This feature is now live across the network.

We've been doing quite a bit of research into ways that we could help new users have better experiences that ultimately lead them to becoming increasingly valuable, long-term contributors to our sites. While this is still ongoing, it's starting to blossom in the form of small but hopefully very effective changes we can make to improve how well we retain great people.

We're very enthusiastic about a new change that's small in scope, but big in potential to help new contributors find their footing. Coming very soon: our shiny (new) new contributor indicator!

New contributor indicator screenshot

tl;dr;: Folks will see an indicator when they go to interact with new contributors (visible for a week following their first post) letting them know that the person is new. A handy link to our Code of Conduct will be in the notification for reference.

What are our goals with this?

  • Help develop and reinforce empathy for new contributors

  • Help new contributors overcome anxiety surrounding asking or answering their first question on our sites

Here's a little more background:

We actively discourage folks from providing information that isn't really relevant to their posts; we would rather folks just get down to business. That's fine, but it doesn't really solve for how apprehensive people feel when contributing to a new community (especially one that's notorious for having lots of rules).

We tend to edit out ways that people try to anticipate and address criticism in advance (stop me if you've heard this one!):

I'm really new at this, so please forgive me if I'm doing this incorrectly ...

Sometimes, people say this because they're new at two skills: whatever they're trying to accomplish and (in many cases) asking questions on our sites. Sometimes, they're experienced in endeavor, they're just new to our engine. The need for a little empathy is the same however, and equally applicable in either case. We agree that this sort of stuff doesn't belong in posts, but we feel like the system should embrace it.

This indicator can speak for new contributors in a friendly way that the system itself reinforces; we hope it will allow folks to feel less apprehensive about jumping in.

If you're thinking something along the lines of 'Student Driver', the analogy generally fits: black-and-yellow striped tape and everything.

What is it going to look like?

Well, it's not going to be black-and-yellow striped tape, even though that would be pretty neat. It's easier to just show you, so I brought some screenshots! While these are still being finalized and tweaked, here's what the indicator will look like when you:

Comment on any of their initial posts, or view their initial questions:

New user indicator mock up - comment on question prompt

Note: the new indicator doesn't actually attach to the user card throughout the site; it only appears where the user card is displayed on posts. This is what happens if you mouse over the indicator:

new user indicator mouseover mock up

Or, write an answer to their initial questions:

new user indicator answer question mock up

.. and the indicator under the user card on answers behaves just like it does in the question view example.

These are the most common pain points when it comes to engaging with new contributors.

The new indicator doesn't alter functionality.

It's a reminder that how you interact with the person could be extra meaningful (any time we help strangers just out of the love for what we do, it's meaningful). But it's not a magic shield of any kind, it doesn't work like spawn protection (where players can't take damage for the first few seconds after entering) in video games.

The new indicator works by the age of a user's first visible post.

This could be a question or answer, and the association bonus won't influence the behavior. While you might not be new to our engine, everyone is new when they first join a new community, so the indicator is shown.

What behavior do we hope to encourage from more experienced users?

We hope folks will try to explain the why in addition to the what or how when you show new folks the ropes of using our system, and try to make them feel like it's within their immediate capability to be successful here. Experienced contributors don't need to know that their formatting looks good when you mention that they forgot to include a version number, but new contributors really appreciate that encouragement.

Other things you can do:

  • Flag comments that are unfriendly or simply unhelpful. New users can do this now on posts that they own, but let's show people that we're serious about investing as much in them as they do in us. Snark sets a bad impression, but snark vanishing quickly sets a much better one.
  • Don't add to 'pile on' scenarios of any kind; let moderators know if something needs immediate attention.
  • Help new users by editing their posts, and leaving them a comment explaining how your edit improved things.
  • Don't forget to upvote posts that you feel have value. It's strange when a question gets three plus answers, yet not a single vote. There's no obligation, of course, but the indicator is a helpful reminder.

Why are we doing this?

Our sites work in a way where it's nearly impossible to guide new users through complete onboarding in a way where we can ensure that they avoid all major pitfalls. There are just too many nuances to how the system works that can't be sufficiently expressed in UX / system dialog; we need a safety net.

We like to take the least invasive approach that's likely to get the job done when it comes to guiding behavior, so we don't want to make changes to tools when a simple sign that says "Hey, those things are sharp, be careful!" would suffice.

Questions? Suggestions? Feedback? Let us know.

  • 4
    The comments were overwhelming the answers. This conversation has been moved to chat.
    – Joe Friend
    Commented Aug 24, 2018 at 20:49
  • 3
    We're going to be looking at quite a few things posted here, but we're not going to make many (if any) changes beyond bug fixes until we have established some base data. At that point, we'll try tweaking things. I'm now locking this post for comments, because they've been getting way out of hand.
    – user50049
    Commented Aug 27, 2018 at 13:50
  • Just popping in to note that the new user indicator does not count deleted posts. I posted in the Worldbuilding Meta sandbox, then deleted the answer per the rules. Many months later I asked a question, and the indicator showed up. Not sure if it's a problem or not; it's just not entirely accurate in that instance. Thought I would mention it in case it is of interest. Commented Nov 5, 2018 at 22:57
  • Does the new user see those indicators? It seems like their situation would be a bit more friendly if they didn't, but I am not sure.
    – wallyk
    Commented Nov 7, 2018 at 19:32
  • 2
    I took a look and added the indicator to the block list, alongside to the hot newtork questions, blog announcements, job ads and whatever dross you've put in the left sidebar.
    – baudsp
    Commented Jan 7, 2019 at 15:33
  • "This indicator can speak for new contributors in a friendly way that the system itself reinforces" There are a few years of data now. Has this indicator has any impact on the rate at which new contributors explicitly say it anyway (which is noise that we're supposed to edit out of posts)? Commented Jan 15, 2023 at 3:29
  • 2
    @KarlKnechtel the OP here is no longer working for SE and has no way to answer your question. Try asking it as a new question, and there's a tiny chance current SE staff will notice it and reply. (They're very busy.) Commented Jan 15, 2023 at 10:07
  • 1
    Ah, I hadn't actually looked at the name. It's really been more than two years now, wow. Commented Jan 16, 2023 at 5:03

50 Answers 50


I'm on board with the idea of reminding people to be considerate to those who are new to the site, but I think there's a piece missing. The new UI element encourages established users to help the new user understand site norms, but I don't see where the system tries to help the new users understand it.

Yes, there's the Help Center, but we already know that way too many users don't read it - and a lot of the information there is not needed before somebody posts a question! I don't need instructions on what to do when somebody answers until after somebody answers. The Help Center simply pushes too much information on the user all at once.

HDE's suggestions for canned comments are great, but several of those could be automatically generated by the system as a new user needs to see them. The system itself needs to encourage established users to provide good feedback to new users, but also needs to encourage the new users to look for, understand, and act on that feedback.

The first time a new user's post is edited, they need to get a notification that says something like:

Another user has edited your post. You can view the edit summary to see what they changed and read the comments on why they did so. You can also add a comment to your post using @[username] to request more information on why they modified your post.

Make the words "edit summary" link directly to the edit history for their post. Fill in the username of the editor so it is easy for them to copy/paste a response if they think something is wrong.

Then give editors a complementary prompt when editing a new user's post:

Dan is a new contributor. Please be sure that your edit summary includes specific feedback on the changes you made so that Dan can understand how to write better posts in the future.

For bonus points, add a couple of checkboxes that the editor can select for common changes (formatted code, changed tags, removal of salutations and "thanks in advance," etc.) and produce canned feedback that expands on those themes. An edit summary that says "remove fluff" gives little feedback to the user, and writing a longer edit summary is a pain for the editor. Make it so that the editor only has to check a box and the new user gets an extra paragraph in the edit summary explaining the "no fluff" policy, with links to the relevant help center page.

The same kind of logic applies to other actions that are typical for new users to experience.

  • If they get a down vote, explain to them what that means and link to the help center article on voting. Review the info on how to write a good post.
  • As comments start coming in, encourage them to read the comments to see if there is feedback on how they can improve their post. Make sure they understand how/why to flag comments.
  • Make sure they see a notification about close votes that explains what close votes have been cast and how they should modify their post to alleviate the issues.
  • If their question is closed, provide a long-form explanation of the close vote reason and suggest next actions. If it's a duplicate, make sure they understand that's okay. If their question is "too broad," provide a help center link that shows examples of how broad questions can be reworked into clear, answerable ones.
  • When somebody answers, provide a tip about how to upvote or accept answers, and include guidance on how long to wait before accepting an answer.

tl;dr Build the new user experience so that it explains how to use the site instead of relying on users to "be nice" by explaining it to them.

Disclaimer: I haven't done the "new user" experience in a while. Apologies if any of these have already been implemented.

  • 13
    I really like these; I think they do a good job of filling in some of the gaps left by the Question Wizard, in its current form - they seem really good at guiding the user through the rest of the experience after writing a post.
    – HDE 226868
    Commented Aug 17, 2018 at 19:11
  • 208
    This. This times a thousand. This addresses the problem where it actually sits—educating new users on how to use the site should be handled by the site, not by experienced users. If this is properly done, the irritation about new users doing things wrong will vanish because they will simply know better.
    – Wildcard
    Commented Aug 17, 2018 at 22:28
  • 15
    I want to award a bounty to this answer; it's exemplary. Please remind me when the question is eligible.
    – Wildcard
    Commented Aug 17, 2018 at 22:29
  • 7
    BJ Myers, I recommend you add a "tl;dr" at the top, and use some tasteful bolding on the key sentences. This answer is a gem and I really hope Stack Exchange decides to go with this approach instead of the "noob" flags.
    – Wildcard
    Commented Aug 17, 2018 at 22:55
  • 7
    This also has the advantage (over canned comments) of not cluttering the comment section, which saves experienced users' time.
    – user202729
    Commented Aug 18, 2018 at 10:31
  • 104
    Now, I finally see a suggestion that looks like it might make a difference for the new users, have minimal impact on the veterans, and make no, or minimal, changes in the general UI. It's also likely too much work for SE to bother with.
    – user351780
    Commented Aug 18, 2018 at 14:37
  • 9
    Don't tell new users how to upvote until they have enough rep to upvote, and make sure they know that they can only comment on their own posts initially. Provide site-specific boiler-plate text and links so that, for example, new users can find out how to create an MWE or MWEB if a question on TeX SE gets comments containing any of the keywords 'MWE', 'MWEB', 'minimal working example', 'minimal document', 'what you've tried', 'code to reproduce' etc. Right now, it's a pain to link users to this info because you have to switch to Meta, remember the search term, find the question etc.
    – cfr
    Commented Aug 19, 2018 at 22:59
  • 3
    The site already does most of these things already. The issue is that people don't read the information shown to them, not that it isn't shown to them. Yes, there are a handful of things that the system doesn't do a good job of explaining, and they should have such information added, but it will make very little difference as most of the people who read such things aren't the users causing problems.
    – Servy
    Commented Aug 20, 2018 at 13:20
  • 35
    @Servy, "The site already does most of these things already." No, it doesn't. And my very simple feature request to implement one of these things has still not been implemented despite dozens of upvotes.
    – Wildcard
    Commented Aug 20, 2018 at 21:38
  • 2
    @Wildcard I said most, not all. I also said that there are a few things that the system doesn't explain, and it's fine to add an explanation for them. Pointing out one thing that you think should be explained in more detail doesn't invalidate any of that. Also keep in mind that the more banners and popups and messages you present to the user, the less they'll read, so information needs to be curated heavily, and everything considered as to whether or not it's really that essential. People accepting answers apparently didn't meet that burden. Personally I agree with that assessment.
    – Servy
    Commented Aug 20, 2018 at 21:42
  • 5
    "If they get a down vote, explain to them what that means and link to the help center article on voting." Is very, very important, because the most prominent way in which SE is unusual (IMO) is the high visibility of downvotes. But how would you suggest that this is implemented? Perhaps sending them a notification? Sending notifications for everything is also bad because they could just get confused with an information overload or even end up missing a couple of the links they're sent.
    – user392547
    Commented Aug 21, 2018 at 7:59
  • 12
    Agreed, great points. One of our current research/UX initiatives is to look at how the system can better train new folks to participate effectively.
    – Donna
    Commented Aug 21, 2018 at 16:45
  • 10
    There are some great suggestions here. It's a bit like that tutorial level in a console game where you get irritating prompts telling you how to do basic tasks, which you nonetheless need because otherwise you'd have no idea what you were doing, then once you get to the real levels all the prompting goes away Commented Aug 22, 2018 at 10:58
  • 41
    The "another user has edited your post" canned message probably ought to also include an explanation of why this is a normal and good thing. We get a lot of new users who act like any edit from someone else is a blasphemy against the purity of their post.
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Aug 22, 2018 at 14:05
  • 17
    I think this hits the nail on the head. SE does a terrible job of educating new users how to effectively participate in the community. They get a "here's a link over here you wont read" while we're constantly slapped in the face with banners saying "be nice". I was happy it was added to the comments, as that's where the negativity tends to show up; but branding the user, and slapping us again when we try to answer their question is annoying and frankly insulting. We're your user-base, not monsters.
    – Stephan
    Commented Aug 23, 2018 at 20:54

This really isn't adding new information. Mostly because showing rep provides this information already. When you see someone with very little rep, the odds of them being within a few days old are very high. People checking their profile or user card already know if the user is fairly new or fairly experienced. The exceptions are...rare, and I don't see this being useful just for the rare exceptional cases.

There's also the fact that a new account doesn't mean it's a new user. Lots of people make new accounts. Lots of people make new accounts often. Sometimes for good reasons, sometimes for not so good reasons. In fact I'm fairly confident that there are more experienced users that would have this banner showing up under their posts then there are inexperienced users with more than, say, 100 rep.

There's really only two reasons to include this information, and in so many places no less. Either you're trying to get people to treat new users differently in ways you know they're not supposed to (i.e. voting on the user and not the content), or you're showing people a bunch of information that you expect them to just ignore, and thus are intentionally wasting their time.

Showing this information in the answer box is also particularly egregious. People shouldn't be changing how the answer based on how new the question author is, so there's no reason at all to be including this information there. The only examples you've given of times where people should act differently for a new user are potentially explaining their actions more in comments, so that at least explains why you're showing it in the comment box, but showing it in the answer box doesn't even make sense.

What are our goals with this?

Help develop and reinforce empathy for new contributors

Why just new users, and not all users?

Help new contributors overcome anxiety surrounding asking or answering their first question on our sites

Given that the new user is...new, they're not going to know that you're doing this, so I don't see how there going to be any less nervous around asking. Also, I would expect for lots of users having several big giant flashing neon signs saying, "new user" is likely to make them more nervous, and removes any chance of them appearing to be an experienced user (or for readers to not even consider how new they are) by simply asking a good question that doesn't make it clear that they don't know what they're doing. How would this possibly make people less nervous?

  • 9
    Note that "new user" here isn't just creating a new account, as you imply – it is defined as one week after the first post in a particular community (per the OP) . Commented Aug 17, 2018 at 17:24
  • 14
    @Nathaniel first "visible" post... which does make me wonder what happens if the user asks a question, self-deletes it as they've already solved it or didn't want to post it in the first place, then comes back 3 months later to ask a genuine question - are they still considered as new? Commented Aug 17, 2018 at 17:27
  • 26
    @Shog9 I said that it correlates well enough with "new" to be a good enough approximation. The cases where it doesn't are rare enough that you don't need this feature to be able to tell who's new. So yes, it's possible for some people to have a ton of deleted content, and ask a new question, and look new when they're not, and thanks to this feature in those rare cases someone could tell that they're not new when they couldn't before. I don't think that's really that important. If you think it's a more common case, we'd need info not in SEDE, which only SE itself could provide.
    – Servy
    Commented Aug 17, 2018 at 19:36
  • 23
    @Shog9 I suppose the other thing to consider is what's the problem with your average user considering a small handful of users with some previous deleted bad questions to be new users, and as a result, spending a bit more time explaining how their content could be improved or how the site works, rather than seeing that they're experienced and moving on. If they've had a few bad contributions they clearly don't know how to act appropriately, so it's no bad that they're told how to act appropriately.
    – Servy
    Commented Aug 17, 2018 at 19:45
  • 5
    You could argue that the contributor is wasting their time as the user is less likely to be improvable, but if they have so many bad contributions that we don't even think it's worth helping them they'd be question banned, so it would only be users with a small number of bad contributions that look new when they aren't, when using rep over this method. I think it's perfectly fine to treat such a user as a new user; it shouldn't hurt anything.
    – Servy
    Commented Aug 17, 2018 at 19:45
  • 3
    I have 14 rep on SO that isn't the association bonus, and I've been there for 3 years. Your point is invalid.
    – user390407
    Commented Aug 20, 2018 at 15:10
  • 15
    @Steve I assume you're post banned, given that you have a dozen (at least) poorly received questions. So it's irrelevant how you appear to people when asking a question because you can't ask questions. Also I never said that literally every single low rep user is a new user, I said that the two correlate well enough for practical purposes, and that the few exceptional cases aren't a problem. For example, if someone comments on one of your questions with advice on how to ask a good question, assuming you're new, I don't think that's that bad, as you clearly need said advice.
    – Servy
    Commented Aug 20, 2018 at 15:13
  • 5
    @Steve It's been 6 months since you last asked a question. You're almost certainly post banned.
    – Servy
    Commented Aug 20, 2018 at 15:20
  • 10
    And what about the chronic recycled account: create an account, use for one day; next day: create a second account to re-ask a closed question from the day before, and two more homework questions; next day, create a third account... ... for weeks on end. This happens on MSE. Why should we be using a banner to perpetually rewelcome a serial-account-creator?
    – amWhy
    Commented Aug 21, 2018 at 23:11
  • 12
    And let's not forget the effect on experienced, frequently contributing users. This entire welcoming push has been extremely intimidating and put a lot of people on edge to begin with. Now it's being rubbed in their faces even more. So it makes everyone more nervous.
    – jpmc26
    Commented Aug 22, 2018 at 23:19
  • 9
    I upvoted this back in the beginning, but now I'm commenting because apparently that upvote didn't speak loud enough that I agree with this, since it went live anyway. Maybe I should register a new account and comment on it, since that hand makes me LOUDER! Commented Aug 23, 2018 at 22:57
  • 4
    @jpmc26: "This entire welcoming push has been extremely intimidating... So it makes everyone more nervous" - not everyone. I think it's great, and don't feel nervous at all. If anything, I feel more energized to try a little harder to welcome new users. Commented Aug 24, 2018 at 19:46
  • 4
    @BryanOakley That's pretty callous to the feelings of your peers. Do you care about making sure people who have been here for years feel welcome? Because an awful lot of us don't anymore. Why are new users more important than them? If you do, what's your solution to making sure they do feel welcome? The point is that a lot of conflict has erupted over this; the overall net effect has been a pretty big increase in frustration and worry.
    – jpmc26
    Commented Aug 24, 2018 at 21:26
  • 3
    @jpmc26: " I find it insulting that you assume we're some kind of isolated minority that should just be ignored." - I do not assume that. Why are you being so hostile and negative? I absolutely do not believe you should be ignored. Just because I disagree with you does not mean I disrespect you. Neither do I think you should ignore people like me who think this is a great idea. Commented Aug 24, 2018 at 22:12
  • 6
    @BryanOakley I'm hostile because you replied to what was clearly hyperbole with an argument about not everyone is more nervous because you're an exception, and that indicates that you don't take what I'm saying seriously. I even went on to elaborate that the point I was making was about a net increase site wide in negative emotion, which you then went on to dismiss as well in spite of evidence that the concerns have at least some fairly wide appeal. That you tried to sugar coat it didn't make this a more pleasant conversation; it just made it feel fake.
    – jpmc26
    Commented Aug 24, 2018 at 22:31

Noob alert! Remember to put on your kid gloves! Seriously?

I don't like this at all. Yes, some people are new to the site. Yes, we should know that they may not understand all the rules. But no, we should not stick a big noob warning on their profile tag for everyone to see. Not only does it feel slightly passive aggressive, it automatically puts people into the mindset that the "new contributor" will not understand how the site works, or even the concepts behind the questions they are asking.

As an anecdote, I've had maybe 10 accounts here over the years, some anonymous or unregistered. This one is the one I've kept for longest. I still occasionally post anonymously for various reasons. I have noticed a troubling trend. Whenever I ask from a new account, the answers I get are often dumbed down or explain things I already know. This happens even if I am showing a clear understanding of the concepts I am discussing. If I ask the question on my main account, I notice that the answers are far more technical and helpful. The only possible reason for this is that people are looking at my rep and assuming I am naïve. This would be made much worse if people were given a big notice that I am a delicate new user...

We should not judge how new someone is by their time on the site, but only by the quality of their contributions. If someone is using the wrong tag, that is when you gently correct them. If someone is asking a question in the wrong place, that is when you point them to where they should go. Unless someone is showing that they misunderstand the site, we should treat them as equals who are equally competent (and who very well may be, as many people who are writing their first question have been reading Stack Exchange sites for years). The idea that we are putting a big noob alert on people's profiles is disgusting.

  • 11
    Until proven in contrary, I often have my doubts a low user rep is a new user to the site; being so easy creating here accounts is being heavily gamed. A new tag won´t change that. Commented Aug 19, 2018 at 20:51
  • 4
    You raise a very good point. I've noticed this behavior as well. I didn't get active in the site until well into my career, and it took about a year before people stopped talking to me like I'm a 14 y/o who's learning to program for the first time. I have less than 1k rep on SO, because I'm primarily a Java developer, and all the low-hanging fruit for that language has been harvested. But I still get some mostly useless answers in the rare cases I have to ask a question related to that language ecosystem. I think you've identified an actual problem we could be solving, but here we are.
    – Stephan
    Commented Aug 23, 2018 at 21:01
  • 9
    "Not only does it feel slightly passive aggressive, it automatically puts people into the mindset that the "new contributor" will not understand how the site works, or even the concepts behind the questions they are asking." Translation: It's condescending, by assuming that newAccount == notVerySmart.
    – code_dredd
    Commented Aug 23, 2018 at 23:34

Ouch. Whatever made you think this is a good idea?

Well, ok, I can see how it would be appealing. But have you considered the potential downsides from labeling new users with a target marked “NOOB”?

There's a small but vocal minority of Stack Overflow users (I think it's mostly SO, or maybe it's just that 0.00001% of any other site is approximately 0) who are actively hostile to new users — refusing to answer, not making the slightest effort to help. Painting bigger targets will only make that problem worse.

And then there's a bunch of well-meaning people who go out stalking for new users to hit them on the head with tell them to go read this FAQ, and that FAQ, and that IAQ for good measure, and all of meta. Guys, I know you mean well, but:

  1. It's creepy. Sure, some of the recipients feel welcomed. But others feel overwhelmed, or worse, stalked. You probably don't hear about the third category because they generally won't come back.
  2. It's rarely helpful because it's almost always some canned comment which has absolutely no bearing on whatever problem the user may be facing.

It happened to me on TeX.SE the first time I posted a question there, and I was rather creeped out. I was a veteran Stack Exchange user at the time, so I just shrugged it off — I mean, as a moderator, I'd probably seen worse comments that day — but if that had been my first contact with Stack Exchange, I would have hesitated before coming back.

Stack Exchange should not encourage any generic treatment of new users. People who help new users should do it because the user needs guidance, and provide the guidance that the user needs.

Instead of labeling users as “NEW!”, provide indicators that guide helpful veterans towards users in need of help. The first post review is a good one, though a user doesn't become a veteran after their first post. Automatic flags is another, but that only handles extreme cases where a sizable proportion of the needed help is helping the user off the site.

The system itself could do a much better job at providing guidance. Guidance given by an automatic system is better than posted by humans: it doesn't give the feeling that everybody's eyes are following you, and it's easier to excuse it if it's off the mark. Humans should be the second level of recourse, and should always, always give relevant guidance. To first posters and non-first-posters alike.

  • 1
    I think the issue here is throwing the FAQ at new users, not the new contributor indicator itself. I certainly agree with finding this kind of canned comment for new users somewhere between weird and creepy, but this already happens and I think should be treated as a separate issue. Commented Aug 17, 2018 at 21:45
  • 22
    .....? "refusing to answer" is not hostile.
    – user202729
    Commented Aug 18, 2018 at 10:54
  • Yes, it’s creepy. I can still remember writing my first answers, and I probably would have been in your third category. It was already bad enough having only 1 or 101 reputation clearly visible under my name.
    – user271002
    Commented Aug 18, 2018 at 13:01
  • 1
    I agree very much with this answer. This is why I've always held out against using 'canned' comments - sure, they're easier to produce, but often less directly relevant. Giving a new user specific, on-point advice is much more likely to make them feel 'helped' than a canned comment that looks like it was produced by a bot. Commented Aug 19, 2018 at 18:11
  • 5
    @user202729 Refusing to answer -- as opposed to not answering -- is hostile. Not answering because they're new is hostile.
    – cfr
    Commented Aug 20, 2018 at 0:36
  • I’m conflicted about this. On the one hand, your discussion reminds me of a vaguely similar idea that U&L rejected.  On the other hand, if somebody wants to “stalk” new users, all they have to do is lurk in the First Posts Review Queue.  I don’t even understand how this proposal (labeling new users) would make it any easier for a “stalker” to find new users than it already is. Commented Aug 21, 2018 at 3:31
  • 1
    @Scott There's a difference between having to explicitly visit a queue and getting the information passively during normal browsing. Commented Aug 21, 2018 at 8:32
  • 7
    To be frank, I've spoken with users who've said that this flag (and the banner in the answer box warning them of the dire consequences of offending this new user) has made them fearful of answering and just not bothered.
    – Richard
    Commented Aug 22, 2018 at 11:40
  • 2
    In my experience, there's a run-the-gauntlet-and-take-your-licks new user experience on every SE site. I'm a decade user, and a moderator, and it still happens to me if I jump onto a new site. It amazes me how many people aren't driven off by that. It mostly seems to be based on existing users not trusting new faces to stick around and behave well, until they have proven they will. So if existing users are already noticing noobs and treating them differently, I really don't see the harm in the SE software also trying to recognize them, and reminding existing users to not decapitate them.
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Aug 22, 2018 at 14:11
  • "Automatic flags is another, but that only handles extreme cases where a sizable proportion of the needed help is helping the user off the site." Hehe Commented Aug 29, 2018 at 12:20

Okay - why does it matter if the user is a new contributor or new to a technology when they're asking a question?

I feel like this particular aspect is being ignored; it should not matter in the slightest if a person is new to a technology or new to a community. This feels like it's moving the lion's share of the onus of participation etiquette from the new participant to the veterans.

I get it - some veterans can be jerks. We don't deal with them any differently here since we're not changing how we flag; we simply add another chiding warning to the veterans who engage with these users.

I want a satisfactory answer as to why it matters that a user gets labeled as such. Once that's answered, then this marker could be justified.

Right now I'm not seeing it.

This feature may wind up having a more chilling effect with engagement as opposed to just-in-time guidance for a new user to help them understand what's going on with the interaction of their question.

  • 7
    I've never been in an organization where expectations didn't increase with membership time: school, business, the military, even personal relationships. If you expected the same from a first date that you do from a marriage of ten years I don't see a second date ever coming. The Marines spend at least 4 months on-boarding and when you're done you're still a "boot" (newbie). Commented Aug 17, 2018 at 18:37
  • 31
    @TemporalWolf: Sure, but Stack Exchange communities are none of those. Sure, some sites have lots of rules, but the expectation has largely stayed the same: ask a clear, concise and on-topic question, complete with any details that would enable anyone else to help you with your problem. The fact that someone is new to a topic or a community is so irrelevant that it's edited out of Stack Overflow questions as noise.
    – Makoto
    Commented Aug 17, 2018 at 19:19
  • 12
    It shouldn't matter, but it almost certainly does. I can't find it now, but someone - Jon maybe - made the point recently that we're pretty good at providing feedback when someone's doing poorly, but not so good at it when they're improving. Upvotes vs downvote and close and comments. Statistically, someone's very first post is likely to be terrible... But if they stick around, their next post will be considerably better, and the next one better yet, and so on - the trick is to get 'em past that hump where they're very bad at this but they've learned something and can do better.
    – Shog9
    Commented Aug 17, 2018 at 19:19
  • 16
    I'm not going to deny that any beginner questions are awful or that asking questions is a hard problem @Shog9, since both of those statements are independently and verifiable of their own volition. What I'm highly leery of is the fact that a new system feature is being built to emphasize the kind of noise we keep out of our questions. Years of removing, "I am new to..." has demonstrated to me that it's not germane to the problem or the question at hand. What value are you looking to get out of a feature that does this? What problem is this really attempting to solve?
    – Makoto
    Commented Aug 17, 2018 at 19:24
  • 6
    @Shog9 Statistically we're much better at providing positive feedback than negative feedback, just look at how many more upvotes are cast than downvotes. Jon's post was saying that statistically people are more likely to come back when they get lots of comments, regardless of what the comments say, than if they get none, and that people that got lots of downvotes were less likely to come back than those that didn't, but that it was a much smaller effect than other factors, such as comments.
    – Servy
    Commented Aug 17, 2018 at 20:47
  • 3
    We're great at providing positive feedback, @Servy (albeit served up as intermittent reinforcement), but that's not what I'm talking about. Tell me if you've seen this: user posts terrible question - it's missing details, code is excessively long and isn't formatted, title contains no useful information whatsoever. Then they edit it to include missing details, maybe format the code. Question is still very much not good... But they've improved it a lot. To get them to improve it further, they need some reinforcement - but the question still sucks, so they don't get it.
    – Shog9
    Commented Aug 17, 2018 at 21:00
  • 15
    @Shog9 Sure, that's true enough. The question is how to give them feedback that they've made it better, while still making sure everyone else can still see that the question isn't actually good, because everyone other than the author (usually) just wants to know if it's good or not, not whether it's better or worse than it used to be.
    – Servy
    Commented Aug 17, 2018 at 21:03
  • Maybe I'm off base here, but it seems the answer to why is that SE is turning their focus away from producing and maintaining quality Q&A and towards making it a friendly and inclusive environment. Probably the ultimate goal is to increase retention so users will contribute more and improve the Q&A. Certainly, though, the put on your kid gloves message won't immediately impact the quality of Q&A in a positive way, so this is absolutely a user-focused change, not content-focused.
    – BlackThorn
    Commented Aug 21, 2018 at 23:06
  • 2
    @Shog9 Sorry, you're leaving out the fate of 98% of new users, and only counting the ultimate success of 2% of users, and blaming current users for the fate of those that never moved on. Show me the stats; show me how many users ask one question, maybe four in one day, and then disappear, and come back one week later, create a new account, ask the homework questions they put off doing, say five questions in 3 hours, then the account ends. Then before the final exam, or during their final take home exam, create yet another account and ask away, as they are yet again, a new contributor.
    – amWhy
    Commented Aug 21, 2018 at 23:31
  • 2
    There are lots of them, @amWhy. What's your point?
    – Shog9
    Commented Aug 21, 2018 at 23:34
  • 5
    Show me why in the heck we should parade a "New Contributor" banner attached to the eighth username for the eighth and newest account of one chronic new-account-creator gaming the system? New Contributors are going to be just as suspect as "member since today" new users. This is NOT FIXING what NEEDS to be fixed. Go back to the drawing board.
    – amWhy
    Commented Aug 21, 2018 at 23:40

Will new users also see this mini-banner on their own posts?

I could imagine someone being slightly perturbed by seeing a "welcome to the site" type comment when they've been around for 6 days or so. They might think "how do they know I'm new? have they been stalking my profile to check the dates of all my posts?!" (This was one of the reasons cited on at least one SE site for banning "welcome to the site" comments unless they have some other useful content - it could be seen as stalkerish.)

I would suggest replacing the "be nice" with a reminder that this user may not know community norms.

As other people here have pointed out, we're meant to be nice to everyone, not just new users. It seems redundant, and worse than that, it could give the impression that the CoC is more lax when talking to more experienced users. How about something like:

Dan is a new contributor. Remember that they may not be aware of Stack Exchange policies and norms, so please be patient when explaining to them.

Presumably the main aim here is to replace comments like "we use this tag for questions about X, not that one - you should know this, because it's all clearly explained in this meta post" with comments more like "hey, just to let you know, on this site we use this tag instead of that one for questions about X - if you want to read more about why, here's a link to the explanation on our 'meta' discussion site". Not really to replace rude comments with CoC-compliant ones, because that's a more general effort and not specific to new users.

  • 3
    The first part of this has now been addressed by Shog here, but I'll leave it in my answer because it still raises a potential issue of interest. Commented Aug 17, 2018 at 17:48
  • 70
    Yes, please rephrase the popup text. The purpose of the "new user" reminder should be to encourage teaching them the way to use the site, not excusing policy violations because they don't know any better. Telling us the "be nice" is vague enough to imply either message.
    – BJ Myers
    Commented Aug 17, 2018 at 18:27
  • 5
    @BJMyers Which is awfully funny, since the CoC was written in part because people thought "be nice" is too vague.
    – Mast
    Commented Aug 18, 2018 at 6:55
  • I think also important is: see new users this on the posts of other new users? Commented Aug 18, 2018 at 9:52
  • 1
    Hey, someone told me "welcome to the site" on a site that I'd been an active participant on for over five years. It's come to just mean "I'm about to say something condescending". Commented Aug 22, 2018 at 3:31

Good UI design does not overwhelm users with redundant information.

Repeating that new user status three times on a single page is a tad redundant.
None of the regular contributors are completely illiterate, once is probably enough.

Good UI design does not overwhelm users with redundant information.

You have a nice and shiny new code of conduct, you don't have to link there twice on a single page.

Good UI design does not overwhelm users with redundant information.

Did I mention yet that repeating yourself multiple times is annoying?

Just to illustrate what shows when I want to make a comment:

What happens when I want to comment


This feature is rude and unwelcoming.

You're not singling out behaviors that need to change. You're dropping a blanket accusation of poor behavior on everyone. The very idea that everyone needs this warning is implicitly accusatory.

Even worse, this change violates one of SO's core tenets: that it's the content that matters, not who writes it. The newness of the user is completely irrelevant. Either the user made a quality post and followed our rules and norms or they didn't. The result should be the same either way: downvote, closure, deletion if bad, upvote if good, or no action if not good enough to warrant an upvote. Possibly a comment explaining the problems or requesting improvements. This feature sends the message to all users that "new" users should be treated differently, and they should not. They should be held to the same standard. Period.

Because of this, it also means you're attaching a new stigma to new users that SO has fairly successfully avoided since its founding. You're implying that new users are incapable of writing good posts. This only undermines your own efforts to be welcoming. I have never subscribed to the notion that our problem questions are primarily due to users being new or unfamiliar with the site; the primary cause behind bad posts is a lack of effort. Bad posts come from an unwillingness to spend the time required to obtain some level of understanding about the nature of the problem they're facing or to clearly present that understanding. This is completely unrelated to the newness of the user. This new feature instead wrongly implies a causation of newness, rather than the mere possible correlation. Our moderation efforts tend to drive users unwilling to spend that effort away, at least somewhat, so it's not surprising that we'd see a correlation without a causation.

  • 4
    How does flagging someone as new count as "dropping a blanket accusation"? The flag presents information, it doesn't accuse anyone of anything. Commented Aug 22, 2018 at 14:56
  • 19
    @BryanOakley Because without making the assumption that a majority of SO users are behaving improperly, it doesn't make any sense to show it to everyone. I explicitly said that the accusation is implicit.
    – jpmc26
    Commented Aug 22, 2018 at 14:57
  • 3
    I don't necessarily agree it makes the assumption that a majority of users are behaving improperly, but I do think that there are a large number of people on this site who behave improperly. If that wasn't the case, SO wouldn't be gaining a reputation of being hostile to new users. Commented Aug 22, 2018 at 14:58
  • 28
    @BryanOakley Any community that moderates its content is going to have a reputation of being hostile among people who don't meet the quality standard. (And the steady stream of garbage posts is plenty of evidence that there is a large group of people falling in that category.) Such a reputation is meaningless for determining causes and a course of action forward.
    – jpmc26
    Commented Aug 22, 2018 at 14:59
  • @Mari-LouA ? Looks like maybe was supposed to be on another answer?
    – jpmc26
    Commented Aug 31, 2018 at 18:12
  • I don't know what you mean by that. The edit and its explanation are both correct but it's super trivial, and superficial. It didn't substantially improve anything. Commented Aug 31, 2018 at 18:16
  • 1
    @Mari-LouA Oh. Thought you were replying to a comment. I didn't even see the edit comment. =) I don't mind minor corrections of my typos; in fact, I appreciate them. Not completely sure about your thoughts on the message, though; maybe you're right.
    – jpmc26
    Commented Aug 31, 2018 at 18:24
  • 3
    @Mari-LouA Peter is a top editor across the network and when he does something this is usually for a good reason. I think in this case polishing the minor typo looked worthy to him because it's one of the top voted answers in the announcement advertised via featured tag to whole SE network (as of now it has over 11K views). Worth mentioning that this post will attract attention even after advertising is over because it is the primary source of knowledge for a new, highly visible and quite controversial site feature
    – gnat
    Commented Sep 1, 2018 at 20:39
  • @gnat removing an apostrophe is a trivial edit. And was explaining the difference in meaning between "it's" and "its" absolutely necessary? But, let's leave it at that. I really wanted Peter Mortensen to think twice before fixing a post because there's a missing comma. Commented Sep 1, 2018 at 20:45
  • 1
    @Mari-LouA in my previous comment I explained why I think in this case even trivial edits are okay. As for explanation (in the edit-summary which is intended for stuff like that), I don't understand why you seem to insist that it must be absolutely necessary. I find it useful both for post authors and for future editors, and since it isn't visible to readers there are no negative effects at all and that suffices to me
    – gnat
    Commented Sep 1, 2018 at 20:51
  • 3
    @Mari-LouA I actually disagree with you on performing the edit. I typo quite often, and it annoys me when I come back 5 months later and see it. xD So I do appreciate fixes to grammar and mechanics, no matter how small. I've definitely argued in the past that "minor" edits should be encouraged (though the site probably needs to be adjusted to not bump the posts). I can see how the edit comment comes off as condescending, though. If I'd just seen it on my own without it being pointed out first, I might have taken it rather poorly.
    – jpmc26
    Commented Sep 1, 2018 at 22:46

Just curious what the veteran contributor indicator is going to look like and how SE will word the warning to be nice and respectful to them for taking their time to help you learn how to use the site and provide answers for free by actually following the instructions/advice left in the comments instead of complaining about it and calling people names and posting @downvoter explain!

Let me suggest some copy:

Maybe reinforce it with Always remember they are trying to help you! somewhere in all bold flashing rainbow colors or something. :-)

  • 5
    I would imagine most veteran contributors do this out of the joy of helping people, and don't need to be thanked for taking their time to help someone for free. For me, at least, knowing I helped someone is the only reward I need. Commented Aug 22, 2018 at 15:02
  • 11
    My initial thought was that the notice will say that this is a veteran user who should know better by now, so you should feel free to downvote, vote to close, or flag if they aren’t following the guidelines. Maybe that’s not the state of mind the “new contributor” notice was intended to put me in though. grimace
    – ColleenV
    Commented Aug 22, 2018 at 15:57
  • 8
    @BryanOakley Me, too, 100%. That's exactly why it's so galling to be treated as if I'm an unhelpful BOFH.
    – jscs
    Commented Aug 26, 2018 at 18:48
  • Would be more useful if this is displayed in the comment section.
    – user202729
    Commented Sep 3, 2018 at 2:18

I think that some of these, particularly the notification in the answer box, is too intrusive. The tag on the user's infobox is livable. The tag on the comment box is odd, but maybe acceptable. But the tag on the answer box is too much.

While one could argue that the tone of comments may need to vary from user to user, the tone of answers does not. When posting the answer, you aren't posting it for "a new user". You're not talking to the user; you're talking about the user's question. So there's no reason to have a giant box that says "NEW USER!!!" sitting there.

There is also some danger that experienced users may use this as a reason to ignore such questions and simply not provide answers to any user with this tag in the answer box.

  • The tag on the comment box only appears when you hover over the tag on the userrs infobox.
    – JonH
    Commented Aug 17, 2018 at 18:38
  • 72
    Don't forget the "clearly you experienced lot can't be trusted to act like decent human beings without being constantly reminded that THIS POOR NOOB IS NEW HERE WATCH OUT AND READ THE CODE OF CONDUCT GUYS" theme. So inclusive. Commented Aug 17, 2018 at 20:39
  • Not just "new user!!" but also a direct link to the code of conduct so people can make complaints about you
    – Richard
    Commented Aug 22, 2018 at 11:41
  • 4
    Agreed. I have solved this with a user style of #post-editor .new-contributor-indicator, form[id^="add-comment-"] .new-contributor-indicator { display: none; } applying to the SO and SE domains. It leaves the notice under user cards but does not show it on input boxes.
    – TylerH
    Commented Aug 22, 2018 at 14:28

I understand your reasoning for doing this, but do not like the implementation. I also wonder if you have considered the side effects. After some time to reflect, I do not think this is a good idea in the present state.

First off, the warning banner is kind of insulting.

User278094 is a new contributor. Be nice, and check out our Code of Conduct.

With that, you are automatically assuming that us "more experienced users" will not be nice to new users, and need a reminder to do so. In my opinion, that little bit and the link to the CoC is completely unnecessary. If we do not already know to be nice to everyone and follow the CoC, a banner is not going to help.

Something like this would convey your intended message without coming across as condescending or belittling to us "more experienced users".

User278094 is a new contributor. Take a bit of extra time to show them the ropes.

You are creating a class of users. Yes, we need to treat new users with a little more grace, help them along, and all the other little things that need to be learned to succeed on SE. But sticking a "New" label on them does not necessarily help anything.
I'm going to venture a guess and say that it will hurt their chances of getting their question answered. New users can't UV. New users are much more unlikely to accept your answer.
You take those two points and then stick a warning on every new post reminding people of that and it does not help the answer rate.

No matter how "nice" and "welcoming" everyone on SE is to new users, we still do have the same problem with new users. They do not know how our sites work, and in many cases they do not care. They just want their question answered.
This new banner may help some but it is coming at the problem from the wrong end.

It's like a "dangerous intersection" sign. It is reminding the drivers that something is ahead, but really the intersection should just be fixed.

Sure, we can try everything to make all the existing and established SE users be extra specially nice to new users, but we still need to fix the low-quality posts from the new users.

  • 17
    Along with reducing the answer rate, I think it will also reduce the chances of getting a helpful comment, because I've learned that new users are much more likely than experienced users to respond negatively to feedback. Commented Aug 19, 2018 at 23:21
  • 2
    I agree with this notice, the current signs look more like ads to the CoC than anything else. However, “show them the ropes” is something I cannot understand. I know each of the words but have no idea (without Google…) what the idiom means. Please take into account that many users don’t have English as their native language.
    – Melebius
    Commented Aug 23, 2018 at 10:04
  • 1
    I'd go with the analogy of a "Bad road surface" sign, since that's really just a lazy way of not-fixing the road but pulling your hands off instead, otherwise great analogy and good observations about the UV and accepts from new users. I answer in a relatively small tag for a university-paid programming language, so each semester there are new student coming here. Accepts are a rare sight, and every now and then OPs even delete their question when they get their answer out of fear of being discovered by the teacher.
    – Adriaan
    Commented Aug 23, 2018 at 10:09

Nobody reads the mumbo-jumbo when signing up for a community. Nobody reads the pinned FAQ topics on top of a forum. Nobody reads the tour. Nobody previews their question before posting it. Nobody lurks for a while to get the mores of a community before posting something by themselves. And nobody seems to remember that Stack Overflow was meant to build a library of canonical questions that help many programmers.

Face it; 90% of questions are about debugging someone's code, and 90% of those questions either don't contain enough code to properly reproduce the issue or don't contain enough explanation to properly answer the question, making it irrelevant for later visitors and uninteresting for existing answerers. Please don't call people who dump their partial non-compiling code "contributors".

Question askers just want their damn code fixed, and right now at that, and answerers of such questions just want to get a lot of reputation so they can show off their profile to their potential employers.

I'm not saying I want to be able to say "Hey asshole, your question sucks, learn to debug!" under a question, or "Dude, can you at least type some comments in this code dump of an answer?". I'm saying that this indicator feels like a giant slap in the face as if all of us do this so frequently, and that this makes me feel even more like Stack Overflow just wants to retain more users on their platform and doesn't care anymore about what those users do there, as long as they generate pageviews, all under a thin veil of "please be nice to each other".

  • 10
    Keep in mind that a high rep users generate far less ad revenue per page view; users are shown far fewer ads whenever they hit that privilege at...whatever rep it's at. So maximizing page views from low rep users generates more money. (In the short term. Of course, pushing away experienced users means lower quality, which means lower views in the long term when people learn that SO doesn't actually have good answers anymore.)
    – Servy
    Commented Aug 23, 2018 at 21:30
  • 4
    This post nicely illustrates a harmful mindset that I've encountered a lot on SO. By the time I ask a question, I usually (dumb oversights happen) have read the doc, the manual, searched the web, etc. I'm still treated as somebody who "just wants their damn code fixed" and receive junk responses as a result -- by people who clearly haven't read the question, or haven't tried to understand it at all. But, alas, that won't be fixed by the "new contributor" indicator. Maybe a similar indicator for "this person has asked good questions before, don't write the post off immediately". ;)
    – Raphael
    Commented Aug 27, 2018 at 6:50
  • I read the tour and the FAQ back when I joined.
    – xxbbcc
    Commented Aug 27, 2018 at 16:37
  • 3
    @Raphael there is no "harmful mindset" illustrated by my post. Writing a good question is hard, despite the fact questions get asked every second. What you may consider a clear, understandable, answerable question can others consider unclear for a plethora of reasons. Sure, there are people who're just in it for the rants, but assume most seasoned people are here to help - with clear, answerable, unique problems. Which are rare.
    – CodeCaster
    Commented Aug 29, 2018 at 8:18
  • 1
    @CodeCaster Sure, no question is perfect; I usually revise mine multiple times in response to helpful comments. Still, it would be nice if everybody bothered to fully read the question before commenting. I mean cases where the answer to their reflexive questions are literally in the question body. Or they propose things that are explicitly stated as already tried. Or make assumptions clearly contradicting the question. (FWIW, I'll readily admit that I'm guilty of this myself on Computer Science; you get trigger happy after closing the first few hundred of same-form questions! Not ideal, though.)
    – Raphael
    Commented Aug 29, 2018 at 11:55

For those that don't want to see this notification / banner, add the following rule to your adblocker:


Or using a userstyles plugin:


Or a userscript:

$('<style type="text/css">.new-contributor-indicator {display: none;}</style>')

This should block the indicator from showing up on the answer field, and on the user information under the question.


I have a question regarding this: What will the new user see when they are posting for the first time?

If new users don't get any additional guidance from what they've already been getting, then looks like we've fixed only one side of the problem. There are two great suggestions here, which would help a bit:

I get it that we should tackle problems one at a time. Given that we've now fixed one side, can we fix the other side too?

  • 2
    @Bh - the wizard will help them soon - which is coming down the pipeline in september.
    – JonH
    Commented Aug 17, 2018 at 17:04
  • 6
    @JonH, Yup, waiting for that. You can notice that it's got 450+ upvotes, because everyone is waiting for that instead of these minor changes... :) Commented Aug 17, 2018 at 17:06
  • My point was you know the answer - why are you re-asking what you already know?
    – JonH
    Commented Aug 17, 2018 at 17:08
  • 5
    There are two parts here (questions and answers), the wizard answers half of the first one. Commented Aug 17, 2018 at 17:11
  • 10
    FWIW, the extra bit of the signature block will show up to the post's owner too - so it ain't like we're putting some secret mark on their backs. Also... This isn't just for questions; it's possible to end up in a scenario where both the asker and answerer are "new users" and see complementary instructions when interacting...
    – Shog9
    Commented Aug 17, 2018 at 17:38
  • 3
    "The established users now know that a certain poster is a new user", how is that new? I see their reputation being 1 (or even <100) and I know they are new users.
    – user312421
    Commented Aug 19, 2018 at 15:34
  • 1
    @Camilo Exactly! That's the pointless part about the new feature mentioned in the question which we all are debating about, you can totally (and should) add that as a separate answer. Commented Aug 19, 2018 at 17:47

Three Two suggested improvements:

For the experienced users: change "be sure to check out our Code of Conduct" to "remember to follow our Code of Conduct" or similar. "Check out" sounds like "hey, we have this thing you might not have seen and you should take a look", but we expect experienced users to have already done that. A reminder is gentler and still gets the point across.

For editors: you've covered comments and answers; it would be nice to add some edit guidance too, specifically for the edit reason. (Fill it in! Tell people why you made a change and not just what you changed.)

For moderators: when anything on the page is flagged (the question, answers, comments), it'd be helpful to us to know what the person being flagged saw, i.e. that this user's new-user status was visible. While we take rudeness seriously wherever we see it, I expect that rudeness to new users would prompt a stronger reaction, like contacting the user sooner. -- Comments convinced me that this shouldn't be a factor.

  • 17
    I agree with "Remember" or "Remember to follow" in place of "Check out" — people should already have checked it out and just need reminding to follow it. The URL allows them to check it out if it is new(s) to them. Commented Aug 17, 2018 at 17:17
  • 2
    I agree with the first two, not necessarily the third. Can't see why it should make a difference for moderators handling flags. Commented Aug 20, 2018 at 16:35
  • @Randal'Thor handling the flag should be the same either way, but when there are patterns, like when somebody manages to hit the too-many-rude-comments alert, it feels like it would be helpful to know if he also ignored the in-your-face guidance. I can see it affecting the mod message I send. Commented Aug 20, 2018 at 19:31
  • 13
    Why should rudeness to new users prompt a stronger reaction? As an established user, I wouldn't want rudeness towards me to be ignored or handled less seriously than towards new people just because they're new.
    – Undo
    Commented Aug 21, 2018 at 21:38
  • @Undo hmm, maybe you're right. thanks. (Also Rand.) Edited. Commented Aug 21, 2018 at 21:40

This doesn't seem very helpful to me. I am glad that we have the first posts review queue, but I don't feel convinced that a new contributor indicator shown to all users will help with on-boarding new users.

New users, like any other users, come here to get answers to their questions, or to answer other people's questions. Having a different attitude towards their posts can only improve their experience to a limited extent.

For example, a user who posts an off-topic or overly broad question is likely to have a frustrating experience. The only way I can see of really avoiding that would be to get rid of the site mechanisms for shutting down or altering these kinds of questions—and doing that is obviously impractical. As long as these mechanisms exist, they will be obstacles to getting an answer. Being told that your question is "on hold" instead of "closed" might feel a bit less like a slap in the face, but it's still not a positive experience. I think the same goes for comments: even though it might be more upsetting to get a snarky comment than to get a sincere, earnest suggestion about how to improve your question, I don't think either really feels great. Nor does being ignored.

Helping new users to make better posts from the start seems like a more promising avenue of improvement to me: an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. That's why I've been looking forward to the new ask wizard (of course, it remains to be seen how effective that can be).

As Robert Harvey said in the top-voted answer to the 2016 "Let's Plan the Second Iteration of the Stack Exchange Quality Project!" question:

New users need better awareness of what is expected of them when they ask their first question. [...] The best off-topic question is the one that is never asked. Allowing sites to run off the rails by providing the lowest possible friction to ask off-topic questions and then saddling the community with cleaning up those questions... well, that's not what most of us signed up for, nor is it the best use of our time. It is probably the least-friendly way to welcome new users.

Most of the professionals who are here come here to contribute and to help others, not to spend all of their time sweeping the floor.

A "new contributor" indicator doesn't seem to do anything to alleviate that problem.

Responses to specific things

We hope folks will try to explain the why in addition to the what or how when you show new folks the ropes of using our system, and try to make them feel like it's within their immediate capability to be successful here. Experienced contributors don't need to know that their formatting looks good when you mention that they forgot to include a version number, but new contributors really appreciate that encouragement.

I don't think everybody responds well to praise, and it's somewhat difficult to use well. The "sandwich method" of criticism and similar strategies can come across as condescending. So I'm skeptical of the idea that we ought to encourage people to give more praise to new users than to experienced contributors (or that we should praise new users' ability to use site functions, even if that ability would be unremarkable for an established user).

Flag comments that are unfriendly or simply unhelpful. New users can do this now on posts that they own, but let's show people that we're serious about investing as much in them as they do in us. Snark sets a bad impression, but snark vanishing quickly sets a much better one.

This is something that people should do for any post. I'm confused by the implication that users who would otherwise neglect to flag unfriendly or unhelpful comments will be motivated to do so by a new user indicator. I don't feel like this matches my own experience of using the flag system.

Don't add to 'pile on' scenarios of any kind; let moderators know if something needs immediate attention.

As with the previous, pile-ons are bad on any kind of post. They may be more a problem with new users' posts because new users are more likely to post questions or answers that have obvious problems, which I think is one of the things that causes people to pile on with critical comments or downvotes. Moderators can delete long comment chains, I guess, but I feel like they're usually not quick enough to prevent the original poster from noticing the hostile atmosphere, so I don't see this as a full solution to the problem.

Help new users by editing their posts, and leaving them a comment explaining how your edit improved things.

Editing a new user's post is always a bit dangerous, since inevitably some people (including people who write useful, thoughful questions) will be upset, or at the worse case, blow up, about someone else "putting words into their mouths". (And sometimes these kinds of complaints are clearly justified: I've certainly seen some edits that have changed the meaning of questions.) It's hard for users to make sure that their edit will be received well, even if they leave a comment trying to explain the reasons for the edit.

Furthermore, many posts have problems that cannot/should not be fixed by another user's edits.

I agree with BJ Myers' suggestion of having the system show a special message to new users the first time their post is edited: this would ensure that they receive some information about the Stack Exchange philosophy of editing at an appropriate time.

Don't forget to up-vote stuff that you feel has value. It's strange when a question gets three plus answers, yet not a single vote. There's no obligation, of course, but the indicator is a helpful reminder.

Different people might experience the site differently, but for me, getting three answers and no upvotes feels way better than getting three upvotes and no answer to my question. Upvotes on questions are a nice extra, I guess, but the main thing people are looking for when they post a question here is answers, not fake internet points.

It doesn't seem that strange to me that a question might get answers but no upvotes. Most users don't upvote every on-topic question on the site, and the value of upvotes as indicators of the most useful questions would be lost if people used them this way. But every on-topic question certainly ought to be answered, and it's a good thing if people do post answers even to mediocre or somewhat boring questions (much better than the alternative scenarios of these questions being ignored or closed).

For answers, the idea that people need to be "reminded" to vote doesn't really make sense to me. Voting on answers is very intuitive, and I don't think people should apply different standards to answers by veterans vs. newbies.

  • 2
    Voting is not at all intuitive. For newbies, it is impossible.
    – cfr
    Commented Aug 20, 2018 at 0:40

Aren't you forgetting the big ideals of providing help, regardless of who posted the question?

You always declined feature requests for the possibility to ignore specific users, with blabla about building a database of knowledge regardless of who asked the question, and now you are branding a whole group of users?

If you are allowed to mark users, also give users the possibility to mark users they want to recognize.

  • 15
    So much this. SO has abandoned the very notion of fair treatment in favor of trying to produce equal outcomes.
    – jpmc26
    Commented Aug 22, 2018 at 3:35
  • This is about the interaction in comments, not whether or how you answer.
    – Raphael
    Commented Aug 27, 2018 at 6:46
  • 1
    @Raphael Comments are also a way to help people. But anyway this banner is not only displayed below the name, in the comment box but also in the answer box, so pretty much anywhere.
    – aloneprism
    Commented Aug 27, 2018 at 10:48

So, whom this has been added for? I mean, people can clearly see new members reputation. And this information is enough.

This update just added a lot of garbage on the screen, that only distracts attention from the question itself.

  • 1
    The reputation number alone doesn't tell the whole story. If their rep is 1, is that because they are brand new, or because they've asked 100 questions and had a mix of up-votes and down-votes that resulted in a total rep of 1. Commented Aug 22, 2018 at 15:08
  • 3
    @BryanOakley I've never seen ppl with 100 questions and 1 rep (: Commented Aug 22, 2018 at 15:09
  • @BryanOakley Apart from being impossibly rare, if a user has asked 100 questions and still only has a rep of 1 then they would seem to be doing something wrong and probably need to be treated as a "New contributor"!
    – MrWhite
    Commented Aug 22, 2018 at 17:54
  • 1
    @MrWhite: Maybe, maybe not. Don't focus on the number 100. This answer says the indicator isn't adding new information, the point I was trying to make is that I think it does. Commented Aug 22, 2018 at 18:39
  • 8
    @BryanOakley Upvotes give 2.5x more reputation than downvotes, and downvotes when a user has 1 reputation don't remove anything. A user needs to be getting basically 100% downvotes to stay at 1 rep for more than a few questions, and after a few questions of 100% downvotes, they'll get question banned, rendering the whole point moot. So the only possible way to have more than a few questions necessitates earning some amount of reputation.
    – Servy
    Commented Aug 22, 2018 at 21:04
  • 3
    @Servy: "downvotes when a user has 1 reputation don't remove anything." - I disagree. downvotes don't remove reputation, but they serve to discourage new users. That's more important that made-up points. We've got to stop down-voting new users into oblivion the first time they step foot into this site. Commented Aug 22, 2018 at 21:07
  • 1
    People seem to be nitpicking my choice of 100 and 1 rather than looking at the meaning behind my comment. Instead of 100 and 1, choose 5 and 2. The point being, a low rep might mean a new user and it might mean something else. This notice clarifies that by adding more information. I do not see additional information as a bad thing. Commented Aug 22, 2018 at 21:13
  • 4
    @BryanOakley The point there was that it's basically impossible to have a user with 1 reputation that has lots of contributions. It's not to say that downvoting a user with one rep is pointless. Obviously it's still useful feedback on the quality of the post, and so it's very important that people cast the vote, even though it results in no change in reputation. Your assertion that we should be not downvoting bad posts, just because the author is new, is contrary to the guidelines that you should be voting on post content, not the author of a post. Voting based on the author is vote fraud.
    – Servy
    Commented Aug 22, 2018 at 21:24
  • @Servy: "Your assertion that we should be not downvoting bad posts," - where did I make that assertion? I've never claimed any such thing. Again, don't focus on the 1 or the 100. The point is, this notice gives us more information that will help us do a better job. Commented Aug 22, 2018 at 21:25
  • 1
    @BryanOakley Yes, it's technically possible for a user to have very little rep and not be new. It's also possible for an account to be brand new and for the user to not be new. Both methods have inaccuracies. But both are still good approximations. This isn't a particularly better approximation. Adding a whole bunch of redundant and useless information is very much a bad thing. The whole premise of SO is having a high signal to noise ratio. Adding a ton of noise isn't useful.
    – Servy
    Commented Aug 22, 2018 at 21:26
  • @Servy: I guess the difference is, I see this notice as signal, you see it as noise <shrug> Commented Aug 22, 2018 at 21:26
  • 1
    @Servy: it's important to provide useful feedback that's accurate and swift. I would argue that multiple immediate downvotes without comments aren't particularly useful. Downvotes are difficult to overcome, adding a hurdle for a new user to get benefit out of this site. Seeing a reminder may help some of us choose to go the extra mile for a brand new user. Commented Aug 22, 2018 at 21:38
  • 4
    @BryanOakley Once again, you are not forced to choose between downvoting and commenting. You're continually asserting a false dichotomy that downvotes means not commenting. Downvotes are very useful. They're a signal to everyone that a post isn't useful. It's great to not have to waste one's time looking at a bad post, thanks to other community members that have taken the time to indicate that the post is problematic. Again, your indication that we shouldn't be voting based on the quality of the content, but instead on the user, is strictly against the rules. It's called vote fraud.
    – Servy
    Commented Aug 22, 2018 at 21:41
  • 1
    "Once again, you are not forced to choose between downvoting and commenting. " Yes, I know. I think this notice works well as a reminder to take a breath and question ourselves before just downvoting and moving on. Commented Aug 22, 2018 at 21:42
  • 4
    "Again, your indication that we shouldn't be voting based on the quality of the content, but instead on the user, is strictly against the rules. It's called vote fraud." - no offense, but you're being silly. Choosing to offer help in addition to or instead of downvoting isn't vote fraud. It's called helping. Commented Aug 22, 2018 at 21:45

Being flagged as a "New contributor" on one site when they are already an experienced contributor on other sites in the SE network seems a bit silly. I might treat a brand new user to the SE network a bit differently as they may not know their way around, but if a user already has 30K rep on another site then I really don't want to be wearing my kid gloves and start explaining the basics (which could also come across as rather condescending).

But I also don't see what this provides that the existing rep score doesn't (as others have already mentioned)?

  • 19
    When I posted my first answer on this site I had +30k rep on another site, and someone commented with a link on how to edit my answer... Commented Aug 22, 2018 at 1:06

This is just another small step into the general wrong direction.

If the purported objectives of Stack Overflow (and other Stack Exchange sites) were taken seriously, such an indicator wouldn't exist. If you really want to build a useful library of knowledge in a Q&A format, there's only one thing you should care about: Quality of the content.

Rude behavior like targeting someone personally, ridiculing someone, etc. shouldn't be accepted and isn't accepted by the communities. Telling people what they did wrong, that their content doesn't meet quality requirements, or perhaps that refusing to admit errors or improve content is stupid, should by all means be accepted and encouraged.

Of course, we see more and more that it isn't. I've already had my (high rep) Stack Overflow account deleted for reasons along these lines. From time to time, you read about high rep users requesting deletion or just leaving silently and my guess is more and more will follow. As far as I'm concerned, it's (especially in the case of Stack Overflow) because I don't believe in the goal of building this useful library any more. It much more feels like the goal is to get clicks over clicks - both from new users and from users that somehow get addicted to reputation score, no matter how bad the content quality gets.

Please rethink this whole strategy. Regarding this "new contributor" indicator, the problem isn't that experienced users don't pamper the newcomers enough. The problem is that many newcomers don't take the time to learn what's expected. In some cases, the problem might be mitigated by finding better ways to present the expectations to the new users. In most cases, nothing will work because they just don't care. Well, one thing will still work: Tell them what's bad about their posts (not rudely, but clearly and directly), downvote if appropriate, and vote to close if appropriate. Someone feeling unwelcome after these reactions is very unlikely to ever make good contributions - so, why care?


I appreciate that you try to be very welcoming to new users, but almost all of what we are supposed to do, we should do anyway, shouldn't we?

  • Be nice
  • Behave according to the CoC
  • Flag useless comments
  • Alert moderators if necessary

The only things new are:

  1. Edit their posts and better explain why. That's a good reminder, although that should be done already (via edit comment). But an extra comment welcoming them and explaining it a bit more is fine.
  2. Voting. If it has value - yes. But why especially with new members - we should vote on the content, not the person. So I'm not sure this is really necessary. Maybe rather write a comment explaining the voting - but what if it's a DV? Even in this case?
  • 16
    'Should', and 'actively do' tend to have wildly inconsistent intersections, but yes, it's a valid point. It's there as a reminder. And you are voting on the content, it's just a reminder not to forget, because it's especially critical in the process of a new user figuring out if they navigated the process correctly (for the first few times, at least). Explaining votes, and voting itself, is always optional. Again, it's just nice to have a reminder at times.
    – user50049
    Commented Aug 17, 2018 at 16:42
  • 1
    comments on editorial changes are always a good idea. but comments on downvotes are even more important -- even for non-new users. if something is being done in an ineffective or wrong way, it's really important to know why, or the problem may never be remedied. Commented Aug 17, 2018 at 17:01
  • 6
    "Sorry to welcome you to our site with a downvote, but [...]" was a comment I saw recently (& intend to pinch). What seems perfectly friendly for a user accustomed to site norms might come across differently for one who isn't. Moreover new users often benefit from guidance as to what they're supposed to do next in response to criticism. Commented Aug 17, 2018 at 17:08

I simply think: it is too much.

I actually like the notification for in the "user xyz asked" place. I find it a helpful reminder.

Why? Because that reminder is visually close to the comment section. And that is where most of the "harm" happens.

But at least for me on SO, I almost never saw an answer being rude, or even overly aggressive/snappy.

I therefore think: that second reminder in the answer section is absolutely pointless. Even when there are already multiple answers, people answering the question started reading from the top. They saw that this is a new user already.

If you think you have to repeatedly push this information into our faces, well, I disagree: the (assumed) 1% of nasty answers does not justify that second indicator in my eyes.

Other answers with many upvotes already suggest that people aren't too happy about the indicator at all. That part is subjective, and open for debate. If it helps to drive down nasty/snappy comments: fine with me.

But as explained: answers aren't comments, and repeating the indication is a waste of screen spaces, furthermore sending a "we do not trust you" message between the lines to your experienced users.

And honestly: when people write answers, they hope for upvotes and accepts. That alone is a much better motivation to be overly kind anyway.

Edit: regarding the indicator shown when writing comments, well. I can see it being helpful, because, as said, nasty/snappy comments are the most prominent problem. Yet, they appear pretty close to the other, "static" indication. So: I could live with keeping it, but then I wouldn't mind the "dynamic" indicator(s) to be dropped altogether.

  • 2
    There are three indicators, not two. The user car, the comment textbox, and the answer textbox.
    – Servy
    Commented Aug 22, 2018 at 21:07
  • @Servy True. Guess I didn't mention that one explicitly, as I really have no hard opinion about it.
    – GhostCat
    Commented Aug 23, 2018 at 17:15

I'm not going to comment about the idea itself, just about the icon

To me the icon showing the flat palm looks like a stop symbol, as if I am doing something wrong when trying to help a new user by posting a comment or answer.

enter image description here

But you don't want to stop me from helping, do you? I think you rather want me to pay attention, so I suggest to replace this sign by something that says "Attention", for example an exclamation mark:

enter image description here

Or an "information" icon (as suggested by @SonictheInclusiveHedgehog):

enter image description here

  • Flip that bottom sign upside down, and you've got a great neutral sign. Commented Aug 21, 2018 at 21:40
  • @SonictheInclusiveHedgehog Would also be fine for me. Commented Aug 21, 2018 at 21:41
  • 3
    I hadn't seen it like that, but now you mention it, it is superficially similar to the prohibition signs used in forestry. But the motion marks and lack of crossed circle definitely make me think of a welcoming wave rather than a warning here. Commented Aug 22, 2018 at 7:34
  • 4
    Yes, the icon really sucks (no better term here) and yells "Stop. Raus. Go away." Commented Aug 23, 2018 at 13:42

This New contributor indicator seems entirely superfluous since the Code of Conduct applies while interacting with everyone and doesn't distinguish new users from the not-so-new users. Regardless, since the indicator is apparently helpful in making the site more welcoming and there's no specific reason why the site should not be more welcoming to the not-so-new users, I suggest using the corresponding Contributor indicator for the latter, like so:


It is not clear to me why the company would spend development effort to support the attitude of "I would have been nicer if I had known that the user was new". There's a much easier solution to that problem: be nice to everybody.

Analogy time: I wouldn't have driven over the speed limit if I had known there was a speed camera here. Hence, there should be a road sign saying "speed camera ahead" so that I can take care to avoid crossing the speed limit there.

Of course, if you drive below the speed limit at all times, you wouldn't have to worry about the speed camera at all. Moreover, placing such road signs increases cognitive load on all citizens, including those who follow the speed limit at all times.

  • 3
    As a long time user who still gets rude/condescending comments, I support this 100%! Commented Aug 23, 2018 at 17:13
  • @CharlieBrumbaugh Of course! I think SE got carried away too far with their Welcome Bandwagon this time. While I am certain this wasn't their intention, the "New contributor" indicator seems to suggest that being nasty with everyone else is somehow less of a problem ("You are not a new contributor, how come you haven't read the help pages?" type of comments) ... or at least, some people will interpret it that way. So, we just end up replacing one problem with another.
    – Masked Man
    Commented Aug 23, 2018 at 17:17
  • 11
    I imagine the intention was to remind people to be patient in explaining how things work because this person's new and Stack Exchange works differently to other sites, if that was the case, that got totally lost in translation to the point this is completely speculative of me. Commented Aug 23, 2018 at 17:43
  • 5
    @doppelgreener That is also fine, but there's no specific reason to be not patient with not-so-new users. Honestly, I couldn't think of any reason why interactions with new users should be different from interactions with everyone else. Let's say a 100k rep user posts a comment wondering why his question got closed. Why can't we explain it to him just as we would to a new user? There's no reason to be nasty with comments like, "you have 100k rep, you should already know this, you idiot!'
    – Masked Man
    Commented Aug 23, 2018 at 17:52
  • 4
    Yeah, totally fair to say. On per-site metas I experience established users still learning about parts of our process they'd never encountered before. Commented Aug 23, 2018 at 17:56
  • Related (in a good way): meta.stackexchange.com/questions/165179/…
    – Shog9
    Commented Aug 23, 2018 at 18:14
  • @Shog9, actually that seems more related to just meta.stackexchange.com/q/252641/307622 for everyone.
    – Wildcard
    Commented Aug 23, 2018 at 19:11

I think this has the potential to brutally and horribly backfire.

It has been my experience that in some subcommunities of SO, and in some other sites in general, your only hope of getting accepted as a new user is to not act like it. You're expected to know your stuff, you're expected to "separate yourself from the chaff".

I think there'll be a small but critically large enough contingent of people who have been waiting for this for a long time. We've had calls to implement options to automatically ignore questions from new users for a while, what do you think these people will do with this new information?

Maybe I'm too pessimistic about this, but I have a feeling that the occurrence of "first post, instantly downvoted and closed, and completely shut out" is going to increase with this rather than decrease, at least in some subgroups of Stack Exchange.

  • 3
    The solution would be to confront and/or muzzle the few people who give SO a bad name, but that's highly unlikely. Buying into the mythology that only an asshole can be a good techie..
    – user397846
    Commented Aug 21, 2018 at 0:57
  • "what do you think these people will do with this new information?" - for me, it causes me to stop and think a bit harder before down-voting and/or entering a short comment. Commented Aug 22, 2018 at 14:59
  • For me... it has no impact. regardless my first course of action is looking for a close reason and users with this banner are more likely to ask questions that fit one. Since we can't specifically search for questions by these types of users, it won't have an impact on my actions.
    – Kevin B
    Commented Aug 22, 2018 at 18:43
  • 8
    @BryanOakley You should be voting based on the quality of the post. If you're not downvoting a post that you think is bad just because the user is new then you're doing something wrong. SO specifically is telling you that you shouldn't be doing that because of this. We want votes to reflect the quality of posts, not the age of the authors.
    – Servy
    Commented Aug 22, 2018 at 21:06
  • @Servy: "You should be voting based on the quality of the post. If you're not downvoting a post that you think is bad just because the user is new then you're doing something wrong" - I wholeheartedly agree. However, having a notice that helps remind us that maybe we should take a moment to reconsider a downvote rather than just downvoting and moving on seems like a good thing for the site as a whole. Commented Aug 22, 2018 at 21:11
  • 8
    @BryanOakley Why? Why do we want people to hesitate before giving useful and accurate feedback? We already have a serious problem of people not downvoting enough when they encounter bad content. Getting people to be that much more hesitant to downvote stuff that they actually think is bad is harmful, not helpful.
    – Servy
    Commented Aug 22, 2018 at 21:22
  • @Servy "Why? Why do we want people to hesitate before giving useful and accurate feedback" - because that pause may help us to give better feedback than just a downvote. I don't know about you, but my goal here is to help people. Sometimes a friendly comment is more useful than an immediate downvote IMHO. Commented Aug 22, 2018 at 21:32
  • 7
    @BryanOakley Well SO's been trying to go out of their way to make it harder and harder for people to comment, and to discourage people from commenting as much as they can. They think that new users think it's "unwelcoming" to be told that your question is problematic or how to fix it, so they've been making lots of changes to encourage people to just vote and not comment. I'm not a fan. Also, providing a comment on how the post can be improved doesn't prevent you from casting a vote to reflect your opinion of the quality of the post. You can do both. You don't have to choose just one.
    – Servy
    Commented Aug 22, 2018 at 21:36
  • "Also, providing a comment on how the post can be improved doesn't prevent you from casting a vote to reflect your opinion of the quality of the post. You can do both. You don't have to choose just one." - yes, I am aware of that. I think this notice is great, because it reminds me to pause and ask myself if I can do better than just downvoting. Commented Aug 22, 2018 at 21:41
  • 1
    @BryanOakley But you said repeatedly that you're not downvoting posts that you think are bad just because you think the user is new. You didn't say, "When I think the user is new I'm more likely to post a comment explaining how to improve the post, when I think it's a bad post." Had you said that, I wouldn't have replied at all.
    – Servy
    Commented Aug 23, 2018 at 21:27
  • 2
    honestly this notice is just a flag to not comment because the person is most likely to just target you with their frustration of the other people that down vote as well but are smart enough to just vote and move on. So you make yourself a target to the very people most likely to take down votes/close votes as personal attacks. This just reinforces to never comment on low rep questions/answers as to not become a target of their frustration.
    – user148287
    Commented Aug 24, 2018 at 16:57

My two cents; this is obsolete. As mentioned elsewhere, isn't the amount of reputation a good indicator of the SO-experience of the account? And more importantly, shouldn't we always be nice, and shouldn't the code of conduct always apply? Or...

enter image description here

  • 1
    Reputation is a measure of participation and how well received that participation is by the community, not necessarily how experienced someone is with the SE way of doing things. If you look at my reputation here on Meta without looking at my profile, how experienced would you guess I am with SE? Now look at my profile and see if your guess was right or not. (This would have been a more dramatic example a couple weeks ago before one of my answers got up-voted, but I think you get the idea)
    – ColleenV
    Commented Aug 23, 2018 at 13:38
  • "Shouldn't we always be nice?" Of course, we should, but people keep forgetting this when noobs are involved. Dealing with newbies require patience, they don't get a lot of what we assume to know already.
    – noob
    Commented Aug 23, 2018 at 19:06
  • @ColleenV, I think something like meta.stackexchange.com/q/252641/307622 for general users might make more sense.
    – Wildcard
    Commented Aug 23, 2018 at 19:11
  • 1
    @Wildcard That is a better measure of participation, but I don’t think it matters, because I don’t think that we should identify newer users so we know who needs educating. I think we need to know who has recently made the leap from just reading to actually posting so we can say “glad you’re here new-to-us user, hope you enjoy the site. Here’s some general information you might find helpful.” That sets a tone for future interactions and may make some folks more willing to see comments as helpful instead of critical. (IMO)
    – ColleenV
    Commented Aug 23, 2018 at 19:22
  • 1
    @ColleenV Well, 'new' as defined here is 'one week following their first post'. If I assume everyone with less than 100 rep to be 'new' I think I have a very accurate proxy. Probably I have quite some 'false positives'; people who have less than 100 rep but are on SO for longer than one week. So worst case scenario I'll be slightly too nice to a few people?
    – Florian
    Commented Aug 24, 2018 at 7:22
  • I don't think so. Look, newbies who have 1 rep also can just ask 1 question or post 1 answer and gain rep very fast in a few years if the question is good. It is very rare, but a example of this on MathOverflow where the user counts as a newbie since he only asked a question and nothing else, then left that site right after he asked the question. But the user has 200+ rep and that is not considered new because as you say newbies have less than 100 rep and this user has more than 100 rep. Commented Aug 5, 2019 at 17:38

Change the text to "New contributor on Meta" if the user is only new to the meta site.

I'm okay if the "New contributor" applies to meta sites separately from main sites, because meta has a very different culture from main sites (see this meta.so discussion). However, it's jarring to see a user with a large amount of reputation marked as a "New contributor", which seemingly implies that the user is new to the pair of sites in general.



In social psychology, a stereotype is an over-generalized belief about a particular category of people. Stereotypes are generalized because one assumes that the stereotype is true for each individual person in the category.


Your application of stereotypes to new users and others adds to the toxicity of Stack Exchange.

  • 3
    So what, though? Hard to see how a waving hand icon will hurt those new users who are already super competent programmers, other than getting some well-intentioned "welcome, friend" fluff and advice. Surely they'll survive that. No?
    – Pekka
    Commented Aug 18, 2018 at 13:15
  • 2
    I don't get what you're suggesting. Are you trying to say that the whole concept is harmful and should be discarded? Or can you propose a modification instead to kind of tone down the assumption that new users are going to mess up.
    – user392547
    Commented Aug 18, 2018 at 13:16
  • this has been discussed in other top answers
    – Ooker
    Commented Aug 19, 2018 at 4:41
  • 2
    @Chair, careful, peterSO is a new contributor. :P (Which I think illustrates several problems with this "new contributor indicator" all by itself.)
    – Wildcard
    Commented Aug 22, 2018 at 1:05
  • 1
    @Wildcard Hehe I'm tagging you and simultaneoously staring at several banners telling me that peterSO is a new contributor. Anyways, With 222 rep, peterSO doesn't really count as new any more.
    – user392547
    Commented Aug 22, 2018 at 2:25
  • It is not a stereotype but a data-driven metric. Please do not conflate the two.
    – TylerH
    Commented Aug 24, 2018 at 13:58

Seems like a fairly reasonable thing to do.

If I could offer a suggestion, it may be worthwhile to bump the notice after long periods of inactivity. Say a user posts a question, then disappears for 6+ months before their next post. They may have technically been a user for 6+ months, but in reality they've only interacted with the site on 2 days, 6+ months apart. Or perhaps it would be beneficial to show the notice for the first X posts?

Not a deal breaker, just my 2¢

  • I would highly recommend 1 year as the line in the sand; if their last post (Q or A) was more than a year ago, it's probably a good idea to consider them a fresh face for the purposes of this notice. Probably good to place that whole check within an if statement that only runs it if they have fewer than, say, 5 or 10 answers total, though (if someone has a bunch of answers they may be quite well-versed with the site and not need that notice when they come back from a Stack Exchange sabbatical)
    – TylerH
    Commented Aug 24, 2018 at 14:02

To a discussion in the comments about leaving the shoes outside, I'd like to contribute the idea of access to the room only if shoes are deposited. This will frustrate maybe those who'd wish to leave their footwear in the car or something like that but in the most part, you won't have anyone wearing shoes where they're not supposed to.

I call this concept, the door is the shoe rack. No access without a shoe deposit. You may have noticed all sites on SE encourage you to login before you partcipate, it's the same concept.

Also, I am very much sympathetic to Iain's genuinely stated remark:

When are you going to put some effort into making the experience better for the people who answer questions but have to wade through a river of [bleep] to find anything interesting ?

He's genuinely pointing out to us that there currently exists way too much clutter in finding interesting content... and I'm very sure he isn't talking about things which are subjectively interesting. We all face the issue and many are simply too numb to bring it up and talk about it actively these days.

Mahatma Gandhi once said, "You have to be the change you wish to see in the world" A particularly drudging or boring part of any SE site can be livened up by your Q&A! Ask questions that interest others to not only read and upvote but genuinely answer with the best of their capability. And when you are in the process of writing such an answer, keep in mind that you are not only adressing the OP but also the entirety of the Stack Exchange community from diverse backgrounds, varying interests and absolutely different experience levels.

Statistics regarding users, questions, tags and such are very much often dealt with at Dawg's Waffle Haus, a room a I hope everyone at some point considers visiting. @ashleedawg would like visitors, I suppose.

sth echoes my idea that regular users need similar benifits or nice-ities to them.

How about instead doing some research how to give your long term contributors a good experience? That might be a good idea if you want more long term contributors.

As a decade old user of SE (I was here since SO started in 2008), I still feel brand new. Perhaps, it's the new accounts I'm forced to make once I forget old passwords beyond retrieval. But I think it more has to do with the parts of the site whose culture and growth I was not able to be part of. No one is omnicient enough to have been part of every conversation but truly, every conversation here stands as a mighty reminder of how much every SE community has grown and grown well.

And this one from Andras Deakis quite a remarkable read:

I find this new feature in its current form insulting. It implies that the experienced users can't be trusted to act like decent human beings, and that they have to be extra decent with new users. It all doesn't make sense. The blog post, the intrusive comment flag icons, the "thanks for flagging, we're sorry you're offended" popup, and now this...I can't help but feel criminalized. Is this worth it all?

To you, Andras, I can only say...No, it's not worth it. Everything made is made with only bestest of intentions and it is not difficult to see that once the new Code of Conduct was established, it became essential that new users feel a fresher and more vibrant air, lighter and friendlier than the rest of us in the community got a chance to experience. A better UX through a better community.


I wish to slightly digress and talk a a bit about the new app called Brainly.

While the idea is nice and implementation beyond satisfactory, the community is absolute trash. Yes, they give the right answers most of time but they also don't in a lot of cases. If the user base of SE and Brainly were to switch places, Brainly would become heaven-like as a Q&A system...and SE would burn to the ground as it was being piloted by the equivalents to actual monkeys that [bleep] on typewriters until they make ca-chinky noise. The answering of questions is hard work anywhere but the effort should not be taken if nothing of quality is able to be said.


In a future update of SE, I'd like the ability 
to embed room invite boxes and comments into my answers. 
Also, it would nice if I could answer a question 
using embedded ppt slides. 

Have a ton more requests but please
get started on these for now, please.



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