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So over the past few days I've put some of my time into building a wizard. It currently stands as a 515 line user-script. And it's really still just a tech demo.

Before we go any further, a screenshot of what you'll see on the Ask page if you install it.

enter image description here

If you're just joining us and have no idea what I'm talking about, there have been several discussions in recent history that allude to the same thing: the quality of questions here is not always great. Not all users are capable of working out what to search for, and they're the people who often don't know what to include in their question. This leads to a ton of wasted time as we triage new questions.

The wizard's aim is to remove that quality issue and improve support rate via two key methods:

  • We quickly diagnose commonly recurring issues and get users to the right existing posts. They get an instant answer and they're not posting dupes.

  • Certain wizard paths have the ability to collect data and add if they need to ask a new question, this data is added to their post. This improves quality and should help to cut down on the triage.

And if it can't help, it's designed to get out of the way as fast as possible and leave the user with the standard Ask form.

Quit all this dithering, man! How do I install it?!

As previously mentioned, this is a userscript that we need to install in the browser.

It was built in Firefox so there may be Chrome-only bugs. Let me know (or submit patch pull-requests). Anyway, after you have the required extension, click the following link and tell it you want to install the script:

Then just visit the /ask page.

But nobody is going to install a userscript before asking, how are we going to get this live on the site?

Hold on a second. We're not there yet. As I keep saying, this is a demo, a super-alpha, meant to demonstrate what we can do with just a little bit of javascript. We need to:

  • Improve the questions the wizard asks,
  • Add more follow-ups, more data collection, and
  • Search the site more (there's only one hardware lookup at the moment),

I've built this to be extensible and it's open source (GPLv3) and available on Github. Ideally people would fork my version out, improve it and submit pull requests back to my branch. It is very simple code and there is technical documentation on GH and I'm available to answer questions.

Failing that, I'm happy for people to leave comments and answers on here and bug reports on Github suggesting different handlers and better questions.

Once we have four stubs that are actually usable, we can see about getting it included in the site. Depending on how many people get stuck in to this, we could be talking about a week or months.

I really need your help.

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    No "made with love and unicorns by Oli" this time? – Jorge Castro Aug 22 '13 at 15:30
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    No that was Django; that made me happy. This is made with sweat, blood and other vile and unmentionable humors. I really hate Javascript. – Oli Aug 22 '13 at 15:32
  • Can a userscript gather system information ? Are you going to have some offline python app or something to do that? – Amith KK Aug 22 '13 at 16:09
  • @AmithKK In short, it adds forms to the page, stores that data in memory and if they decide they want to ask a new question, the javascript writes that collected data into the ask form, nicely pre-formatted. It's not sending it anywhere. It's all client-side, in-browser. – Oli Aug 22 '13 at 16:24
  • networking: while ifconfig shows statistics too (which ip ad does not) and should be kept for now I'd prefer ip route instead of route -n - the netmasks are much easier to read. – guntbert Aug 22 '13 at 17:00
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    "IE users go home, you're drunk." Sounds about right. – Nathan Osman Aug 23 '13 at 17:34
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    Brilliant! The font size is perhaps too large, if the Testing Data or the Suggested Answer could be placed in a variable sized scrolling div (related to screen size) to keep the "Restart Wizard" link and the "I can't see my problem here, ask a new question" on screen it would be even better. – SimplySimon Aug 25 '13 at 16:16
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    We have a similar, but different, problem on [ServerFault]. I have blatantly stolen your idea and posted it over there; I hope you don't mind. If our community likes the idea too it could become a collaborative effort: meta.serverfault.com/q/5821/7709 – Mark Henderson Sep 3 '13 at 3:48
  • its useful. as I have seen some issues which deals with device of the system needs their specification details and new comers wont do that because they dont know. So at the time of posting the question only we are asking them to post specifications. good Idea. – rɑːdʒɑ Sep 4 '13 at 7:29
  • @Oli well as I have seen , there should be some more improvements in the tag area. I can not post the questions, :( . searching is good while posting the questions. – rɑːdʒɑ Sep 4 '13 at 10:03
  • This script hijacked my account and made me submit 100 edits. ;) – Flyk Feb 5 '14 at 18:30
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    Hey Oli, are you still planning on working on this? If I come up with a basic Q --> Q/A map will you still be able to implement it? – Seth Mar 17 '14 at 1:12
  • I couldn't get this to function on Firefox 35.01 Am I missing a scriptish option or something? I see the scriptish indicator and the count goes to 1 on the ask page but it doesn't appear to run. User script commands is greyed out if that's relavent. – Elder Geek Jan 29 '15 at 23:32
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    No dice with GreaseMonkey either. I just get the ask page with a link that says I can't see my problem here, ask a new question! Possible interference from a different addon? I removed scriptish prior to install if that matters... – Elder Geek Feb 3 '15 at 14:26
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    @Fabby My status: Considering a javascript class. I haven't programmed since BASIC/COBOL/FORTRAN except for a bit in Virtual Basic (gag) unless you count BASH.... – Elder Geek Feb 6 '15 at 14:25
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I guess, in this case "comment" means "answer". Thx for putting this wizard together.

Two observations:

  • it works on Chromium with Tampermonkey
  • it does in no way "help you to build a high quality question" - yet, that's where we will have to put effort into
  • What do you mean in the third point? – Oli Aug 22 '13 at 15:30
  • There's no actual page transition - it's all just javascript on the same page. I'm just hiding the ask form and and the end, I'm just destroying the wizard and populating the ask form and showing it. I could push history events to the stack but at best this would take you back to the beginning of the wizard. It might get a bit confusing. Isn't there a notice at the top of the post form that tells you the Wizard exited? – Oli Aug 22 '13 at 16:30
  • @Oli I see, I didn't look into the logic yet - I guess when someone is not testing the page he won't even notice - gonna close point 3. – guntbert Aug 22 '13 at 16:41
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I love it! and think your on the right track. I believe it will be very helpful... One early glitch that needs attention.

I have latest version of Firefox installed but the back ← took me back to far, (here), not back one page... "Thought I was time travelling for a sec... ;-D".

Other than that "FANTASTIC" so far...

Keep up the good work... If I could code, I would love to help. Great Idea!!!

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    The page doesn't change, you are kept all the time in the same ask page, just that the scripts hides the normal page and shows you the wizard. – Braiam Sep 20 '13 at 21:50
  • Cool... now that the confusion is cleared up I love it even more. Great Job, I can not wait to see this implemented on ask! – SoCalDiegoRob Sep 22 '13 at 16:47

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