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After spending quite a bit of time doing thousands of reviews of first posts, suggested edits, editing questions and trying to understand the comments/concerns about the quality of the site, I am wondering if MSE should consider a Question Wizard Guide. This Wizard would 'unobtrusively' guide users when posting questions.

When someone posts a question, the wizard will display a set of translucent guides to help the OP. Note, these would not be binding, but are only for showing the basic level of quality desired (they can still make bad posts, but if those are closed, at least they have a better idea as to why).

For example, this could include:

  • Clearly written and formatted question: <...>
  • Your attempts and thoughts on the problem: <...>
  • Source of the problem: <...>
  • Note, failure to comply with basic minimal quality standards could result in closure of your question.

We can decide what this list would be, but I think this would go a long way in addressing the concerns of all parties (OPs and the MSE Community both).

This would have the added benefit of letting new posters see that posted questions follow a certain level of consistency/quality (because we know they don't read the FAQ) and, I believe, that this is one of our missions, to help the newer mathematicians learn the importance of properly communicating.

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    $\begingroup$ Related: Could “Ask Question” dialog be more helpful? $\endgroup$ – 75064 May 19 '13 at 19:21
  • $\begingroup$ @75064: I am not tied to any particular approach and perhaps after they build up enough reputation, it would revert back to the current method as hopefully, they've learned about the expectations. So, the actual implementation can be whatever the MSE Community deems best. This idea is being floated as a possible approach to help improve the quality of postings and that satisfies some of the concerns of MSE become an answer only mill. Regards $\endgroup$ – Amzoti May 19 '13 at 19:26
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    $\begingroup$ Since this involves a fairly major change in functionality, I think it would have to happen at the network level, which I think is unlikely to happen. $\endgroup$ – Alex Becker May 19 '13 at 23:37
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    $\begingroup$ Ooh! Can we have those guides offered by a cheerful anthropomorphic paperclip? $\endgroup$ – Nate Eldredge May 20 '13 at 12:17
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    $\begingroup$ @NateEldredge: I would have preferred one that is more mathematically slanted with depression, a bad attitude and socially dysfunctional. This way, when it yells at the new recruits that are posting, they can feel right at home! $\endgroup$ – Amzoti May 20 '13 at 14:33
  • $\begingroup$ I've suggested something similar before. $\endgroup$ – Billy Rubina May 22 '13 at 17:41
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While the chances of adding translucent things to the question dialog appear to be slim, I noticed that ServerFault enabled something of the sort (following the lead of SO): Should folks have to click through an interstitial page to ask questions on Server Fault?. See also the follow-up analysis in an answer by Shog9.

The effect of this measure on SF has been underwhelming. But so is their interstitial page, which is basically copy-pasted from SE-wide boilerplate How to ask. The only site-specific sentence they put in was

If your question concerns personal equipment, try asking on Super User instead.

But that means the page is site-customizable. If the four paragraphs under the search box were replaced with short (2-3 sentences) extracts from http://meta.math.stackexchange.com/q/9959/, such as

  • Context of your question
  • Mathematical typesetting
  • Question title
  • Tagging

... this may be the closest thing to a Question Wizard Guide on the basis of existing technology.

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    $\begingroup$ If it has the hope of eliminating even a fraction of the close votes, then that is a huge gain and I am all for it! Regards $\endgroup$ – Amzoti Nov 4 '13 at 0:22
  • $\begingroup$ If it has any hope of eliminating even a fraction of the $x1$+2$x2$<sup>10</sup>-x3², I'm in favor. $\endgroup$ – dfeuer Nov 5 '13 at 2:07

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