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In the time I've spent here, I've noticed a clear difference between AU and the other SE sites I frequent. There seem to be far more bad questions (that show no research effort, don't explain anything about what they need etc) here than in the other sites. I suspect that this is largely because so many users come here straight from official Canonical pages.

For example, the Ask! link on the Ubuntu home page comes straight here, and clicking on "Contact Us" on the unity.ubuntu.com main page shows this:

We answer questions about how to use Unity on Ask Ubuntu, feel free to check out the most popular questions people have been asking us ask your own!

This results in many users coming here thinking that

  1. they are talking to people who are paid to answer their question;
  2. that this is a forum like any other;
  3. they don't need to do any research, just ask any question and it will be answered.

This post is a perfect example of the issue. The OP states that they downloaded the Ubuntu ISO from "this site", clearly, they think that this is the same site as ubuntu.com.

AU is part of the SE network and we try to apply the same quality standards. This is very hard to do though and both the regulars of the site and the users are likely to come away with a bitter taste in their mouths. We get tired of bad questions and they don't understand why we won't help them.

While, because it is directly linked to the official page of its subject matter, AU is different from all other SE sites, it treats new users just the same as any other SE community. I think it would benefit everyone if a bit more information were shown to new users on AU, or at least to those coming through the links above, than is shown now.

So, would it be possible to add an extra page between clicking on either of those two links and landing here? Just something quickly explaining that we're volunteers, that we expect research etc. Even something as simple as showing the text of the how to ask might significantly improve things.

AU is a special case, perhaps it needs special treatment?

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    Yes, I think dropping them at the tour page would help somewhat, although as it's been proven over and over, if no one cares for how things work they won't read anything you put in front of them. – Seth Mar 17 '14 at 1:08
  • @Seth absolutely, I know this would not solve the problem, it just might help and I think that this site needs something different because of the number of users who come here from the Cacnonical sites. Basically, I figure every little bit helps :) – terdon Mar 17 '14 at 1:09
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    btw, you might be interested in this. I had a nice map all written out for it, but I forgot to save the document and then shut down the computer, haven't had time to re-write it :-/ – Seth Mar 17 '14 at 1:10
  • I'm kind of hopping to remove us from the help page, people already knows we are there, and the ones that doesn't at least will google first. – Braiam Mar 17 '14 at 1:44
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    @Braiam personally I would like to disassociate this site completely and utterly from any link to Canonical's pages. As far as I can tell, joining AU with the main Ubuntu pages, the top bar and all that only decreases AU's quality and annoys the users who come here to get help. Everybody loses. IMO it should just be one of various links offered on Canonical's site (preferably buried deep), there should be no branding, nothing to make users think they're dealing with Canonical and not volunteers. I doubt that is likely to happen though so I'm looking for band aids. – terdon Mar 17 '14 at 1:48
  • I doubt the branding will change since there are trademark guidelines that should be followed, the link removal should be asked by us. – Braiam Mar 17 '14 at 1:54
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    @Seth: Is it possible for moderators to know how many questions get asked (on an average) where users directly come from ubuntu.com (as referral link)? Having a look at that figure might help to understand if implementing what is discussed could be somewhat helpful or not... – Aditya Mar 17 '14 at 7:17
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    I still think that we should force new users to have the "Informed" badge before posting. I know that it did little help in other SE forums, but AU is different. If we had that, we can tweak the 2 minutes tour so that the users will understand that this is NOT the Canonical's technical support and how to ask a question. – Rmano Mar 17 '14 at 14:50
  • @Aditya I asked about it, but Marco limited himself to tell me that 90% comes from search engines which is not surprising, but that means that 37k users comes here directly from other sources and possibly asking without doing a search. – Braiam Mar 17 '14 at 15:42
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    @Braiam: I am asking a different question... Since terdon suggested that users directly land on Ask Ubuntu from ubuntu.com and ask a question straight-away, I was wondering if we could get some stat in this regard.. Right now, AU gets an average of 7000 questions/month; how many out of this 7000 are questions where users directly landed from ubuntu.com --> this is what I am asking... Your's was a different question that Marco answered :-) – Aditya Mar 17 '14 at 15:47
  • @Aditya Didn't see your comment before (I think because the : after the ping). We do get to see some stats, and ubuntu.com is one of the top 4-5 referrers, but we can't see how that translates into questions. Also, are you sure we get 7000 questions a month? I thought it was more like 4 to 8 hundred.. – Seth Mar 18 '14 at 22:28
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    @Seth: Right now, Ask Ubuntu gets an average of 199 question/day which roughly translates to 6000 question/month.... (Last time I checked it was about 225 questions/day and hence ~7000 questions/month.) – Aditya Mar 18 '14 at 23:12
  • I'm trying to think of why this would be when other SEs probably have the same number of novices. Certainly SO does. How do they solve it? – JFA Mar 24 '14 at 23:49
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    @JFA neither Stack Overflow nor Super User (the other site filled with novices) are linked to any large company's website. On the other hand, I have since found out that most of our traffic here comes from search engines so that might not be the case either. In any case, this site does looks more like the "official Canonical helpdesk" (and indeed in many ways tries to be and that is a good thing), whichi gives people the impression they're interacting with paid employees. I have also seen this happen on Super User but far less often. I've never seen it on Unix & Linux but that is a much smaller site. – terdon Mar 24 '14 at 23:54
  • @terdon This site is considerably more friendly that Unix & Linux, to say the least, and warmer like an SE should be. Are we sure people are treating this like a paid help desk and not just not having manners/ not bothering to do research? Now that I think about it, on SO, questions that show little research effort from new users are just ignored or pointed to research. – JFA Mar 25 '14 at 1:17
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If there's an issue with the wording on an ubuntu.com site to here, file a bug on it.

I'll try to address some concerns:

We answer questions about how to use Unity on Ask Ubuntu, feel free to check out the most popular questions people have been asking us ask your own!

This results in many users coming here thinking that

- they are talking to people who are paid to answer their question;
- that this is a forum like any other;
- they don't need to do any research, just ask any question and it will be answered.

I'm the one who wrote this text on that website. I do not think that it is the cause of the problem since that text has been there since the site launched. In fact, I would argue that was a crucial step in launching the site and showing people what quality should look like.

There have been some cases where Ubuntu.com just links to people here, but we've fixed those afaict.

I think it would benefit everyone if a bit more information were shown to new users on AU, or at least to those coming through the links above, than is shown now.

This comes up time and time again; put your browser in porn mode, then try to ask a new question, these days SE barrages you with the intro FAQ, the how-to-ask-page, which is shown to new users, and all sorts of hints as people type in their first question. Another page from ubuntu.com to here wouldn't really help.

Just something quickly explaining that we're volunteers, that we expect research etc. Even something as simple as showing the text of the how to ask might significantly improve things.

Most people who work on Ubuntu are volunteers, and the website already explains to you over and over how to ask a good question and has steps in place to ensure that the user gets that before they move forward.

The crap you are seeing on the front page today are people who chose to ignore all of that information, click next, see the duplicates presented to them, ignore them, click next, and the continue to post junk.

The problem isn't that they don't understand, the problem is that we can't get rid of it faster than people can post.

By the way, we've had this problem for a long time. Adding Ask Ubuntu to the installer and/or the top link on Ubuntu.com wasn't the cause of all this -- people are coming from google and then they click on a link and ask a question.

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    First a clarification: this is not a complaint but a discussion so I wouldn't call it a bug. My objective here is to start a discussion and see if others agree or if I'm simply misunderstanding something. I've read your answer here and really appreciate all the work you've done to make AU into a useful resource for the community. – terdon Mar 19 '14 at 17:32
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    Don't worry I don't take it as a complaint, I recognize that quality is on everyone's minds and we should do our best to fix the issues! – Jorge Castro Mar 19 '14 at 17:34
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    That said, this is more of an SE issue than a Canonical one, I just get the feeling that the "normal" SE prodding of users is even less effective here than on other sites. On the other hand perhaps changing the "We answer" to "You can get answers" or "This volunteer site blah blah" or similar might be a better idea. I think the we is misleading since it sort of suggests that we is Canonical. Then again, I'm a language geek and a native English speaker so perhaps I read too much into it. Dunno, just shooting the breeze here. – terdon Mar 19 '14 at 17:36
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    @terdon Just for clarification, if it is something you want changed, it's a bug! That's how Ubuntu works, we use bugs for everything (I'm not too familiar with Launchpad, but I think there is some filtering too, to filter bugs from feature requests and ideas) – Seth Mar 19 '14 at 19:11
  • @Seth fair enough, I hadn't read the link that Jorge had posted when I wrote the comment and I've now seen that it is a bug report on a very similar issue that he himself had posted. So point taken :) – terdon Mar 19 '14 at 19:12
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    Also, and this is a wishful thinking, whenever they feel like asking a question, at least point them to our already very developed resources depending from where they come (ie, flash help page, they land to the questions with flash tag by frequency, or something like that) as way to prevent duplicates. – Braiam Mar 20 '14 at 1:11
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I suspect that this is largely because so many users come here straight from official Canonical pages.

This results in many users coming here thinking that ...

I just want to say that you have no data whatsoever to defend this claim. They might just as well come from search engines.

Edit: I don't think the referrer should determine the action we take. Whether a question comes from Google or Ubuntu really does not matter. We just need to be able to find a way to handle poor questions rapidly and accurately. And we need a way to force first time users to learn a bit about the site before using it. I can understand first time users that have a messed up an install and that look for an answer asap. I think Oli's wizard is helpful in these cases. And for the rest we need to vote, vote, vote.

  • Of course I don't, that's why I didn't make any such claim, I just said I suspect which is pretty mild wording. In any case, I have since found out it's kind of true, Ubuntu.com is one of the top referrers, but on the other hand, the vast majority of traffic comes from search engines. Anyway, I really don't understand what you are trying to say with this answer. Do you disagree with the idea of altering the path from Ubuntu.com to us? Do you agree? Are you even expressing an opinion on it? Can you please clarify? – terdon Mar 25 '14 at 13:42
  • This post is a perfect example of what I'm talking about. The OP states that they downloaded the Ubuntu ISO from "this site", clearly, they think that this is the same site as ubuntu.com. – terdon Mar 25 '14 at 15:19
  • Answer edited. I can see your point. My answer was a very compact way of saying 'This is not an issue.' – don.joey Mar 25 '14 at 21:33
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I also thought that Ask Ubuntu is from Canonical for a long time, I only came to know that it is a part of SE when I joined AU.

I suggest the questions from new users should not be directly posted rather it should be visible to only reputed members (and moderators) and thus should be moderated and if the question is worth posting than it should be posted publicly.

This moderation before posting questions from new users should be kept for at least two questions or 5 reputation (whatever comes first).

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