Related: How can new users use the sandbox?

I have been seeing a LOT of questions lately that seem to follow the same general pattern:

  • Posted by a new user
  • Have a generally difficult or non-challenging puzzle, or being too broad or too specific
  • Have an ill-defined problem and an ill-defined winning criterion (e.g. undefined bonuses)
  • And have all of the challenge tags (, , , , )

These questions almost immediately get downvotes, close votes, delete votes, and little feedback on why the question was wrong. I think the new users are not reading "How to ask", and that this is making our site look bad. Does anyone have input on how we could encourage new users to read "How to ask" and maybe let them use the sandbox (see link above)?.

Oh, and for people with lots of rep, here is an example

  • 5
    \$\begingroup\$ While we may have some specific differences with other SE sites, I can say that this happens on all of them I've been a part of. A certain portion of users simply won't read rules/guidelines/faqs, no matter how much you bludgeon them with them. That isn't to say that we couldn't improve it at all, but don't expect it to ever just stop. \$\endgroup\$
    – Geobits
    Commented Apr 30, 2014 at 2:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ The link is dead by now... \$\endgroup\$
    – Knerd
    Commented Jun 12, 2014 at 13:11

2 Answers 2


I think the only real solution to this problem is to put the question on hold and direct the user to a "How to ask" page or something similar.

A relevant example from Stack Overflow Before you post your next question:

When your question is put on hold, it means that the user community decided to "pause" it, preventing new answers from being posted while you edit your question to improve it. Your question was most likely put on hold because:

  1. Your question's topic is not permitted here, or
  2. Your question is incomplete in some way; i.e. you didn't provide enough information to make it answerable, or
  3. We can't understand your question, or
  4. Your question is too broad; it has too many possible answers, or would require the better part of a book chapter to answer.
  5. Your question is too subjective; it mostly asks for opinions, such as "what do you think about..." or "what is the best..."

Why not showing the How to ask article before a new user asks a the first question?


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