Every day we get quite a few questions which are closed almost immediately by our vigilant moderators for being duplicates or off-topic, for example the very common network mask, home network, and hardware recommendation questions.

Many of the people asking take the trouble to sign up, and write out their perfectly reasonable question without knowing they're in the wrong place for that question, which just wastes their time.

The "Ask Question" button is very prominent. The "What to ask" post is three clicks away (and I know exactly where it is.) It is no surprise we get off-topic questions.

Is there any way we could put some very prominent link in the red box which takes to an article called "First post? Read the topic guidelines" (or something similar)? I think it would really help.

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Edit: Failing that, perhaps we could even put a tagline on the masthead to tell people what it's about. (Any SE guidelines against that?)

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Kind regards to all

  • I have actually asked for something similar before. I got the impression from the SE guys (who actually control what you are saying) that people are supposed to take the Tour and read the "What topics can I ask about here?" page first. There really isn't anything we (NE users or moderators) can do for this. You could certainly ask on the SE Meta because it is a problem for all SE sites, especially as a user waits as the question gets ignored (except for down voting) until it is eventually put on hold.
    – Ron Maupin Mod
    Apr 11, 2019 at 17:00
  • I'll take a look there. It's evident people are not taking the tour and reading the topic post, and I feel a bit badly for people asking perfectly reasonable network engineering questions here without knowing they've fallen outside the narrower remit we've accepted here.
    – jonathanjo
    Apr 11, 2019 at 17:04
  • I was always in favor of having people go to a page with more detail when asking a first question.
    – Ron Maupin Mod
    Apr 11, 2019 at 17:10
  • 2
    AFAIK, new users (except 101 rep users?) will get this page before asking their question for the first time. The problem is... whether they read all the advice, or just tick the check button and proceed to ask any questions they have //cc: @RonMaupin
    – Andrew T.
    Apr 12, 2019 at 7:15
  • @AndrewT. I was actually thinking about more of a guided fill-out-the-first-question type of thing, but I guess it's like the old saying, "You can buy them books and send them to school, but you can't make them learn." We (NE) try pretty hard to help people ask a proper question, or guide them to the proper site.
    – Ron Maupin Mod
    Apr 13, 2019 at 3:52
  • Just linking to my question at Meta: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/327229/…
    – jonathanjo
    Apr 23, 2019 at 18:28

1 Answer 1


I put a post at Meta which gave a good answer:

  • We can customise the "How to Ask" box
  • I'll put a new question here shortly about what to put in the box
  • Once we have consensus, moderators ask SE employees to do it

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