For the past few days, I have the feeling that there are a lot more blatantly off-topic questions ('lost souls') on Meta Stack Exchange. OK, that could be just a feeling, so I've created a short script (only works for 10k users) to double check. Below is a summary of the number of questions asked per day which are still alive ('OK'), those which have been Deleted (including spam), and Spam posts separately (from this Metasmoke graph):

Date OK Deleted Spam
2018-10-22 9 14 4
2018-10-23 5 20 5
2018-10-24 12 12 4
2018-10-25 13 12 5
2018-10-26 11 13 4
2018-10-27 8 28 11
2018-10-28 7 12 2
2018-10-29 11 31 7
2018-10-30 14 51 7

(the Deleted column will include questions deleted for other reasons than being blatantly off-topic or spam, but those are rare)

This is how that looks in a graph (thanks @Shog9):

enter image description here

So it looks like this wave started on the 29th, which (coincidentally or not) is the day when the 2018 monthly product team updates post was (with revision 17). Do the CMs / developers have any way to check if this is really the case, e.g. by checking the Referer header on calls to the Ask Question page? I can't remember other featured posts causing similar waves; the last time was when everybody got an inbox notification about the Terms of Service, which was a much more prominent 'invite' to Meta Stack Exchange.


1 Answer 1


A recent email with our quarterly update just went out to a lot of people, and it contained a couple of links to MSE.

Last time this happened we just raised the minimum rep to ask, which wasn't ideal. This time we're doing something a bit more permanent, which looks like it'll be an interstitial page that says THIS IS NOT STACK OVERFLOW DO NOT ASK YOUR PROGRAMMING QUESTION HERE (well, it'll be a little more elaborate than that).

I will update. Sorry about that. This wasn't anything like the time we used inbox notifications, and we didn't realize it would cause folks to not realize where they were.

  • 2
    This could be related: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/315780/… Oct 31, 2018 at 18:56
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    Do engineers, developers etc. subscribe to SE newsletter w/o first being members of SO? I ask because nearly every single off-topic question was posted by someone with only one rep while v.few newcomers were also members of SO. And it's strange that they post questions, some quite detailed, some simply awful but then they hardly ever reply to comments. Oct 31, 2018 at 19:41
  • 1
    @Mari-LouA Not replying to comments is already an existing problem, even if the correct site is chosen. Oct 31, 2018 at 19:43
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    So... Thing we gotta remember when talking about this stuff, @Mari-LouA, is that the numbers on SO are insanely high. Apparently we sent out north of two million of these emails... To date, only about 1200 recipients have followed the links to meta, and well under 100 of them have posted off-topic questions. That means two things: most people don't get it wrong, and there are potentially still a huge number of people who could still get it wrong.
    – Shog9
    Oct 31, 2018 at 20:25
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    So, I'm getting an answer to my question and an idea to stop it in the future, all in a single Post? You're spoiling me :P
    – Glorfindel Mod
    Nov 1, 2018 at 6:50
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    Any idea what the interstitial page looks like? I tried testing it, and I'm not getting one, at least not after clicking Ask Question.
    – fbueckert
    Nov 2, 2018 at 13:40
  • 1
    Can we get some stats on how this interstitial page is working? I'm still seeing a lot of new users confused about what M.SE is for, so knowing it's at least stemming some questions would show it's working, albeit not perfectly.
    – fbueckert
    Jan 7, 2019 at 16:02
  • For those who should have posted on Stack Overflow, it would be interesting to know the percentage who were question-banned at the time of posting on MSE. Even knowing the order, e.g., 1%, 10%, 50% or 90%. Oct 15, 2022 at 13:55
  • That is, are they posting here because they are question-banned or because they are confused by the user interface (or something else)? Oct 15, 2022 at 14:02
  • @This_is_NOT_a_forum There's no way to really capture that because some of the blocks are calculated just-in-time, and thresholds have been tweaked over time so you'd have to run each instance through a few models to see if they were likely blocked. However, I can say that with very little variance, most people simply didn't realize that they were on the incorrect site.
    – user50049
    Oct 24, 2022 at 16:22

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