We had a brief chit-chat amongst the mods, and had a few thoughts on what we could do to work with the tools we have (including community feedback, as you guys are awesome) to make our help center more fantastic.
During the discussion we came up with the following 5 ways we often use the help center:
For people who clearly don't understand the site scope (this could be tour)
- For people who are asking a question a bit wrong
- For people who have their question closed (what the reasons mean, how to fix it)
- For people answering (don't repeat others, back it up, longer not shorter, etc.)
The first was taken care of with our updated about page
That's a lot of information to shove all in one page, and it's a bit unwieldy to read if all the information is in there. So rather than shoving it all in and making it menacing for our new users who we are most likely to point to it, we can add links to meta posts describing each of the various sections. That way we can keep the help center brief, but add additional information for folks who want to click through and read more about our reasoning in logic.
After all, a lot of what we are about isn't blindly following rules, but rather sharing what our thought process is as a community on what makes us work, and letting people use common sense to apply that to their experience here.
More Concrete Suggestion
So here is what we are thinking may be a good way to go about this:
Create a meta-question faq for each off-topic section of the help center
- "I need advice on...", "What should I do?", or "Which job should I take?"
- "Is it legal..."
- "Please review my resume/CV"
- "How do I learn to be a..." / "How do I perform the job of a ..."
- "What salary/hourly rate should I look for? How much should I charge for X?"
We should be able to clearly explain to a new visitor (or old veteran alike) exactly why these types of questions are off-topic. If we can't create a nice convincing reason that people shouldn't ask for us to review their CV's, then we should ask ourselves why, and then either remove it from the help center as a verboten topic, or come up with a darn good reason and add it.
Eeeek! My question is on hold!
We should have a meta question that explains what you should do if your question is put on hold. This should explain the basics of each close reason, and link to resources (like the above) giving more detail on why things are closed for that reason.
But most importantly, it should explain how to fix the question. We should explain that people can edit their posts at any time, and that questions put on hold can be reopened after editing automatically by the community (so no need to delete and repost, etc.).
We should have a FAQ for answerers
When an answer gets downvoted and/or negative comments, we should have an article we can use to point out why. This should go over the reasons that answers get downvoted, from Good Subjective, Bad Subjective to Back it Up and Don't Repeat Others, etc. Again, we should explain how people can improve their answers.
Then You Do the Hokey Pokey Edit It All Together
Then we can arrange this in to a nice short comment-friendly magic-linked (
[help/on-topic] in a comment will automatically link as 'help center' in the comment) to a veritable vault of knowledge. With links. To useful references. That will help new and existing users alike.
But We Need Your Help!
We are but three mods, and the community are the ones who decide what is on/off-topic, and are the ones who write a bulk of the meta content we have. We want your help in putting together these faq. And we want to know if you think we're missing the forest through the trees. Please use this as a discussion to let us know if this makes sense, if it doesn't, if something needs to be tweaked, and then in a week we can start making some of these FAQ drafts for anyone and everyone to contribute to and make our site more understandable to new and veteran users alike.