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I've seen a lot of 'wall of text' questions, like this:

Using Windows 7 Home Premium 32-Bit on Google Chrome Incognito with both of the extensions AdBlock AND AdBlock Plus,I want to block as many ads as possible on every website or page that I visit.Currently,when I open my TextNow account it just endlessly loads the page so the account is useless,but when I disable AdBlock and allow TextNow in AdBlock Plus all it does is constantly load the ads and while it loads I can do nothing until it stops.Before adding the AdBlock and AdBlock Plus while having TextNow open,I'd not see ANY ads on TextNow and now I do since I must disable and allow these extensions as applicable yet the page/website just loads and loads and loads even when I click to stop the loading.Prior to both extensions I didn't see any ads and it was working fine without endless loading or losing any of the functions.I've tried everything that I can think of to do and nothing I do works or even partially works.There's very little I know about computers,but I'm learning as time goes by both experience and reading stories from others.Anyone with an answer,P-L-E-A-S-E make the answer step-by-step or 1.,2.,3. etc. otherwise I'll easily get lost as well as all details like step 1 when you do this,you'll see this happen so click at point "X" so this (blank) happens which make "A" happen and you'll see (blank) happen.I'll be waiting and thanks much in advance.

2 questions:

  • What should I do with these types of questions? Just downvote? Or more?

I posted this comment:

If you imagine you were a user on this site, and you look at this question, what would you do? Spend 5+ minutes trying to understand this big wall of text, or downvote it so other people don't see the question? Please edit your question to be more readable, and understandable.

  • Was this too harsh? What should I write instead?
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There's one particularity about our Markdown formatting. If you add just one line break in the editor, it isn't rendered as a paragraph. Not that this is always the problem, but it often is.

Lead by example. Edit the post and fix it.

Posting a comment like that will probably take you the same amount of time as going through the question and adding a few line breaks here and there. It really helps improving readability, and the OP will get a notification that their post is edited. So they can check out what you did.

If you want to be super helpful, you could write something a little more welcoming, e.g.

Welcome to Super User! I noticed that your post did not have any paragraphs, so I edited it and added some for you. Breaking your post into paragraphs improves readability and helps others understand your question. Please consider that in the future.

Threatening with downvotes doesn't really achieve anything. With votes, try to focus on the parts that you can't really fix. Lack of research effort, unclear explanations, etc. If it's just missing line breaks, try and nudge the user into the right direction.

  • You are a very quick editor :) It takes ages for me to edit those types of questions. Thanks for the suggestions. I've removed the downvote and the comment. I'll try editing first from now on :) And I'll remember that sample comment ;) – ᔕᖺᘎᕊ Jul 2 '14 at 20:22
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If you had vote to close privileges (as of this writing it appears you don't have enough rep), I'd say you should also vote to close as "Unclear what you're asking".

There are two approaches to dealing with this type of question. Many people feel that one approach is better than the other for various reasons, so I'm not going to go into the socio-political territory of discussing which one I personally feel is superior. Suffice to say, if you do either of these things, it is not strictly against the rules, and helps the site. To what degree, I'll let you decide.

Approach 1 is to not attempt to "fix" the question, and just exercise your moderation powers, as available depending on your rep: downvote, leave a comment, vote to close as "Unclear what you're asking", etc.

Approach 2 is to spend a significant amount of time formatting, re-wording and improving the post, while maintaining the essence of the original question, until it's readable and a good fit for the site. When doing this, try not to be overzealous; going too far off the path of the original question can be a bad thing.

Again, both of these approaches help at least somewhat, but many people may feel that Approach 2 is the stronger response.

As for your comment, I don't think it is the most constructive comment, and comes off as a little hostile. I agree with your downvote, but not the comment.

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    The "significant time" I just took were about 20 seconds to edit the post. Of course, that only works if there are no other big problems with it. – slhck Jul 2 '14 at 20:19
  • Yeah, but this question is a bit of an outlier in that all it really needed was formatting and the removal of the "P-L-E-A-S-E" paragraph at the end. Adding a bunch of newlines and deleting a paragraph is often not sufficient for converting a typical wall of text into a good question. Also, not to be a pedant, but you forgot to add a space after a few of the commas. ;-D – allquixotic Jul 2 '14 at 20:22
  • Thanks, I'll try to use approach 2 from now on :) And I won't add the hostile comments... I've removed the donwvote and comment now that slhck edited it – ᔕᖺᘎᕊ Jul 2 '14 at 20:23
  • I personally take the stance that the preview of what will be submitted means that authors like this either don't care to take the time to format their question or it's simply the sign of a bad question. People who ask good questions at least try, not sure the reason they give up, but I can accept an attempt to format a readable question – Ramhound Jul 2 '14 at 22:29

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