I've talked about a wizard to help people find existing questions and improve the quality of the ones they post if they can't find one. I've talked about this for so long without doing anything so yesterday, I took some personal time and built it.

The system is essentially a flow-chart that can do data collection. We ask the user what their main symptom is and then can ask them more questions, ask for lspci output, search our existing questions and then present them with a list of existing questions, or pre-populate the Ask form. Believe it or not, all of that is currently working.

Of course it's nowhere near finished and it won't be implemented unless Stack Exchange loves it and I need help building example scenarios. Imagine a problem and work out what questions we'd usually ask in comments to answer it. These can be hardware or software but I think this is probably going to apply to hardware issues more than not.

I'm looking for the biggest, most recurrent and most consistently poor quality problems we see on the main site.

Here is my sole working example (and it's just a flimsy tech-demo so if you want to improve it, please do):

  • Symptom: I can't connect to the internet
    • Input: lspci -nnk | grep net -A2
      • If there's more than one, the user selects right card
      • Search based on hardware ID
      • If the user says the results are bunk, we pre-populate the form with the raw lspci data, code formatted.

Once we have a few ideas, I'll implement them in the wizard and publish it (it's a userscript at the moment) and we can decide whether it's worth showing to Stack Exchange.

  • Maybe we should also use an autoslap function for typical newbie insults? -|-
    – don.joey
    Aug 21, 2013 at 12:23
  • So are you going to implement any of the answers below or would you like me to come up with something?
    – Seth
    Feb 7, 2014 at 2:17
  • This is definitely excellent idea, A wizard coming up asking them to do specific thing prior posting.
    – danijelc
    Feb 11, 2014 at 16:44

3 Answers 3


I think this is an awesome idea! I love this kind of stuff! But why stop at "the biggest, most recurrent and most consistently poor quality problems we see on the main site"? On the contrary, you can build the ultimate wizard/tool to help new users for many problems, not just the most consistently poor quality ones! Here is my input:

  • I have an issue with wireless.

    1. My computer does not recognize my wireless card (or "I can't get wireless to work").

      • Input: lspci -nnk | grep -A2 0280
        • User presented with cards based on output and selects his manufacturer.
    2. My computer recognizes my wireless card, but I still can't get it to work.

      • Input: sudo lshw -c network && lsmod | egrep '^rtl|^wifi|80211|^wl'
    3. I repeatedly get asked for the wireless password when I try to connect to a wireless network.

    4. I am connected to the internet (wired or wireless), but I can't browse any website.

      • Inputs: ifconfig && ping -c4 && ping -c4 google.com && route -n && nm-tool (and maybe upload to paste.ubuntu.com automatically).
  • I am having trouble with a USB stick/partition/internal/external hard disk.

    1. I am having trouble with accessing/mounting a USB stick/partition/internal/external hard disk.
      • Input: sudo fdisk -l && mount | grep '^/'
  • I have an issue with installing something using apt-get install.

    1. I'm getting an error about "unmet dependencies".
  • I have an issue when running sudo apt-get update.

    1. I'm getting an error that contains 404 Not Found

I'm not sure if this is what you're looking for Oli. Let me know what you think. I'm in no way finished with this post yet; I'll continue updating this, but I have to leave now.

  • "Why stop at..?": This isn't designed to be a complete replacement for search. It's more for things where people don't know what to search for or where they won't neccessarily put the right data into the question in the first place. It also has to be fairly brief or they'll just run away. I'd like to keep it to five options or fewer at any one point. That's a good selection there though. I'll rework my networking option to pull wireless in.
    – Oli Mod
    Aug 20, 2013 at 14:26
  • "This isn't designed to be a complete replacement for search." Okay, fair enough =). I completely agree about it being fairly brief. If I can, I'll try to edit this to be (or post another answer (so that I leave this answer for anyone else that wants to work on something bigger) that is) briefer.
    – Alaa Ali
    Aug 20, 2013 at 14:53

Disclaimer: feel free to edit

Do you want to install Ubuntu?

No! I just want to try it and see it working.

    I want to make a live cd. -> QA to read before doing so.
    I want to make a live usb.-> QA to read before doing so.
    I want to install ubuntu in a virtual machine. -> QA to read before doing so.

Yes! How can I install it?
    I am using windows.
         I am using windows 7 or an earlier version of windows.
              I want to keep my windows system and my personal data. -> QA to read before doing so.
              I do not care about my windows system nor about my personal data. -> QA to read before doing so.       
              I do not care about my windows system, but I do not want to loose my personal data. -> QA to read before doing so.       
         I am using windows 8 or a later version of windows.
              My computer has both legacy booting and uefi booting (link: how to check)

    I am using mac.
    I am using another operating system.
  • 3
    Actually, I think this whole "I want to install Ubuntu" section should be posted as a series of properly organized questions/answers (in the form of a guide) here on AskUbuntu, instead of it being in Oli's wizard. Or at least, after this guide is posted on AskUbuntu, Oli's wizard would link to those posts directly. I want to start typing up this guide, and the outline I've drafted out is very similar to yours. It's just that...I have no idea what UEFI is and how do people install Ubuntu with it.
    – Alaa Ali
    Aug 20, 2013 at 14:51
  • @Private make it a CW... we can't edit meat answers :P (unless more than 2k rep)
    – Braiam
    Aug 20, 2013 at 15:04
  • @Braiam Done...
    – don.joey
    Aug 20, 2013 at 15:06
  • @Braiam Meat answers? Maybe it's a good thing you can't edit those.... (joking of course :P)
    – Seth
    Aug 21, 2013 at 2:09
  • @Seth I swear I did write that on propose, so I could comment something like: you did it grilled, right? ;)
    – Braiam
    Aug 21, 2013 at 2:12

Disclaimer: feel free to edit

Other often recurring questions that lack the right information to be able to answer the question or judge whether it is a duplicate: [sorry, I don't have the time to write full use cases now, but maybe someone else has]

  • why does Ubuntu boot to a black/purple screen?
  • does Ubuntu support my hardware?
    • my GPU
    • my phone
    • my old computer with low hardware
    • the new supercomputer I want to buy
    • my TV
  • I have just installed Ubuntu and I have lost my data. How can I recover it?

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