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I'm quite new here, but I often find myself desiring there was a way to suggest people asking questions to include information probably relevant because of the tags they've used - something like "Questions with similar titles" but tag-related.

An example would be the iptables tag. People asking questions related to iptables more often than not should include the output of iptables -nvL and perhaps iptables -nvL -t nat, but most of the time they don't until someone asks them to do just that in a comment or a guess-answer. This wastes the time of everyone involved.

What are your thoughts on this?

I considered adding a suggestion to the iptables tag wiki, by the way, but I'm not sure it's good practice so I thought I'd ask here first. Would that be acceptable? Not that I think it would be enough, though - people probably don't check the tag wiki before posting a question.

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We now show an excerpt of the tag wiki when selecting the tag:

http://blog.stackoverflow.com/2011/08/improved-tagging/

so whip those tag wiki excerpts into shape -- they should be teaching users HOW and WHY to use these tags.

http://blog.stackoverflow.com/wp-content/uploads/new-tag-completion-updated.png

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Adding this kind of stuff to the tag wiki is definitely good practice. A good tag wiki has information for people who are considering asking a question with that tag; that can include:

  • a description of what the tag means
  • possibly other related or often-confused tags
  • links to useful documentation (Wikipedia page, official FAQ, the definitive online book, …)
  • a “how to ask” guide
  • links to answers that are particularly important (book lists, troubleshooting guides, …) or very common problems

Only the tag excerpt is easily visible when choosing a tag, and even then you have to consciously arrange to read it. So I do agree that something a pushes the tag wiki (or something else) in your face a bit more would be good.

Perhaps show the beginning (?) of the tag wiki in the sidebar? That would be pretty messy with multiple tags though. (Show the information for the tag the cursor is on?)

1

I'm not sure the tag wiki's the place to put it (although it can't hurt), but I agree that it'd be nice if there was something to help people give us enough data initially. Unfortunately, my gut feeling is that the people who need the guidance the most (the really clueless) are the one's who'll ignore it the most, too.

The Debian reportbug tool has a neat trick related to this: packages can provide scripts that are run when a bug is reported against that package, which gather system information and can prompt the user for answers to specific questions. The tag equivalent of this behaviour is almost certainly overkill for Server Fault (and is definitely overkill for the SE network in general), but it's the sort of end game that I can dream of having.

Then, of course, there's the whole problem of getting people to correctly tag their questions in the first place... in the end, it's usually easier just to Vote-to-Close crap questions and move on.

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