-26

A new contributor asks a question that, on face value, is poor. Maybe the wording is off topic, or is phrased to solicit opinion, or is a little cloudy or asks too many questions.

If:

  • the situation or problem is unambiguous
  • there is an obvious and inevitable good question associated with it

How could SE encourage the community to suggest improvements and wait a day or two for OP to improve the question, or even just answer the obvious question rather than summarily closing the question, with accompanying insulting comments to a new contributor?

In my favorite SE (DIY) this hasty closure usually happens within two hours. Long before more constructive people even have a chance to see the questions.

Could a new SE feature encourage constructive over destructive moderation of almost-good questions from inexperienced users?

Suggestion 1: :Should there be a "Vote to Improve" button? It would allow OP one or two days to improve the question, hopefully with accompanying comments on what would help. "Vote to Close" should be locked while "Vote to Improve" is in play, or it can be left available but cost the user a non-trivial amount of reputation if used within that time frame. Moderators could override this for highly inappropriate questions (spam, abuse, etc) but not for simply disliking the question.

Suggestion 2: Should VtC just be locked for 24 hours for questions from newbies? Can we assume the community has good intent, and just give them time to make suggestions and improvements, and force those who want to summarily close such questions to wait a day or two?

Here, for contrast and consideration, is the opposite question.

17
  • 25
    There is a ‘vote to improve’ button, and it’s called ‘Close’. Once the question is improved then, and only then, it should be reopened. Making new users immune from negative feedback does not help them; it just removes their incentives to improve. Commented Nov 27, 2022 at 17:00
  • 3
    On Stack Overflow, the Staging Ground (SG) is underway (e.g., re "How could SE encourage the community to suggest improvements and wait a day or two for OP to improve the question"). Commented Nov 27, 2022 at 17:12
  • 9
    Should VtC just be locked for 24 hours for questions from newbies? - try that over on Stack Overflow where we get 5.5k questions/day and see how well this will work out for contribution quality (very low to begin with). Not to mention absolute, utter crap getting 4-10 answers (of similar quality) in under one minute in popular tags (hello, dear JS). Commented Nov 27, 2022 at 18:58
  • 7
    Not to mention that the Stack Exchange network is a very twisted economy: there is a constant demand for answers and a very limited supply of answerers. As long as this stands, any attempt to make things "better" for askers is doomed to just end up plummeting the quality of the knowledge repository even lower than it currently is. There is 0 incentive for an asker to improve, really, nothing. They come here, get an answer, and go on their merry way caring not for what we are: a library. Quick closure stands in the way of that - if they are not able to get an answer without putting in [1/2] Commented Nov 27, 2022 at 19:03
  • 4
    [2/2] at least some effort to make the question (a) on-topic; (b) not duplicate; (c) clear; (d) focused; (e) reproducible (oh, look, those are the close reasons we have!), it at least forces some to edit their posts in shape. Absent that, all bets are off. Commented Nov 27, 2022 at 19:05
  • 14
    And I apologize, as I stated that before multiple times, but I have to state it again: can we please stop equating "newbies" with children? Why on earth should we treat adults (and, for the most part, everyone here is, at least legally speaking) like they can't learn basic searching or writing skills they are supposed to know already? Commented Nov 27, 2022 at 19:10
  • 3
    Somewhat related to @OlegValteriswithUkraine's point, see also this blog post. I find it quite insightful, personally
    – cocomac
    Commented Nov 27, 2022 at 20:56
  • 1
    @cocomac sigh, yeah, rereading this blog post again is quite depressing given what happened over the past few years (re-rebalancing and all that jazz)... Commented Nov 27, 2022 at 21:02
  • 6
    "almost-good"<>good. "is poor"<>good. A line must be drawn somewhere. Close them. "hasty closure" No, timely. "encourage the community to suggest improvements" By encouraging closing. "destructive" No, constructive. "insulting comments" Entirely separate issue, should be flagged. How to Ask Help center However, SO/SE Inc educates new askers very poorly.
    – philipxy
    Commented Nov 27, 2022 at 22:22
  • 2
    We, effectively, used to have something along the lines of at least a part of what you describe, but it was completely semantics. It used to be that for the first 9 days (IIRC) after a question was closed, it was indicated as "on hold", not "closed" when voted to close. The status then automatically changed to "closed" after that time. IMO, that was substantially better, because it made it much more clear to everyone that the question could be reopened (taken off "hold"), if the question was edited to improve it (or otherwise passed a reopen review/got enough votes to reopen).
    – Makyen
    Commented Nov 28, 2022 at 0:01
  • 5
    That "on-hold" (improvement) time still exists, but it's just called "closed". The period when the question could be improved is all the time prior to the question being deleted, including the time the question is closed and even the infinite time prior to it being posted. So, while I feel the semantics could change such that there is once again a period called "on-hold", there doesn't need to be a new separate "improvement" period, because it already exists.
    – Makyen
    Commented Nov 28, 2022 at 0:08
  • 1
    @This_is_NOT_a_forum make that (Staging Ground) an answer? It would be a good one. If successful on Overflow I hope it can become a model for other sites.
    – jay613
    Commented Nov 28, 2022 at 1:10
  • 1
    @OlegValteriswithUkraine at least one good answer in your comments, namely that the dynamics and "economy" of overflow is different to other sites and maybe different sites need different kinds of moderation.
    – jay613
    Commented Nov 28, 2022 at 1:14
  • 1
    see also: How soon should I "vote to close"?
    – gnat
    Commented Nov 28, 2022 at 5:55
  • 3
    It is not easily possible to identify new users, only new accounts. Commented Nov 28, 2022 at 7:47

2 Answers 2

6

"... In my favorite SE (DIY) this hasty closure usually happens within two hours. Long before more constructive people even have a chance to see the questions.".

While 25% of your questions scored 0 or -1 even the worst two don't seem terrible.

"If:

  • the situation or problem is unambiguous
  • there is an obvious and inevitable good question associated with it
     

How could SE encourage the community to suggest improvements and wait a day or two for OP to improve the question, or even just answer the obvious question rather than summarily closing the question, with accompanying insulting comments to a new contributor?".

There are already close reasons that address your first concerns:

enter image description here

After the question is improved it can automatically enter the reopen queue, and be opened after improvement rather than remaining open but not being an excellent question. We seek quality over quantity.

Sometimes poor questions do get an answer before closing.

If you see insults or other rudeness you should flag the comments.

"Could a new SE feature encourage constructive over destructive moderation of almost-good questions from inexperienced users?".

If you think that the questions are usually good and that the reviewing is often hastey and poorly done then that's a question for DIY's meta, not here.

Suggestion 1: :Should there be a "Vote to Improve" button? It would allow OP one or two days to improve the question, hopefully with accompanying comments on what would help.

Closing could be seen as a "vote to improve" or delete, depending on the salvagability of the question and the potential for good answers.

I would agree that downvoting often prompts improvement better than closing, but closing prevents answers to poorly written questions.

3

Staging ground is the most likely improvement to actually be developed. I don't see development time spent on solution #1 ("Vote to Improve" button).

Solution #2 is likewise unlikely, as it permits questions to persist on the site for a minimum of 24 hours. This could have a side effect of teaching other new contributors that these are perfectly fine questions.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .