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What’s with people being so harsh about new questions?
This is a discussion for Stack Overflow users, but it really applies to any web site.
What is it that people don’t like about new questions?
My own observations have been the following:
People are sometimes overly harsh about new questions. On Stack Overflow, I feel almost no criticism of good questions that have not yet been upvoted. I’ve read elsewhere that you don’t get too much flak on Stack Overflow, but I think that’s simply a product of Stack Overflow not being too big to suffer a flood of bad questions. I think that flak is just as common on other sites, though.
We don’t have any “close” buttons. So people don’t see them immediately as questions come in, but people who have already voted on questions or answers see them quickly, and so can be less harsh. I would say that this is a fair criticism of our design, but in any case I think we would benefit from giving them close buttons more prominently, more clearly identifying them.
New users have a very steep learning curve to start with since we don’t do them any special favors. I suppose the answer here is “teach them, don’t yell at them”.
People are sometimes overly harsh to new users simply because they’ve been trained to be harsh by a lot of bad questions and answers. I think we’d be better off to take the opposite approach: teach a new user to be kind even in response to a really bad question or answer, and then see if they learn to recognize when new users are actually doing their best.
People are actually very bad at determining the purpose of a question. I’ve read a lot of threads online about people deciding that something is a duplicate because it has the right keywords (which is wrong), or that a question is too subjective (wrong again). When people are too strict about this, they do more harm than good, and some people do a lot of harm simply by being mean.
So am I missing any obvious reason that new questions are so harshly criticized, or is it just that people have bad attitudes? What can we do to reduce this negativity about new questions?
I don’t think harshness has a