7

I did find this other question that is similar, but this is a followup to that. I have noticed many times where a new user posts an answer that should be a comment or a new question. In these cases, myself or someone else will respond with something like

Welcome to the site! Please use the "Ask Question" button to ask this as a new question. Answers are only used for responses to the question being asked.

However, I believe that I have never seen the user then post something as a new question; rather he's just never heard from again. Is there a way that we can better encourage a new user to stay and ask his question in the correct way?

A couple possibilities:

  1. Allow brand new users to leave comments. Many of the invalid answers are things that would work as comments to an answer, rather than a new question, but new users can't leave comments.
  2. Allow moderators to automatically convert answers to questions. I know they can convert answers to comments, but as far as I know they can't convert them to questions. I believe a new user would be more likely to stay if he actually had a question listed. Though I don't know if this is possible within the framework.

Any other ideas? Is there better wording we can use when responding to these answers?

  • Could someone clean up the title of this question? I was about to, then I realized I couldn't quite understand what it was trying to say. – Joe May 21 '14 at 20:55
  • @Joe, woah, I'm not sure how I missed that. Must have changed thoughts part of the way though. Thanks, fixed. – GendoIkari May 21 '14 at 21:46
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Yes, please give (♦)moderators an easy way to turn answers into questions!

This fixes the actual problem: the new user has a question, but, treating the site like a forum, they try to get more eyeballs by sticking their question into an existing "thread" rather than starting their own.

It's easy, it's clean. The only possible downside is that a user doesn't learn the right way to do it right away, but I think seeing your question painlessly converted into a question and then answered effectively might actually teach you more about the site than just having someone tell you to go do that yourself while they delete your thing.

Yes, this is hand-holding, but Stack Exchange is already committed to teaching newbies instead of punishing them, and this moderate bit of hand-holding could make the site much more hospitable to people who have an honest interest but don't quite understand the format the first time they post.


New users don't need comment access (outside their own posts)

Letting new users write comments doesn't address the problem of new users putting questions in the wrong place. The point of comments is to improve existing content, not to ask or answer additional questions. So you don't want new users leaving questions as comments just like you don't want them leaving questions as answers.

  • 2
    I've tried a bit to get the answer -> question thing (I'm a mod on cooking) but the response I've gotten is mostly "eh, people want to be able to do every single kind of conversion, and it's too much work to do all of them, convince us it's a real problem." I've tried to collect evidence when I have time, but it's a lot of work - see meta.cooking.stackexchange.com/q/1799/1672 for what I've managed on cooking. Y'all might want to try to do something similar here to build some more evidence! – Cascabel May 16 '14 at 6:24
  • This does add a larger-than-average load onto the moderators: writing a question (with tags, title, and body assembled properly) is significantly more work than the usual mod requirements of writing comments or handling flags. I'm all for it, but we'd definitely need to keep the extra work in mind when deciding how many mods we need. – PotatoEngineer May 20 '14 at 0:20
  • @PaulMarshall Well, if the body's not already well-formed, then there's very little left to salvage. – Alex P May 20 '14 at 0:26

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