 3 '13 at 11:37
  • Therefore, the first challenge is to determine whether Stack Over- flow should pursue a larger user base by expanding into domains other than programming, or if the focus should continue to be on software developers. Pursuing other fields has potential but may require expertise that the core team lacks. – Benalmadena Apr 3 '13 at 11:38
  • @benisuǝqbackwards, the easiest way to gain rep is to give answers to questions that help the asker. While you can earn rep for simple things like edits and, the people with the highest rep have answered more questions about a given topic so that implies that they are more knowledgeable about their chosen topic – user216620 Apr 3 '13 at 11:39
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    Uh. For non-programming related questions, there're plenty of other Stack Exchange sites available. – J. Steen Apr 3 '13 at 11:40
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    So... you've been a member for 2 days and you already feel familiar enough with the community to make bold claims like "The growth rate of Stack Exchange has exceeded the pool of the experts/programer" and even offer solutions to this (imaginary) problem? I call bs. – yannis Apr 3 '13 at 11:42
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    Are you looking to make Stack Overflow only serve seasoned pros? Should it not be a place for beginners and learners? – Oded Apr 3 '13 at 11:42
  • You're gonna have to explain how "what programing language do you use (xyz, or none)" is a useful question in determining whether a user fits the site. Your examples aren't representative – in fact the whole request doesn't make sense to me. – slhck Apr 3 '13 at 11:43
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    I feel quite a lot of oscillation. – J. Steen Apr 3 '13 at 11:45
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    Benalmadena - your questions so far show you seem to be intent on making changes despite your lack of understanding of how SE works. How about hanging around for a year or so - see if you can't identify things that do need fixing. – Rory Alsop Apr 3 '13 at 11:47
  • To clarify: the Information comes from this document: stanford.edu/class/ee204/Publications/… – Benalmadena Apr 3 '13 at 11:49
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    I have absolutely no clue what those pictures you posted mean. – Andrew Barber Apr 5 '13 at 22:15
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    It's not at all obvious. Your description doesn't help, either. Are you saying we need one, or we already have one? (neither of which is true in the least, in my opinion...) – Andrew Barber Apr 6 '13 at 9:00

Is something like entry exam feasible ?

No, No, No!

Did I say No!

The Stack Exchange sites are community drive Q&A sites that are open to everyone. There is no requirement that says, you have to pass an entry exam to be able to participate.

I would guess that new users fall into two categories:

  1. new to Stack Exchange sites but have knowledge about a particular site topic
  2. new to Stack Exchange and new to a site topic

When I joined Stack Overflow, I fell into category 2. I had never used any Stack Exchange site and I knew very little when it came to programming. If I had been given an entry exam I might not have been able to answer any exam entry questions, that is why I was joining Stack Overflow.

People join these sites because they have questions and need answers, or they have experience and knowledge that they can add to the community by answering questions. I have personally learned a lot from using these sites and yes, I had some bad questions and answers when I was learning the ropes.

You also state that the Entry Exam:

would tell the user where he/she fits best and what to watch out for.

The FAQs and the About pages for each site provide an overview of how each site works including the types of questions to ask, etc. There is also a Meta Site for each Stack Exchange site as well as the main Meta site if a new user has questions about the Stack Exchange sites.

Further, by providing a user with a badge (Tag), the moderators can constructively help that user navigate through Stack Exchange.

I am pretty sure the Moderators did not sign up to babysit new users. There is far too much other work for the Mods to handle, especially on some of the larger sites.

You haven't provided enough reasoning behind why you think this is a necessary feature for the Stack Exchange sites and I do not think this a feature that should be implemented.

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    Hm, just to clarify, this is a no from you then? ;P – yannis Apr 3 '13 at 12:10
  • You got it wrong, the entry test is not to pass or not, it is to direct that users questions to the right place, and alert moderators about the users qualifications in asking the correct way. – Benalmadena Apr 3 '13 at 12:10
  • @Yannis Was that not clear enough? :) – Taryn ModStaff Apr 3 '13 at 12:11
  • @Benalmadena There is a About/FAQs page for each site that explain what the site it about and what to ask and how to ask. – Taryn ModStaff Apr 3 '13 at 12:12
  • I am working on improving my reasoning, so far I just trew in an idea to get some feedback how to make Stack Exchange unique (it already is in some ways), but I do not know of another forums that does something like Users Guide questioning. Stack Exchange is a jungle of 101 sites. – Benalmadena Apr 3 '13 at 12:18
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    @Benalmadena There's not much moderators could do with that kind of information. People's contributions to the site in the form of questions and answers is what we mostly focus on, not the users themselves. – Bill the Lizard Apr 3 '13 at 12:19
  • @Benalmadena, calling Stack Exchange a "forum" shows you don't know the place well enough. – brasofilo Apr 3 '13 at 12:22
  • @bluefeet when you buy a new car do you actually read the manuals or do you drive it first. What I mean to say, you do not think for a moment people spend hours reading the FAQ and the About ect... before posting. – Benalmadena Apr 3 '13 at 12:25
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    @Benalmadena Before buying a car I will research it first to make sure it is a good fit for me. Same thing if I were to post on a website, I would make sure it was the right place before posting. – Taryn ModStaff Apr 3 '13 at 12:27
  • Just to clarify, the Stack Overflow is no longer the official company name. usv.com/2011/03/stack-overflow-becomes-stack-exchange.php – Benalmadena Apr 3 '13 at 12:41
  • @brasofilo sorry for the typo but in the heat of answering all the flood it happens :) – Benalmadena Apr 3 '13 at 12:45
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    OK, I failed to convey the need for User Guide (test) to help them navigate the Stack Exchange sites. With (-) 22 votes the majority has decided that it does not make sense having it. Thank you all for your active participation. – Benalmadena Apr 3 '13 at 12:52

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