I understand that some solutions have been made to raise the amount of people that understands how to use this website.

For example the about page which basically is a guide on how you can best use this website which goes thru the basics of it.

My proposal is pretty simple, in order to complete the registration the user needs to run thru small tests which basically is not really a test but merely a sample page like the about page but interactive that will tell you the user do this do that and once he completes it, he gains access to the site as it normally would.

This test would be something like:

To continue mark one of the answers as the right answer by checking the green mark on the left side of the answer.

Once he does it, a message saying congratulations, once a user replies to your question, if you feel that's the right answer, mark it or something like that ;)

Another test like, up or down vote the question or answers by using the up and down arrows on the left of the question.

Then once the user perform the action it will congratulate him and move the next test but before doing so it will say did you know? You need at least X points to up vote a question.

Then once the user completes the basics of using the site at least the most important part which is to mark the answer for example, he gains access to the site.

I believe one down side of StackExchange networks is that more than 90% of the new user don't even know of the existence of the about page nor care to check it when pointed to it, don't use the search and will often do question that will get down vote and/or close and this will make most of then angry or unhappy with the site and/or community as they don't even understand what is going on them self.

Instead of having the about page guide an interactive guide that is obligatory to complete would be way more useful and may lead to better chances.

As for what I mentioned for the test being interactive I meant something like what Code Academy have on their tutorials where you they tell you what to do u do it then you move on.

  • To continue mark one of the answers as the right answer by checking the green mark on the left side of the answer. That sounds like it's testing programming ability, not the ability to use the site. (What would the question be about?) Also, more than 90% of the new user don't even know of the existence of the about page nor care to check it when pointed to it all users are required to read How to Ask before asking a question. – David Robinson Sep 4 '13 at 2:10
  • @DavidRobinson the test is not test weather he is a programmer its to test weather he can understand the usability of the site. So that new users will understand they can use the search, will understand they can mark a question for the right answer, etc. Basically the things the about page done at least the most important one. Most of the open answers today are because of new users that don't fully understand how to use the website and this could reduce possible amount of misuse, increase new users stay to the site and more. While the about page is great to some extent new users don't visit it – Prix Sep 4 '13 at 2:13
  • @DavidRobinson Initially what I am proposing is a interactive obligatory page to complete the registration that ensure the users understand the basic functionality of the site, How To Ask yes but not all will follow or read the inner pages there. The tests could also improved as seen that it works as expected. – Prix Sep 4 '13 at 2:14
  • I don't agree with a inital required test, but it might be a good idea for new users with recently deleted answer/questions, before posting new content. – bummi Sep 4 '13 at 6:41
  • @bummi that could be also an option but its not really a test but rather guide? or so I think. – Prix Sep 4 '13 at 8:19

Stack Overflow and other Stack Exchange sites in general are specifically designed with the intention of being easily accessible and hassle-free to use; I mean, we even let anonymous users post questions and answers. I believe such tests as the ones you describe would counteract this, and might even discourage some new users from joining the site.

If a new user produces a lousy post, it's up to the community to point that user in the right direction. I'm sure there are many potential users out there who are willing to take the time to go through all of the relevant material before using a site, so why introduce new obstacles for them as a result of the incompetence of others?

  • Why would that fall under punishment, we do have the How to Ask for new users for example, you could call it an enhancement? Its basically a early guidance, that often a website provide to the user prior using the site which could also be used as optional too but the main idea would be having it enforced. – Prix Sep 4 '13 at 2:29
  • @Prix I agree that "punishment" is the wrong word. My primary point is that such tests would not be in the spirit of the Stack Overflow model, which currently guarantees a certain ease of use. If a user misuses a site, they should be and are generally promptly informed of that, often being pointed to the relevant page to read about why they were misusing it. If they disregard even this then I don't think there is anything we can or should do for them. – arshajii Sep 4 '13 at 2:38

Imagine signing up for a web mail account, and you have to go through a mandatory set of tasks to show you how everything in the site works. Wouldn't that actually turn you off from even completing your registration?

Most of the time, users register here in order to get an answer to their question, and fast. While a mandatory test would definitely filter out those who completely don't care about how the site actually functions, you'll also filter out those who don't care about the site while they were trying to register but become valuable members of the community eventually.

The site already has checks and balances in place for the group of people that you are targeting with the mandatory tests, down-votes, flags, what-have-yous. But the site also has the tools needed to convert those users to people we would actually want to stay and contribute.

In short, I think a mandatory test during registration will actually do more harm than good in the long run.

  • Its not everything in the site just the most important things and would not take more than a minute to complete. – Prix Sep 4 '13 at 2:34
  • @Prix What you described in your suggestion would definitely take more than a minute if you want it to actually mean something more than just "Check this to continue". And even if it takes a minute to do the tasks, it's one minute more than necessary for someone who just wants to ask a question. – rikitikitik Sep 4 '13 at 2:38
  • 2
    +1; I hate when GMail gets new useless features and it stops me for 30 seconds and says "Look! New stuff!" I just want to check my email! :P – Doorknob Sep 4 '13 at 2:58

Another alternative to what's already been discussed is a profile "percentage completion". On some sites like LinkedIn, you can see how complete your profile is.

It wouldn't force you to, but you can seek 100% completion, maybe award a badge for it.
I think websites that do this normally put something small in the sidebar to let you know what your current percentage is.

Some of the tasks that award a certain percentage would be:

  • Visit the 'about' page
  • Visit the 'FAQ' page
  • Ask a question
  • Mark an answer correct
  • Post a comment
  • Answer another users question
  • etc.

These tasks would be what's considered usual use of the site, and completing them all would award you with a badge - everyone loves a badge.

Any user with this badge could be identified as someone who already knows the basics of the site and therefore there'd be no excuse for 'bad behaviour'.

You may find, with this, you'd get nonsensical comments, or random questions, just to attain 100%, but these actions for new users could just be added to the First Posts review queue for attention to alleviate this.

  • +1 Interesting point of view. – Prix Sep 4 '13 at 13:35
  • This sounds like the Citizen rating that Jeff Atwood suggested some time ago. What ever happened to that, anyway? Link: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/165179/… – Anthony Neace Sep 4 '13 at 15:17
  • @HyperAnthony yeah, I suppose it is! The difference being that the Citizen rating affects the user's full SO career whereas what I'm proposing will allow users to 'get off the ground' only affecting the earliest stages of their career. On another note: should we say career, is that an appropriate word for it?? – Dan Hanly Sep 4 '13 at 15:41

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