The problem

Often, when we get new users, this happens:

  • they post their first few challenges, which receive negative feedback
  • they are instructed to use the sandbox, which they do
  • not long after (typically in a few hours), they post on main again

This last step is the problem: we need to get users to wait for feedback longer. I think this is the cause of the problem:

  • they have previously received feedback within minutes of posting (because the experienced users are all monitoring /questions)
  • they're expecting to get feedback in the sandbox as quickly as they did on main
  • but they don't
  • and they get impatient, and post to main anyway

The most recent example of this is here:

You need to wait more than 45 minutes there. At least 2-3 days is the recommendation.

Oh, I didn't know that, because it's my first time there.

What should we do about this?

I think the obvious solution is to change the Sandbox' question description to try and make it clearer how to use it. Currently, the pertinent text is "buried" 10 paragraphs deep (although it is bolded).

It is recommended to leave your posts in the sandbox for at least several days, and until it receives upvotes and any feedback has been addressed.

If this is the solution we go with, how should the content be re-written? Feel free to leave suggestions as answers to this question.

But there are other possible solutions. Is it feasible to change the use of the sandbox so that users do get feedback as quickly as they do on main? This would mean encouraging experienced users to constantly watch the sandbox as they do /questions; I'd guess not many people will really want to do that, but is it worth trying?

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Wasn't that my example? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 19, 2022 at 8:37
  • 6
    \$\begingroup\$ @py3programmer Yes, it was; I hope you don't mind. It's nothing about you in particular; your example is just what made me realise that we don't do a very good job of explaining the sandbox to new users. \$\endgroup\$
    – pxeger
    Commented Feb 19, 2022 at 9:06

4 Answers 4


I touch on this somewhat in this related discussion. My main thoughts (both from that discussion and on this):

  • New users need stronger, earlier encouragement to use the Sandbox. Ideally, new users are being told to post in the Sandbox before they even post a challenge. Unfortunately, this requires SE to make some changes to our site for us, which is, at best currently status planned.

    I would very much like to see implemented a modal/pop-up/warning whenever a new user (less than 3 open questions) clicks "Review your question" that would strongly encourage them to use the Sandbox (something like "Have you posted this in the Sandbox to receive feedback?"). A 7 year old version of this idea is still status planned

  • The Sandbox needs to be made more "user-friendly". I agree with the points in both the question and pxeger's answer that the Sandbox is not immediately obvious how to use it. I disagree that the entire Sandbox FAQ should be moved into the Sandbox body, but it could do with a rewrite in order to make the more frequently asked questions much more obvious.

    Emphasising the purpose of the Sandbox, how long to leave a post in the Sandbox, how to get feedback on your post and why you should use the Sandbox are the key things in my opinion. Especially, how a user with less than 20 rep can get feedback, as chat is a common tool used, that requires 20 rep.

  • Encourage people to review posts more in the Sandbox. I'm not really sure how to do this, given that we've had multiple attempts over the years to try to improve reviewing in the Sandbox. Potentially, a recurring event where for a couple of hours, a group of users tackle as many of the most recent active posts as they can?

    But, some way of improving the number of reviewers would be excellent - the fact that Most Helpful Sandbox Commenter was a category in Best of 2021 means that helping out in the Sandbox is now worth 500 rep.


Move* the content from the Sandbox FAQ

*(Move, or copy?)

The Sandbox FAQ is well-written and contains a very clear guide for how to use the sandbox. It is written almost in a step-by-step format, which new users can apply very easily to their posts. Being an post, it also helps solve common problems new users will face about using the sandbox. Crucially, I think, it is very easy to skim-read the FAQ and still read the most important information.

Currently, the FAQ is linked from the main Sandbox, but only like this:

Sandbox FAQ

There isn't even any text encouraging you to read it, so you're very likely to skip that link and read the remaining instructions on the sandbox itself, which aren't as clear.

I think linking to the FAQ isn't very useful anyway, because it still adds an extra step that's required for them to get the information they need, rather than it being unmissable in the question body.

Therefore, I propose we move or copy the contents of the accepted FAQ answer into the question body of the sandbox itself.


Add a sandbox button to use instead of vote to close, or default to close for checking(edit).

Vote to close may hurt a bit someone's feelings.

Automate the move to sandbox process can make things easier.

Since there's more attention in the main page, feedbacks may come more rapidly.


Since a change in the UI is probably hard to obtain we may just default to close challenges of new users for checking or revisions.

Then if the challenge was already good it will be reopened rapidly, else it will stay closed because a sandbox is required.

  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ Nice idea, but SE's not going to do that for us. \$\endgroup\$
    – emanresu A
    Commented Feb 25, 2022 at 21:25
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @emanresuA Imagine SE actually making a useful UI change... \$\endgroup\$
    – Ginger
    Commented Feb 25, 2022 at 21:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ @emanresuA I haven't considered that.. This makes me relieved because the same happens in my job \$\endgroup\$
    Commented Feb 25, 2022 at 22:03

When posting questions, SE could possibly add a feature that only allows questions that have been on Sandbox to be posted, and as an additional feature to stop impatience, it can raise an error message if the Sandbox post was posted barely 3 days back.

Which means, when posting a question, all that is asked for is the original Sandbox post (probably the link will be enough?) and then the question can be posted.

This solves the problem: that the user will use the Sandbox


It seems edits to the webpage UI will be very unlikely, so perhaps another idea would be to have adding Sandbox post links in questions and have experienced users check whether questions were actually posted to Sandbox, and this can be exempted for users with, say, more than 10 questions posted (Zion mycelia adamancy caird coinheringaahing)

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ This definitely shouldn't happen as written, and if some form was implemented, it should have some way to bypass this for experienced challenge writers. As for the edited idea, that's currently what already happens, but there's no way for users to "enforce" the use of the Sandbox (and nor should there be) \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 9, 2022 at 13:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ So will the same idea be okay without the 3 days restriction, or should I add something more? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 12, 2022 at 7:50

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