I came about a blog post written by Jon Skeet towards the end of last year entitled Writing the perfect question (He also has a post entitled Answering technical questions helpfully). In it he offers some very good advice for writing good questions on SO. Some of the advice might not translate to PSE very well but I believe that most of it will.

Seeing that there has been a lot of discussion here in the past few days about some of the deep rooted issues with the site (closing questions, viral up voting, good answers...), I wonder if this is a good time to discuss updating our FAQ? We could incorporate some of Jon's advice or add a section for answers (as most of the FAQ is about quesitons).

Is it time to update our FAQ? What should be changed/added/removed?

3 Answers 3


While I don't see any problem is helping newcomers (or even older members) write better questions in order to get better answers, I think all the stuff regarding the quality is too much.

I've been involved in communities for years, and I've observed many efforts from the manager to make it "better" without much success. Because "better" is subjective.

From the user's point of view, all I want when I ask a question is to get answers. I don't expect them to visit the FAQ quite often.

IMHO, we should focus our efforts in improving the Ask Question page. It's where all askers go. Today, we have info about potential duplicates and formatting tips.

The link "asking help »" bring the user to a very useful page.

I suggest that the content of the asking help page be displayed (even in a smaller form) within the Ask Question page.

enter image description here

  • 2
    I like this idea a lot.
    – Adam Lear StaffMod
    Apr 12, 2011 at 13:10
  • Me too.........
    – Walter
    Apr 12, 2011 at 13:53
  • you have the focus on the wrong box. See my answer. Apr 13, 2011 at 8:49
  • @Jeff Atwood: thanks for that, I commented your answer
    – user2567
    Apr 13, 2011 at 11:25
  • notice screenshots here codinghorror.com/blog/2009/10/treating-user-myopia.html as this is the way we used to have it.. and then, because formatting help wasn't primary, users failed to format their posts.. Apr 18, 2011 at 9:39
  • @Jeff Atwood: can you usability test a third solution? What is on your screenshots, but inverse formatting & how to ask
    – user2567
    Apr 18, 2011 at 10:46

To be clear, the specific help you want is when the title field is focused, under the assumption that the user enters the title first.

enter image description here

  • 3
    I didn't see it. And it's exactly what is needed. However don't you think it would bring additional value if still displayed when you click on the editor?
    – user2567
    Apr 13, 2011 at 11:25
  • 2
    I wonder if it would make sense to include some of the information from the actual How to Ask page. Specifically I'm imagining just the 5 headings listed as bullet points, then a link. In terms of actual word count it would be a relatively minor change, although the expanded height might make it look overwhelming...
    – Aaronaught
    Apr 13, 2011 at 13:26
  • 3
    I also think that showing it when the user's focused on the body textbox would be important. I suspect people spend more time there than on the title and might be more likely to look over to the right.
    – Adam Lear StaffMod
    Apr 13, 2011 at 13:50
  • 1
    pls look at my answer ..
    – Chani
    Apr 15, 2011 at 6:57

i am new to stackexchange and asking the question correctly is of paramount importance. But IMHO you all "pros" are missing the point here. (now have patience) Stachexchange is a place where you would like to come everyday rather than a "tool" which you use once in a blue moon. i think we should accentuate this specific behaviour. So then the best way to learn to ask a question is not by looking at "a few pointers" but rather by looking at negative comments by "pros" and moderators when you ask a wrong one. So what you guys need to do is edit questions more often and mentor newcomers. thats all. it HAS to be a slow (but sure) process. now time for a bad example :: you might wanna learn to drive a rental car quickly ... but if you buy your own ferrari .. you shud rather take time .. but learn to drive it really well. looking at FAQ's is not the way to got there. you better get Shumacher give you a few tips.

  • That's a fair point. We edit and comment where we can. There's only so much moderators can do, though. The other users are still responsible for figuring out what the rules and conventions are.
    – Adam Lear StaffMod
    Apr 15, 2011 at 13:40

You must log in to answer this question.

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