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After I specified this meta mathSE query's title, I noticed (in the drop down box) the meta mathSE query: Can the site design be improved to be more welcoming. That query is actually coming from the other direction. Also, that query is several years old.

My focus is based on the standards in the query: how to ask a good question. Based on that article, in my (very subjective) opinion, about 95% of the mathSE queries posted by new users seem to have serious defects.

In preparing this meta query, I also reviewed the article: what should be the role of welcome to mse. In addition to being more recent, that meta query seemed directly on point. This is discouraging because it indicates that a great deal of focus has already been placed on this issue. This suggests that this meta query may be a fool's errand. I honestly don't know.

I want to emphasize:

  • I am ignorant of how new mathSE users are currently welcomed to the site.
  • I have no idea whether the path of least resistance seduction can be significantly combatted by the welcome process.
  • I have no idea whether other mathSE users regard this situation as a problem that needs to be addressed.

So, even if there is general agreement that the situation represents a significant problem, I am in the bad position of focusing on a problem that may have already been discussed to death, having no idea how to attack the problem, and having no idea whether the problem can even be meaningfully attacked.

Please regard my perspective on the above issues as uninformed. I am hoping that this meta mathSE query will lead to mathSE users sharing their ideas. Perhaps, someone will have a suggestion that others like, and perhaps the suggestion will be implemented, and perhaps the quality of the queries posted by new mathSE users will then improve.

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    $\begingroup$ I think part of the problem comes from users not reading when joining math.SE, not even the tour which is like, but how?? I mean is the tour.. If they read the tour, and only the tour, then they would be asking questions with details about "what you have tried and exactly what you are trying to do" and properly tagged.(This in mentioned in the Tour) And perhaps not using MathJax $\endgroup$ – Verónica Rmz. Feb 28 at 17:28
  • $\begingroup$ Good question. I am nihilistic. The various tutorials can certainly be improved. But somebody who will read anything and take lessons from it is fairly likely to already be asking a good question. Somebody who won't is unlikely to be cured by a pointer to a good introduction. I do share your general concern. It's annoying that nudges from human users seem to be the only thing pushing people in the right direction. I also note that people who ask difficult questions are less likely to be shamed for infelicity in MathJax or not showing prior attempts. Which I get, but it's probably not helping. $\endgroup$ – leslie townes Feb 28 at 17:45
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    $\begingroup$ I hate to repeat an old American cliche, but: "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make her drink." But you raise a very genuine issue that this site has struggled to resolve. I agree with leslie and veronika in many ways. But one fact remains, and the resistance to changing that fact is enormous among quite a few users: Askers will continue to come and ask problem statement questions with little to no context, so long as 50% of the time, there is an answererer eager to answer the question, no matter how poor that question is. So problematic behavior continues to be reinforced. $\endgroup$ – amWhy Feb 28 at 20:27
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    $\begingroup$ Also, user2661923, you need not apologize for asking a legitimate question here. Sometimes users who've been here a long time become numb to such dynamics you speak of, or they just go with the flow, because that's the way things are. Sometimes this site desperately needs to revisit issues of the sort you raise here. Anyway, thanks for posting here! $\endgroup$ – amWhy Feb 28 at 20:35
  • $\begingroup$ @amWhy I wonder why aren't they reading the tour at least. It's surprising that it's an about of 95% of the math.SE queries posted by new users that seem to have serious defects. You say it's 50%. Perhaps the language barrier is a strong factor, perhaps we need an actual or real example of question, to follow step by step. $\endgroup$ – Verónica Rmz. Feb 28 at 20:41
  • $\begingroup$ @veronika What I said was a new user has a 50% chance of getting a quick answer, at least that number. I agree that a very high percentage of new posts are very poor. But changing that becomes very difficult when ambitious answerers eager for earning rep, answer them in as little as 2 minutes, 5 minutes, 10 minutes, etc. As for why they're likely not reading the tour, chances are they've Googled their question, and they may find another post that leads them to math.se, and in a rush to get their question answered, they click on "ask a question." $\endgroup$ – amWhy Feb 28 at 20:47
  • $\begingroup$ @veronika I agree that linking to model questions could be helpful. And it may very well be that the language barrier for some students not confident with their English, may try to keep posts short, stating the question only. So many times I see users apologized at the end of their post: "I'm sorry my english is not good"... And I think it is reasonable to be more patient with such askers, so they are more comfortable adding details in response to our questions. $\endgroup$ – amWhy Feb 28 at 20:53
  • $\begingroup$ And the user asking this question is one of many who rushes to answer very low quality questions from new users, and most any user. Until this user and other answerers wait for askers to improve the question, before answering, and if never improved, to walk away instead of answering, this user will perpetuate the very problem they purportedly report here. $\endgroup$ – amWhy Mar 8 at 22:25
  • $\begingroup$ @amWhy Since I am under attack: I left a long-winded response to your criticism here that you and others may review/consider. $\endgroup$ – user2661923 Mar 9 at 2:49
  • $\begingroup$ No thanks, @user2661923. No one needs anyone's self-described "long winded response." Be well! $\endgroup$ – amWhy Mar 9 at 16:54

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