6

Go to the main site, sort by newest, then scroll down through the last four or five days. The fact that many of the newest questions over the last week are on-hold.

From February 7th to part way through February 10th, there have been 26 questions. 18 of them are on hold or will be very soon. All except one are from new users with under 25 rep and only one is from a new user with 101 rep (an transfer from a different SE site).

This sentiment has been shared in chat over the past few weeks:

You know it's been a rough day on C.SE when you notice that you've voted 45 times... [5 of the posts he voted on ended up deleted that day] - Nathaniel on January 20th

wow, lots of interesting questions from newer people today ... interesting as in, "I didn't read the rules or understand the theme before asking" - Dan Andrews on February 1st

Does it feel to anyone else like we've had a string of really bad questions by new users these last few days? - curiousdannii on February 5th

Is this is chronic problem that can try to remedy, or just a stroke of bad luck?

If the former, what are some ideas to curb bad questions from new users? I know plenty well of the typical methods, via commenting, linking to meta posts and the help center, and voting; but is there anything a little more out of the box that we can do? Start with simple measures (e.g. some better meta posts), then move on to more drastic measures (e.g. site name change).

  • 2
    Most of these will be deleted in the next week or two, so it's tough (impossible?) for non-moderators to meaningfully compare this week with a week last quarter or last year. But I think a moderator can get counts of deleted questions by week of creation, and that would be interesting historical data. – Nathaniel Feb 10 '16 at 21:30
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    @Nathaniel There is evidence in chat of a chronic problem. See my edit. – fredsbend Feb 10 '16 at 22:05
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    This query, if I did it correctly, shows the number of deleted questions by the month of their creation. It doesn't tell us anything about the creator's rep, however, and one must remember that the rules for automatically deleting questions older than a year are significantly more aggressive than for newer questions. – Nathaniel Feb 10 '16 at 22:21
  • I think it's just a stroke of bad luck, a natural cycle. – curiousdannii Feb 11 '16 at 9:02
  • The site seems to have returned to the quiet part of the cycle :) – curiousdannii Feb 22 '16 at 9:10
6

Create a real tour

As much as I like unicorns, it would be much more helpful to new users if the tour page we pointed them to actually included a meaningful example of how to ask questions.

The trouble is that there's only one question on the entire site that meets the strict SE requirements, and it's not exactly an example of our best work (especially since David's answer would be passed over in favor of the two shorter ones below it).

If we rule that question out, we are left with two options:

  • Find a question that is close to meeting the requirements and muscle it into compliance by shortening it or its answers, or stripping out formatting
  • "Artificially" create a suitable question and answers

Personally, I prefer the second option. A dedicated meta post may be in order to hash out the details of what our question should be (preferably not sectarian) and how the answers will be crafted (short, minimal formatting, but helpful).

It's not the simplest task in the world, but I'm confident that together we can come up with a tour question and answers that are more helpful to new users than daisy-eating unicorns. And hopefully such a question would orient new users to our format more quickly than otherwise.

  • But who would get the rep? ;) – fredsbend Feb 11 '16 at 0:15
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    What about a FAQ hosted on meta, then link to it in the tour? Skeptics does that, but it is geared toward 101 rep users, not the total newbies. – fredsbend Feb 11 '16 at 0:16
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    This post is supposed to help define our "types" of allowable questions. When I wrote that, it was more like preliminary research, not necessarily meant for newbies to read. I think that can be turned into a newbie post and then linked from the tour. – fredsbend Feb 11 '16 at 0:19
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    @fredsbend I like that idea, of linking a cleaned up version of that post. As for the tour question's rep, let whoever comes up with the best question (as voted on in a separate meta post) decide =). – Nathaniel Feb 11 '16 at 1:50

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