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The "Ask a question" wizard is now live network-wide: The new ask page is now live on the network!. Ours is very plain right now, but parts of it are customisable: (shortened; see the main Meta post for the full version)

  • The "welcome modal" for new askers (seen with the default text in screenshot 1), everything between the title and "Before you post..."
  • The full contents of the "Draft your question" sidebar
  • The text in the tag popover, between "Tags help the right people..." and the bullet points.
  • The placeholder text in the title field (text only).
  • The warning text shown in the "Review your question" sidebar, regex-based
  • Tag-related error messages, regex-based

The first step of changing these is obviously a Meta discussion, so here goes. What should we put there?

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    I've escalated this to the CMs and added the status-review tag as per the new CM escalation process. I've received confirmation that this is in the CMs' queue. – Null Mar 13 at 14:39
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    I am glad to share that we have competed the work on the requested customisation. Please let me know what you think! – Nicolas Chabanovsky Aug 10 at 19:23
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    @Nicolas couple of nitpicking: "game play" is one word (at least I've always seen it written as such), and the two "If your question..." introductory sentences could use a comma, respectively after "story" and "fantastical". Otherwise, looks good, thanks!! – Jenayah Aug 11 at 0:42
  • @Jenayah typos/spelling and grammar mistakes seem likely to have been my fault. Oops – TheLethalCarrot Aug 11 at 18:38
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To be honest there's not too much generic stuff we can really state to give some guidelines when asking considering the broadness of topics asked about it. That said, considering the nature of our site there are probably a few wording choices that can be tailored to fit a bit better.

  • The "welcome modal" for new askers (seen with the default text in screenshot 1), everything between the title and "Before you post..."

As far as I can tell here we don't really need to add anything as this is an extremely generic and basic set of guidelines.

That said, point 3 isn't really appropriate here, it only really applies to [*-identification] questions and even then the "any research" of point 2 already covers it.

Point 1 also currently reads "Summarize the problem". We don't usually face problems, per se, here but people do have questions. Just changing the last word from problem to question should be more appropriate.

See the below proposed new look:

New welcome modal design
Click image to enlarge.

It could be worth adding some points from the "Ask about" and/or "Don't ask about" sections from the Tour in here but that might be too much information in this small dialog.

Actually from thinking a bit further on this it might be good to add in a quick link to the Tour here, something like:

If you're new to Science Fiction and Fantasy, and you haven't done so already, you may want to check out the Tour for some quick information on how the site works and what is, and isn't, on topic here!

  • The full contents of the "Draft your question" sidebar

This is a big one and where we're going to want to put some important information, the very least being a link to the story identification guide. I'm not sure exactly what to include here but I'm going to throw a few ideas out and see what people think. Here is a proposed text where I've mainly used it to include some helpful links of some common problems we face:

The community is here to help you with questions about science fiction or fantasy. Provide details and share research with your question.

If you are trying to identify a story you may want to check out our helpful guide on what to include.

If your question is about a story that isn't science fictional or fantastical you may want to check out these sites instead:

  • Movies & TV if your question is about works from the screen.

  • Literature if your question is about written works.

  • Arqade if your question is about game play elements of a video game.

  • Anime & Manga if your question is about an anime or manga.

Draft your question proposed modal
Click image to enlarge.

It might even be worth linking to the other sites' tour, help or ask pages instead in the above list.

  • The text in the tag popover, between "Tags help the right people..." and the bullet points.

This is a really helpful tooltip but I wish it popped up the first time a new user entered the tag field else it is likely to just be ignored altogether.

That said we can alter it slightly and I actually quite like what they've done with it on Anime & Manga so I'm just going to steal their extra section and add it in. However, I'm only going to add in on the second line because I feel others might lead to some off topic questions or tag misuses. I'm also not 100% sure if "concept" is the right word for those tags.

Again though the actual tags used in these examples is open to change, I just included some of the most popular ones.

Type the name of the science fictional or fantastical work your question is about (Example: star-wars).

For questions not specific to any one work, use concept tags to describe your question (Example: story-identification).

New Hot to tag modal
Click image to enlarge.

I wondered about including a link to a discussion on tag hierarchies in there but it's not always the most easy thing to understand. However, we do get a lot of posts that need these fixing so it might be worth adding.

  • The placeholder text in the title field (text only).

I don't think we need any changes here.

  • The warning text shown in the "Review your question" sidebar, regex-based

Unfortunately, the regex is applied on tags individually and as such this limits its usefulness to us. That said I can think of the following uses for it:

  • ^story-identification$ - Add a link to the story id guide, similar message to what is included in the "Draft your question" sidebar.

  • ^(science-fiction|fantasy)-genre$ - The genre tags are misused a lot, add a message along the lines of:

    You've included the {genre} tag, note that it should not be used to classify works into the genre but about the genre itself. Please make sure you are using the tag appropriately.

  • etc. ^(novel|short-stories|movie|tv|video-games|anime|manga|fan-fiction)$ - Maybe add guidance in here for how media tags work, when to use them etc.

    You've included the {tag} media tag. Media tags should be used alongside the work tag to disambiguate between different media the work tag covers. If the work tag is only used for one media please remove the {tag} tag.

    Then also include a link to the specific story id guide if the tag has one.

    • ^(novel|short-stories|movie|tv)$

      You've included the {tag} tag, if you're trying to identify a {tag} please also use the [story-identification] tag and you may want to check out our guide on what to include.

    • ^video-games$

      You've included the [video-games] tag, if you're trying to identify a video game please also use the [story-identification] tag and you may want to check out our guide on what to include.

    • ^fan-fiction$

      You've included the [fan-fiction] tag, if you're trying to identify a work of fan fiction please also use the [story-identification] tag and you may want to check out our guide on what to include.

    • ^(anime|manga)$

      You've included the {tag} tag, if you're trying to identify a/an {tag} please also use the [story-identification] tag and you may want to check out our guide on what to include.

    • ^comics$

      You've included the [comics] tag, if you're trying to identify a comic please also use the [story-identification] tag and you may want to check out our guide on what to include.

  • Tag-related error messages, regex-based

The only real use for tag-related error messages, which I assume blocks someone from posting, would be to stop blacklisted tags being used.

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    Thank you a lot for the the suggestions! They look great and reasonable. Could you please add some clarifications on The warning text shown in the "Review your question" sidebar. If I understand it correctly we can set up the engine to show a warning if it detects a match by a regex. If it correct we need a pair of things as a site setting: (1) warning text and (2) condition for the regex. Could you please add a condition to each of the warnings you've listed? – Nicolas Chabanovsky Jul 6 at 19:15
  • @NicolasChabanovsky The tags mentioned are what it needs to cover pretty much, when I get some time tomorrow I'll look at adding a regex for them. Just to clarify, it's been a while, is the regex applied per tag individually and would a new regex be needed for each tag or for each warning? – TheLethalCarrot Jul 6 at 19:28
  • Thanks! As I recall it we need to set up one regex per warning. Btw, I've submitted the other suggestions to the dev team. – Nicolas Chabanovsky Jul 6 at 19:32
  • @NicolasChabanovsky Awesome thanks for that. I've come up with the regexes for the warnings and the breakdown for each. Let me know if there are any problems with them. – TheLethalCarrot Jul 7 at 10:17
  • Thank you for the regexes! Please correct me if I am wrong, the suggestion above is to show a warning if a user adds some certain tags to their question, right? I mean, usually we execute a regex on question body to find absence or presence of something (for instance, if a question contains code). In current version everyone who adds these tags will see a warning. Could you please tell me if it is what you want? – Nicolas Chabanovsky Jul 7 at 16:20
  • @NicolasChabanovsky Yeah based on the tags only, the idea is to make sure people are using them correctly and give them pointers to guides if needed. It was my understanding this only worked on the tags anyway (not that I think we could do anything with the body most of the time). – TheLethalCarrot Jul 7 at 16:25
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    Get it. Thank you a lot! Updated the request. – Nicolas Chabanovsky Jul 7 at 16:56
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There absolutely has to be a link to the guidelines on asking story-ID questions in there.

At the very least, in the sidebar "Draft your question"; but I think a tag message would be the more visible and convenient way to push people into reading and following those.

However, the second option is indeed reserved for tag errors (I asked for confirmation). A tag-based warning can be thrown in the "Review your question" sidebar, but I fear it would be a bit late if it was only there and not in the "Draft your question".

Redundancy seems sound for this case: put a link (and a nicely worded explanation) to the story-ID guidelines in both the "Draft your question" and the "Review your question" sidebars.

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Just looking at the first modal window, I think many people who ask questions on SFF go "research?? That doesn't apply to this site, I'll just ignore it." So I think rewording it would be helpful:

  1. Summarize your question
  2. Provide details and relevant background information
  3. If possible, explain where you've already looked for an answer

(I keep going back and forth on whether the word "possible" in point 3 should instead be "applicable".)

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  • Why make that bullet #3? We want research to be done beforehand, that should precede all the other points – Jenayah Mar 5 at 6:06
  • The whole ”explain where you’ve already looked for an answer” just isn’t as a big a deal on SFF as it is on other sites. To be honest, a brief ”any research” conveys the same information and doesn’t make it seem like such a big deal because well it isn’t really. – TheLethalCarrot Mar 5 at 7:07
  • It’s more of a problem on sites where users are asking questions over problems, 95% of our questions just aren’t people facing problems to begin with. – TheLethalCarrot Mar 5 at 7:16
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    I've had a further think about it and I think the "looked for an answer" is poor wording. Whilst preceded with "explain" users are just as likely to ignore that bit and just say "I looked for an answer on Google" and that's it, if at all. – TheLethalCarrot Mar 5 at 9:05
  • @TheLethalCarrot - "If at all" seems more likely. Shoving a bunch of text in front of someone telling them to do research rarely results in them doing research – Valorum Mar 6 at 9:39

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