There is an increased in the amount of new users that confuse askubuntu.com to a forum, engaging even the answers as thought to be similar to the way we use a forum. For example, making comments, additional questions and misc as an answer instead of a comment. Or just creating several comments that get the OP and future readers nowhere.

There is the https://askubuntu.com/faq but it does not cover easily how to comment and answer. This also does not appear in an easier manner to new users telling (forcing them) to READ before starting 2 million questions about the same issue or answering a question with another question.

Is there a way to create a Help page to guide users before they start posting something and force them there before going to the main page? Is this something askubuntu related or meta stackexchange related?

  • Related: meta.askubuntu.com/questions/1976/… Nov 14, 2011 at 19:36
  • @Warrioring64 - Yes but here I ask how to force some kind of intro for new users before posting like crazy. Nov 14, 2011 at 21:10
  • 2
    (Given the amount of too-chatty/worthless comments by high rep users all over the main site I'd argue that it's not just new users that need the read the FAQ.) Nov 14, 2011 at 21:39
  • 1
    True Jorge :( I am guilty of that also. Nov 14, 2011 at 22:23
  • 3
    I like cheesecake.
    – Oli Mod
    Nov 14, 2011 at 23:31
  • 4
    I do not agree with Oli. Cheesecake sucks. Chocolate 2.0 is better. Nov 15, 2011 at 1:08

3 Answers 3


For answers there is a system that detects certain things in new users posts and if it looks like it's poor quality, they're forced through a quick how to answer guide. This invariably fails at stopping people posting "I have the same problem". But it's a nice thought.

I have a lot higher tolerance for colloquial, even off-topic comments. This is mainly because they're only very rarely an issue and when they are, it's simple to clean up. Comments self-compact and are small compared to answers. They're also not available until people have been on a Stack Exchange site for a while. It's hard to get to 50 points if you don't do anything worthwhile.

The Ask-a-Question page has links to the FAQs and it even does a fairly good job at spotting duplicates... But people ignore it.

As a great philosopher once said: Website users are just like cats.

I'm a web developer and I've been dealing with "users" and how they interact with websites for about 8 years at a professional level.

Is it ever possible to predict what a user will do? Almost certainly not. Even if you put arrows, warnings and bells up around something, they're going to stumble in and start ripping up your curtains.

  • First of all, they don't need documentation because cats can't read. They don't need to because every web-surfing kitty these days has innate knowledge of how a website works. You click here, oh there's a text box, text in, post, done, catnip mouse plz.

  • The more warnings and FAQs you put up, the cooler they look when they nonchalantly stroll past them. They're the centre of the Internet at that point in time. FAQs read them, not the other way around.

  • If you try to over-complicate things and try to herd your cats, they'll give up, walk away and have a nap. They'll probably accuse you of being an elitist dog-sympathiser too. That is how defamation lawsuits start.

The Stack Exchange system understands all this. We have good tools to try and spring as many helpers up as is automatically feasible and when they do post something awful, flags are raised for moderators and the trusted users.

At that point we can gently say "No kitty, that's a bad kitty", and point them in a better direction. But by this point, we've got a brand new user inside the system. They're logged in to some degree and they're learning about how it works.

The hope from that point is we turn them from a one-post-wonder into a regular user That's a reason that if you see somebody doing something wrong you should interact with them instead of just flagging it. Help them out, even if it's yet another I get this too.

We do appreciate the flags (and we'll comment if somebody else hasn't) but good, fast communication is the way to get people involved here.

  • Oli am going to translate this in my website into a post about web users. you just made a very good explanation about new internet users in general and how some get how the system should work and some take time to understand how it works and how to make it better... and some just stay kitten until Duke Nukem Forever 2! Nov 15, 2011 at 19:58
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    Oli has me down to a 'T' and this site is like the electric can opener. One thing about this site is the ease of use and I imagine a large portion of this problem is this, it is just too easy to ask a question. But please don't change anything.
    – lqlarry
    Nov 22, 2011 at 3:04
  • @LuisAlvarado you (still) have that in spanish (I'm guessing here)?
    – Braiam
    Aug 19, 2013 at 4:35
  • @Braiam You need it in Spanish? Aug 20, 2013 at 12:18
  • @LuisAlvarado yeah.
    – Braiam
    Aug 20, 2013 at 13:24
  • @Braiam Sorry for asking but when you say "that" do you mean the FAQ, Oli's answer or something else? Aug 20, 2013 at 13:47

I have started to write a longish answer, but instead I have it now reduced to one important thing: If users keep using the site in a "wrong" way, then maybe the site does not fit the needs of the users.

I actually agree fully with the answer from Oli, but really needed to add this idea.

Maybe a short addition to the one sentence above: Most answers on askubuntu seem to come from new users (new to ubuntu and to askubuntu). And what they actually seem to need is not a place where you can ask spot-on questions, but more a wizard, that guides you through the process of providing the information that is needed to get actual help. A forum is one way that can act as a wizard, a chat or the comment system might serve the same purpose, but in the case of askubuntu, especially the chat is not well integrated into the interface and the comment seems also the wrong way for this kind of work. It is however a sign of appraisal for askubuntu that those users who actually need a forum, instead come here, because here they nevertheless seem to get the best/fastest answers.

A typical example of a question that requires a wizard can be seen here: the relevant sentence is: "Help me pls and ask questions if needed." And the next two comments are actually about additional information that should go into the question. If the askubuntu site would be especially build to help (new) ubuntu users, it would have to be different.

And one related note: this is another example of the same discussion. SE is not a forum, but it is very close. And maybe it is better/easier/faster to change the SE software/interface instead of blaming many/most users of using it the wrong way.


how about, before posting, having a button saying "are you new to ubuntu?" are you "intermidiate" and is this an "advanced" question, of course which button is pressed is in the posters opinion,

none the less, it will auto tag the question with one of the 3 as well as what the question is in relation to, then those who want to answer said questions will know what to expect, a forum like back and forth for those that are new, and more straight to the point for those in the middle, then lots of "mad terminal skills code" answers for the advanced?

that way every one knows what to expect, just a thought

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