SU is becoming popular but most of the questions lately show No research effort, i have been posting this comment and down voting the questions, is there anything more we can do to prevent this new trend?

"What has your research effort shown using Google? Questions on SU are expected to show some research effort on your part and should be included in your question."

I edited my statement to be:

"Questions on SU are expected to show some research effort on your part and should be included in your question please."

Hopefully the few people will not be offended now.

  • But Q&A is literally in our game plan! Apr 25, 2016 at 22:51
  • @MichaelFrank I think the "forum" part was the problem. Moab, you might want to adjust your post to make that a bit clearer.
    – Ben N
    Apr 25, 2016 at 22:59
  • 1
    SU is not a forum, that is why I used it, its only SU's high standards for asking questions that makes us unique and attracts people who can answer high quality questions with high quality answers. I worked Q&A forums for years, I know the difference, this is why I contribute here and not on forums anymore, I don't like spoon feeding question askers any more.
    – Moab
    Apr 26, 2016 at 16:53

2 Answers 2


Its a matter of perspective. I'd rather curate for quality over obviousness, and on occasion try to improve/put myself in the shoes of a new user.

So, firstly - I try to see if its actually obvious and if having the question here adds value.

I don't really like the "did you google this" reason personally - many of these questions have other issues, and to me those are better reasons to close. This is an example of a question that needed to be closed anyway.

I'd also add in many cases, we're the preferred site google points at. While yes, googleing is handy, there's cases where it would be nice to have a single answer, synthesized from many sources - this might be an example of one even if the problem definition is unclear. This isn't really all that different from posting LMGFY (which is frowned on) and effective use of a search engine isn't something everyone is skilled at.

I kind of suspect the ideal here would be that we should be the site people find on google. As such, to me the focus should be on overall question quality (which we can nudge people towards) as much as trying to weed out or decimate trivial questions.

  • Almost always the questions without research effort are low quality, there are exceptions, but still believe prior research is the only thing that keeps us from being a Q&A Forum, I did that for years but is boring to me now. Research seems to be the main point in asking a good quality question as per this page...superuser.com/help/how-to-ask. I just don't want SU to bend the rules and become just another Q&A Forum, let someone other site do that. Keep the standards high please.
    – Moab
    Apr 26, 2016 at 17:16

There have always been bad questions, and now that you bring this up, I think we should be doing more in the user education department.

First up, I'm not super enthusiastic about anonymous users being able to ask questions. Stack Overflow has disallowed that for a while; it might be time to think about doing that here too. I say that not only because I think people should have at least a shred of investment in the site, but because I frequently see question edit suggestions submitted by the same person under a different anonymous account. If login is required for that feature, people will be dramatically less likely to "lose" their questions.

Then, there should be more information presented to new users when asking questions. I know there are links to the help center on the Ask Question page, but they're not nearly obvious enough. Also, due to the wide audience of the site, we get boatloads of people flooding in who don't understand the Stack Exchange model. The tour does a little to help this, but not everyone reads the tour, and I wish it was more specific about how we're not a forum. I'm imagining a checklist like this:

  • What have you tried or searched for?
  • Is your question specific and technical?
  • Have you put effort into formatting your question well?
  • Have you included all information necessary to answer your question?

Unrelated to questions, but there should totally be a more obtrusive warning the first time an anonymous or new user attempts to answer a question, explaining that every answer must be an actual answer that adds new content.

If we want to get pretty intense, I'm imagining a quiz that new users would take before asking a question, asking them to identify which of a set of posts is appropriate for Super User. If they fail, a little blurb would appear explaining what was wrong with the selected post and how it could be improved.

Basically, we need to make it clear that Super User isn't just about getting answers, it's about building a top-quality resource, and that requires effort from everyone.

If I could give only one piece of advice to new users before their first post, I would boil down all my thoughts into this:

Look for a precedent.

That is, look for an existing, moderately-highly-upvoted, recent post that's in the same style and area as yours. Wondering whether your formatting is good enough? See what the community's response has been on posts that look like yours. Checking whether your question is on-topic? Look what people had to say about similar ones. If you can't find a well-received precedent, be very cautious.

As for what should be done now, we must continue using votes and comments as appropriate. Do your best to be courteous (I like to tell people what they'll be able to do eventually - usually in response to a comment posted as an answer). Wordsmith up some reusable "canned comments" if you must. I make it a personal policy to ensure there's an explanatory comment whenever I take a quality control action; it must be baffling and discouraging for new users to receive kinds of negative feedback they've never seen before without a human showing them what's going on.

Keep reviewing, keep explaining. People can only learn if we teach them.

  • I refuse to let SU become another Q&A site, if it does I will spend time somewhere else, SU is unique, I would like to see it stay that way. New users should be forced to take the SU Tour and see the How to ask a question page before using the site imho. I have re worded my statement as to ease the pain to new users that never plan to contribute here and are just looking for a quick answer to a question they can solve themselves....
    – Moab
    Apr 26, 2016 at 16:44

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