Again and again there are people who are new, haven't read the FAQ and post off-topic or badly researched questions. I am not here to complain but to find the best way to help them while not telling them off too much and instead encouraging them to improve there question-asking.

  • What would be the best wording to do this?
  • Should we have a button to post a ready-made comment/comment-template to tell them nicely to read the FAQ so we don't need to re-type that every time?
  • If not built-in maybe a bookmarklet would do the trick?

I just created a simple bookmarklet to start things off:

javascript:(function(){
window.$("a[id^='comments-link-']").click();
window.$("form[id^='add-comment-']%20textarea").text("INSERT TEXT HERE");
})();
  • There are some browser AddOns/plugins for text snippets. I think everyone regularly participating on this site has one. – kaiser Jun 10 '14 at 15:57
  • Like? Could still be nice to have something here. Also: bookmarklets even work on weird mobile OS that do not have plugins. – kraftner Jun 10 '14 at 16:23
  • I use this one for Chrome. It has the drawback that you need to restart Chrome after inserting one or more new snippet/s, but aside from that it works just fine. Personally I have no need for a mobile snippet library. There's the SE app for iOS that I use. It has no extensions, but I anyway don't comment or close on mobile. – kaiser Jun 10 '14 at 17:14
  • 1
    I think we could work on our Tour a bit more, I really like Stack Overflows "How to ask a good question" and will often link it to poor questions but compare it to ours and it's pretty lack luster. @kaiser is there any kind of restriction we can set up so that a users first post leads them through the tour first? – Howdy_McGee Jun 11 '14 at 21:59
  • @Howdy_McGee no. – kaiser Jun 12 '14 at 14:35

There will always be low-quality, badly researched or even off-topic questions. While this can be frustrating, it's important to remember that such questions don't necessarily represent a laziness, or indifference to your time/the site's aim (e.g. I'll just post a Q. and get someone to do the work for me), or a disregard for the site's rules and guidelines.

In terms of responding to such questions, a general rule is: Be nice. Close-voting and posting comments indicating a question is poorly researched or off-topic can quite often be taken as an affront. By being nice you can help dissolve any ill-feeling.

Additionally, down-votes should only be used for low-quality questions. Nothing else. For everything else, leave a comment and flag it (or close it if you can). And if you down-vote a question (or answer), please explain why. By doing so you give the OP an opportunity to address any issues, so that it results in a better question, and hopefully an answer, for WPSE.

Off-topic questions

Unless the OP is serially posting off-topic, just post a friendly comment pointing them to the site's FAQ and also a better destination for their question.

Hi [user], welcome to WPSE. Unfortunately this question is considered off-top here. You can find out what questions are a good fit for this site [here](http://wordpress.stackexchange.com/help/on-topic). In your case, you mind find [alternatve-site] is a better place for this question.

In most cases an off-topic question stems from a lack of awareness of the goals, or the limited scope of this site. The recent site name change (from WordPress Answers) will hopefully help (albeit slightly) to highlight that this site is not a general Q&A about all things that touch WordPress.

"Work for me" questions

It's easy to view such questions as a form of laziness, particularity when the question only says "I need X,Y, Z". But just approach this is a situation where the OP hasn't grasped the aim of WPSE. This is, after all, not a support forum, and questions (and answers) should aim to be beneficial to a wide range of users, not just those who need to do X,Y,Z with plug-ins A, B, C.

HI [user], welcome to WPSE. As it stands this question is not a good a fit for this site as it too broad and in fact encompasses a series of good questions. Please post a question for each specific problem you face, and remember that this site is not a support forum but a Q&A site. Additionally, you can encourage people to answer your questions by demonstrating what you have tried so far, and why it didn't work. Also, I'd encourage you to read [this page on asking questions](http://wordpress.stackexchange.com/help/dont-ask).

Poor-quality questions

I won't given an example here, as it'll vary between questions. But simply politely point out how the question could be improved (if it can). If not, explain what's wrong with it and why it isn't a good fit for this site.

Poorly researched questions

For poorly researched questions, I find simply asking for more details often does the trick:

Hi [user], could you provide more details on what you've tried already (and why it didn't work)?

Often they have worked on the problem beforehand, but just didn't feel it necessary to include that information.

If it's "poorly researched" in the sense that it's evident they haven't bothered to search the site before asking, simply state that it's been addressed before and prompt them to search the site. If you have the ability to close a question, simply close it as a duplicate - a link will be automatically added in the comments.

Shortcuts

There are some 'shortcut links', e.g.:

  • [ask] - How to ask
  • [answer] - How to answer
  • [faq] - FAQ

(see http://chat.stackexchange.com/transcript/message/6528839#6528839), though I couldn't find an exhaustive list.

  • Concerning the intro of your answer - as already said I am purely asking how to help them while saving time while doing so. Your example comments are great as well as the tip for the shortcuts! I'll eventually turn them into bookmarklets. – kraftner Jun 10 '14 at 12:05
  • Here's a list of available shortcuts. – birgire Jul 3 '14 at 17:54

I've created 3 simple bookmarklets based on Stephen Harris Answer. They not only automatically insert the text in the comment field but also personalize the messages with the name of the user.

To use them just create a new bookmark in your browser and put the code below instead of the URL.

I am posting them here in case anyone else might be interested in them. If you have any suggestions to improve them just comment on this answer, I'd be happy to improve on it.

Off-topic questions

This bookmarklet includes the placeholder [alternative-site] which you still need to edit manually.

javascript:(function(){
var username=$("#question .user-details a").text();
var text="Hi "+username+", welcome to WPSE. Unfortunately this question is considered off-topic here. You can find out what questions are a good fit for this site [here](http://wordpress.stackexchange.com/help/on-topic). In your case, you might find [alternative-site] is a better place for this question.";
window.$("#question a[id^='comments-link-']").click();
window.$("#question form[id^='add-comment-']%20textarea").text(text).height("8em");
})();


"Work for me" questions

javascript:(function(){
var username=$("#question .user-details a").text();
var text="Hi "+username+", welcome to WPSE. As it stands this question is not a good fit for this site as it it too broad and in fact encompasses a series of good questions. Please post a question for each specific problem you face, and remember that this site is not a support forum but a Q&A site. Additionally, you can encourage people to answer your questions by demonstrating what you have tried so far, and why it didn't work. Also, I'd encourage you to read [this page on asking questions](http://wordpress.stackexchange.com/help/dont-ask).";
window.$("#question a[id^='comments-link-']").click();
window.$("#question form[id^='add-comment-']%20textarea").text(text).height("14em");
})();


Poorly researched questions

javascript:(function(){
var username=$("#question .user-details a").text();
var text="Hi "+username+", could you provide more details on what you've tried already (and why it didn't work)?";
window.$("#question a[id^='comments-link-']").click();
window.$("#question form[id^='add-comment-']%20textarea").text(text);
})();

I just wanted to add to the great answer of @stephenharris:

though I couldn't find an exhaustive list.

how one can get to this list of comment shortcodes in two clicks:

enter image description here

Here's the direct link:

https://wordpress.stackexchange.com/editing-help#comment-formatting

Here's a screenshot of the available shortcodes, just in case the link changes in the future:

List of shortcodes

These shortcodes make life much easier when welcoming new users.

Here's the off-topic comment from @stephenharris using some of the available shortcodes:

Hi {user}, welcome to [wordpress.se]. Unfortunately this question is considered off-topic here. You can find out what questions are a good fit for this site here: [help/on-topic]. In your case, you mind find [so] is a better place for this question.

This comment will look like this:

enter image description here

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