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I've been looking over the Meta vote questions and a few other questions and their comments and I have to say that I'm not really liking some of the direction being taken by this site. I know I'm just an average user and I have been infrequent in the last year and to be honest I mainly go between this one and Sci/fi&Fantasy so maybe I'm not the type of user that really is sought after here. I'm not sure.

I have noticed that often new users are met with rules and not help as their greeting. It is given in the generic " Hi welcome to " format but I feel some clearer direction is needed for new users. It bothers me that sometimes Movies&TV reminds me of a comicbook store where you either are a regular that sits there and discusses trivia and hypotheticals all day long or you are a ridiculed potential customer (if you don't get the analogy imagine Comicbook guy from the Simpsons mocking you for liking something). I'd like to put it up for discussion and see if anyone else thinks this way or if I am in fact the one that's being harsh on the community.

Christin Rau suggested that I add this from Chat: @KevinHowell If the main point you wanted to make is that people are close-voting too fast (which is a valid point), you might want to add that into the currently slightly fuzzy meta-question to make it a bit more substantial.

Close voting too quick is definitely part of the issue but not all of it. I think I'm more concerned about encouraging new users and creating a thriving community environment.

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    Good question, as sometimes I think this is true. Are there specific areas of concerns (e.g. the recent meta questions about identify-this? questions) or just in general? – iandotkelly Jun 2 '14 at 22:17
  • Nothing really specific enough to point out but along with the meta identify votes and looking at comments I started to notice this or at least feel this way. – Kevin Howell Jun 2 '14 at 23:20
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    I agree that this is something that we have to be wary of. It would really help though to know what kind of behaviour you think is to hard on new users (if possible with examples), so we can work on it. When you clean up questions regularly, it's easy to develop habits that others find "cliquish" without you noticing it. – magnattic Jun 3 '14 at 1:45
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    I also think we have to make a distinction between new user putting in some effort to ask a legitimate question and cases like this where no effort at all is shown to even understand the purpose of the site. – magnattic Jun 3 '14 at 1:57
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    I think the current Stephen Colbert questions is a good example actually. It was quickly picked as off topic yet there is a good basis for the question. Colbert worked on SNL. It seems quite trival at first glance but still has a great informative answer. Overall I feel it's a solid question with a great answer and it steps outside what we normally see but it's not a question that should be closed. Plus the user is new but seems experienced with SE overall. Why greet him with a closed question? – Kevin Howell Jun 3 '14 at 2:22
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    The question was in the form of a textbook trivia question (»Did X play in Y?«). So imho for it to be on-topic, there had to be some sort of reasoning that made it valid. I took the time to explain this to the user in detail and encouraged him to edit the question before it was closed. He did not do it, so the question ended up being put on hold. I was under the impression that we did not shut the door in his face in this situation, but explained the problem and gave him time to do something about it. In the end he did, and hopefully the question will be reopened. – magnattic Jun 3 '14 at 3:31
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    I still don't consider this an especially interesting question, but that's just my opinion. I still feel like we did put reasonable effort in there to help the user get his question answered, instead of just closing it without further ado. I hope you agree that the initial state of the question was not great. (5 people thought so) How should we handle this better in your opinion? (honest question) – magnattic Jun 3 '14 at 3:42
  • I'm with @atticae on this one. I generally think we handle new users quite well. But in what way would you like things to be different? All input is valid and interesting so I'm curious to hear your suggestions. Perhaps post them as an answer to this question? – Andrew Martin Jun 3 '14 at 7:36
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    While I understand the general problem you're adressing and also sometimes fear that it might come across this way, your SNL example is rather the opposite, as it is in its current form an example where the respective problems users saw with the question were adressed in polite and constructive comments with the goal to improve the question. And in the end this resulted in an improvement and reopening of the question and an enlightening and satisfaction of a new and potentially future user. This question is perfect example for what collabortive and constructive integration of new users is... – Napoleon Wilson Jun 3 '14 at 10:01
  • ...Nevertheless I understand that there are far worse examples. And while I wouldn't subscribe to the overall wording of this question, you adress a valid point. – Napoleon Wilson Jun 3 '14 at 10:01
  • That's one reason why I didn't want to post an example. That one example then gets sides taken for it and justified or discussed rather than the issue. It doesn't really matter if the SNL question was a good question originally. And Atticae was supportive in his comments but the quickness that it was voted on as off-topic doesn't seem supportive. It was up for less than an hour. To me the question seems changed very little from it's original version. I think foregon actually put it quite well in his third comment. This is a new user under 1000 we need to encourage them more not close questions – Kevin Howell Jun 3 '14 at 13:40
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    To me the question seems changed very little from it's original version. I disagree, the added part that explains the question's relevance turns the questions from insignificant to relevant (enough). Anyway, if you don't think we can talk about this problem in a concrete manner (for which examples would be necessary imho), I am not sure what we could say about that topic except "We should remember to be nice to new users." (And I haven't seen anyone who disagrees with that.) – magnattic Jun 4 '14 at 14:14
  • This is an impression I had while looking through the site and I wanted to start a discussion to see if anyone else noticed what I have or even felt the same way. I did not want to start a debate on one or even a few different questions, comments et cetera. I know that all of us like facts and links to back up statements but I was hoping everyone would either take a second look at the site and see if this was an issue or a non-issue. It's not just be nice to new users but be welcoming too and also not get into habits of the same 5 to 6 people deciding things and saying it's the community. – Kevin Howell Jun 4 '14 at 14:25
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    I understand where you are coming from, I just think that it is very hard to lead a productive debate only based only on feelings (does it feel like we are not friendly to new users). Especially if we are not allowed to pull up specific examples to confirm or debunk statements. – magnattic Jun 4 '14 at 14:33
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Here are my thoughts on the topic, in which I will try to address both sides of the issue (new users posting questions and regulars maintaining those questions).


To new users asking questions:

There is a point that I feel is often forgotten in the whole discussion and also not being communicated very well to the new users:

Getting your question put "on hold" does not mean the death of your question.

This is a common misinterpretation both by users new to the system as well as some older users. If your question is put on hold, that does not mean it is bad beyond repair.

We want your content, we really do! However, it has to adhere to our standards. The system is designed to encourage you to improve your question if it has severe problems. If you edit your question after it has been put on hold, it will automatically land in the review queue for reopening. So please don't take it personal when this happens. Instead, try to improve it so we can get a chance to help you.

I can't stress this enough.


To regular users reviewing questions:

Please give the user a fair chance to improve his question before you close it. This will usually mean that you should post a friendly comment, making the user aware of the problem and asking him to edit the question. If he is responding and showing an effort to work on the problem, please wait a few hours before voting to close.

Having said that, if the user is unresponsive or the question has severe problems that make it impossible to salvage (like being clear-cut off-topic), it should be put on hold. I think it is important that we tackle problematic questions while they are still on the front page, waiting a few days without user feedback is not a solution.

  • The question will likely be forgotten once it slips out of the front page and remains in the system in its problematic state.
  • User feedback gets unlikely the longer we wait. At this point, the user most likely will already have his answer and not be willing to improve his question anymore. That is also a reason why we should tackle the problem rather earlier than later. People will want to help (which is good) and post answers based on the bad question. Their time will be wasted if the question gets closed later and it encourages users to post bad questions (e.g. off-topic questions) even if they know the rules in the hopes of getting an answer anyway.

Whatever you do, always stay friendly and welcoming to new users. He could be a great future addition to the community and scaring him away can really hurt us. Let's try to find a good balance between being as helpful as possible to anyone and still maintaining our high level of site quality.

  • That's a nice sentiment but it doesn't work out that way in reality. Closed questions almost always remain closed – A Pale Shadow Jun 12 '14 at 7:25
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    @APaleShadow That's not true, in the last two months alone, 5 questions were reopened after being put on hold. Considering how few questions get closed and how often either those questions are just unsalvageable (e.g. because they are completely off-topic) or the user did not try to improve them anymore, that's quite a lot. I think it shows that we are willing to overlook smaller problems with your question if you show some effort to improve it to an acceptable level for the site. – magnattic Jun 12 '14 at 13:03
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    +1 for leading with "We want your content, we really do!" – Jaydles Jun 12 '14 at 15:52

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