9

As a regular user of technical sites like Stack Overflow, Ask Ubuntu and more, I have a feel for how the various SE sites work. I notice the hermeneutics.stackexchange.com site is still in Beta so perhaps you are all still finding your footing.

I want to ask, has there been a specific choice made to break the mold that the other SE sites follow? I have noticed much more than other sites that regular users seem ready to post "helpful" yet vague comments on questions by relatively new users, when existing site mechanisms already have been tried and proven to assess question quality.

For example on this question, the comment was posted:

Welcome to Stack Exchange, we are glad you are here. When you have a chance, be sure to check out the site tour and read up on how this site is a little different than other sites around the web. This is not a comment on the quality of your question, but rather a standard welcome message.

Doesn't the downvote mechanism already work well on other sites to ferret out bad questions? This comment, despite its claim, leaves the distinct impression that something is wrong with the question.

So is the "standard welcome message" claim really supported by practices on more successful SE sites? I personally would recommend people give specific praise or criticism. I certain will post links to tour pages and "how to ask a good question" pages when warranted.

I did search this topic on meta and did not find something to address it specifically, let me know if I missed something, thanks. I think there's a great chance to have a wonderful site here, but if you want a community of experts you should go start your own site with closed membership. SE sites are designed for everyone, and the low quality crowd will be chased away by existing practices like downvoting.

Looking at the answers posted to the question I linked above, this comment is repeated on two answers, don't people think downvoting and specific criticisms are more inline with the SE approach?

Welcome to Stack Exchange, we are glad you are here. If you haven't done so already, be sure to check out the site tour and read up on how this site is a little different than other sites around the web. In particular, pay attention to what constitutes a good answer and make sure your answer meets those guidelines. Please note that "showing your work" is required. This is not a comment on the quality of your answer, but rather a standard welcome message.

Repeating the same text over and over on a page is going to throw Google off and reduce the search quality of your content. Google's Pagerank frowns on "keyword spamming. Not to say this is actual keyword spamming but search engines don't like repeated text on webpages.

5
  • I notice the discussion tag uses the phrase "best practices" which is anathema on SO (pun intended). – JimLohse Jan 24 '16 at 20:05
  • 4
    Thank you for bringing this up. These are actually even more common than a cross-sectional observation might suggest since I (for one) delete them as soon as I can after the poster has likely read it. It's a relatively new phenomenon on this site (which has been around since 2011), and I'm also uncertain about its value. – Susan Jan 25 '16 at 5:38
  • In your example: I'm mostly following the herd. I posted that mostly because I Wanted the user to get this link out of it. More often than not however, I do not include "This is not a comment on the quality of your question, but rather a standard welcome message." because there typically is a specific problem. While the DV mechanism ferrets out bad answers, what it does not do is communicate that we tend to have a stricter format than other SE sites. Even between BH and Christianity, there is a huge difference in quality as a result of the format requirements. – James Shewey Jan 25 '16 at 6:04
  • 1
    I appreciate the comments, very helpful in understanding :) I spend my early time on Stack Overflow asking bad questions and I learned firsthand the method there is specific humiliation from users with reputations ranging from 30K to 300K. It's harsh and not a perfect system but it works. Having said that, I think this site has a good balance, and like @JamesShewey says, if there is a specific problem it's helpful to let the person know. When I started on SO I would get downvoted and not know why -- kind of like an apt. manager posting a sign for all when you know it's one persons actions. – JimLohse Jan 25 '16 at 6:14
  • 1
    And one last comment before I call it a night, certainly you all have better socially adjusted personalities than the average computer programmer haha – JimLohse Jan 25 '16 at 6:15
4

The "Welcome Message" is in part a message that some, including myself, have somewhat "borrowed" from Dan(A Moderator), in his responses to new users who were unfamiliar with Site Directives and had posed a question or answer without viewing them.

It's giving new users an opportunity to "feel welcome" and yet understand there is a specific standard that we adhere to in participation; and because the 'topic' is at the core of many people's belief systems, unlike UNIX or UBUNTU, the protocol for such exchanges isn't readily apparent; even seasoned users have their questions 'closed' because of misunderstanding the Site Directives.

We attempt to screen new users, and it's been my approach to 'coach', rather than quote the statute. We do want to encourage new users to "learn the ropes" and use the Site effectively; and we also understand that a topic as close to the core of one's belief system can generate a lot of misunderstanding and ill-will. The "Welcome Message" is an attempt to encourage new users who may experience negative input to persevere in the process, and ultimately build a better site.

2
  • 2
    My impression has been that it (at least the "this is not a comment on the quality of your answer" part) came from Christianity.SE. – Susan Jan 25 '16 at 15:45
  • Tough choice in which answer to accept, I think this one more directly addresses my question "what is going on" while the answer from @Jack Douglas is excellent and more forward looking. Both excellent answers. – JimLohse Jan 25 '16 at 16:22
4

This comment, despite its claim, leaves the distinct impression that something is wrong with the question.

I agree, and although these messages are well-intentioned, I don't think they perform any positive purpose.

If there really is something wrong with the question or answer, there are much better mechanisms for communicating that: first and foremost an edit has excellent educational value.

On the other hand, if the post is good already, we don't want to give the impression that it isn't, which as you rightly point out, is exactly what these comments are prone to do.

I flag them when I see them but I have no idea if they get deleted when I do.

5
  • Though editing has great educational value, I find that more often than not, answers (and somewhat less often questions) are unsalvagable via this editing. This also takes a great time investment due to the format and standards such that I would question if I want to continue to assist in moderation if that be the requirement in all cases. In the OP's example, I considered this question to be a diamond in the rough, so I did edit it, but this is the exception to the rule. – James Shewey Jan 25 '16 at 16:15
  • 1
    Wow it's really nice to see how much thought goes into your "shepherding" of the site pun intended :) Keep up the good work! – JimLohse Jan 25 '16 at 16:20
  • 1
    Jack looking at your flagging history virtually every comment you've flagged has gotten deleted. – Caleb Jan 25 '16 at 21:16
  • @Caleb yippee, I'll keep flagging then :) – Jack Douglas Jan 25 '16 at 21:31
  • Yeah I'm pretty sure none of us hesitate to delete flagged comments - even our own ;) – Dan Jan 26 '16 at 2:31

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .