Very often I see a user's first question getting down-voted and eventually it ends up being closed.

Usually I find this to be too rough of a treatment, as the user is not accustomed to the site. I know that the close votes are usually formally justified, if the user includes no effort on his or her part in the post, but it must be very discouraging as the very first thing on the site to be met by a plethora of down votes followed by one's question being closed, usually without any human interaction whatsoever.

One way of solving this is to collectively cut first questions some slack and explain in the comments that it is customary to include one's own progress, thoughts and doubts on the problem at hand. This has been suggested before, but without much effect.

Another way, which might be easier to implement, is to include a short auto-greeting on all first posts, in which it is explained that the question will be more well-received, if the user includes his or her own attempts, in case the user has not done so already.

It is my hope that when people, who would otherwise vote to close the question, sees this auto-comment, they give the new user some hours to correct the post.

  • 8
    $\begingroup$ While I agree in general that it's a good idea to be a bit more lenient with new users, I never had the heart to pity someone who cannonballs into the pool without checking there's water first. (And what I am trying to say is that people who don't first survey the site to see what questions look like, and what are reasonable standards, are partly guilty in whatever bad treatment they get.) $\endgroup$
    – Asaf Karagila Mod
    Dec 12, 2015 at 18:18
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @Asaf: maybe we could link to videos of such in those welcome comments. ;D $\endgroup$
    – quid Mod
    Dec 12, 2015 at 18:34
  • $\begingroup$ @AsafKaragila I completely understand the need to make people conform to the standards of the site, but if I may use the same metaphor, after they've gone into the empty pool, one could show them how to fill water into their pool instead of banishing them from the park. $\endgroup$
    – Mankind
    Dec 12, 2015 at 20:05
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I'm not sure we're using the same metaphor. In mine they just jump and fall 2-3 meters into hard floor and break their legs. I don't know why you want to fill the pool and let them drown instead of evacuating them to the nearest hospital! :-) $\endgroup$
    – Asaf Karagila Mod
    Dec 12, 2015 at 20:06
  • $\begingroup$ @AsafKaragila :) $\endgroup$
    – Mankind
    Dec 12, 2015 at 20:10
  • $\begingroup$ Also, I'm not sure if I get the meaning of down-votes. It is my understanding that they mean: "I think this is a really crappy post and I'm not even going to comment and tell you.". If true, feel free to tell me. $\endgroup$
    – Mankind
    Dec 12, 2015 at 20:11
  • $\begingroup$ I didn't downvote, but on meta downvotes are generally a form of disagreement, and in particular in the case of feature requests they sort of saying "I don't think this is a good feature request". $\endgroup$
    – Asaf Karagila Mod
    Dec 12, 2015 at 20:13
  • $\begingroup$ @AsafKaragila ok, thanks. I guess I'll have to try to cope with the current way. $\endgroup$
    – Mankind
    Dec 12, 2015 at 20:22

1 Answer 1


When a new user clicks "Ask Question" button, they are greeted with this page.

enter image description here

Short of changing bold to BOLD ITALIC IN ALL CAPS, I don't see how this could be more prominent. (The bold text is also linked to meta posts expanding on each point.)

If the user scrolls to the bottom, checks the box next to "I'll keep these tips in mind" and proceeds to post a verbatim copy of assignment as a linked image or copy-pasted gobbledygook from PDF file... Well, then.

By the way, a new unregistered account does not mean a new user. Computers in school IT clusters are often set up to clear files, cookies, etc between user sessions, for privacy reasons. Someone who posts from a school computer and never registers will be a "new user" every time. (Related: Let's require registration to ask a question)

  • $\begingroup$ It has been included in an auto-comment that this site uses MathJax, even though the above welcoming site says so, so one could include the other bullets as well. Maybe there is a difference in the perceived severity of not showing one's own work compared to not using MathJax. $\endgroup$
    – Mankind
    Dec 12, 2015 at 19:23
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @HowDoIMath The presence of unformatted math formulas can be detected automatically, the lack of effort cannot. I do add "more tips here" at the end because posts with one issue tend to have other issues too. But I absolutely do not want to post such things on every question by a new user; the comments can only be effective if they address a specific, existing issue. By the way, the bot makes no distinction between new and old users when deciding to comment; it only appends "welcome" at the beginning if the user is new. $\endgroup$
    – user147263
    Dec 12, 2015 at 19:29

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .