Yes, there are some saintly souls who gently direct users to the FAQ and other missives, but surely it isn't beyond our ken to force users to agree to a minimum number of checks when they make their first post. It would save everyone so much time.


1 Answer 1


I realize the improbability of this suggestion being acted on.

We've got review audits for close vote queue. Make one for new users. I am inspired by Sesame Street... o/` Four of these things are not like the others o/`... (those are supposed to look like notes)

  • Pick 10 questions. Six off topic or otherwise closeable (including migrated questions) and four on topic.
    • All questions should be a similar length
  • The user is to select the four that are on topic with a score of 75% or better.

The hope would be that seeing questions that are like the ones that they want to ask and are in the "don't ask this - off topic" area they would get some hint that asking such a question would get closed too.

After having one question closed on the site or a network wide "doesn't understand" flag is set, they need to pass the test before asking another.

This "doesn't understand" flag would be set when the user has two questions closed on a site of a given topic area (technology, culture, ...) and would then have the quiz on all sites of that domain.

This test remains in effect until their unclosed questions older than five days (want to give enough time for close votes to kick in) outnumber their closed questions by some margin.

  • I appreciate the sentiment, but I think you are sacrificing usability too much.
    – durron597
    Oct 13, 2015 at 19:23
  • @durron597 I'm just putting it out there as an idea. Barriers to entry are a necessary thing. If the "must be a registered user" barrier that is currently in place isn't enough, we may need to look at stronger ones. While I don't think that this is necessarily the right answer, it is something to get people thinking about a possible approach. That we are getting people dumping homework in a 'derp textbox' syndrome like behavior that is overwhelming current community moderation, we need to either look to more tools or more barriers.
    – user40980
    Oct 13, 2015 at 19:26
  • Is it actually overwhelming current community moderation?
    – durron597
    Oct 13, 2015 at 19:32
  • @durron597 if questions that should be closed are remaining open because people who cast them don't have enough close votes, it is an issue. I do realize that is self referential. I am typically out of close votes seven hours before vote reset. Of the votes I cast today, only three haven't resulted in a closed or deleted question yet. Poor questions are remaining on the site longer than they would if there were more close votes or tools to deal with these questions. The other part is the experience of the new user ...
    – user40980
    Oct 13, 2015 at 19:37
  • 2
    If their first experience is "post stuff in text box" followed by "-4, closed, explain why off topic, deleted" this is a bad experience for those users. We need to endeavor to find a way to help these users before they ask the question - but that is something that we (as part of the community) have little control over. To help the users have the best asking experience possible on Stack Exchange, making sure they are aware of the types of questions to ask is one approach. That it is a bit of work to do this needs to be weighed against how much work it is to clean up the poor question.
    – user40980
    Oct 13, 2015 at 19:40
  • I think bad questions not getting closed immediately is not as impactful as you think it is. Given the fact that -4 and below questions fall off the front page, I don't really see how such an unpleasant hurdle to the user experience will benefit more than the cost of making the site so much less usable to new users.
    – durron597
    Oct 13, 2015 at 19:40
  • Why not let them fail before making them take a quiz?
    – durron597
    Oct 13, 2015 at 19:40
  • @durron597 Looking at the front page now, I see nine questions still there (above -4). I would contend that this is still too many - several of those are clearly off topic and should never have been asked here in the first place. Letting the user fail before taking the quiz means that the user will get that -4, close, delete experience before understanding what is and isn't on topic - that is the bad experience that should be examined on how to prevent it proactively rather than reactively.
    – user40980
    Oct 13, 2015 at 19:43
  • Taking a quiz is also a bad experience.
    – durron597
    Oct 13, 2015 at 19:44
  • 1
    @durron597 it can be. Signing up can also be a bad experience. It is a matter of balancing how to do it. However, we have far too many users who come to this site first and only and ask a homework question. If it is important to Stack Exchange that this user has a better experience in asking a question, something needs to be done before the submit button is pressed. Otherwise, it is reasonable to expect that users will continue to act as they do now - both the askers and the community that moderates the site.
    – user40980
    Oct 13, 2015 at 19:48
  • 3
    I will also point out the option of enticing users with a carrot too. "If you take this test before you ask your first question and pass it, we'll give you 5 rep."
    – user40980
    Oct 13, 2015 at 20:01
  • 1
    I think this idea rocks. Too bad I can only give +1.
    – Robbie Dee
    Oct 14, 2015 at 8:24
  • I know that in the past, SE team folks thought that's the way it should be: per recollection of jmort here. "On the smaller sites, I believe the idea is that, since they get less traffic than Stack Overflow, there's not as much of a disincentive to prevent people from posting, since the community can help users fix problems with their posts, or close, flag, and delete." Not that this makes me happy but I haven't seen them ever mentioning change in that stinkin' approach
    – gnat
    Oct 14, 2015 at 21:31

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