You know how some applications show tips for new users in a popup dialog box on startup? Or at least, used to - it's not so popular any more.

Stack Overflow should do that. Not necessarily in a popup - that would probably just get closed without being read. But in a visible place.

Things like "It is better to show too much code than too little."

Or "State your actual problem, not just the approach you think you need to take to solve it"

Or "Did you know that questions on professional server administration belong on Server Fault, not here?"

Or "Did you know? A stack trace can be very useful to debug your Stack Overflow problems - especially if they are literally stack overflows"

  • 1
    An interesting idea. Maybe not so much for the basic stuff - you either already know that and feel insulted, or you don't - but then a tip of the day isn't going to reform you. But for more obscure stuff like "did you know there is a review tool?" "Did you know you can self-answer questions?" etc. it might work great
    – Pekka
    Commented Dec 2, 2013 at 0:00
  • 5
    New users only see "Ask Question" and plough on through. No other text exists on the screen
    – random
    Commented Dec 2, 2013 at 0:00
  • 2
    @random it wouldn't work for those users. But to give hints to new productive users who actually care
    – Pekka
    Commented Dec 2, 2013 at 0:01
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    @probablyPekka It's more likely to just be confusing. What if the tip is either not relevant to what the user is doing, or worse, they think it's an indication that they're doing something wrong when they aren't. Users already get lots of feedback on their contributions in the form of comments, which end up targeted to the actual problems they have.
    – Servy
    Commented Dec 2, 2013 at 0:04
  • 1
    @Servy if it's placed in the right-hand column (like, instead of the "community bulletin") and titled properly ("did you know?") I don't think there is any danger of the user misunderstanding the intent of the message. Many features aren't that easily discoverable. But yes, it should be in the form of "hey, check this out", not to address problem behaviours
    – Pekka
    Commented Dec 2, 2013 at 0:07
  • 2
    What's the definition of a new user? Is it based off of their rep? Or is it based off of the time since they joined? Commented Dec 2, 2013 at 0:27
  • @random: And sometimes they only see "Your Answer" and think it's requesting a question...
    – Jamal
    Commented Dec 2, 2013 at 0:30
  • @JoshC ideally, the system would look which features the user has never used yet.... (without being annoying about them, of course)
    – Pekka
    Commented Dec 2, 2013 at 0:35
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    @random - your blanket characterization of new users is absurd. Every productive, experienced user was new at some point. The fact that this feature request would be superfluous for crappy new users does not mean it wouldn't add value for the productive new members of this community. Commented Dec 2, 2013 at 0:52
  • @AdamRackis: I do think he was being slightly sarcastic, though your point in general is a valid one. Commented Dec 2, 2013 at 1:10
  • Most of the systems that pop-up such messages have a way to turn the messages off. As long as there is such a way, I don't see it being very objectionable. Especially if it is only popped up when you login...I don't do that very often at all. Commented Dec 2, 2013 at 10:34
  • 1
    As long as the tips were delivered in the form of an animated paper-clip, I don't think anybody would object
    – JMK
    Commented Dec 2, 2013 at 11:37


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