25

I've seen that some sites have customized content on their Ask Question page.

For example, here's some custom content on the English Language & Usage ask Question page. They have extra information in the first time asker modal and in their right information panel on the ask page.

Screenshot of the "Asking a good question" modal on English Language & Usage Screenshot of the "Draft your question" box on the Ask Question page on English Language & Usage

I assume that moderators or other community members can request that these be customized.

4
  • Would it be worth making this post part of the [faq]? This is a really thorough reference.
    – zcoop98
    Mar 14, 2022 at 16:16
  • 2
    @zcoop98 That's not not the plan. :D I'll probably make several of these over time and then create a new faq category. I'm not sure, though. The general FAQ policy requires the post to live as a general post for a while before being converted into an official FAQ.
    – Catija
    Mar 14, 2022 at 19:24
  • There was just an answer from a staff member here, outlining some thoughts. I disagree with them, and downvoted the post, but I was still happy for the seemingly more honest, sincere and direct approach. Why delete it? It's preferable if it's re-added (somewhere it's on-topic (not NAA) and include our comments). @Catija Pinging you, as the previous comment is yours, and you're a CM. Apr 18, 2023 at 21:59

4 Answers 4

18

There are sections of each of these page elements that can be customized, either by Community Managers or Developers. While we can't change them completely, the answer below will give you an overview of what we can change. The other answer details how to propose a change and then request it be made.

What exactly is customizable?

There are two main parts of the page that can be customized, the "Asking a good question" modal and the "Step 1: Draft your question" pane in the right sidebar. Within the "Asking a good question" modal, there are three customizations possible - two places where text can be added and the option of hiding the third bullet point.

"Asking a good question" modal

This modal is targeted at first-time askers and gives them a general overview of how to ask a question on our platform. Some sites have asked to adjust the content here for a few reasons, usually to give additional information and guidance to help askers with their first question or (particularly in the case of sites like Code Golf) to explain how the Q&A process works and point new users to their sandbox.

If you'd like to see what this modal looks like on a site, you'll probably need to open the Ask Question page in an incognito browser window. Note, if your site doesn't allow anonymous asking, you won't be able to preview this pane unless you use a sock puppet that hasn't dismissed it already.

Here's what the default looks like:

The default uncustomized "Asking a good question" modal.

And here's a drawing representing the changes that can be made on this page:

Screenshot of default "Asking a good question" modal with freehand red drawing to indicate where things can be changed. The first paragraph has a box around it and a 1 next to it. There is a line between the second paragraph and the three bullet points with a 2 next to it. There is a red x next to the third bullet point.

There are two sections that are editable in this pane. Generally, we'll add content to one or the other but we can also do both. Additionally, we can omit the third bullet "When appropriate, describe what you've tried".

1. Replacing the "You're ready to ask ..." text

For cases where more formatting is needed, such as what exists in the English Language and Usage modal, we can override the first paragraph with full HTML. We usually do this when communities want to make a list, as list formatting can't be done in mini-markdown. This option is a bit more complex because we need to have a developer make the changes.

As a note, you can preview the custom text in this section of the modal (if any) by looking at an unlinked help page /questions/ask/advice - it's in the first section of the page. Here's the one for ELU, to compare to the screenshot in the question.

2. Adding text before the bullets

The simpler change that a CM can make themselves is to have us add a paragraph with community-specific instructions immediately before the bullet points (indicated in the image above with the number 2), as we have in this example on Role-Playing Games.

Screenshot of modal on the Ask page on Role-Playing Games Stack Exchange

The formatting options in this section are limited, though - we can only use "mini-markdown", which is essentially the markdown limited to comments - so bold, italics, and links. For many sites it's probably all that you need.

3. Hiding the "describe what you've tried" bullet

The final change you can make to the modal is hiding the third list item, "When appropriate, describe what you’ve tried". For some sites, this step doesn't make a lot of sense - think Code Golf (shown here).

Screenshot of Code Golf "Asking a good question" modal. They've replaced the default text with "Welcome to Code Golf & Coding Challenges! We host recreational coding challenges & related questions including code golf, fastest code and code golfing tips. All challenges must have an objective scoring criterion, and should avoid these listed points. Questions about help with general programming-related issues are off-topic here and will be closed. Please post your challenge as a draft to our Sandbox for Proposed Challenges for a few days first for feedback. Doing so allows you to correct issues you might otherwise miss before posting to the main site." and they've also added text before the bullet points that reads "The following bullet points only apply to non-challenge questions" and, finally, they've removed the third bullet point, leaving only two.

Code Golf actually customized all three sections of their modal. You can see how they requested and got this modal updated by visiting their meta discussion about it but this is covered in more detail in the other answer to this question, as it focuses on how to request these changes.

What should go in this Modal?

The examples above all show a variety of uses for this. The focus is usually on helping people understand the scope of the site so that new users can avoid making simple mistakes. I've included some specifics in the list below along with screenshots of the modals on some sites behind links.

  • Links to the Tour or /help/on-topic page for the site. (see Science Fiction & Fantasy)
  • Links to meta posts that give more detailed guidance on how to ask a question well or that explain the site scope. (see Code Golf above)
  • A brief overview of what is in or out of scope or how to write a good question. (see Math Overflow)
  • Links to related sites that are common migration targets. (see English Language & Usage)
  • Reminders to include often-forgotten details. (see Role-Playing Games, above)

The goal here should be to pick the most important things to mention and keep the content short and easy-to-read, as that will mean people are more likely to read it rather than just clicking the "Start writing" button to make the modal go away. If things are starting to get too wordy, you'll want to link to a guide on meta or the Help Center rather than putting it in the modal - and if that guide doesn't exist, make one!

"Step 1: Draft your question" pane

The second customization that can be made to the Ask question page is to customize the "Step 1: Draft your question" pane in the right sidebar. This section is visible to anyone asking a question, though when using mobile, it may be less visible since it's below the question box rather than next to it.

Screenshot of the default "Draft your question" pane. The text reads "Step 1. Draft your question - The community is here to help you with questions about traditional artwork and handmade items. Provide details and share research with your question."

This is the example from Arts & Crafts and each site's subject is injected into the statement. It doesn't have any links to the help center or meta by default and, as such, can often benefit from customization.

This pane must be customized by the developers and can include HTML - so things like lists are common in addition to bold, italics, and links to important resources.

What should go in this pane?

Different sites use this pane for a variety of things. The list below outlines some of them and links to an example of it being used.

One important consideration, as with the modal, is to keep the text brief and to-the-point. It's common for people to ignore large blocks of text. You want this to be easy-to-consume and helpful and focus on pointing people to secondary resources rather than trying to shove everything they might need to know into this box.

12

What is the process involved in getting the text customized?

As with many change requests, this should start with a meta discussion.

The process is as follows:

  1. A moderator or other engaged user creates a meta post to discuss changing one or both elements on this page
    • This post should have the tag added by a moderator so that it appears on the front page for community visibility.
    • It may be better to have one meta post for each element (modal and pane).
  2. Once the community has reached some sort of agreement on the content (after a week or two minimum), add the tag to the question to get the attention of the Community Management team (CMs).
  3. The CMs will triage the request and assign it to a CM, who will review the request.
    • The CM may leave comments or an additional answer making recommendations or asking clarifying questions. The goal of this process is to ensure that the messaging for the UI is clear and concise.
  4. For changes that can be made by a CM, they will do so once the copy is finalized.
    For changes that require a developer, a ticket will be created by the CM for the Public Platform team with the copy and a link to the meta post. In general, these requests are quick and shouldn't take more than a week to be completed.

Important note: please do not add the status-review tag on the same day the post is created. CMs need to see community engagement in the form of comments, edits, answers, and/or votes, and this will take some time. Tagging too early could put your question in a state where it gets missed. As such, to avoid this, we will remove the status-review tag and leave a note reminding the community to wait for at least a week before tagging the post.

What should we include in our discussion/request to customize?

The goal of the discussion is two-fold.

  1. Determine if there's community support for the change.
  2. Determine the content of the change.

As such, the things that should be in each request include the following:

  • What do you think should change and why? - Make sure to introduce the concept to your community with a link to this post and a brief TL;DR so they know what's going on. Screenshots of the current version are helpful here!
    • Be specific about which of these elements you want to change so that it's clear to both the community members and the CMs reviewing the request.
    • As noted previously, consider using more than one meta post if you want to change both the modal and the right side info pane.
  • Discuss what you think should be included in the new text - This could be by listing some things that you think should be included in the question or proposing text for the element in an answer.
    • When thinking about what to include, keep in mind: common reasons for closure, elements that are often omitted from questions, special instructions or guides the community has created... anything in the other answer's list of stuff for each of the elements.
  • Invite community participation in drafting the text for the element/s by encouraging them to propose their ideas in answers.
    • While it's good to open the discussion with an initial proposal with an opening suggestion (rather than waiting on community members to propose something), post this as an answer rather than including it in the question as it allows people to vote separately on the idea of customizing the site vs. the proposed text for the elements.
  • Give a general timeframe for discussion - While a hard deadline isn't necessary, being clear that the post is going to be escalated based on community feedback by [date] lets community members know what the schedule is.
    • Keep your community activity levels in mind here. Lower-activity communities may want to wait a bit longer than more active ones.

Once you've finalized the text you want to use, be certain to indicate that clearly so that the community and the Community Manager looking at the request know which text is the final choice.

Resource renewal & creation (Bonus points!)

There's also a secondary part to this process that I find really useful in many cases - reviewing existing help guidance for current accuracy and checking whether there's any additional content that would help users more effectively. This could mean any number of things:

  • Reviewing/updating your /help/on-topic page (mods can edit this page)
  • Reviewing/updating any existing meta guidance
  • Creating new meta guidance for common issues people run into when asking first questions that you might want to link to from either this page or the Help Center

It's not uncommon for these pages to get slightly out of date over time or to benefit from an upgrade with new examples or links, so be certain the resources you need for this feature are available, even if it means waiting another week or two before adding the tag.

Short version for only removing the third bullet point

If your request is just to remove the third bullet point from the "Asking a new question" modal (i.e. "When appropriate, describe what you’ve tried"), the process is a bit simpler but the steps are largely the same.

  1. Post a request to remove the third bullet point with an explanation of why.
  2. Give time for community feedback/agreement.
  3. If the community agrees, add the tag for CM review.
  4. A CM will review the request and make the change. If they have questions or concerns they may voice them but, generally, we trust your expertise on this.
4
  • Instructions for how a CM can make these changes would improve this answer. That's actually what I'm looking for after asking a similar and getting directed here.
    – Joe Murray
    Sep 12, 2023 at 13:34
  • @JoeMurray Curious - why do you need that info? We have internal documentation for CMs who need to make these changes but I'm not sure why someone without the tools would need that similar info. I've edited in a clarification - it's possible you think "CM" means community member when it actually means "Community Manager" as in people like me who work here. :)
    – Catija
    Sep 12, 2023 at 14:37
  • I'm one of the moderators for civicrm.stackexchange.com and I'd like to revise the text I put in several years ago, but can't remember how I did it. I'm assuming that as one of the three moderators of a beta community I am considered a Community Manager.
    – Joe Murray
    Sep 13, 2023 at 15:11
  • 2
    Nope, CMs are all employees, not moderators. :) If you need to update the text, you have to ask staff to do it - following this guide. There's no way for moderators to change this text themselves.
    – Catija
    Sep 13, 2023 at 19:08
10

Are there any other examples of how sites have customized these pages (like the ELU example shown in the question)?

If your site has customized these elements and you'd like to share them here so that others can reference them and get ideas for what to change, feel free to add them below!

Code Review

On Code Review it has been updated so the modal appears like this:

Asking a good question modal

And the right information panel:

0
2

Content from the Step 1: Draft your question boxes from the Ask Question of Stack Exchange sites that have customized it as of March 18, 2023. Content obtained using an userscript adapted from the one posted by Glorfindel as answer to Which sites have customized their help center homepage?. Sites in alphabetic order. Links points to the Ask Question form of each site.

Site Step 1: Draft your question
es.stackoverflow

La comunidad está aquí para ayudarte con problemas específicos de programación, algoritmos, o lenguaje.

Evita hacer preguntas cuyas respuestas puedan estar basadas en opiniones.

Resume el problema
  • Incluye detalles sobre tu objetivo

  • Describe los resultados esperados y obtenidos

  • Incluye cualquier mensaje de error

  • Describe lo que has intentado


    Enseña lo que has intentado y dinos qué has encontrado (en este sitio o en cualquier otro) y por qué no satisfizo tus necesidades. Se pueden obtener mejores respuestas cuando se proporciona una investigación previa.


  • Muestra algo de código


    Cuando sea apropiado, comparte la mínima cantidad de código necesario para reproducir tu problema (también llamado un ejemplo mínimo verificable)


  • hardwarerecs

    Questions here get better answers when you…

    • …show us what you've done and why it hasn't worked for you
    • …list all your requirements for a single, specific piece of hardware
    • …avoid asking for technical support

    Remember, we don't do compatibility queries, build reviews or HOWTOs. For the full details on what sort of questions are appropriate, see our guidelines and the types of hardware we can recommend.

    Questions about the site itself should be asked on meta.

    visit the help center »
    asking help »

    rus

    Вопрос должен быть о русском языке.

    Вопрос должен быть конкретным (чтобы на него можно было дать лаконичный ответ).

    Указывайте детали.

    Если у вас есть свои соображения, опишите их.

    Если у вас есть предложения по улучшению сайта, опишите их на Мете.

    посетите справку »
    как задавать вопросы »

    ru.stackoverflow

    Сообщество здесь, чтобы помочь вам с конкретными проблемами по программированию, алгоритмам, языкам программирования.

    Избегайте публикации вопросов, на которые невозможно дать объективный ответ.

    Опишите проблему кратко
  • Включите подробную информацию о вашей цели

  • Опишите, что вы ожидали и что получили

  • Добавьте сообщения об ошибках

  • Опишите, что вы пробовали


    Покажите, что вы пробовали, что вы нашли (на этом сайте или в другом месте), и почему это не решает вашу проблему. Вы можете получить лучшие ответы, когда продемонстрируете ваше исследование.


  • Добавьте немного кода


    По возможности добавьте минимальный код, необходимый для воспроизведения вашей проблемы (так называемый минимальный воспроизводимый пример)


  • civicrm

    Is your question about CiviCRM? If your question is not about CiviCRM, you're on the wrong site.

    Detailed questions get informative answers! Include your CiviCRM version, CMS, screenshots and any other details you can think of.

    Show your research. Let us know what you've learned while trying to find an answer, so we can get right to the point. Tell your story!

    New here? Take the tour!

    If your question is about this website, ask it on meta instead.

    visit the help center »
    asking help »

    matheducators

    Is your question about teaching mathematics or the process of learning mathematics?

    We prefer questions that can be answered, not just discussed.

    Provide details. Share your research.

    If your question is about this website, ask it on meta instead.

    visit the help center »
    asking help »

    softwarerecs

    Five ways to get great answers:

    Be sure to tell us...

    • ...the task you want to accomplish
    • ...your requirements for that task
    • ...what you already know about software available for this purpose


    Then, write a specific and to-the-point title and tag your question according to the category of software you're looking for!


    See also: What information is required?

    visit the help center »
    asking help »

    pt.stackoverflow

    Sua pergunta é sobre programação?

    Preferimos perguntas que podem ser respondidas, ao invés de debatidas.

    Dê detalhes. Diga o que você já tentou.

    Resuma o problema
  • Inclua detalhes sobre o seu objetivo

  • Descreva os resultados atuais e os esperados

  • Inclua mensagens de erro

  • Descreva o que você já tentou


    Mostre o que você já tentou e conte para nós o que você encontrou (neste site ou em outro lugar) e o motivo que isso não resolveu seu problema. Você consegue melhores respostas quando você fornece pesquisas.


  • Mostre um pouco de código


    Quando for apropriado, compartilhe uma quantidade mínima de código no qual os outros possam usar para reproduzir o seu problema (também chamado de exemplo mínimo, completo e verificável)


  • mathematica

    Is your question about how to use the software Wolfram Mathematica?

    Search the site. Look it up in Mathematica's documentation center. Then ask.

    We prefer questions that can be answered, not just discussed.

    Provide details. Share your research.

    If your question is about this website, ask it on meta instead.

    visit the help center »
    asking help »

    french

    Is your question about the French language?

    We prefer questions that can be answered, not just discussed.

    Provide details. Share your research.

    If your question is about this website, ask it on meta instead.

    visit the help center »
    asking help »

    japanese

    Is your question about the Japanese language?

    We prefer questions that can be answered, not just discussed. Questions should also be educational to other people.

    Questions asking for translations, transcriptions or proofreading are off-topic, and will be closed. We're here to help you learn, not to provide a translation service. If you're struggling to understand a word or phrase, frame your question around asking for help understanding the specific word or clause in the phrase you're struggling with.

    Provide details. Share your research.

    If your question is about this website, ask it on meta instead.

    german

    To obtain a useful and quick answer, please
    adhere to the following:


    Du darfst auch gerne auf Deutsch fragen.

    If your question is about this website, ask it on meta instead.

    visit the help center »
    asking help »

    parenting

    Is your question about parenting?

    We prefer questions that can be answered, not just discussed.

    Opinions should be backed up either with a reference, or experiences that happened to you personally.

    If your question is about this website, ask it on meta instead.

    visit the help center »

    drupal

    Is your question about the Drupal CMS?

    We prefer questions that can be answered, not just discussed.

    Remember to report the Drupal version and relevant modules you are using. If your question is about code, include the relevant parts.

    If your question is about this website, ask it on meta instead.

    visit the help center »

    codegolf

    Is your question a programming puzzle or code golf challenge?

    All challenge questions on this site should have:

    1. A clear specification of what constitutes a correct submission, so that it is possible to indisputably decide whether an entry is valid or not. Test cases are highly encouraged.
    2. An objective primary winning criterion, so that it is possible to indisputably decide which entry should win.

    Please follow a standard template and post first in the meta Sandbox for feedback.

    If your question is about this website, ask it on meta instead.

    visit the help center »
    asking help »

    codereview

    Improve code that you wrote or maintain, through peer review.

    Your question must contain code that is already working correctly, and the relevant code sections must be embedded in the question. Please avoid stripping out key details that may be relevant to the review. If your code is incomplete or not working, you should ask for help on another site.

    You may wish to mention specific concerns: performance, security issues, etc.

    We recommend reading our Guide to Asking Questions.

    If your question is about this website, ask it on meta instead.

    visit the help center »

    scifi

    The community is here to help you with questions about science fiction or fantasy. Provide details and share research with your question.

    If you are trying to identify a story you may want to check out our helpful guide on what to include.

    If your question is about a story that isn't science fictional or fantastical you may want to check out these sites instead:

    • Movies & TV if your question is about works from the screen.
    • Literature if your question is about written works.
    • Arqade if your question is about game play elements of a video game.
    • Anime & Manga if your question is about an anime or manga.
    graphicdesign

    For more help, please see What topics can I ask about here? and What types of questions should I avoid asking?

    If your question is about this website, ask it on meta instead.

    video

    Is your question about video recording and production?

    We prefer questions that can be answered, not just discussed.

    Provide details. Share your research.

    If your question is about this website, ask it on meta instead.

    visit the help center »
    asking help »

    writing

    Is your question about writing, copywriting, publishing or editing?

    If your question is about the strictly interpreted correctness of English grammar or syntax rules, please ask on English, not here.

    We prefer questions that can be answered, not just discussed.

    Provide details. Share your research.

    If your question is about this website, ask it on meta instead.

    visit the help center »

    physics

    Is your question about physics?

    We prefer questions that can be answered, not just discussed.

    Homework-like questions should ask about a specific physics concept and show some effort to work through the problem. See: homework guidance.

    Provide details. Share your research.

    Please use MathJax for equations in questions.

    If your question is about this website, ask it on meta instead.

    visit the help center »
    asking help »

    rpg

    Is your question about role-playing games?

    We prefer questions that can be answered, not just discussed.

    The community is here to help you with questions about role-playing games. Make sure to specify which game (name and edition) you are asking about, provide details, and share research with your question.

    If your question is about this website, ask it on meta instead.

    visit the help center »
    asking help »

    wordpress

    Is your question about WordPress development?

    We focus on technical questions. A basic level of PHP and Javascript will be helpful in understanding many of the answers.

    We prefer questions that can be answered, not just discussed.

    Provide details. Share your research. Read the help section.

    If your question is about 3rd Party WordPress Themes and Plugins (e.g. WooCommerce, ACF, Divi, etc), these are off-topic. You can visit the official support routes, the .org support forum, and the relevant communities (e.g. Facebook groups), or ask on Stack Overflow instead.

    If your question is about this website, or something that happened on this site, ask it on the meta site instead.

    visit the help center »
    asking help »

    stackapps

    Is your question about the Stack Exchange API, applications written with the API, or scripts that work on Stack Exchange sites?

    For questions, bug-reports or feature-requests...

    • ...use the support tag for help using the API.
    • ...use the bug tag for bug reports.
    • ...use the feature-request tag to suggest improvements to the site or API.

    Provide details. Post updates on your work. Share your research.

    visit the help center »

    english

    Is your question about using English?

    We prefer questions that can be answered, not just discussed.

  • Provide details.

  • Share your research.

  • If your question is about learning English, ask it on ELL instead.

    If your question is about this website, ask it on meta instead.

    visit the help center »
    asking help »

    askubuntu

    The community is here to help you with questions about Ubuntu. Provide details and share research with your question.

    Questions about Pop OS, Linux Mint, Kali Linux, or any other distribution that is not an official flavor of Ubuntu are off-topic on this site, and will be closed. Check this page for more details.

    math

    Is your question about math?

    We prefer questions that can be answered, not just discussed.

    Provide details. Share your research.

    Write an interesting, specific title that summarizes the question.

    If your question is about this website, ask it on meta instead.

    visit the help center »
    asking help »

    cooking

    Is your question about cooking?

    We prefer questions that can be answered, not just discussed.

    Please note that requests for recipes are considered off topic, and will be closed.

    Provide details. Share your research.

    If your question is about this website, ask it on meta instead.

    visit the help center »

    webmasters

    Is your question about the operation of a website you control, or issues that affect entire websites?

    We prefer questions that can be answered, not just discussed.

    Provide details. Share your research.

    If your question is about this website, ask it on meta instead.

    visit the help center »
    asking help »

    meta

    Is your question about the Stack Exchange engine that powers the Stack Exchange network?

    Meta is different from other sites. See:

    visit the help center »
    asking help »

    serverfault

    Is your question about managing information technology systems in a business environment?

    Review our list of allowed topics. We prefer questions that can be answered, not just discussed.

    Provide details. Share your research.

    If your question is about this website, ask it on meta instead.

    visit the help center »
    asking help »

    stackoverflow

    The community is here to help you with specific coding, algorithm, or language problems.

    Avoid asking opinion-based questions.

    Summarize the problem
  • Include details about your goal

  • Describe expected and actual results

  • Include any error messages

  • Describe what you’ve tried


    Show what you’ve tried and tell us what you found (on this site or elsewhere) and why it didn’t meet your needs. You can get better answers when you provide research.


  • Show some code


    When appropriate, share the minimum amount of code others need to reproduce your problem (also called a minimum, reproducible example)


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