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Allow me to start this discussion off by saying that though the requirements of this site are a bit relaxed, there are still some rules that posters need to follow. New users tend to post low-quality questions and answers on this site, often because they don't know the site rules outlined at How to ask and answer software recommendation questions - aka 'The Ground Rules'.

On Stack Overflow, new users are forced to see a help page and must "agree" to follow the rules of the site in order to get to the form. This requirement is also there on Server Fault, Ask Ubuntu, and Math.SE, but no such requirement exists on other Stack Exchange sites, AFAIK.

My proposal is to require new (< 10 rep) and unregistered users to see the interstitial page and to "agree" to the site rules before attempting to post, like Stack Overflow is doing. This will help curb low-quality and off-topic questions from new users by forcing them to at least glance at the help page.

You may be asking "what if the user just clicks through?". This problem can be solved, I think, by forcing the user to have to wait 30 seconds before he/she can click onward. However, some may argue that a wait is unnecessary.

Yes, I know that the advice page is a little generic now, but I think that it would be more effective if it contains what is in this answer. In fact, people who share links to this site are encouraged to link to that answer instead of the homepage. Enabling the interstitial would make sure it is seen by all new users, not just those who arrived at the site through that answer.

Examples:

What's your opinion on enabling this per-site functionality for this site?

  • I agree that it would likely be helpful to show new users a "this is how things work around here, it's different than other sites", but I really wouldn't like a 30-second timeout thing. – Undo Sep 29 '14 at 16:31
  • @Undo Edited now. – gparyani Sep 29 '14 at 16:44
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    Full ack. Funnily, that post of Gilles I've totally missed – but my canned responses I've set up as if I'd read it :) As for a delay, I'm sitting between you two: I'd welcome a delay as we have it in the review queue (~3..5s before the "OK" button is enabled). – Izzy Sep 29 '14 at 16:52
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    This is also in place on Server Fault. As far as I can tell, it has had no discernible effect on question quality. – Michael Hampton Sep 29 '14 at 16:57
  • @MichaelHampton That's why I suggested the 30-second wait, because that apparently means that people are just clicking through without reading it. Putting a wait tends to psychologically "force" people to read it. – gparyani Sep 29 '14 at 18:34
  • Why the downvote? – gparyani Sep 29 '14 at 20:08
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Let's try something a bit more subtle first:

This'll appear to folks visiting /questions/ask regardless of their reputation.

  • I can't see. Can you not use Imgur? It's blocked where I am. – gparyani Sep 29 '14 at 20:06
  • It is on imgur. But... You could just open the ask question page; this is live. – Shog9 Sep 29 '14 at 20:09
  • Ah, yes, an inline feature. That's not good enough. We need to (in lack of a softer word) force posters to look at the rules before they can post. Making it inline makes it easy to overlook. Basically, we want to say "you agreed to the rules, now you got to obey them" to users who say "we didn't know of the rules". You should respond to Jaydles' comment below about it being tricky to implement. – gparyani Sep 29 '14 at 20:14
  • Besides, I said "can you not use Imgur"? But I was able to see the new inline notice by browsing to the ask a question page. – gparyani Sep 29 '14 at 20:17
  • Ah, gotcha - as it happens, I cannot not use Imgur; it's kinda our official image host. Which is too bad, because I have a prototype for a solution that might be more to your liking... – Shog9 Sep 30 '14 at 1:12
  • You can't use shog9.com? (I liked your solution, but unfortunately I have to pay one googolplex dollars to buy it. Hopefully the actual released version (not the prototype) will cost much less, around negative one googolplex dollars. It's better to use a free method to bypass an Internet filter, right?) – gparyani Sep 30 '14 at 2:21
  • As I said, we want posters to be held accountable for anything they post. What do you think? – gparyani Sep 30 '14 at 2:24
  • Accountability? That's more like it! – Shog9 Sep 30 '14 at 2:28
  • As I said already, we want to say "you agreed to the rules, now you got to obey them" to users who claim to be unaware of rules. Not having it leaves a loophole for us. – gparyani Oct 18 '14 at 18:21
  • If folks aren't reading the page they're typing a question on, I'm skeptical they're gonna read an interstitial, @damryfbfnetsi. In any case, if you're posting on a site where you haven't bothered to read and learn from the example of existing questions, there's no excuse. – Shog9 Oct 20 '14 at 17:59
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I'd echo Michael Hampton's point - based on what we saw on SF, we concluded that an interstitial with a ton of info essentially tests one thing:

How badly do you want to post? Unfortunately, that appeared to have little correlation to how conscientiously you were likely to form a question.

It appeared that the page chased off some real percent of posters, but they seemed (sadly) to be equally likely to be good ones as bad.

  • What about adding a wait? – gparyani Sep 29 '14 at 18:44
  • I have a little request for statistics. For each user who is shown the interstitial on all sites on which it is enabled, how long on average did they take to read it if they posted a good question, and how long on average did they take to read it if they posted a bad question? These statistics would give us a good wait time before being able to click through. – gparyani Sep 29 '14 at 18:46
  • @damryfbfnetsi, I don't think we have that number in the data we can search (time on that page). While a delay might do a better job dissuading the bad posters, it won't do anything to prevent the loss of the better ones we saw on SF, and there are decent odds it'd make it worse. The info you want to convey (and I agree) would likely be a lot more potentially helpful if it could be in-line on the "ask" page (and hard to miss), but that's trickier to implement. – Jaydles Sep 29 '14 at 18:52
  • Then start collecting data now! Return in some time. – gparyani Sep 29 '14 at 18:58

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