There are review tools for first posts but, I am talking about Ask Question screen tool-tips that will be shown when you are posting your very first question in a SX site...

It may consist of 3 tool-tip boxes:

  • Title tool-tip: When the user click to write title, a tool-tip may appear informing how a title should be written and what should not be written (Ex: Please help me or I have c# problem) It will guide them in writing the title

  • Question body tool-tip: That tool-tip will tell user what a good question must contain, or help useing question formatting tools . That tool-tip may point out following:

    • User must share related code
    • Pointing out the exact problem is important then just saying I stuck! What he had tried and exactly what his problem is important to be told.
    • It would be good to share error stack trace if it exists.
    • Avoiding usage of salutes and please help me, I need help type texts which makes question crowded unnecessarily
    • Informing that he can also check the question format output from below box.

  • Tags tool-tip: Says how a user must tag his question and why tags exists. Many times, questions about a specific version are tagged with general version of related software. Like dealing with a problem in is different than using a newer version (lack of libraries or deprecated library problems) and using a general tag will lead answerers to solutions that will not help the OP . So it can suggest user to use specific tags if required with general tags.

That tool-tips will be displayed on the very first question of that user in a StackExchange community. So an experienced user will come across it when he creates an account on a new SX site and ask a question. Another approach is if he receive +100 trusted user reputation, then tool-tips may not shown at all.

  • 4
    Nice idea, I would maybe make them keep appearing until the user has 100 reputation in total though, rather than only on the first question?
    – Flyk
    Commented Feb 13, 2014 at 12:55
  • 100 rep or until user receive x up-votes from his questions. Or maybe just once. That can be discussed too.
    – Mp0int
    Commented Feb 13, 2014 at 12:58
  • 1
    Anything that could replace that wall of text (akin to the "terms and conditions" of a site) that we currently give to new users would be great -- users just don't bother reading the whole thing anyway. Commented Feb 13, 2014 at 13:10
  • @Qantas94Heavy that is correct, most users in a hurry just skip reading how to ask section.
    – Mp0int
    Commented Feb 13, 2014 at 13:14

1 Answer 1


The trick is keeping them very short, and deciding which problems you want to solve with them.

Note that most of what you would put in such a tooltip has already been presented to the user in the form of an interstitial page, which contained a checkmark that the user had to click certifying (more or less) that they read and understand the information.

The information provided on that interstitial page is at https://stackoverflow.com/questions/how-to-ask. Note that that page does not have guidance about writing a good question title. This one, however, does: https://stackoverflow.com/help/how-to-ask

Perhaps we ought to think about synchronizing the content in those two pages, or making them the same page.

All that said, I do think we really need to have something directly on the Ask page about question titles, as that is a persistent, recurring problem.

  • I comment such questions at least 10 times, and never see any improvement on the question by the OP after my "If you read the How to ask then you can re-shape your question and it attracts more attention" like comment. As you know, pople do not like to read documents (like all programmers who hate to write documentation). 1 of each 1000 new user maybe read the how-to guides before they ask first question. On the other hand, helping tooltips popping form somewhere always got attention and read by people. Keeping them short and expaining is very important as you mentioned.
    – Mp0int
    Commented Feb 13, 2014 at 19:27
  • @FallenAngel: You might get better results if you state specifically how you want the OP to improve their question in your comment, and then cite one of the Help Center articles as authoritative evidence. If they won't heed your comments, then what's the hope of getting them to do it in a tooltip?
    – user102937
    Commented Feb 13, 2014 at 19:30
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    Also, poeople check the checkmark, but do they read what they had accepted. Poeple pay 1000's of dollars and buy software but do they read the policy text before they click I aggree to continue installation? Those how-to guides are read when a user had reached at least a few hundred reputation. My point is, fancier things are more attractive and they are fancy (: And we want good content that is readable and be able to offer future reference so other users can use it if they need.
    – Mp0int
    Commented Feb 13, 2014 at 19:33
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    So you're saying they'll read it (and follow its advice) if it is shiny?
    – user102937
    Commented Feb 13, 2014 at 19:35
  • Shorter tool-tips attracts more interest. Also they will be on the same page with the ask question section as 3 small parts. Following a link to go and read a long looking text body is generally the last thing a new user want to do. Following its advice is not something I can prove, but my thought are it will be more effective than the current existing one.
    – Mp0int
    Commented Feb 13, 2014 at 19:47
  • I am skeptical. I have tried all sorts of ways of teaching people how to use programs, on real customers. By far, the most effective way was step-by-step walkthroughs, with lots of pictures. Tooltips were one of the least effective mechanisms; users complained that they were distracting, and their "effectiveness quotient" didn't seem to improve by having them (as measured by the number of support calls we got).
    – user102937
    Commented Feb 13, 2014 at 19:49
  • 1
    For my part, I have seen tooltips like the one you described (mostly on posts where I made an error). Because they are in the side bar (like your examples are), I experience "banner blindness;" it takes a few moments for me to realize that there's a tooltip there, and I would completely ignore it if it didn't stop the process.
    – user102937
    Commented Feb 13, 2014 at 19:51
  • Well, I see. You mean things like popular facebook game applications uses nowadays as step-by-step walkthrough.
    – Mp0int
    Commented Feb 13, 2014 at 19:53
  • Yes, and Stack Exchange has its own walk-through as well (although I don't have any stats about how useful it is as a teaching tool, or how often people are actually viewing it.
    – user102937
    Commented Feb 13, 2014 at 19:54
  • Yes that is not very reachable for a new user, since they do not tend to click links that promise them help or bring to how-to's. What I mention about facebook applications is ones that are integrated to the related section (a walkthrough within the ask question page as an example.)
    – Mp0int
    Commented Feb 13, 2014 at 20:00

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