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I've been thinking a lot about the whole 'welcoming' debate. I've read that new users can find downvotes so discouraging that they can be ruined for Stack Exchange for life.

Most of my SE activity is in the Excel tag in Super User, which is a weird little niche area - advanced questions/questioners tend to go to SO, which also gets much more traffic overall. Excel questions in SU, in my experience, tend not to be very good (with tons of exceptions, of course!). There are a number of extremely helpful folks that seem to be indefatigable in making helpful comments suggesting research, question edits, and tips for clarity... to little effect, in most cases.

And then you get a new user asking an unanswerable question, getting five different helpful comments requesting more info, and never logging in again.

This question is either too broad or unclear what you're asking, as it stands - I guess? Certainly it can't be answered in any meaningful way. As a contribution to a living compendium of humanity's knowledge in the area of Excel, it's worthless (less than worthless, if it ever comes up in search results given its fairly broad title).

But the user that asked the question has a genuine problem and needs help. I have zero doubt that if I were standing over their shoulder I (or any of a number of us) could solve it in an instant. But (I'm assuming; it's only been 24 hrs as of this writing) that user is never going to show the community the courtesy of coming back to receive the help they asked for.

So should the question be closed? As a user looking for good Excel questions, should I flag it in one of those categories? Is it mean, abrasive, or unwelcoming behavior to downvote it?

Is it our community's responsibility to make the asker feel as good as possible, or to keep our corner of the network clean of useless content? Or some combination of the two?

If it just sits as it is, what will happen to it?

And, lastly - I feel like I should already know the answer to that question. Where can I find information on how all this works? I couldn't find any documentation in-house nor on wider web searches.

  • Related: Unattended first questions, and for answers What to do with answers to abandoned questions?. Might be some more in the side/bottom "Related" box on those two... – Mokubai Oct 22 at 18:39
  • @Mokubai thank you – Alex M Oct 22 at 19:29
  • Indeed there is some good info 1 to 3 layers into that first Q in particular. I suppose I will put some material together and answer this question myself. Thanks again for the pointer in the right direction @Mokubai – Alex M Oct 23 at 18:45
  • We do have a script to automatically delete non-upvoted questions that don't get an answer after a year, but that doesn't kick in if the question has two or more comments. – gparyani Nov 6 at 2:03

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