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I bounce around a few Stack Exchange sites to ask questions, mostly pertaining to technology, and sometimes I ask a question that is off-topic and I get some negative feedback and/or the question gets closed.

At the top of the sites are pseudo tabs for "Questions, Tags, Users, Badges, Unanswered, Ask a Question". I think it would be a good idea to add a new one called "Guidelines" with information, links, etc. pertaining to the rules, guidelines, and flavor of the Stack Exchange site.

I've seen on several meta sites that people are worried about driving off newbies because the newbies don't know the rules of this particular site, or newbies complain that people have it out for them (sometimes rightly so). Even hanging around Stack Exchange for a while, I don't always know or can't easily find all the pertinents for a particular site. For example, someone could easily be confused between the Raspberry Pi SE, the Electrical engineering SE, and the Linux & Unix SE, since there is a lot of overlap in a Raspberry Pi project. If you didn't know which SE to ask a question on, how would you know which one to ask a question on?

Is there already such a function that I am unaware of? I don't mean "the Tour", that's virtually boilerplate across all the sites.

  • What about the "help" drop down in the topbar? That has links to the site's tour, help centre and meta. – ChrisF Jan 23 '17 at 18:31
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    I found that right after posting it, but the tours are literally 99% the same content across SE's. And you have to really read into the 1 or 2 examples provided to try to interpolate what is on and off topic. I've found that usually there are usually a series of Q&As that really articulate things for the particular SE, explaining what is grey and where the lines are. – YetAnotherRandomUser Jan 23 '17 at 18:35
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Is there already such a function that I am unaware of?

Yes, the tour and the help center.

The tour is customized per site - in particular the introduction bit, though the rest of it is mostly about site mechanics (votes, accepts, badges).

The help center is much more comprehensive and each site will have a "what's on topic" and "what's not on topic" articles.

Both are linked from the help dropdown at the top navigation.

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    You say the tour is customized, but there is either too little to customize, or no one bothers. It's not as pedantic as the rest of the supporting material that I have come across articulating rules and policies of SE's. I'd have never thought to go to the help center for an intro/about section, so I'll check that out. – YetAnotherRandomUser Jan 23 '17 at 20:09
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The link actually exists, as Oded said, but I can understand why you didn't find it when you came to one of the sites. People don't find the rules, because they are not looking for the rules, and that's not a problem that can be solved with a different placement of the link or different naming. If somebody is already on the way to ask their first question, and the designers put a tome of rules under their nose, they will either ignore it and ask their question, or ignore it and wander away to never return.

So, people just ask their question, and at some point, they have the experience you described in the question:

sometimes I ask a question that is off-topic and I get some negative feedback and/or the question gets closed.

And that's the first time a user bothers to think about the rules. It is the moment they should be made aware of them and led to them.

So, what happens currently at that moment? Let's look at a random question that was closed for being off-topic on Raspberry Pi, a site you use.

enter image description here

The first link saying "help center" is linked to a page listing what is on-topic on raspberrypi.stackexchange.com. The second one is linked to a page which explains which types of questions get closed.

So there it is - the per-site specific rules of which questions are welcome and which are not. Presented to the user in the exact moment when they notice they might need to read them. With the exact name which is used in the menu, so they will know where to find them later.

  • You totally missed every point I was trying to make. Literally (classic definition) every point. – YetAnotherRandomUser Jan 25 '17 at 13:40

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