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I have seen more and more comments like this recently:

It's difficult to tell what is being asked here. This question is ambiguous, vague, incomplete, overly broad, or rhetorical and cannot be reasonably answered in its current form. For help clarifying this question, see the FAQ.

This is just an example, there are other members doing this too. Sometimes the comments contains just the link, sometimes a short quote.

That’s not helpful.

I think comments should explain how this specific question could be improved. Telling someone (usually a new member) to read some site without any further hint is on the edge of being rude in my opinion.

Only moderators can delete other people’s comments. Should we do that in such cases?

Related: Kicking off the Summer of Love

The goal is simple: to keep Stack Exchange a welcoming, friendly place without lowering our standards. No, you may not ask “plz send me the code” questions, but if you do, we will explain to you, in a friendly and professional way, what you did wrong.

  • I understand that as a call for participating in the chatrooms. I'll try. . . . Of course, deleted the afore mentioned comment. . . . Wrote an answer here, but deleted as well. Not in the mood. . . . Will be back in September. Lovely summer to ya all. – brasofilo Aug 2 '12 at 5:44
  • @brasofilo Actually, no, my goal is not to talk more. All I want is a better first impression for new members. We should not ask for specific questions with vague comments. :) – fuxia Aug 2 '12 at 5:47
  • Yep, I see the point. But how would you tell me that, if not by chat? Or by me finding this meta by chance? – brasofilo Aug 2 '12 at 5:55
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Action?

Only moderators can delete other people’s comments. Should we do that in such cases?

No. This would be minimum as rude, as you think the comments are. And imo it would be a misuse of your admin super powers.

Where's the difference?

You're expecting users that have some reputation to be wise enough to get around it and be friendly. But they aren't wise enough. This will evolve over time. It's just another step closer to become a "knowing" member. And therefore they are allowed to make failures - like humans just do often. It's simply said "part of the process" to become a valuable member of the platform.

The steps

Just from my personal experience, there're different levels a user has to go through:

  • Interested
  • Learning the basics of the system
  • Doped by the system
  • Answer spree
  • Frustration (others not willing to learn/not excited about the system)
  • Anger
  • Patience coming back
  • Feels like part of the system
  • ...and here it splits: User leaves (Angry on amount of dump questions) or User tries further (Mostly User joins chat)...

And from looking at how many good users we already lost, I'd say it's more important to try to keep mid-rep people active on our page, than to be unfriendly.

Advanced Users

In some cases I fully understand why people get angry and stop repeating the same comment on every question. There's just too much frustration potential out there. When you take a look at our "New Questions", then you see that most of the actual questions are from low-low-rep users. And some of them are really trying hard to not learn using the WYSIWG editor (you already use TinyMCE in WP, folks!), adding tags like and as only tags to a question, etc., etc.

Conclusion

So if you really want to take action, then try to get those people into chat. Talk to them, let them feel like they're in a warm, cosy and welcome place. Then tell them, why we're trying to be friendly to new users 1).

1) Which, in most cases, makes exactly no difference.

  • 1
    Sound analysis, thanks for that. Right now, I need a break from the Stack, and will look for warm and cozy places at the north forests. Hasta pronto, bro :) – brasofilo Aug 2 '12 at 5:53
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It's difficult to tell what is being asked here. This question is ambiguous, vague, incomplete, overly broad, or rhetorical and cannot be reasonably answered in its current form. For help clarifying this question, see the FAQ.

This is just an example, there are other members doing this too. Sometimes the comments contains just the link, sometimes a short quote.

That’s not helpful.

I disagree that it is inherently unhelpful to quote from the FAQ regarding why a question received a close-vote. In fact, it can be inherently helpful, especially since, IMX, the vast majority of the time, the OPs of such questions haven't actually bothered to read the FAQ before posting their questions.

I think comments should explain how this specific question could be improved. Telling someone (usually a new member) to read some site without any further hint is on the edge of being rude in my opinion....

Related: Kicking off the Summer of Love

The goal is simple: to keep Stack Exchange a welcoming, friendly place without lowering our standards. No, you may not ask “plz send me the code” questions, but if you do, we will explain to you, in a friendly and professional way, what you did wrong.

I think that quoting from the FAQ is "friendly and professional". (And if it isn't, then the FAQ itself may not be "friendly and professional" enough.)

For off-topic question close-votes, I always try to indicate the scope/topic of the question, to explain why the question isn't WordPress-related. For duplicate questions, I'll generally link the search query I used to find the original question for which the new question is a duplicate. But for "not a real question" close-votes, I may or may not elaborate. If I think the question can be salvaged, I'll ask clarifying questions without casting a close-vote. But if I don't think the question is easily salvageable, I'll generally close-vote, and quote from the FAQ.

Being friendly and welcoming does not mean that we absolve users of their responsibility to understand how SE sites work before asking questions. On a site such as WPSE, where so few community members can actually use a community moderation tool such as close-votes, and where such a high percentage of questions require community moderation (due to being poorly written, out-of-scope, duplicates, etc.) it is only prudent that we not facilitate users who don't read and understand the ground rules/workflow before submitting questions.

Obviously, we can debate where exactly the line should exist, and wherever the line should be we should always be friendly and welcoming. But IMHO quoting from the FAQ as explanation for a close-vote falls on the correct side of that line, wherever it is.

2

There seems to be a consensus not to touch these comments. So be it.

But I ask you all to take the time and give specific hints whenever possible. Our site is very unique. We should help our new members to learn how it works, and we should give them the impression that we really want to help.

@jmort253 had an interesting idea recently:

Here's a good suggestion for leaving helpful comments. Write them as if you're writing a note to your boss at a new job. Pretend like your boss posted the question and you're responding to it.

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I'm enjoying contributing to WPSE everyday and as a bit of a newbie ... I do feel that people shouldn't just down vote another newbies question.

I know that i could come to hate poor worded questions (which generally seem to be for plugins) ... and I feel already that some regulars always seem 'rough' almost like a troll.

Most of the regular members I see commenting are quite good with answers but other more experienced members of WPSE could try to remember what it was like to be new to WordPress and try to see it from the new members perspective.

For what it's worth -- it would be good to be able to close a question with a comment that directs a new user to the Codex or to Related Posts :)

PS ... what about a mini-training course for 'experienced members who want to help better'

thanks

Damien

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