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So, looks like Ask Ubuntu have a similar problem to what we have - they often have a poor quality questions. I like what their moderator has done up as a proof of concept; a wizard that helps you ask your question:

enter image description here

I realise the best thing for this site is to attract a better audience and thus get people who are better at communicating by default, but if that fails, how do you feel about something like this? Obviously customised for Server Fault, and would need to be officially sanctioned by SE and enabled for users of a certain ilk. Or perhaps even as a "lolz I dnt knw wht im doing plz to send teh codes!" button?

What it does is ask you to copy/pasta certain debug info from your machine into a box, which determines some information about your system and most importantly gets you to post relevant information in your question about your problem.

I don't think this exact model will work for us, but I would love to see something like eBay does, where when you make a new listing they force you to type in a few words about your item, and then locate that category. If we could make them type in a few words (which could then perhaps be tags?) and it does a search and presents the top 3 questions with "Are you asking this?". And most importantly "Hey, listen, your question is going to down like a stinky turd left in a public toilet because [you're asking about RPI]. How about you try on the [RPI] site instead?" (with a "No, I like annoying people on the internet, let me ask my question anyway" button)

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    If one of the big boxes says "I'm at home" and clicking it sends them to Super User then I'm all for it. – Michael Hampton Sep 3 '13 at 3:43
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    "Are you at home/work" and work leads to "Do you have an active root privs on any machine connected to your problem, yes/no" with "no" leading to a FOAD link? – Mark Henderson Sep 3 '13 at 3:44
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    Are you asking this - Isn't that already kind implemented with the Questions that may already have your answer section that appears when you complete the title or the Similar Questions bar that appears when you have sufficient text for context searching the database ? Which is already ignored by (most/many) people. – Iain Sep 3 '13 at 6:10
  • @Iain - kind of. This is heaps more in your face though. Make them actually dismiss the dialog if they want to bypass it. Although they already bypass the "how to ask" without reading it so.... hmm – Mark Henderson Sep 3 '13 at 6:16
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    @MarkHenderson: Actually if it could be coded to automagically do a if ( rep on SO >= rep on SF && rep on SO <= 100k) then GTFO then the few remaining people may actually benefit from it – Iain Sep 3 '13 at 6:22
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    @Iain I agree with the sentiment, but had 400+ rep on SO before finding SF... So maybe just a reminder that SF is for Administrators, and not Developers. – Chris S Sep 3 '13 at 13:06
  • @ChrisS: I could live with the occasional false positive ;) – Iain Sep 3 '13 at 13:36
  • copy/pasta ?? :) – TheCleaner Sep 3 '13 at 21:24
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    I see. Where do you people find the time to learn and institute urbandictionary crap? Do I need to get a few IT interns for 6 months or something? (just bitter I didn't know it wasn't a typo) – TheCleaner Sep 3 '13 at 21:51
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    @TheCleaner - Basically yes. We hired a 30-year-old who is basically a large man-child about a year ago. He keeps me up to date on my slang (he also got me fist-bumping and using "dude"). For the record I'm only 27 but I feel much older :p – Mark Henderson Sep 3 '13 at 21:52
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    I'm all for anything reducing the deluge of trash that comes in constantly. – DanBig Sep 6 '13 at 19:33
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Author of the script here.

What it does is ask you to copy/pasta certain debug info from your machine into a box, which determines some information about your system and most importantly gets you to post relevant information in your question about your problem.

That's a little too simplified, it's actually a lot more flexible than all that. The idea is to essentially replicate the diagnostic process that users would usually go through for the problems that happen most (or need most hand holding) with the aim questions like "My internet is broken! How do I fix it?!" are answered before they're even asked.

It does this by asking questions, asking for hardware (and then looking for questions based on that hardware), suggesting manually-selected popular questions (if you have a networking troubleshooting mega-question, for example) and asking for the output of commands which can often be essential in manually diagnosing things.

So even if something does get to become a question, if it comes through this, you can make sure it has the all the relevant data and tags from the start.

  • Cool; I might have over simplified it then. I haven't dug into the source code to see what all the branches/functionality is – Mark Henderson Sep 3 '13 at 7:27

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