When the user of any SE site is ready to post their first question they will see the notice, e.g. on ruSO now:

Asking a Good Question popup, showing asterisks rather than bold.

Source English text for the top paragraph in this popup is the following in traducir:

You’re ready to ask your first programming-related question and the community is here to help! To get you the best answers, we’ve provided some guidance:

As you can see there are no highlighted parts, no Markdown ** or HTML tags like <b>. I tried to use ** in translation but had no luck (see on screenshot above).

Why do I want to add this? Because we still struggle on a regular basis with questions that are blatantly off-topic (it's fun to read them sometimes, but everything that can be done for them is to be closed and deleted as not suitable for site).

So, I hope that if we get additional ability to highlight site's topic that will reduce the number of really off-topic question. It should not cost to much too implement because there are a lot of strings in translations that use highlighting somehow.

Related feature request that can help minimize amount of off-topic questions: Add on-topic notice to the top part (logo row) for 1 rep users

  • 3
    Formatting is irrelevant when people don't read the text content at all anyway.
    – Nij
    Commented Apr 25 at 20:48
  • 1
    @Nij to be sure we just need to compare two options: with and without emphasis for long enough time period. How many blatantly off-topic questions will be posted. Commented Apr 25 at 21:00
  • 3
    lolwut. It's been tried in multiple formats and arrangements and locations and it did not matter because people do not care and do not read it.
    – Nij
    Commented Apr 25 at 21:12
  • Instead of just translating it, why don't you write it from scratch? meta.stackexchange.com/questions/377058/… I think I also wrote a version of this for mods on the Mod Team.
    – Catija
    Commented Apr 25 at 21:48
  • @Catija currently this text comes from Transifex. It always easier to update translations this way than ask staff (mostly not familiar with Russian language) to do something with customization. Commented May 9 at 9:03
  • @αλεχολυτ I mean... I understand that... but (assuming things haven't changed much since I was laid off), Adam is at least on the team doing this, so could easily confirm it. I respect trying to do things on your own - I just don't know how it'd work in this case, if it's even possible. As far as I'm aware, the Traducir strings are just that - strings - so any attempt to add formatting will just be rendered in plain text. The only option is to actually have the modal edited.
    – Catija
    Commented May 9 at 14:28
  • @Catija there is a lot of strings in Traducir that supports markdown. Commented May 9 at 17:53

1 Answer 1


You're getting mixed reactions probably because bold isn't going to help. 400em pink & green flashing text with fireworks, dancing lions, confetti, and vuvuzelas aren't going to help.

People just aren't going to read it.

Look at all the prompting you get here before you can post a question - a modal dialog that you have to dismiss, and a persistent reminder in the sidebar even after you dismiss the modal:

enter image description here

Yet still, often 15 times a day or more, we have to obliterate questions about jQuery, pandas dataframes, and occasionally support questions meant for the other meta. And it has been this way for over a decade.

I really don't think the problem is that we aren't clear about what's on-topic; it's that they're not looking no matter what. They just want their question answered, reading be damned. Maybe they landed here through an ill-conceived search or came here because they were rejected from the first site they asked. Emphasizing one additional word in that kind of dialog isn't going to suddenly make everyone stop and read it, never mind convince them this isn't the place they should be asking their question.

Now, to be fair, the dialog here could be clearer. I've talked about this before: the opening seems to instruct the user to go ask their question on Stack Overflow, no matter what. It's unfortunate that the title of the web page it links to is worded as an instruction. But I am fairly confident - and confident that most here would agree - that you if you changed it to...

This is NOT Stack Overflow - if your question is about programming, then try Stack Overflow.

...nothing would change.

Does that mean I think nothing could or should be done? Of course not. I've had several conversations internally about it - I just don't know that we've ever come up with a good solution, and we've talked about things much more substantial than bolding a word. :-)

In the meantime, the community polices itself pretty well - as annoying as it might be, shutting down out-of-place questions is far from the biggest challenge we face.

  • 5
    This was posted while I was typing this answer.
    – Aaron Bertrand Staff
    Commented Apr 25 at 20:44
  • 1
    Based on your screenshot it seems that there is already bold NOT on the notice. So, it's supported on MSE, how can it be used on other sites like non-English SOs? Why it doesn't work via translation? Commented Apr 25 at 20:56
  • I would like to compare the times before and after the notice was added. Is it too complicated to give us an opportunity to try? Commented Apr 25 at 21:34
  • 1
    @αλεχολυτ It's supported because it's custom text that staff edits and it does actually recognize mini markdown - or in some cases, full markdown. More on that here - meta.stackexchange.com/questions/377058/… (Aaron, this is how it happens - there's a site setting for one of them and the other is actually changed by a dev in code - I don't think a CM can change it in a setting, though. I wrote a post about it on SO internal.)
    – Catija
    Commented Apr 25 at 21:50
  • Sure. I mean - that modal used to be a lot bigger and it had a check box that had to be ticked before you could close it... Oh, and back then, the formatting looked a lot more like what your post has - huge and obvious. I don't think it did much.
    – Catija
    Commented Apr 25 at 21:58
  • I agree here. In my experience, the dialog takes a while to load, and during that time I click on the empty text field to compose my question, and that registers as dismissing the prompt so it pops up very briefly and then closes immediately and I never see it. Commented Apr 26 at 5:23
  • Basically its there for those who can be bothered to read it, and cancan dancing borzoi arn't going to help people who want to ignore it :D Commented Apr 26 at 5:57

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