I was recently looking at the MSE tour, and noticed the following sample question

image of sample question in the tour

This surprised be, because this is a rather highly voted question that looks like it would have been promptly downclosed.

Searching on the title, I found that it is this question. However:

  • The actual question only has 5 votes as of this time
  • The source question is not merely a problem statement

I'm wondering if I should be bothered by the choice of question to put up on the tour, and if I should be bothered about how the question itself and its reception have been misrepresented.

  • $\begingroup$ There doesn't seem to be many question on uber-Meta about the questions in the tour; mostly just this one which asserts that the question needs to be short and have at least two short answers. I was curious because the question seems relatively recent, from less than a month ago; I would assume it switches every so often, but I have no idea how often, or if humans are involved at all. $\endgroup$
    – pjs36
    Mar 22 '18 at 22:53
  • $\begingroup$ Maybe this has some useful information relevant to this question: Choice of the question in the tour. $\endgroup$ Mar 23 '18 at 5:50

The tour question needs to fulfill a number of requirements:

  • The question must be at most 400 characters long when rendered as HTML (not as markdown).
  • The question can't contain any special formatting like lists, quotes, code, pictures, or headers. I think MathJax is ok.
  • The question must have at least two tags.
  • There must be at least two upvoted short answers without special formatting (same rules apply as for the question).
  • At least one of these answers must have at least one comment.
  • The question score must be at least 5.

I may have forgotten something; please edit or comment if something is wrong.

Questions fulfilling these criteria are eligible. If there are no eligible questions, the tour example question will be a mock-up question about daisies and daffodils. If there are several eligible questions, moderators can choose the one they want to show up by going to the tour page and clicking a button next to the example.

When a question turns into an example question for the tour, the scores shown are not real. They are always the same numbers on all sites for the purpose of the tour. Also the accepted answer need not be really accepted.

In your example the true accepted answer does not meet the formatting criteria. Instead, two other answers were chosen.

I know this as a moderator on another site. I agree that the example question could be chosen to be something else. There is a great number of possible choices on this site.

Judging by this older meta question, the example used to be something else. Perhaps the rules changed (disallowing MathJax in the title?) and that question was no longer eligible, and a new one was chosen automatically. Or perhaps the question was changed but the new one subsequently became ineligible. The fact that the question in question is the first hit on the list of eligible example questions ordered by ID (SEDE query) suggests that the current choice was made by a machine, not a person. I don't know the full history, but it doesn't matter; what matters is choosing something better than the current one.

Suggestion: Could the local mods pick some question that looks reasonable? We could then have a meta discussion to vote for the most suitable question for the tour? [The question has been changed now.]

  • $\begingroup$ Supposedly, this SEDE query finds eligible questions. There are definitely a few choices. I do wonder if this example was chosen (assuming it was chosen by a person) because calculus questions are likely to be understood by the majority of people taking the tour. $\endgroup$
    – pjs36
    Mar 23 '18 at 14:38
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @pjs36 That query has been engineered to only show 200 hits. The first one (in terms of question id) is precisely the one in the tour, so it seems that the tour question was never actively chosen by a person. I'm surprised this has evaded evereyone's attention for so long. $\endgroup$ Mar 23 '18 at 14:41
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @JoonasIlmavirta: “ I'm surprised this has evaded evereyone's attention for so long.” — How many long-time users look at the tour page regularly (if at all)? $\endgroup$
    – celtschk
    Mar 31 '18 at 16:59
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @celtschk A fair point. I sometimes take a quick look at it myself when recommending a newcomer to take a look at our tour. I really don't know how long that had been the tour question; if the currently selected one becomes ineligible, I assume the mods are not modified. The question has now been updated. $\endgroup$ Mar 31 '18 at 17:54

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