When you think of Q&A sites, you think of a place where you come to get answers to your questions. But, where do those answers come from? What doesn't immediately stand out for many folks is that it's not our software that's giving them answers, it's other people that are taking the time to share what they know. Our engine is a vehicle that you use to arrive at an answer to your question, and vehicles are things that takes a bit of time to learn how to use.
If you have a driver's license, you probably went through some kind of program where someone else taught you how to operate a car properly. It was most likely a special kind of car, where the instructor had a brake pedal just in case someone had to slam on the brakes and you weren't doing it. After all, things go bad when you don't hit the brakes in time, especially when you're going too fast.
A while back, we introduced rolling rate limits for folks that get off to an initially rocky start when it comes to asking questions. The single most common mistake that folks were making was in fact going way too fast; some would ask three or even five questions initially and none of them did well. The system didn't have that extra brake pedal and many users sped, you guessed it, right into a wall.
We did what we always do, research:
Turns out, slowing folks down just a little when it looks like they're getting off on the wrong foot is the most effective way to help potentially great users become great users. We don't go from 100 km/h straight into a wall any longer, folks get a lot more help much sooner, when they need it. Additional just-in-time help (triggered while writing a question) is in the works.
New users who aren't doing so well initially will be shown the additional guidance and will be asked to wait anywhere from one to seven days before asking their next question, depending on how they've done recently.
The system is also pretty smart, and takes the following things into consideration:
- How many substantive edits you've made to your own posts recently
- How many good answers you've written recently
- How long you tend to wait between asking questions
The more acclimated you become, the sooner the system will get out of your way entirely. Yes, it is still possible to encounter a much longer-term block on some larger sites, but you'd need to ignore a lot of help before hitting it.
Testing on Stack Overflow and several other large sites has gone very well, so we've enabled this throughout the network. Most users on smaller sites probably won't see these kick in, and that's fine - but they're in place for those that can really benefit from them, just like those brave souls that teach folks how to drive.
This feature came out of the SE Quality Project (MSE | MSO) and is one of several initiatives we're putting in place to help maintain the overall quality of our sites while providing new users with a better experience.