21

No one reads anything

Lets get this out of the way to begin with; no one ever reads anything unless they are made to. It's a sad fact, but it is a fact none the less. So as helpful and crystal clear as this message box is people will still not read it.

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For example this person says they didn't realise they weren't supposed to post follow up questions as answers right up to the point they were banned. And I believe them; it is just human nature. Forums also don't help with this because you do "answer" there with follow up questions, clarifications etc.

After a deleted answer give a message that you have to read on your next answer

The answer to this of course is to force people to read something. By presenting the message and then not enabling the "ok" button till a timer has elapsed there is no option but to read the message. This would reuse the functionality from some of the review queues.

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This is designed to encourage anyone who doesn't read dialoges to click "This doesn't answer the question", the only way to actually answer is to wait 5 seconds (during which you may as well read the message) and then click "This answers the question".

  • 6
    Meh, I didn't read it because you didn't make me (but seriously, I like this, +1). – Matt Dec 13 '13 at 14:43
  • 3
    A timer has never forced me to actually read a license agreement. It just forces me to wait a few seconds. – Geobits Dec 13 '13 at 15:02
  • @generic they are bloody long though – Richard Tingle Dec 13 '13 at 15:03
  • 1
    True. I'm just saying you can't force a user to read anything, so I'm not sure this would solve the problem. I think if a user wants to figure out the system, they will. I personally feel that disabled timer-buttons are an insult to the intelligence of the user, and are an annoyance at most. Just my two cents, of course. – Geobits Dec 13 '13 at 15:13
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    Based on recent experience, Id add a couple of comments: 1. I think there needs to be an explicit warning that the next infraction will trigger a ban, BEFORE they get banned 2. Realistically, some people at the beginning will only skim the help. I think it could be clearer about the difference between Answers and Comments; and also the consequences of infractions. The comment about Fora are different is dead on. Most people are more used to Fora than SO. – RFlack Dec 13 '13 at 15:15
  • @GenericHolidayName If they already have a deleted Not-An-Answer then a little extra help seems warrented; I wouldn't suggest this for all users. And of course not everyone can be helped, but if we could help most then it seems worthwile – Richard Tingle Dec 13 '13 at 15:16
  • I guess I'm not arguing with the basic idea of a dialog. A gentle reminder does seem like a good idea, but I hate those timer buttons. – Geobits Dec 13 '13 at 15:21
  • 1
    @GenericHolidayName Good! We want people to hate what happens when they post bad content! – Mołot Dec 13 '13 at 15:22
  • @Molot I'd argue that making new users hate the site for one infraction is not a good idea. For repeat offenders, sure, but that's what timeouts and bans are for. – Geobits Dec 13 '13 at 15:25
  • @GenericHolidayName I'm not sure they'd really hate it, possibly be irritated. But I think RFlack is a lot more than irritated now – Richard Tingle Dec 13 '13 at 15:27
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    @GenericHolidayName At the time of question / answer ban it's often already too late, as you can see here. Introducing an intermediate measurements for lesser offenders (5 seconds vs "no timeout" ban) would be a nice way to prevent situations like that. – Mołot Dec 13 '13 at 15:27
  • @Molot I have no problem with intermediate measures. I actually really like the idea of a dialog, and would love to see it implemented. Even the proposed wording is nice. I just can't upvote a suggestion that we timer the dialog. I just feel that timers 1) don't accomplish the goal of making the user read, and 2) are bloody annoying. – Geobits Dec 13 '13 at 15:32
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    @GenericHolidayName "They made a conscious choice" - that's the false assumption. No, they didn't. IT guys trained them to put a brick on "OK" button, with endless "I agree" dialogs where these dialogs was not needed. – Mołot Dec 13 '13 at 15:39
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    @GenericHolidayName with the whole message on screen, it will be read, even if out of pure boredom. Not scrolled, not clicked, but as far as I remember (can't find source, sorry) first 2 or 3 sentences are usually read anyway, even if viewer does not plan to do it. That's why timed commercials on websites works even if everybody hates them. So I like the idea of using this effect for something good. – Mołot Dec 13 '13 at 15:42
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    If this were bright red and filled the screen, then people would read it. Just sayin' :-). – ben is uǝq backwards Dec 13 '13 at 17:49
8

Dialog yes, timer no

I like the idea of a dialog. The wording is good, and it would be a gentle reminder to the user since, yes, people don't read. I might change "your last answer" to "one of your previous answers" since they might have answered since the flagged one, but overall I like the idea.


However, I just can't get behind the timer. I think it wouldn't be effective, and would only serve to annoy the user.

What's the purpose of a timer? To ensure that a user reads the dialog? I don't think that's ever been effective. Molot made the case in comments that it's the principle behind timed commercials in websites, but I'd argue that timed commercials are one of the worst design decisions I've ever seen. Unless it's covering something that I really want to see, I usually just click away and make a mental note not to visit that website again.


I think that this would be just as effective without the timer. Whether it's effective enough to make a difference in NAA counts, I don't know, but I don't think the timer adds any value at all. Bottom line is that it doesn't force people to read any more than having to click through does.

  • As an aside how do you feel about the timed buttons on the review queue – Richard Tingle Dec 13 '13 at 15:57
  • As far as I can tell, those are there for rate limiting robo-reviewers just clicking through to get a badge. They're not really there to force people to read. If they were, they'd be longer timers, since most posts take more than a few seconds to read the entire thing. – Geobits Dec 13 '13 at 16:00
  • That is indeed their purpose, but they don't irritate you? Presumably because they don't get in your way. The time on this could be set such that it was slightly less than the time taken for a fast reader to read the message – Richard Tingle Dec 13 '13 at 16:03
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    Those aren't very annoying only because I understand that they have a concrete, provable purpose. Without them, you can click through 40 reviews in under a minute. What does this timer actually prevent? – Geobits Dec 13 '13 at 16:10
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    It prevents people continuing to sleep walk into the ban. The idea isn't so much to make people who don't read wait, but to make people who don't read just click the "This doesn't answer the question" button. – Richard Tingle Dec 13 '13 at 16:12
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    That's where you and I differ. I don't think it will make users who don't read press that button. Users know what disabled timer buttons mean. It means they have to wait to click through, not that they should click the cancel button. – Geobits Dec 13 '13 at 16:17
  • Sp**ify puts a spoken, unskippable ad every 30 minutes of playback. After a day of usage I already know pretty well they have a premium version as well, whose only feature is the removal of these ads. Forced reading works pretty well. – John Dvorak Dec 13 '13 at 16:26
  • @JanDvorak Yes, but which part is effective, the ad, the fact that it's audio, or the timer? My point is that even if their ads were skippable, you'd most likely still know about their paid service. The fact that you can't skip it is just an added annoyance. – Geobits Dec 13 '13 at 16:51
  • 1
    If they were to implement this they could have a test phase where half the triggered users got my version and half got your version and then the stats would tell us which is best (I'll +1 this under being a good scientist) – Richard Tingle Dec 13 '13 at 17:03
  • @RichardTingle I like that idea. We'll have to come up with some way of determining what 'best' means, though. Does it mean the user didn't post at all, posted a good answer(not flagged), etc. Both could be considered 'good', and the only 'bad' I see is that they posted another flagged answer. Maybe 'best' just means 'least subsequent flagged answers'? – Geobits Dec 13 '13 at 17:09
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    @GenericHolidayName For me best means lower flagged (or deleted) to attempted ratio. That's the whole point - get rid of bad attempts. No matter if they don't post at all or post better, as we can't really guess what part of current attempts might be salvageable. – Mołot Dec 16 '13 at 7:35
-3

A timer of 5 seconds is really not enough when the user tries to post another answer. It should be blocked for a week at least and an email should also be sent to the user. When I know that the user is not reading then I should force him to read, that's better than blocking him.

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