I was inspired by this question. It's short and concise. It doesn't include any useless details. It has answers with subtleties that may not be obvious.

My idea is to add simple but answerable questions to the site, as if we were repeating the beta process of demonstrating what makes a good question. My hope is that this would improve some of the problems we have with low quality of new content.

Obviously, we should try to edit every salvageable question into a good one. But that leaves us waiting for bad questions so that we can try to repair them. In the meantime, our site lacks some basic, useful content that would be helpful in the general case. (And never forget that SO doesn't post tutorials.)

So why not create some good content deliberately? There's no rule against asking a question while already knowing the answer, and simple questions can have complex, thorough answers. Getting multiple viewpoints' answers to simple questions (good subjective) would be great. Community wiki or not, these question would raise the average question quality.

A short list of benefits:

  • Good example questions for new users (lead by example)
  • Good landing points for search engines, to help folks find their solutions (spirit of SO).
  • Good duplicate votes when a new user posts a less well-formed version of the question.
  • Add how-to content without violating the format of the site.

Here's the kind of content problem that I think this would solve:

  1. Q: "How do I learn to do X in Y language with Z constraints?"
  2. Q: "I tried to do this; I had this unique implementation problem; fix it please?"
  3. Q: "I am having this problem doing X because I lack fundamental understanding of the myriad sub-tasks involved. Now what?"
  4. Q: "Can I get a tutorial for X?"

Now we have these responses:

  1. C: "Duplicate: how to accomplish core game function X."
  2. A: "You have this bug and this bug, but you also need to read this question because you're doing it wrong from the get-go."
  3. C: "Too broad. P.S.: read this question and this question and this question."
  4. C: "No, no tutorials here. But search the site for your topic and you will find other people asking specific questions about it."

I don't think we need any formal process for these, more of a general tactic. If you find yourself reading a bad question and wishing you had a good one to reference, then make one up. Make it answerable and language agnostic with narrow scope. Then maybe that bad question won't be asked as frequently in the future.


3 Answers 3


Yes, I think this is a great idea. And have actually thought of doing exactly this.

It's part of the reason I modified the question you linked to be far more generic than it was. It makes it a very easily linkable question for many of the similar situations which derive from.

I made a list a while back of questions I thought might be good:

  • How to move an object from point A to point B
  • Rotate to face a point
  • How to do X for N seconds?
  • Changing a value over time
  • Using the debugger

The last one is kind of off topic for the site maybe, but it would be nice to have something to link to, sometimes it's the answer people need. It would be an answer similar to the one I posted here.

  • \$\begingroup\$ You're like the only candidate for Reversal ever with the linked question \$\endgroup\$
    – bobobobo
    Commented Nov 15, 2013 at 1:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ @bobobobo This one and this one are closer :p Query \$\endgroup\$
    – House
    Commented Nov 15, 2013 at 1:39

Strong yes. I usually try to answer those types of questions, but the unfortunate truth is that they are often hidden behind a horrendously written, and seemingly unrelated title and question-text. They could sure use much better titles and question-texts:

There's a lot of ultra-fundamental knowledge that at least I would like to share, but we could definitely have much better questions, since the questions are what attracts visitors.



Other SE sites take it a step further and have the concept of "Canonical Questions" which poor quality or annoyingly regular questions can be closed as duplicates of. For example, the following list on ServerFault: https://meta.serverfault.com/questions/1986/what-are-the-canonical-answers-weve-discovered-over-the-years

This tactic could even be used for the dreaded "how do I get started?" question, and would IMO be a much more effective approach (and much less discouraging to new members) than the current tactic of closing them as Off Topic and maybe - if you're in a good mood - directing them to a more appropriate resource in a comment.

There's precedent for that on other SE sites too; again from ServerFault: https://serverfault.com/questions/9766/what-a-beginner-should-know-learn-for-sysadmin-job

These questions can have their content agreed on, then asked, answered and locked (which is - once again - the precedent).


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