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Why do so few users visit the sandbox? I mainly see Jan Dvorak and Peter Taylor helping out with forming the questions. Not that many other people upvote or comment.

My last three questions were all listed in the sandbox. A couple did not get much attention. None got more than 1 upvote. However, now that they are posted on the main site, they have become popular, with many upvotes. Why is it that those people don't visit the sandbox to help with forming questions?

Is there a way to encourage people to help out in the sandbox?

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Most of the beginners do not even know that the sandbox exists or what its purpose is. I myself learned its purpose only in mid January, less than one month ago, though I had seen it since around 2013.

In most StackExchange sites, people have incentive to simply post their questions and get answers. You only need 1 rep to be able to post questions and it does not cost anything. The sandbox's incentive is something like the opposite: questions need to get some sort of approval before being posted. This is not the way that StackExchange sites were designed. Additionally, beginners don't normally participate the meta, because the meta was designed to address questions about site organization issues, retagging, close and reopen votes, disputes and things that beginners know that they aren't mature enough yet to participate or even to understand what is going on, so they simply don't bother to come here.

There are a lot more problems in the sandboxes themselves. If a beginner randomly followed a link to a sandbox question, he will have no clue what is going on. Before I posted a comment to this sandbox question four days ago, none of them had a single word explaining the purpose of the sandbox, and the first one has been out since 2011. The best that I could get was the "Use this as a sandbox for new questions.", but no one was saying why should I do that.

In experience, the first time I saw the first sandbox, I thought:

WTF is this?

What is that Mk-roman-numeral thing? Should definitely have no relation with Mortal Kombat.

Why would I sandbox a question and how is this related to the Mk thing?

Well... no one seems to be explaining that, so it probably doesn't matter anyway.

I took quite some time to figure out what it was and what was its purpose. I eventually figured out its purpose only by seeing a handful of small, scattered, random comments citing the sandbox from random users on random questions and answers somewhere else very very far from the sandbox questions themselves.

And about the Mk thing, you (the OP, Quincunx) were the first person that posted something explaining what it is (at least the first post that I could find), and then you definitely convinced me that it surely has nothing to do with Mortal Kombat. As you explained, it means "Mark".

I conjecture that many beginners are thinking just like I myself thought; if they eventually see the sandbox, they would not understand what is happening. However most won't even see it, because the meta sites aren't usually for beginners.

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    \$\begingroup\$ These look like very valuable comments from an outsider's perspective. Would you be willing to edit the current sand-box text with an eye to what would have helped you? This is something that you can make a little better. \$\endgroup\$ – dmckee --- ex-moderator kitten Feb 13 '14 at 16:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ I had the same issues when I started here, but although I found the sandbox I think it's much better to actually check previous good questions and propose your problem in spirit of them. \$\endgroup\$ – SztupY Feb 13 '14 at 17:08
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    \$\begingroup\$ An alternate would be to actually tell fresh users about the sandbox before/during they do their first posts. I don't know wheter tweaking the interface for beta sites is possible or not though. \$\endgroup\$ – SztupY Feb 13 '14 at 17:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ @dmckee I edited the sandbox question. Tell me if you did liked it. \$\endgroup\$ – Victor Stafusa Feb 13 '14 at 18:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ Interesting. I found this site about half a year before I started posting things. During that time, I looked at answers, questions, etc. When I wanted to post my first question, I had already found out about the sandbox, and I found the purpose obvious. This is probably because of the time I spent examining questions and answers (they fascinated me). It seems like most users wouldn't want to spend half a year to learn about a site before posting things, though. \$\endgroup\$ – Justin Feb 13 '14 at 18:42
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Victor The edit is nice. Now I just have to get it to stick on the community bulletin... \$\endgroup\$ – dmckee --- ex-moderator kitten Feb 13 '14 at 19:52
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It could be that no one knows it's there. I'm not really a Stack Exchange user outside of this site (not that I'm a big user of this site) and I'm lucky that I found the meta site at all.

I saw some comments saying things like "these are kinks that could have been worked out if this question was posted in the sandbox" but I had no idea what the sandbox was. I don't yet have enough rep to post comments so I couldn't ask. Once I realized there was something about the site I was missing I found it fairly quickly, but that's not necessarily the case for everyone.

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Total agreement from the first two answers. I didn't know there was a sandbox area let alone what it was for. I don't have enough rep to up-vote or comment but I would if I could. Is the sandbox area very visible from the main page? Putting a link and a description of what the sandbox is for on the home page may drive community awareness up.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I see it in the "Community Bulletin" area, but we don't have the level of control over site content to do more than that. I think the main driver of awareness is people posting comments which link to it. \$\endgroup\$ – Peter Taylor Feb 14 '14 at 15:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yes, and I only figured out how to make it stick in the Bulletin yesterday. Hopefully that and Victor's edits will give the comments more leverage by make it clearer just what they are talking about. \$\endgroup\$ – dmckee --- ex-moderator kitten Feb 14 '14 at 19:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ @dmckee You only found that out yesterday? I found it out months ago from meta.math.stackexchange and I'm not even a mod. Do they not brief mods on what can be done with the mod-only tags on meta? \$\endgroup\$ – Justin Feb 15 '14 at 6:26
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Quincunx There is a monthly moderators newsletter, but I moved and changed jobs in the last year I neglected to read a number of them. And I sometimes forget things if they don't seem important at the time. \$\endgroup\$ – dmckee --- ex-moderator kitten Feb 15 '14 at 15:54

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