Given the large number of first time question askers who evidently do not really read the advice on how to ask a good question, I propose:

The site should require first time question askers to take a short quiz (e.g. five multiple-choice questions) on how to ask a good question, before posting their first question. If they pass the quiz (e.g. at least 80%), they can post their question; if they don't pass, they can try again after some period of time (e.g. one hour).

This may increase the quality of first questions.

Such a quiz would discourage some people from starting to ask questions. Most of those people would be people who are not willing to familiarize themselves with the site expectations.

Examples of quiz questions:

Your question can be ______.
A. an open-ended question that could lead to discussion/debate
B. a specific question that has a definite answer
C. all of the above

Before you ask a question, you should ______.
A. ask your teacher your question, if you are a student
B. check a math-specific search engine (such as approachzero) to see if your question has been asked online before
C. all of the above

Your question should appear in ______.
A. the title of your question, if possible
B. the body of your question
C. all of the above

Which of the following are acceptable ways to present mathematical working in your question?
A. mathjax
B. photos/screenshots of handwriting
C. all of the above

Which of the following is a required part of your question?
A. the context of the question
B. a description of what you have tried so far, and where you are getting stuck
C. all of the above

Within each question, the order of some of the answer choices could be randomized, so that if people try to look up the answers online, they will at least have to read the words to work out the correct answer choice.


Today, more than one year after I made this proposal, I feel even more strongly than before, that it is worthy of consideration. None of the comments convinced me otherwise.

There are too many posts from new users who are unfamiliar with the site expectations (typical example from today). Whatever mechanism is in place to prevent this, is not working.

Maybe test my proposal with a small sample or something? Who knows, it may actually be effective.

(As of now, my proposal has $10$ upvotes and $9$ downvotes.)

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    $\begingroup$ An older discussion with somewhat similar suggestion: Part 2- Let us introduce non mandatory tests for new users. $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 14, 2022 at 6:50
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    $\begingroup$ Probably it is worth mentioning that any first-time asker is shown a modal window with some basic information. A screenshot and link to some other information can be seen here: Change the link to search in modal window for the first-time askers. $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 14, 2022 at 15:32
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    $\begingroup$ @MartinSleziak Compared to your link "Part 2 - Let us...", my proposal is for a much shorter quiz (about 5 questions, compared to 50-60 questions); I've edited my post to clarify that. Also, the test described in your link focuses on how to use Mathjax as well as issues not related to question-writing (e.g. how to upvote/downvote), whereas the quiz I envision focuses on question-writing (of which Mathjax is one part). $\endgroup$
    – Dan
    Commented Nov 14, 2022 at 22:26
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    $\begingroup$ @MartinSleziak Yes, but it seems that too many first-time askers don't really read that information. So I am proposing a simple mechanism that make them read it. $\endgroup$
    – Dan
    Commented Nov 14, 2022 at 22:29
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    $\begingroup$ What I am proposing is similar to this (which received a lot of upvotes). $\endgroup$
    – Dan
    Commented Nov 14, 2022 at 22:33
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    $\begingroup$ When you ask a question on any stack exchange site for the first time, the website tells you how to ask a good question, so I think that should be enough to persuade newcomers to ask good questions. I can understand your reasons for proposing a quiz, but I doubt a quiz would do much. Honestly, I'm having a hard time agreeing with this feature request. $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 15, 2022 at 12:27
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    $\begingroup$ I'm with this suggestion, but I would much prefer a question page where users are asked to explicitly input a title, a question, a non-empty amount of context OR effort (at least ____ many characters), and the tags before they submit their question. There would be separate boxes for each , and they could be combined into a post with titles for each subpart. I would much rather that the barrier appear there, and this be implemented for all users, rather than just newbies. We basically need to make sure that people are stopped from "just posting their question", this seems to be another way. $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 15, 2022 at 15:16
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    $\begingroup$ How did you find that advice page? I hadn't seen it in years. Oddly, there seems to be no link to it on its parent page. Does it show up later? Is it automatically shown to new users (and only new users)? And (not just a question for the OP) why isn't the advice much more emphatic about what is actually required? If it was, perhaps there would be no need for a test. Because it is evidently customised for Maths.SE, surely it can be expanded. Why hasn't it been? Has this already been discussed? $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 15, 2022 at 17:08
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    $\begingroup$ In answer to some of my own questions: apparently it's called an "interstitial how-to-ask page". See Show "how to ask" advice before a new user asks a question. $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 15, 2022 at 17:14
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    $\begingroup$ @CalumGilhooley I will add that the page mentioned in your previous two comments has been replaced by a modal window in the meantime. The question linked in my second comment contains a screenshot and some links with more details. (I do not have a way to link to the content of the modal window, see here: A link where the content of the ask-page modal dialog can be seen.) $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 15, 2022 at 19:09
  • $\begingroup$ @amWhy I have searched for related proposals on meta, but have not found any, besides those already mentioned, i.e. this and this. I would be interested in seeing more, and their counter-arguments. (I don't think the answers in my example quiz are all obvious to people who have not read the advice, but that's just my opinion.) Tweaking has made this site strong. Tweaking should continue. $\endgroup$
    – Dan
    Commented Nov 19, 2022 at 23:39
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    $\begingroup$ My initial reaction is negative to this idea, in general, but most of these questions strike me as too prescriptive. The fact of the matter is, we do, on occasion, allow open-ended questions, and even have a tag for them: soft-question. Questions that aren't formatted properly initially are also a somewhat unavoidable side effect of our audience, which is people studying mathematics at all levels (the relevant FAQ acknowledges this need for some flexibility, and even suggests posting questions in languages other than English!). $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 23, 2022 at 23:21
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    $\begingroup$ Sometimes help is needed to format questions, and although this does place a burden on the community (one that new users should try to help us relieve as best they can), there will need to be people to support them by helping them format their questions. The quiz question doesn't properly reflect this. Similarly, questions of context vary considerably. In my experience, not every question needs the same kinds of details (e.g. where did it come from) as other questions. This is not even mentioning the disparity in what individual users see as necessary or not. $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 23, 2022 at 23:24
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    $\begingroup$ I think something like this can be tested for a while to see if it is effective. If it is effective, keep it; if it isn't, abandon the idea. $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 3, 2023 at 19:21


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