The flood of badly formatted, badly asked low quality questions on SO is starting to get on my nerves. Not only are they clogging my screen but they're also impairing search functions.

I propose to create a new closing reason "User needs to learn how to ask questions". This reason would only show for users with less than 500 rep.

Such a closing would provide the respective user with a link to a well made, nice, friendly, constructive tutorial about how to ask questions including:

  • how to word questions
  • how to format code and use the formatting in general
  • how to provide other users with information about the problem history, what did I try, what was the result, what do I think could the problem be...
  • 1
    It should be down-voted. That's not happening. Commented Jan 14, 2011 at 10:08
  • That's the quickest feature-request implementation I've yet seen. Read today's blog post. Commented Jan 14, 2011 at 15:34
  • Oh, crud, this is for answers only. The one problem that anybody can fix by posting a better answer. Commented Jan 14, 2011 at 21:09

1 Answer 1


Hmmm... I am of two minds about this. My first reaction was "yes, we definitely have way too many bad quality questions". OTOH I felt that such a closing reason sounds too patronizing. New users on SO may be intimidated anyway, and this doesn't help them feel welcomed here. Then again, those new users who don't take the minimal effort to actually get acquainted with the site (i.e. read the FAQ) may deserve some more explicit prodding :-)

In the end, to me this is a subcase of the existing Not a real question, so would it be better to just link the "how to ask good questions" tutorial to that one for users under a certain rep limit?


Another thought which came to my mind on this: it may be worth analyzing the statistics to see where the questions closed as "Not a real question" come from. Are they typically a one-off for novice users, or is there a significant mass of users producing bad questions frequently? In the latter case, we might want to do something specifically about these users.

  • I see your point. I just sometimes don't dare to vote for closing as not a real question because I can see it is a real question but also a really badly asked one. Maybe every low rep user should have several chances at messing up. So that there would be several criteria which would lead for this closing reason to be available.
    – markus
    Commented Jan 14, 2011 at 12:39

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