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So I've found that among the many stack exchanges I frequent, there are many new users (yay!).

When I was first on the Stack Exchange site, I was greatly helped by a user (@ColleenV, if memory serves me correctly), who pointed me to the site tour and help pages.

I have tried to "pay it forward", but I'm not always successful. In the latest failure, which prompted this post, myself and multiple other users had a long chain trying to coax information out of a new user regarding their question, before determining that it was off topic, and trying to explain this to the new user. The comment thread was moved to chat before it occurred to me or anyone else to direct the user to the tour or other pages.

Therefore, I propose we have an automatic comment appended to first question a new user makes, or perhaps questions made while their reputation is below a given threshold, which would direct them to the relevant tour, help, and on-topic pages (to make things simple, we could tie it to the "new contributor" flag), rather than leaving this to fallible users.

Additionally, if a "new" user has sufficient reputation from another stack exchange site, to point them towards the on-topic page, since that changes between each stack exchange.

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    New users already have several resources placed in front of them prior to asking their first question. How will leaving a comment change the fact that they almost universally ignore it? – fbueckert Dec 14 '18 at 19:23
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    The Tour of each site is not identical. There is an are at its beginning that can be customized. – PolyGeo Dec 14 '18 at 22:16
  • I will add that one user made an experiment with a bot commenting automatically on Mathematics Stack Exchange. It was done only on some questions, some more details can be found in this Meta discussion: Suggestions of tags and title edits by user NormalHuman - How to do it? For some period of time all such comments were logged in a specific chatroom, so you can find a sample of the posted comments in that room. – Martin Dec 15 '18 at 4:04
  • Here is a different feature request for helping new users. – Pika the Wizard of the Whales Dec 16 '18 at 1:28
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I do not support this feature request and here is why:

When a new user asks a question they are already presented with several tools which tell them how to ask questions and how to format. There is formatting help at the side and a link to the how to ask page for that specific site.

If they ask a question and it isn't clear, when it's closed they see:

unclear

That again links them to the help center and the how to ask page. They most likely get a comment saying for them to add more detail when their question is closed, so how is a comment going to make any difference if they don't read it?

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A new user invests their time into writing their question and then they're pointed to the tools they need to write a good, on-topic question?

No, I think it would be better to warn people before instead of after their question is asked. Currently this information (or more specifically, links to the information) is not found where new users are likely to be looking.

There's already a thing that can be enabled to be shown to all users before they even start asking their first question. It gives a short description of the site, a text box to search for duplicates with, links to many of the pages that a new user might want to read, and general guidelines like "be specific".

Here is an example of this page in action. You can also see what this page would look like on any site by changing the URL to something like site.stackexchange.com/questions/ask/advice?.

However, I don't find this page particularly helpful, since it's pretty generic. It would be really helpful if this page could be customized on each site to outline the common pitfalls that new users run into on the specific site they're asking on. Thus I created the following feature request: Can the advice page be customizable on each site?

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I like the idea of an auto-comment pointing out the Tour but I think it should only be posted while they are:

  • a New Contributor; AND
  • not in possession of the Informed badge that indicates that they have taken the Tour.

Even though they are pointed at this valuable resource before they make their first post, I think the auto-comment in these circumstances will serve to indicate that we really want them to understand the key philosophy of the site by taking its Tour.

I would restrict the auto-comment to the Tour because the other resources are linked from that.

  • FWIW, I don't have "Informed" badge on many sites because I usually just read the on-topic/off-topic list and I don't need to read the rest that is the same on every tour... – Meta Andrew T. Dec 15 '18 at 18:45

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