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Sometimes you've read the good question guidelines but if you're new to the site, your question may still not be up to the site's standards. Which will usually trigger less-than-polite responses from annoyed longtimers and possible downvotes. This is very discouraging for new users, so how about a place where you post your question draft and allow people to give polite feedback before you post it to the main site or decide against posting?

I hope this isn't too similar to tag suggestions. The difference here would be you specifically request your question to be reviewed for quality, and are not expecting answers yet. This would also declutter newbie questions from comments that are about the question quality rather than the question content.

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This is effectively the Help and Improvement queue as it is on Stack Overflow now. The posts are filtered out from new questions and put in the queue for review. It isn't entirely the same as your proposal since the question itself is in circulation already, possibly attracting votes and answers.

I doubt whether your suggestion will work. Not that I don't think it is useful or don't like the idea, but I doubt whether people actually would press the button Review my question since that would mean they have to wait for an answer for a longer period of time, and people are impatient... People will just skip all warning signs and click Go get an answer now.

You can already ask on the site's own meta to know if the subject is on-topic or not, just like we have the tag here.

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    Cheers, wasn't aware that you're allowed to post on a meta to get feedback on questions. – RubberDuckRabbit Nov 17 '15 at 10:49
  • Note that still your question has to hold up some quality standards on meta too. You can't post gibberish to let other figure out what you mean. – Patrick Hofman Nov 17 '15 at 10:50
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    I worry about encouraging pre-posting of questions on Meta when they are intended for Main. This is part of an answer and comment I gave to a question on a per-site Meta "I worry about encouraging pre-posting of questions on Geographic Information Systems Meta when they are intended for Geographic Information Systems ... It's no problem but twice today people have tried to have questions pre-OK-ed here in Meta before posting them on Main - we cannot afford to be double-handling each [or many] of the 59 questions per day that we currently get on Main. " – PolyGeo Nov 17 '15 at 11:14
  • Indeed, that is why I didn't propose to put the entire question on meta, just whether a subject is on-topic. – Patrick Hofman Nov 17 '15 at 11:14
  • @PolyGeo maybe I should have made myself clearer. Updated. – Patrick Hofman Nov 17 '15 at 11:15
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    Now I can upvote - the rest was great advice and your update now makes that bit clear too but I'll leave my comment, just 'cos I think it makes a valid point to people thinking about posting whole questions to Metas. – PolyGeo Nov 17 '15 at 11:19
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Different sites have different preferences, but the way it's supposed to work is that you just post your question and if people think it's off topic, they simply vote to put it on hold. No rudeness involved. And my experience asking questions on new SE sites has borne that out.

If you're getting less-than-polite responses, my first thought is that it's not because your question is off topic; it's because you didn't make an effort to adapt to the community. Whenever I'm posting for the first time on a new site, there are a few things I do:

  • Spend some time reading the site in advance to understand what sorts of questions it wants and what the conventions for asking are
  • Do some prior research to make sure the answer isn't on the front page of Google search results, or in the relevant Wikipedia article, or so on
  • If it's a technical question, actually try to solve it myself and summarize that progress in the question
  • Write clearly, using good spelling and grammar, including images and links where necessary to provide clarification
  • Don't act entitled, as though the community owes me an answer
  • If I'm really not sure, I might add a comment of the form

    I'm not sure if this is on topic here, but figured I'd ask. Feel free to close it if it doesn't fit.

As a high-rep user on a few sites, these are the kinds of things that will inspire me to respond politely to a new poster, even if their question is off topic. For the most part, established members know there are a lot of rules and don't expect new people to know them all from the beginning. It's fine to make mistakes, as long as you learn from them.

If you do this, I don't think you'll need a place to "test" questions at all.


Of course, there are a few people who just make rude comments no matter what. You get that in any community, and all I can recommend is to ignore it, or report anything egregious by flagging.

  • Usually they're not outright flaming but more like "Welcome to Stackoverflow where we don't do what you just did" which isn't something moderators would consider grounds for deletion, but still comes across as smug and unfriendly. And sadly, you can get an overwhelmingly negative response even if you try your best to fit the standards :| It would help if instead of simply shooting down a question, people directed the new user to where their question would fit better (this info might be useful to have in the guidelines actually). – RubberDuckRabbit Nov 18 '15 at 10:07
  • As for posting a disclaimer, IMHO it would be a bit sad if new users had to add "I'm new please be friendly" to each post. You'd hope that users who have no patience for newbies would just steer away from questions from low rep users. – RubberDuckRabbit Nov 18 '15 at 10:09
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    (2 comments up) Of course all sorts of things are possible, but the fact remains that when I make my first post on a new SE site, the response I get is consistently positive even if the question is off topic. There must be some reason for that, right? (1 comment up) Sure, it would be sad. But new users don't have to do that. You'll note that's not one of my recommendations. As for steering clear of questions... understand that high-rep members have a vested interest in keeping their site clean of low-quality questions. (cont.) – David Z Nov 18 '15 at 11:43
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    (cont.) By analogy, suppose you let a visitor into your home, offer them a snack, and they drop their used napkin on the floor when they're done. Is it reasonable to hope that you, the host, who has no patience for littering and wants to keep the living space presentable, would just steer away from that dirty napkin? – David Z Nov 18 '15 at 11:46
  • I guess it depends on the particular SE site and who happens to view your question. I've had positive replies as well :) But fact is negative responses happen more frequently than should be acceptable - as evidenced by rants outside SE and all the new user suggestions on Meta. – RubberDuckRabbit Nov 19 '15 at 10:35
  • As for house rules, I'm more concerned about the not-so-common-sense rules. Like say, a visitor had a shower but forgot to turn on the fan (which happened today, ironically) - I'll just do it myself and not make a fuss. If it was as commonsense as littering (SE equivalent - not putting your question into Google first?) - I'd have to make some effort to hide my annoyance as I ask them to sort it out. I'd still try to be polite though, as people do genuinely forget. Of course if it keeps happening, that's another story, and my feature suggestion would likely not help then anyway. – RubberDuckRabbit Nov 19 '15 at 10:37

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