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SO is initiating the trial of a new feature, the “Staging Ground”.

This effectively acts as a review process that occurs before a question asked by a new user appears on the main page. It’s something we, here on EL&U, have mulled as a way to improve the quality of the stream of questions we get on a daily basis.

Now, this is in the very early stages, and will initially apply only to SO. But like other quality control mechanisms that initially start out on SO (e.g. moving from 5 VtC to 3 VtC), it might eventually make its way to our little site¹.

Anyway, something worth keeping your eye on.


¹ Of course, that’s only possible if the experiment on SO is considered a success, and even after that I wouldn’t expect it to be rolled out to other sites quickly - I’m thinking a year or two here.

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  • The usual timescale of "Six to eight weeks", then. Does look it could be a worthwhile addition here though.
    – Andrew Leach Mod
    Mar 28 at 14:00
  • @AndrewLeach Still waiting on the “six to eight time units” to elapse on the last SO quality-control feature I recommending keeping an eye on: the Question Wizard.
    – Dan Bron
    Mar 28 at 14:02
  • @DanBron another example of why you should have run for Mod Mar 28 at 18:47
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    @Cascabel_StandWithUkraine The Dan Bron who has a diamond wouldn’t be the same Dan Bron you’re encouraging to run for mod. That’s the problem. There are a couple of MSE feature requests that ask for diamond mods be able to cast close votes, etc, as regular, non-diamond members of the community (rather than being binding and irreversible by the community), but they’ve all been status-declined. I’ve seen this with the current mod community, and it’s bothered me on a fundamental level, even when I agree with the decisions in question. I don’t want to put myself in that position.
    – Dan Bron
    Mar 28 at 19:27
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    @DanBron Effectively, you do not want to wield the Mod Hammer. I can respect that. I am currently compiling an argument for my vision going into the future. // Your objection to this limitation has much merit, and I intend to include it in my platform.// This might take a few days...weeks, etc. I do not post without due diligence. Mar 28 at 19:35
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    There's a discussion now on Meta SE for this and the new Ask a Question Wizard.
    – Laurel Mod
    Apr 6 at 17:13
  • That's a very good idea, and before setting out on increasing the quality of anything, could you try to render "improving the new user onboarding experience" in standard English? Apr 14 at 21:38

3 Answers 3

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I can see exactly how this might seem like a good idea, and might actually be on SO. However, this is a terrible, terrible idea for sites like EL&U. The mechanism for closing questions here is already dominated by a small number of zealous close voters, who sometimes close good questions and often link questions which would be useful for future users to redundant or unrelated posts. We don't get enough good questions here, but this won't be helped by yet more of them not seeing the light of day. We need mechanisms that will drive more traffic to the site and encourage new and existing users to contribute; we don't need measures that will put them off.

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  • 2
    I think it really depends on how the feature is implemented. It can either be implemented as an obstacle course new users must overcome to get their question published, or a new user orientation where friendly people help new users get their question in shape so that it is more likely to get a positive reaction from the community at large. I hope it will be the "welcome to ELU" version, but I suspect it will devolve into the "your question is not good enough to post here" version. That said, I do support ELU having high standards. Some users belong on ELL due to the language barrier.
    – ColleenV
    Mar 30 at 14:05
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    Yes, why are experienced users reluctant to ask questions? An old issue… english.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/7205/…
    – user 66974
    Mar 30 at 21:13
  • The pessimist in me agrees with this. And we should already be workshopping new questions and encouraging new users. You don't need nested comments!
    – Laurel Mod
    Mar 31 at 13:34
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    "The mechanism for closing questions here is already dominated by a small number of zealous close voters." Please qualify your opinions by stating that they are your opinions. Since the 3 strikes system was introduced, SE EL&U has been quickly able to remove lots of the inappropriate questions we have been plagued with. It would make the site better, in my opinion, if they never appeared at all.
    – David
    Apr 4 at 20:36
  • @user66974 Angels fearing to tread, perhaps.
    – David
    Apr 4 at 20:38
  • @David All of the questions that might be of interest to linguists or serious enthusiasts of English have disappeared, especially questions about syntax, pragmatics and etymology. But sure, there's lots of questions now for single-word-request and phrase request enthusiasts. Fewer visitors, Fewer contributions from established users and fewer answers. Some might call that progress, I suppose. Apr 4 at 21:44
  • Sort of what I meant. One comes across some incredibly thorough and well-researched answers, which is what I think SE ELU should be about. I did venture a grammatical question once — not unkindly received — but I am very conscious of my limitations in this area and keep silent. The origin of words and history of usage interests me, but I know where to find answers to questions of that type. And it’s not like my own discipline — science — you can deal with the main themes, and there’s not too much more to add. It must have been more fun at the start.
    – David
    Apr 4 at 22:07
  • @David What a pity that the other users didn't help you! Wouldn't stop that from asking again! Apr 4 at 22:25
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    This "Staging ground" is, from what I gather, about questions that are poorly expressed in English and making sure that newcomers supply the necessary background information and research (the: "What have you tried so far?") so that established users can post their answers. The proposal is not geared toward "interesting" its focus is presentation and context. We might end up with fewer posts that lack effort in the future but this proposal will not ensure more interesting questions will be asked. It might have the very opposite effect and put off your more timid and insecure newcomer.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Apr 7 at 7:39
  • @Mari-LouA Exactly the point, yes. Apr 7 at 14:34
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This is something that we are building with Stack Overflow as the primary use case, but with a keen interest in being able to offer it to sites around the network where it would work for that site.

As I mentioned in the post linked above, there will be a separate post on MSE in the coming weeks that will open up the question to non-SO sites on the network as to how this tool (and the related Ask Wizard) could work for your site, what if any modifications might make it a stronger tool for you, etc.

Look forward to hearing your feedback on that post when it goes up.

Want some Staging Ground?
MSE post forthcoming…
Good place to share thoughts!

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It seems to me obvious that Questions should be subject to review before being published.

It seems equally obvious that a timescale of six to eight days, let alone weeks, would be unjustified in logic, even if as an arbitrary ruling it was not unreasonable.

If the mechanism for closing questions here is being abused by any number of zealous close voters, why should that not be addressed separately?

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