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I'm new here, and have been reading Meta questions and such as I try to get a handle on things like answers vs comments, what's on topic, etc. I greatly appreciate the thought that has clearly gone into the shaping of the site (even when I don't always agree with the outcome).

I also recently re-watched the Tour, and noticed that the question highlighted in animation does not seem to meet current standards. Specifically, it asks for a definition without describing any research:

Screen capture of EL&U's Tour page

Many of the answers here in Meta and also comments on "bad" questions point new users to the Tour, so it seems like it would be in everyone's best interests if the question featured there actually represented current best practices. Is it possible to fix this?

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  • 5
    I agree this should be done. There are some restrictions on which questions can appear in the tour, such as total length, but I'm too lazy right now to find the relevant post on Meta.se. But once we do, the next step would be to find really stellar questions (or at least not terrible questions) which meet those criteria, and one other: ones which whet the appetites of new visitors. Such candidates should be proposed using answers to this question.
    – Dan Bron
    Jul 9, 2016 at 15:34
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    This is an excellent observation—and the included screenshot offers strong evidence that what constituted an archetypally good answer in the past (when high-reputation answerers were taken to be experts and not expected to show their work or cite sources) might well be viewed as incomplete today. Moreover, the question in the screenshot shows no research effort on the OP's part, which is a charge repeatedly brought against questions deemed unacceptable today.
    – Sven Yargs
    Jul 9, 2016 at 19:05
  • Feel free to give that question a close vote too: english.stackexchange.com/q/33860/59258 Jul 10, 2016 at 11:04
  • 2
    Ah, it seems we're not the only site that suffers this issue. The tour is intended to be short and digestible, so Q&A used as examples in the tour are constrained to be short & digestible. Which effectively means: low effort but popular. The worst of the lot.
    – Dan Bron
    Jul 10, 2016 at 14:45
  • @DanBron, maybe some appropriate answer could be temporarily edited to fit? E.g., I ran across this question as a great example in another Meta discussion (I'm sorry I can't remember exactly where) that looks like it might work: english.stackexchange.com/questions/168562/…. The question would need to have a few words edited out, and the answer would need to be reformatted without block quotes (and maybe a few more introductory words). If the screenshot is static, the edits could be reverted after.
    – 1006a
    Jul 10, 2016 at 20:13
  • How ya like me now?
    – Robusto
    May 19 at 18:11

3 Answers 3

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The Tour page describes editing others' questions and answers, but it doesn't mention one of the most important editing functions: editing your own post, especially to incorporate suggestions in the Comments about how to improve your post.

I'd list this as the first explanation on editing. After all, the Tour is primarily for those who are (a) new (or relatively new) to the site, and (b) have at least some degree of interest in how the site works. It's this latter 5% of new users who would most benefit from highlighting this self-editing expectation.

To expand on part II of user140086's answer, how difficult would it be to engineer ELU so that a pop-up message appears when a low-rep user commences a question or answer, presenting a couple of really basic dot points - e.g. a note that ELU isn't for opinions; a link to How to write a good question/answer; a link to ELL. It wouldn't stop flagworthy posts, but it might reduce the flood. Is such a structural enhancement possible for just the ELU site?

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    Have you seen the sidebar on the Ask Question page? The sidebar box has only limited space/length available, but it was adjusted not all that long ago.
    – Andrew Leach Mod
    Jul 14, 2016 at 14:11
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The tour page would be far better if it included:

  1. Detailed explanation on the differences between ELU and ELL and a link to ELL for learners.

  2. A few good example questions that are well researched with clear context.

  3. A guide to use the search box encouraging new users to search a key word or phrase before asking a question.

  4. A sentence emphasizing ELU is not a discussion forum and any question seeking an opinion is off-topic.

  5. A sentence emphasizing "What does XYZ mean?" or "Proof-reading request" type of question is off-topic unless well researched and a specific source of concern is identified.

The above was intended to attract upvotes.


More serious notes

  1. I doubt many new users are reading the tour page and guidelines on our Help Center. If they did, a majority of questions would not be posted in the first place. More than 80 to 90% of new users don't come back after posting one new question. I don't think changing the tour page would be as effective as we expect.

  2. The more important things to do:

(1) make a specific comment that mentions a related guideline so that new users can edit their question. For example, Questions on choosing an ideal word or phrase must include information on how it will be used in order to be answered for Single-Word-Request questions.

(2) give new users a warning that an off-topic question could be close-voted unless properly edited

(3) put low-quality questions on hold as soon as possible if no edit attempt is made.

(4) edit a question proactively when it looks salvageable by editing.

We need more participation of experienced users in helping new users get familiarized with the ELU's guidelines and standards.

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  • How about changing the tag line to Ask questions, get answers, no riff raff?
    – deadrat
    Jul 10, 2016 at 18:16
  • 3
    @deadrat How about "Ask questions, get answers, beware CPVPV"?
    – user140086
    Jul 10, 2016 at 18:25
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Assuming you're asking about a part of the site that's customizable, it's as simple as raising a new meta question with your suggested changes (or asking for suggestions) and reaching a consensus.

Many changes can be made instantly by a moderator, and the rest require staff intervention.

Tour

There are a few places in the Tour that can be changed by moderators:

  • Top section ("English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists...")
  • Example question (note: not visible at small widths, such as on mobile)
  • "Ask about" bullets
  • "Don't ask about" bullets

The Tour has always struck me as being a page for people who don't know anything about Stack Exchange. All of these sections should be kept brief and possibly link to meta posts where everything can be explained more fully.

Help Center

Moderators can edit:

  • The top of the main page, between the search bar and "Find out more about". If it looks like there's nothing there, that's because there isn't... yet.
  • What topics can I ask about here? (which desperately needs more than the superficial edits I recently gave it)

Additionally, if there's a good reason to, staff can allow moderators to edit more Help pages. The downside is that these pages won't receive any of the updates that are supposed to be deployed across every site, such as updating screenshots or covering new features.

The Ask page

There are two places that can be edited here:

  • The popup "Asking a good question" (you may need to try incognito if you don't see this)
  • The box under "Step 1: Draft your question" (which is collapsed by default on mobile)

Both of these require staff to change. More info here: What site-specific changes can be made to the Ask Question page to help askers on that site write better questions?

Tags

Tags have wikis and excerpts that can be edited by anyone, usually through suggested edits. However, the wiki is so hard to find it might as well not exist and the excerpt isn't much better (I don't think it shows at all when you're tagging on mobile).

To make information about a specific tag more prominent, we can use tag warnings (aka tag tips). In the current iteration of the Ask page, these show up after you click "review question". (It also sometimes shows up when the post is being edited, though this is rarely the right time to be giving advice.)

This requires staff to implement.

Everything else you need to know about this can be found in my question Warn people of the rules for [Single-Word-Requests] before posting.

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