On one hand, stackoverflow cannot allow bad questions:

On the other hand, it would be nice if we could be nice to the new kid on the block.

Both issues have been discussed time and again (although this is a Q&A site, not a discussion forum... ;)

Anyway, could it be possible to have bad newbie questions (that is, bad questions from newbies) pulled aside rather than closed?

I'm thinking of a pit stop, where the question will not show up on the main "stream", but grounded until fixed.
They can be put into a guidance queue, where any user with enough rep can show them how to improve their question.

I've seen all too many new user questions bombarded with downvotes, and not a single explanation given.
In one case I took the time to make some improvement suggestions to the new user (yes, they also appear in the FAQ, but for whatever reason many new users don't appear to read it), and soon enough his single run-on question developed into a detailed question including code sample, environment description, wanted vs actual result.
The user ended up getting answers for his question, a quick lesson in stackoverflowism, and a warm welcome.

Grounded questions whose owners don't make an effort to fix them can be deleted or closed after a while; apparently, the asker doesn't care too much about them.
(And don't tell me you can say the same thing about an unfixed downvoted question - most downvotes come with no explanation.)

Advantages of pit-stop:

  • SO kept clean from bad questions
  • Newbies learn the ropes quicker (provided there is someone to help them)
  • Nicer environment :)
  • The world becomes a better place

After all, isn't the whole point of this site to help other programmers?


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    Isn't that the whole point of the "on-hold" language for newly closed questions? – Tim Seguine Feb 23 '14 at 17:01
  • @TimSeguine 1) "on-hold" doesn't encourage other users to help the newbie improve his or her question; 2) "on-hold" still appears in main question stream. – Yehuda Shapira Feb 23 '14 at 17:04
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    I rarely see heavily downvoted questions with no comments. I often see ones with a couple of comments where the comments have been upvoted, suggesting that at least some of those downvoting are agreeing with the reasons given by others. – Jon Skeet Feb 23 '14 at 17:17
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    If "on hold" doesn't already encourage users to comment on ways to improve the question, putting them in a ghetto will do no different – random Feb 23 '14 at 17:20
  • (Totally as an aside, please note that there's a huge difference between line breaks and paragraphs. Line breaks are rarely useful, and might show differently from what you're expecting.) – Arjan Feb 23 '14 at 17:26
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    "isn't the whole point of this site to help other programmers?" -- for me: no. For me the true point is getting a good resource of questions (and answers) that I might run into myself one day. Bad questions just make it hard to find the information one needs. (Of course, it's very nice that getting to that good resource also helps other programmers.) – Arjan Feb 23 '14 at 17:30
  • SE is interconnected as the whole concept – Xsi Feb 23 '14 at 18:24
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  • @JonSkeet I see it often enough. These questions are quickly closed, so that may be why you don't encounter them much. – Yehuda Shapira Feb 24 '14 at 6:28
  • @random "on hold" is basically telling the user "we're taking this question down" rather than "we already took it down". – Yehuda Shapira Feb 24 '14 at 6:29
  • @JacobSpire: I can see closed posts, and I'm very often looking at the very newest posts. (Heck, a lot of those downvotes and close votes are mine... almost always with a comment.) If you see this so often, presumably you can collect examples to link to in this question. It may be that it occurs more in the tags that you're interested in, of course. – Jon Skeet Feb 24 '14 at 6:43

It sounds like you're describing the first posts review... more or less...

At least a lot of what you're describing is the intended purpose of the first posts review.

You may want to direct your efforts to improving the existing review rather than adding a new review that would likely face the same issues.

  • How does review accomplish this? Does the reviewer find out form the newbie what his intentions are? See what he's doing wrong, and tell him what to improve? Besides, do questions in the review queue show up in the main stream? – Yehuda Shapira Feb 24 '14 at 6:38
  • @JacobSpire At the moment first posts are reviewed, its not a great system, the posts are visible before being reviewed, you may want to suggest changes to the existing queue rather than suggesting a new queue be created – apaul Feb 24 '14 at 7:31
  • There are quite a few changes... Besides, "reviewing" is not the same as "telling the user what he's doing wrong, step at a time." – Yehuda Shapira Feb 24 '14 at 8:42

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