During last months I see significant increase of interest newbies to SO community/site. Probably it's just my personal feeling. Nevertheless I see that experienced users used to ignore some newbies questions. At least some of them first of all looking to accept rate and reputation counter. And if accept rate and/or reputation is low enough they used to ignore question or even sometimes downgrade it. For instance one can look into this thread

I think it's not really way to encourage people (especially newcomers) to use Stacks, so I think it would be useful if answers to newbies will be awarded in special way. E.g.

50 accepted and/or unaccepted answers to newbies (with reputation less than 100 and 0% accept rate) should be rewarded with "Newbie Trainer" bronze badge

I understand dangerousness of this kind of approach, but anyway there is issue and it need to be resolved.

  • 1
    Interesting suggestion. – Pekka Apr 5 '11 at 16:10
  • I'd have guessed it was Profete that downvoted him after his just-Google-it answer rather than corroded for the accept rate - that seems reasonable to me. – Rup Apr 5 '11 at 16:20

After reading this, I was going to write up a 'mentoring program' proposal. But as I saw this thread, here it is.

People with x rep, notably not moderators as these have loads of work already, can voluntarily help newbies postings. The newbie posts a question that is not immediately visible to the community, but only to the mentors. When the mentors approve or edit the question, it goes out into the wild.

This can go on until the newbie gets a certain rep himself, or they have posted a certain amount of questions that have been mentor approved.

The mentor could get half the rep, for instance, of the newbie postings, and a badge as you've proposed. I don't know if the program should only be set up for questions or also for answers.

  • 2
    This should be made optional - i.e. the newbie should be able to use a checkmark like "I need help with creating my question". (I'm not sure if this should be the default or not.) – Paŭlo Ebermann Jul 24 '11 at 6:52
  • @Paŭlo: I think that would be a great idea. – GUI Junkie Jul 24 '11 at 16:01
  • This seems like a separate "question" more than an answer. And I kind of like it. Not sure how much it already overlaps with existing functionality tho (e.g. first answers/first questions on review tools). Maybe it should be its own feature request? – Merlyn Morgan-Graham Dec 5 '11 at 11:27
  • @MerlynMorgan-Graham, thanks, but... I've already written a host of proposals (some badly written) and have been heavily downvoted. So, on the one hand I'm not writing more proposals unless I'm quite sure it makes good sense, and on the other hand, I can't write feature-requests, as I'm (still) banned from asking questions on this site. So, please go ahead and make your own feature request and I'll vote it up :-) – GUI Junkie Dec 5 '11 at 11:49

A badge isn't the right way to fix this. And I'm not sure if there's a problem with "newbie questions being avoided" anyway. Good questions tend to get good attention, assuming it's not incredibly localized/specific. It just so happens that a lot of bad questions are from folks who have just registered (and thus, are "newbies"). Then their bad questions don't get much attention so they don't come back, and so it inflates the perception that "newbies" get ignored, when in reality I don't think it's that they're ignored because they're newbies. I think they in fact remain newbies because they get ignored, but it's because they have poor quality questions and not because of their reputation.

If you have any evidence that high-quality questions are getting ignored on a consistent basis for those users with low reputation, then that would be useful to present to support your argument.

  • And just to be clear, I think it is an interesting suggestion as well and not necessarily a bad one, I just think if he's using it to address what he thinks is a problem that we ought to make sure that the problem really exists first :) – Daniel DiPaolo Apr 5 '11 at 16:20
  • your point is clear enough, but this doesn't help newbies to learn SO rules... I'm really sure that problem really exists. If we will keep ignoring newbies - sooner or later SO will become very narrow society - ok well concentrated :) community. I'm not sure that it's really good – Barmaley Apr 5 '11 at 18:17
  • @barmaley not to be callous, but if you're really sure it really exists, prove it. I think it's demonstrably wrong that SO will become narrow when it's grown pretty substantially since inception and the whole stackexchange network proves that it's not very narrow, rather quite diverse – Daniel DiPaolo Apr 5 '11 at 18:23
  • I tried to prove it giving direct link to thread (see above)... My intention was/is to customize SO in a way to help newbies to be involved. I understand that newbies generate a lot of bad formed questions, trolling and so on, nevertheless SO need them – Barmaley Apr 5 '11 at 18:34
  • @barmaley one bad question with two downvotes doesn't prove anything, to be honest. Also, I'm not sure what you're insisting that SO needs. Yes, it needs new community contributors for sure, and that's why I think the idea is interesting. I just think your premise that newbies are snubbed because they are newbies is flawed. – Daniel DiPaolo Apr 5 '11 at 18:46

This does seem useful. I'll agree with Daniel in saying that most newbie questions that don't get attention are being ignored because they're of poor quality. Perhaps though this badge would encourage patience from more experienced users in pointing the newbies towards style guides and suggesting to them the sort of information they need to include in order to receive meaningful answers.

  • exactly, that's what I was suggesting - more attention/guide to newbies – Barmaley Apr 6 '11 at 4:24

As others have said, when talking about 'newbie' posts we're often talking about posts that were only of sufficient quality to pass through the filters. That is to say, many of the posts in question here are generally not the type of quality that want on the site. This is easy to notice, many questions that go without answers are also typically voted down.

One of the biggest reasons that Stack Overflow is so successful is because of the quality of information that we deliver. If that quality sinks or stinks, so does the site. I'd really hate to see that happen and low quality questions are an immediate concern.

We do have the reversal badge which would apply here, as well as badges for editing. I'm all for someone being able to figure out what a new user actually wanted to ask, editing the question and providing a great answer. However, I don't want to encourage people not to flag something or vote to close. Sometimes 'tough love' is the best thing you can give. I'm not saying that's always the case, but it does apply quite frequently.

The new flagging and review system has been working well when it comes to bringing extremely problematic posts (and by extension their authors) to our attention. I'm rather concerned that a badge such as this might short circuit that system, at least to a small degree.

I'm not saying it's a bad idea, I'm just worried that:

  • People will get burned out while trying to earn the badge
  • Posts that should be flagged or closed might not make it to the moderator queue
  • New and (sometimes) lazy users get the impression that someone else will just fix things for them, which seriously cuts down on the motivation to improve

I would like to see something given to people that go above and beyond to salvage new users that can be salvaged, but I'm not sure this is the solution.


Maybe there should be a badge for editing "newbie" questions which eventually are answered...THe calculation here isn't simple but presumably a poor question won't receive many views or answers within a period of time (say a day (or two)), if an edit is received which lifts the quality such that an answer is provided or receives votes, then maybe that counts towards this badge.

As Daniel mentioned, 99% of the time it will be because the questions are poor, but that should be a great opportunity to edit...

The only flaw I can see is that editing bumps the question, so it may well be that the bump is what causes more votes/answers...but I'm sure there would be a way of roughly getting this calculation right.

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