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As a newbie coming to CR and asking the very first question you can see

how to ask

There's nothing about broken code there and many new questions seem to get closed quickly because of it.

Moreover, it names no alternatives, so as a newbie with a problem I'd probably ask here anyway.

Additionally, this hint is at the far right and likely to be missed completely. IMHO the most important part should be place above the question.

Even the bold text is pretty decent, while there should be something like a red warning sign and a link to SO and maybe also to programmers.

This could decrease the number of closed questions and make the newbies more comfortable with SO in general.(*) It's bad experience to see the very first question of oneself to get closed and moved to elsewhere, possible repeatedly. It also takes time and sometime you need a fast answer...


(*) I can't help myself and must state again and again, that joining all the sites (and differentiating via some super-tags) would be much better.

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Here is a proposal for the sidebar text.

How To Ask

Improve code that you wrote or maintain, through peer review.

Your question must contain code that is already working correctly, and the relevant code sections must be embedded in the question. Please avoid stripping out key details that may be relevant to the review. If your code is incomplete or not working, you should ask for help on another site.

You may wish to mention specific concerns: performance, security issues, etc.

We recommend reading our Guide to Asking Questions.

If your question is about this website, ask it on meta instead.


Code Review is probably one of the pickiest sites on the Stack Exchange network when it comes to accepting questions. However, there is only so much you can reasonably fit in a sidebar. Even if we had more space, forcing a new user to wade through all of our rules wouldn't be pleasant either.

I've been thinking that new users (say, those with < 150 reputation points) should see the "How to Ask" text featured more prominently — perhaps even as a modal dialog that needs to be dismissed before getting to the question editor. I don't know whether Stack Exchange staff would be in favour of such a feature.

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  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ I think the "on another site" link should point to the "What programming / cs Stackexchange" question on MSE \$\endgroup\$ – Vogel612 Nov 20 '14 at 8:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ Modal dialog... maybe. But with what we have, I'd suggest to state what is wrong in short sentences with short bold parts (see my edit) and postpone the details (for those really wanting a CR) to the next paragraph. \$\endgroup\$ – maaartinus Nov 20 '14 at 8:53
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I'm sure, that nobody's gonna read a long text; I guess at best people look at the bold parts, so I'd be more explicit. Maybe something like

We never fix broken code and never discuss abstract ideas, so chose another site.

We only improve already working code and the relevant code sections must be embedded in the question....

This may sound harsh, but it's short and clear (the links are just meant to make it less harsh by providing some help). Then I'd continue like in the 200_success' answer. I'd hope, that even very lazy readers will spot the short bold part in the short paragraph.

The exact wording can surely be improved, my point was to make it clear at the first glance (imagine you have just one second to catch attention). Red color, strike-through, or an image could also help.

strike through

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  • \$\begingroup\$ @Vogel612 As I wrote, exact linking to SO or PROGS was not my point. Linking to another site does the job equally well. I did it differently from 200_success just to show the idea. You showed me that this part was wrong, so I changed it. \$\endgroup\$ – maaartinus Nov 20 '14 at 22:08

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