Update: This is not about encouraging (or bullying) people into accepting answers. This is about using accepted answer rate and voting patterns to detect when a user doesn't get the system and provide a tutorial.

For people who have asked 5 (or more) eligible questions and are eligible to vote, if they have voted less than 10 times or have an accept rate below 50%, the ask a question dialog should be replaced with a mini-tutorial on how SO works. The tutorial should be no more than a (short) paragraph. The user must click another button (Continue?) to get to the real ask a question dialog. This would not apply to meta, as the type of questions here are such that accepting an answer isn't particularly useful. The tutorial might only appear once or twice so that for people who really don't want to accept answers or vote it doesn't become too much of a barrier.

The suggested heuristic is flexible. The idea being that we want to encourage participation. I truly believe that in the majority of cases, people simply don't know how the system works. Usually after I leave a comment indicating such, the behavior changes. Showing a brief tutorial with a link to the FAQ helps a new user get acclimated. Showing the tutorial rather than denying the ability to ask questions gives the user a chance to respond correctly without doing more than adding a minor annoyance.

I can imagine further uses for the data and other heuristics that could be used based on whether the behavior changes, but for now I'd simply like the system to give the tutorial rather than depending on other users to help the new users along in this respect by commenting.

Sample tutorial text:

We detected that you've been using the system without rewarding people who answer your questions. [Site name] works when people who ask questions vote up helpful answers and accept the best answer to their question. Vote for questions/answers by clicking the up/down arrows -- down voting requires 100 reputation -- next to the question/answer. Accept an answer to your question by clicking the check mark under the answer's vote total. For more information read the [link to FAQ].

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    You have a meta accept rate of 41%. Does that mean you'd expect to see this dialogue when you click the Ask Question button? – Welbog Dec 16 '09 at 13:05
  • ...except for meta, of course. – tvanfosson Dec 16 '09 at 13:08
  • Why would meta be an exception to your own rule? – alex Dec 16 '09 at 13:10
  • @haikus -- now noted in the question, with reason. – tvanfosson Dec 16 '09 at 13:12
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    To some people (the ones that have <30% accept rate), accepting answers isn't particularly useful anywhere. – alex Dec 16 '09 at 13:13

I agree with I hate haikus on this one. This is a social problem (to the extent there is a problem), and a technical solution is not appropriate.

What you've been doing so far, leaving comments gently instructing the newbies, is fantastic. That kind of human-to-human interaction is what builds the community. Encourage others to do the same, rather than leave annoyed comments.

Replacing that interaction with a dumb automated response is not the same thing at all. It won't bestow the benefit you seek.

  • 1
    I've done the same thing as tvanfosson, but on SU. It's really hard to get any traction on this. Most simply accepted the answer on the question I commented on, and that was that. Unfortunately, since I noticed the low accept rate mostly on questions I answered on, I sort of came out looking like a hypocrite. Accept an answer; coincidentally, mine's the one with the most upvotes. Will you look at that! – alex Dec 16 '09 at 14:05
  • @I hate haikus: That's not really being a hypocrite. It could look like you're being greedy or selfish, but just remember it's for the good of the community! ;) – ベレアー アダム Dec 16 '09 at 14:10
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    I'll be the only one seeing that, trust me. – alex Dec 16 '09 at 14:20

This has been brought up countless times. Accept rate and number of upvotes are irrelevant. Questions can get edited into shape if they're worth anything, closed if duplicates or deleted if simply spam. If they really are good, then the knowledge within the answers is good enough, the accepted answer checkmark will not improve the information in any way.

Also, another aspect. People don't read! You can do anything, you can write it in big, bold, flashing red letters. They'll click something, whatever, and make it go away. It's as simple as that. Annoying (and/or bullying) people into accepting answers is not the way to go.

Continually nudging (= bullying) people into accepting answers will drive them away. That's not what we, as a community, want. Without questions there would be no answers to give. It's as simple as that, whether you like it or not.

  • 1
    I disagree. My experience is that when I comment, people typically respond positively. This would function much in the same regard -- grab their attention by displaying a different interface. Keep the text short and to the point so reading is not discouraged by length. Delay showing the continue button for 30 seconds so they can't simply click through. – tvanfosson Dec 16 '09 at 13:16
  • Also, I don't think they are irrelevant. It's part of building a community. The community gets better when people are more engaged. People are more engaged when they understand how the system works. People who choose not to engage are presented with mild annoyance. For the people who simply don't know, they get information they can act on and become more engaged. For some percentage of users it won't change the behavior (most won't ever hit the 5 question threshold), but for the majority of people who keep coming back I believe that it will help. – tvanfosson Dec 16 '09 at 13:22
  • @Haikunai: You're one of those people who doesn't use UAC properly!? I will never associate with you outside of the Internet again! – Welbog Dec 16 '09 at 13:25
  • @Jeff's Backup UAC is alive and kicking on my machine. It's just the way Microsoft intended it to; I (usually) even read the prompts. It saved me (once) from getting some nasty malware. – alex Dec 16 '09 at 13:29
  • @Haikunai: Good man. I've never disabled that little guy. He's stopped Adobe products from creeping daemons onto my machine so many times that I can't thank him enough. – Welbog Dec 16 '09 at 13:36
  • Why the hell do you use Adobe products? I begrudgingly use Flash, but nothing other than that. – alex Dec 16 '09 at 13:40
  • @Haikunai: Well, you know how it is. Some PDF has some subtle reliance on a bug in Adobe Reader and can't work in anything else... I don't think I have any Adobe products now, though, except for Flash. GIMP and FoxIt FTW! – Welbog Dec 16 '09 at 13:45
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    You choose to believe that people don't accept questions because they don't want to. I believe that it's because they don't have enough information. I don't consider presenting a tutorial as particularly bullying and it's not about driving acceptance rate up (50% is still pretty low) -- it's about using acceptance rate/voting patterns to detect when a user doesn't get the site and provide another mechanism to give information on how the site works. Perhaps it needn't appear every time after the threshold is reached, a single time may be sufficient for those who would change. – tvanfosson Dec 16 '09 at 13:50
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    @tvanfosson If it appears every time it's bullying. If it only appears once, there's a high chance it will get ignored. It's really treading a thin line, here. I see your point, don't get me wrong, I just don't think it will really work. – alex Dec 16 '09 at 14:02

It's not exactly what you asked for, but all new users (rep <= 10) get this mandatory advice page ...


... when they attempt to ask a question via questions/ask

This is deployed and enabled on Stack Overflow only.

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