Triage is being tested on SO but wouldn't it be more useful to change the behavior then a behind the scene task the new users are more than likely not aware of?

I have pondered an idea for some time now on a way to get a new user to write a better question. The triage idea is okay but do new users even know their questions are being evaluated? If they don't, how will this method get the user to ask a better question because isn't that the goal?

Would it be possible to have new users see a question that is written and asked correctly when they click ask question? By written and asked correctly, I simply mean a question that shows the problem statement and what the OP has done in trying to solve it so the example questions don't need to be highest voted question just a high quality one. I would propose that the example question is not closeable for 20secs or so this way the new user just can't click past it. A simple prompt afterwords could say does your question illustrate what you have attempted? The example questions could even be related to the tags they select so the example will be related to their level.

If a new user continually post bad questions on their some number of first post, a list of said users could be sent to moderators where they can increase the time limit of viewing the examples questions and not let them leave this new user prompt until they start to take it seriously and show improvement or even short term suspensions.

How does triage help a new user? Is the new user told their question was triaged and deemed unsalvageable for the following reasons (list reasons)? If not, how can these users learn what they are doing wrong? Triage is only a benefit to those already in the community since it removes what they deem unfit. How does this help a new users learn question etiquette and norms?

If the goal is not guide or teach new users the right ways to engage in a certain stack exchange site, why allow any more people to sign up?

  • 11
    Show a blank screen for 20 seconds. They'll read that as much as the one with text.
    – random
    Jan 22, 2015 at 16:51
  • 1
    @random have you read the last paragraph?
    – dustin
    Jan 22, 2015 at 16:52
  • 14
    I think you are underestimating how much some people will ignore, however much you shove it in their face. You can lead a horse to water and all that.
    – Oded
    Jan 22, 2015 at 16:53
  • @Oded Yes, some will ignore it but there will be others who read it.
    – dustin
    Jan 22, 2015 at 16:54
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    You misunderstand. Moderators are not here to coach users.
    – random
    Jan 22, 2015 at 16:54
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    @random there is no coaching. I wrote increase time limit or suspension. A user with numerous low quality post gets a question ban anyways. The moderator isn't writing saying do this or that.
    – dustin
    Jan 22, 2015 at 16:55
  • @dustin If a new user continually post bad questions... a list could be sent to moderators This already happens to an extent, there are auto-flags raised if a user has a large # of questions closed.
    – Taryn
    Jan 22, 2015 at 17:02
  • related (possibly a duplicate): Add a “Magic 8-Ball” feature to the Ask a Question page
    – gnat
    Jan 22, 2015 at 17:11
  • @gnat none of answers are serious on that post. Duplicating closing is when your question can be adequately answered on that other post.
    – dustin
    Jan 22, 2015 at 17:14
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    do you expect every new reader to make this "de-duplication effort" themselves? some may prefer to save the energy and simply vote close instead
    – gnat
    Jan 22, 2015 at 17:31
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    Triage is sending the question in a queue, either low-quality or close vote where they have the greatest chance of being provided with either comments or close reasons with links. Plenty of opportunity after that for those new users to revisit help center, resource that were provided when they started to write the question in the first place. I understand that new users sems to have problem with our standardas, I don't see how triage is adding a problem, my impression is it gets the feedback-loop going much quicker. That the majority of those new users refuse to read is beyond repair.
    – rene
    Jan 22, 2015 at 17:41
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    Well, for SO goes that we are not kindergarten. If the links, guidance and assistance users get when they write a question are simply ignored I'm not sure what else you expect to throw in their face that will make them pay attention. The users that end-up in a ban should maybe get electrocuted if they touch their keyboard and then they still post on meta innocently asking what possibly could be wrong. Yeah, I got some shocks, I wasn't paying attention. My cat catched fire when it walked across my keyboard it occured to me that something was wrong.
    – rene
    Jan 22, 2015 at 17:58
  • 3
    if you're interested in more serious discussion, this one suggests that there is work in progress on it: Rolling question rate limits are now network-wide: "Additional just-in-time help (triggered while writing a question) is in the works..." (side note looking at profile of a guy who asked that "8-ball" feature makes one suspect that this old funny idea wasn't only air rattling and is not quite unrelated to these recent works)
    – gnat
    Jan 22, 2015 at 18:31
  • 2
    Related to your proposed feature: Show examples of good and bad questions
    – jscs
    Jan 22, 2015 at 20:31

5 Answers 5


Triage does help.

We can't help every user. We don't have the manpower or the time. Triage strips off the cruft of the people we can help, and gives us the ability to help them.

Triage picks the people that need just a little guidance to become great contributors. Then, we can give them the nudges they need. This is much more rewarding for both parties - people who improve, and people who help - by making efforts worth more return.

As for the people whose posts are "Unsalvageable" - consider that they've been offered pages of information on how to make their posts better, and either read none of it, or read it and didn't understand it. But we don't have unlimited resources to help people - we want to make the process as rewarding and effective as possible, and that means focusing effort where it will help most.

  • Showing new posters what a properly formatted question with question statement and effort looks like eats up unlimited resources?
    – dustin
    Jan 22, 2015 at 19:10
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    @dustin There are two types of new users: those that care and those that don't. Those that care already figure it out. Those that don't care will never get it no matter how much hand-holding they get. We do not want those users. The Triage isn't to help those that don't care, it's to help us get rid of them so they stop dragging down the quality of the site.
    – Mysticial
    Jan 22, 2015 at 19:15
  • @Mysticial I agree that we don't want those that dont care but some people who would care don't know better. We should want those people since they have the potential to be better, but if we are throwing the baby out with the bath water, we will miss those users and only get the better suited new posters when the others need just a little bit more help then their better suited counterpart to be just as good.
    – dustin
    Jan 22, 2015 at 19:18
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    @dustin For those that care, there are already tons of resources that help them. They will actually read the text and banners they are presented with before they ask a question - which is more than enough info. Those that don't care, (i.e desperate help vampires), will do everything they can to get rid of those banners and post a question asap. No they do not read a single word on them. Those users we want out.
    – Mysticial
    Jan 22, 2015 at 19:21

It's not an either/or question. Triage helps, but we're still exploring additional ideas like providing better, more detailed step-by-step guidance for new askers. (Though it's important to keep in mind that no matter what we do in terms of providing excellent information to read...some people will just see a box and start typing. Some amount of that is unavoidable.)

  • I know that is why I proposed the time to see good questions increases if users dont learn. Eventually, they will either adhere or have to wait looking at an example question for an hour or more before they can ask a question. At that point, it would be better to conform.
    – dustin
    Jan 22, 2015 at 21:46
  • @dustin The help center is already full of lots of good example questions for people to look at.
    – Servy
    Jan 23, 2015 at 1:09
  • @Servy by the fact that triage is even being tested, shows us we are beyond help center tactics.
    – dustin
    Jan 23, 2015 at 1:38
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    @dustin Yes, as Laura and many others have told you, some people just refuse to be taught how to ask a good question. Those interested in seeing the examples can see them, those that aren't won't be affected by your proposal.
    – Servy
    Jan 23, 2015 at 1:46
  • @Servy not everyone who is willing to learn is going to root around in the help center. Why is everyone so opposed to trying? This could be affective but there so much negative to wanting to show new users the right way to do something. I learn better from examples and I bet others do too and the may even appreciate it. Everyone is assuming showing examples wont work.
    – dustin
    Jan 23, 2015 at 1:50
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    @dustin Users are forced to go through the help center before they are allowed to ask a question. Again, users are being shown the right way to do things, many times, in lots of places; they are ignoring everything they see. Adding yet another thing that they're going to ignore isn't going to accomplish much. The whole point here is we're already doing almost exactly what you're proposing, and have been for years. It just don't help much at all.
    – Servy
    Jan 23, 2015 at 1:53
  • @Servy that is SO only being forced into the help center, correct? I am thinking of a global use for this not just SO. Plus, when a user is a ready to ask a question, they are paying more attention to prompts compared to when they are signing up. The reason they would pay more attention then is because they want to get a question out to the community. When you sign up, you just want to get through it to get to where you want to be.
    – dustin
    Jan 23, 2015 at 1:57

One problem I see with your approach is the presence of variety of subjects.

What is considered a good research with one subject may be inadequate for another or sometimes research on the subject may even be impossible.

So to be correctly implemented, for each tag a good question must be posted, which may also prove inadequate - due to the nature of the question. A "What" question is very different from a "Why" or a "How" question.

It is impossible for a new user to understand and apply the same to his/her question with just one good quality question. This may cause some excellent questions to go unposted.


Maybe another variation of this could be something like "Try to enhance the experience"? Something I'm trying to get going via:

Be aware, I feel like rather a newbie, even unsure if posting this answer (suggestion) is the right thing to do. And if the feedback to my answer here turns out to be a mistake from me, I'm even not sure what my best reaction then should be (hopefully "delete my answer" will be allowed, as a kind of last resort, like "let's get out of here"). This is just to illustrate my perception that SE does not appear to me like a newbie friendly / forgiving place. And there is so much docu and features to digest and to get familiar with, so maybe all parties involved (new and anciens) each need to contribute their part of it all?


As Emrakul stated, Triage does serve a useful purpose. Some questions that get filtered by it include spam, blatantly off-topic questions, etc; these are the kind of the stuff we do not want on a site. Without the Triage, it would take much longer to sort the information and deal with it properly.

If the post is salvageable, but not perfect, that allows for the reviewer and editor to try to improve their posts in the future. Once again, Triage acts as a way to communicate between the Community and the user.

One thing I would suggest though is perhaps a notification of some sort that a user's question is being reviewed.

All in all, Triage helps everyone:

  • It helps the user learn the site and improve
  • It helps older members to quickly guide newer users
  • It gives moderators more time to deal with more important concerns
  • It leads to more time answering questions that matter rather than the same, pointless questions thatcould easily be found searching.

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