I am aware that this issue has been rehashed on Meta numerous times, so I was surprised to discover today that the guidance given to posters on the "Ask question" page is still far from optimal. This makes me wonder whether some of our persistent problems could be eliminated simply by providing more explicit guidance to new users.
Today I came upon a short post by a new user that needed substantial improvement in order to be acceptable for the site, and I wanted to point them to the "How to ask" page. Not remembering the link, I thought that surely it must be prominently displayed on the "Ask question" page, so I went there. Sure enough, in the right sidebar, at the bottom of the page, I found the link "how to ask a good question here" and quickly passed the link on to the new user.
Pursuing this further, however, I discovered that that link leads to this page, which, in my opinion, contains fairly generic advice that doesn't do much to help users avoid the contentious, site-specific issues that arise most frequently on math.stackexchange. I did remember a Meta post containing detailed site-specific guidance, and, after a quick search on Meta, I added that link in my comment to the new user.
Exploring further, I found that the "Ask question" page actually does contain links to the "How to ask a good question" post on Meta, but that they are presented in such a way that they are likely to be overlooked. At the top of the right sidebar, under "Step 1: Draft your question" there are links "Provide details" and "Write an interesting, specific title", both of which lead to answers to the Meta post. I think, however that many users will ignore those links, especially if they feel that their post and title already contain all needed information.
How about something like the following:
Dozens of questions are closed every day for failing to adhere to community guidance. Pay particular attention to the following issues.
- Do not ask questions that have been asked before.
- Avoid problem-statement-questions and "no clue" questions. Provide context.
- Other issues (question must be about mathematics, be detailed, have a good title, not be opinion-based or discussion oriented, not be about the operation of math.stackexchange, ...)
While we might not all be happy with current community norms, I think we can at least all agree that if new users aren't warned about them, we are setting them up to fail. If I were a new user, I'm pretty sure that if I wanted guidance I would click on "how to ask a good question" or "help center" or "asking help". But none of these, at present, lead to the most helpful information.