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I've been noticing that we get a lot of "hit-and-run" question askers. For example:

All of these are questions by a first time asker who asked a question that seems both:

  • Important to the person, and
  • To have the potential to get definitively answered.

All of them have answers and/or comments but the asker hasn't been "seen" since the question was asked. That makes me think that for one reason or another they aren't expecting a response or aren't getting queued to come back and see the answer or respond to comments.

I'm thinking that we could improve "retention" and question quality if we could customize the How To Ask text. It would be even better if we could tailor it to specific use cases for example:

  • A message for first time question askers that provides some detailed tips and links to some good example questions.
  • A message tailored to unregistered users – will they get any kind of notification when an answer or comment happens?

At the very least it seems like it would be good to include a sentence along the lines of "After asking your question come back soon (or check for notifications) to check for answers and/or clarifying questions – people trying to answer your questions are motivated by responses from you."

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At the very least it seems like it would be good to include a sentence along the lines of "After asking your question come back soon (or check for notifications) to check for answers and/or clarifying questions – people trying to answer your questions are motivated by responses from you."

I think you're bumping up against a well-known issue in user interface design: people don't read the user interface.

I don't think there's anything that can be done for a person who isn't willing to return to the site after dropping in a one-off question. For people that do return, the personal touch is what's going to convince them to stick around, work with us to improve their question and get their problem solved.

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