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Currently, when a new user with less than 5 reputation uses the feature to ask about their own post specifically, they are prompted to enter a link to their post, and then they are given access to the per-site meta's question asking form, where the body is prefilled with mandatory header text that contains a link to the post they're asking about and a note that questions not about one's post will be deleted.

When submitting the question, the system checks to see if that header text is still in place at the top, and if not, doesn't let the question through, and gives the following error message:

You must have a minimum of 5 reputation to post on this site.

Recently, we had a user who couldn't figure out what was going on when they, after putting in a link to their post in the first field and then typing up their question, were still prompted that they needed 5 reputation despite other help pages and users here telling them they could still post. Eventually, we figured out that the author had accidentally removed said header text when typing their question.

Later, the user tried again, but this time put their question above the added text, and still received the error message. It seemed to me that they were already getting pretty frustrated; thankfully, they still remained communicative enough to receive my message to put their question below the added text.

Overall, a user had a very frustrating experience that was caused by an improperly communicative error message. The whole experience could have been solved if the user more easily knew that it was because the header text was being removed or misplaced that they weren't allowed to post.

Can we make the error message on the question form, when a low-rep user attempts to submit a meta question where the header text has been removed or misplaced, be more informative about the actual issue? An example:

Please make sure that you haven't typed over or deleted the prefilled header with the link to your post. If necessary, please go back and fill in the form again.

I think this can be done by simply modifying the error text above, as that error is pretty much only shown if the user actually access the question asking form, which they can only do if they enter a link to their own post at a gatekeeper screen. A better fix would be to not insert the header text into the post body when the asker is typing their post, but instead insert it upon submission; this way, there's no risk of the author accidentally removing or typing over it and thus no such error will show, but that would probably be technically infeasible.

Update: The new question asking form has been introduced, in which users are prompted to "review" their question before they are allowed to post. I've noticed that if the scenario in this post happens (the user types over or removes the automatic text), the review step will show no errors, and only if they then try to post the question will they receive the error message (about 5 reputation). Can we please move this error message to the review stage, in addition to making it more clear, to reduce confusion?

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    You would almost think that the Ask Question wizard could be helpful here as well ... – rene May 4 '19 at 6:55
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    @rene That's been the only catch-all solution ever since Apollo hit the moon. – iBug says Reinstate Monica May 4 '19 at 8:08
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How hard would it be to make it so that the required text at the beginning of the question was put in the place it needs to be after the user submits the question? Some text above the question input box could say "To provide essential context, your question will be preceded by:" with a preview of the text in question.

Below that, they get to type whatever they want, and when they go to the review step, they'll see the combined text.

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    That's a great idea; I've already mentioned it in my post, though: A better fix would be to not insert the header text into the post body when the asker is typing their post, but instead insert it upon submission; this way, there's no risk of the author accidentally removing or typing over it and thus no such error will show, but that would probably be technically infeasible. – Sonic the Curiouser Hedgehog Aug 17 '20 at 20:24
  • Sorry, I missed that -- but I do think showing them what will be inserted in advance (so they know not to spend time adding that context to their post manually) is a worthwhile addition to the suggestion. – JakeRobb Aug 17 '20 at 20:26
  • @SonictheMaskedWerehog I also liked this idea initially, however after some more thinking I found one thing that needs to be addressed - namely how to handle (most definitely infrequent but still) cases when adding this text would make question exceed allowed char limit? – gnat Aug 17 '20 at 22:13
  • Seems simple enough: determine the length of the preamble, subtract that from the actual limit, and enforce that as the limit for what the user can enter. – JakeRobb Aug 18 '20 at 14:36
  • @gnat It seems that the 5-rep requirement only applies to making new posts on the per-site meta, not to participating in their own posts. So if a new user does have a post on meta (either through using the form to ask about their own posts, or having a post on another site migrated to the meta site), they can freely edit it. So if they do exceed the character limit, they can ask their question slightly truncated and then edit it to contain the full content. – Sonic the Curiouser Hedgehog Oct 21 '20 at 0:37

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