11

I notice a lot of questions start with a very long-winded story, before getting to the actual question. I recognize that for the type of questions asked here, some context is necessary to provide good answers.

However, 5 or more paragraphs describing the author's education, all of their past jobs, the projects worked on during those jobs, how far their workplace is, how they commute to work, details of their colleagues' personalities, company policies that they don't agree with, the size of their office, and so on and on1, before coming to a single sentence question is unnecessary and avoidable.

I honestly lose interest in the question if I cannot figure out a tangible issue within the first 3 paragraphs or so, which is especially worse if it starts with a poor title, such as "What should I do in this case?"

Does anyone else see this as a problem? Other than having an established user edit out the irrelevant details from the question each time, is there anything else we can do about it?


1 I am exaggerating a little here ... only a little.

4
  • @JoeStrazzere Yes, of course, there is that, but isn't there anything we can do to reduce such questions in the first place? Maybe a set of guidelines for new users posting their first question or something of that sort?
    – Masked Man
    Jan 5 '15 at 15:44
  • Amusing that your Question is 4 paragraphs. I find that many people do not read the entire Question, especially if more was added thru edits (ostensibly to improve it and head off further queries about it) and people do not follow the Comment chain, which is intended to have useful clarifying information. I get lots of "fast draw" Comments that are already addressed in the Question and in earlier Comments. For me, the real question is: if you do not have the patience to read all and understand fully, why are you even trying to answer? If it was worth time to write, it is worth time to read.
    – user37746
    Jun 29 '16 at 15:26
  • 1
    @nocomprende Your time wasted writing does not justify my wasting time reading. If something is important to your question, put it in the question description, not in the comments. That aside, this question is exactly about the same problem you are describing. When the question description contains too much unnecessary information, and too little necessary information, you won't get any useful answers.
    – Masked Man
    Jun 29 '16 at 17:43
  • I guess I don't see reading as wasted time. If I am not interested, I withdraw and make no comments or answers. If I am interested, I read it all. Your question amounts to "How can we make people better?" which is what most of mine are about also. We could start by doing a better job of deciding to either participate fully, or not. Then follow through by doing so, or breaking off before any harm is done. "Be the change you wish to see in the world." Cheers!
    – user37746
    Jun 29 '16 at 18:17
16

On The Workplace SE, there is indeed a such thing as too much information™. Posts that are too short tend to be overly broad and bland, but posts with too much detail, oftentimes written in breathless desperation, tend to contain information that just doesn't matter.

A post author's goal should be to draw in the reader with interesting content, and posts that go on endlessly do the opposite of this and drive many readers away.

Sometimes this is a sign the question isn't a good fit for our site, especially if the end result is a "what do you think" type question, but in many cases a comment asking the asker to be more concise, or perhaps helpful edits from the community, can create something much more focused, more interesting, and more easily answerable.

2
  • There such a thing as "too much information" even on Stackoverflow. It's the whole essence of SSCCE.
    – Pacerier
    Jul 1 '15 at 14:06
  • @Pacerier - Exactly. One thing members of the Workplace SE community can do is help askers formulate a good SSCCE question through helpful edits, helpful comments, and in some cases requests for clarity.
    – jmort253
    Jul 1 '15 at 15:27

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