I don't know about the other sites, but SO sees a good number of occasions when new users (invariably rep 1 etc) post questions as answers. Sometimes the question is completely unrelated to the topic; sometimes it is related, but phrased as a new question.

Such questions/answers (quancers?) don't get responses (other than maybe a comment a few hours later, and maybe a downvote). So certainly not good responses that are going to lead to a positive warm and happy feeling.

IMO we need to help new users - make it very hard to do the wrong thing; but without making life a pain for the established core of answerers.

So; how about, until a new user has either posted a new question, or posted 5 answers - they see an extra block of text in the "add an answer" area, making it obvious how to ask a question if that is what they intended?

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    +1 for quancers - cancers – Ladybug Killer Sep 1 '09 at 7:45
  • +1 time for a RAQ? :) – user132619 Sep 1 '09 at 7:48
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    @Marc: Do you really expect users to read? :) – xmm0 Sep 1 '09 at 8:06
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    We can but try... – Marc Gravell Sep 1 '09 at 9:30
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    I think that many new users (particularly those that have this problem) have the mechanics of a traditional forum so deeply ingrained in their muscle memory that there's no amount of helpful text that will work ... They just have to be led by the nose (i.e. comment with "You should edit your original question, not post a new answer") until they get it. – ベレアー アダム Sep 1 '09 at 13:19

I can't think of any way to do this that doesn't interfere with normal answering.

That makes the cost too high for the small benefit, IMO anyway.

  • I addressed the issue of normal answering in the last line - i.e. any brain-check only applies for new posters; but I suspect you may be right... – Marc Gravell Sep 1 '09 at 18:09

Obviously, asking a question is too hard compared to posting an answer. We should put a big, fat "Ask Question" button on every page, somewhere really visible like maybe up at the top.

That'll solve it...

  • Perhaps there could be one near the "Your Answer" section. – Brad Gilbert Sep 1 '09 at 17:56
  • @Brad: brilliant idea! – Shog9 Sep 1 '09 at 18:17

Don't have mods a magic button to convert an answer into a question?

(I know it's childish, but I couldn't resist :)

  • I predict it's very easy to do in the SO engine (since questions and answers are stored in a single table, "posts") – xmm0 Sep 1 '09 at 7:56
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    No, we don't. Besides; we are meant to be for the exceptional things... by the numbers, this problem is not "exceptional" by any stretch... – Marc Gravell Sep 1 '09 at 8:03
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    If the guys who did this provided enough information to actually merit a stand-alone question, then a button like this would work. But the fact is most of these are "I tried this but it didn't work. I'm running Windows XP. Any ideas?". Converting that to a question doesn't solve anything. – Welbog Sep 1 '09 at 11:23
  • @Welbog. Agreed. But in these cases Marc's request wouldn't solve the problem either. If they do it, their question would be as poor as their "answer". – Ladybug Killer Sep 1 '09 at 11:52
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    @John Smithers: No argument from me there. I don't actually think there is a real solution to this problem. Some text reminding people that this is a Q&A site and not a forum might help a little bit, that will only help the very, very few new users who do this that actually read instructions. Personally, I just flag this type of answer for moderator attention. Seems good enough to me. – Welbog Sep 1 '09 at 12:17
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    Hmmm... maybe you are right and this is just an inevitably bit of background noise that we just have to squish occasionally. – Marc Gravell Sep 1 '09 at 12:42
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    we are meant to be for the exceptional things – Marc Gravell -- try{post}catch(e){if(e.poorAnswer()){/*Mark Gravell*/}} ? – perbert Sep 1 '09 at 13:25

Just comment saying "This isn't an appropriate place to ask a new question, you'll get much better answers if you post using 'Ask a Question' button at the top of the page" or something along those lines.

There's already a big button saying "Ask a question", the answer box says "Your answer" in big, bold text, and there's a sentence at the end of the page saying "Not the answer you're looking for? ... ask your own question"...

If a user misses these hints, there's not much else to do but comment.. The few cases of this I've seen all worked out fine - someone posted a commented on the "quanswer", the user deleted the it, posted a proper question, it got an answer, everyone was happy.

  • I suspect I see a lot more of them than most ;-p – Marc Gravell Sep 2 '09 at 6:56

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