It was suggested that this answer be started as a separate meta discussion. Your thoughts on building up the SE IQ of new users without scaring them away?
To avoid scaring off new users while still setting the bar for quality, I suggest doing the following:
- Edit and improve questions and answers if you see a way to fix problems with them. This shows new users how to approach asking questions or posting answers.
- If you don't see how to edit, then leave a polite, constructive comment with suggestions on how to improve.
- Downvote low quality content. Stack Exchange ranks answers based on votes, so it's important that other new users don't show up and see a bunch of low quality posts sympathy-upvoted to the top.
- Vote to close questions that don't fit the site and that you can't edit.
- Leave comments encouraging editing of closed questions to fix the posts. You can even offer to help the person fix the problems!
Vote to reopen closed posts that have been fixed. You can even flag them for moderator attention if there aren't yet enough close/reopen voters.
If a user fixes the problems with a post you've downvoted, consider removing your downvote. You can change your vote on an edited post.
When leaving comments, consider the following guidelines:
Don't criticize or say things like: "-1 for posting link-only answer". Offer solutions and helpful advice instead. Also, welcome the new user to the site.
Use comments to help a user improve his/her post, but don't use comments to discuss with other users whether or not the question is on/off-topic. Use a meta post instead. The new user just sees a bunch of people arguing and talking about how bad their post is. Instead, post the meta link in the comments under the question.
Here's another way of putting our actions in perspective:
New people who come to this site are our customers. Our goal is make them repeat customers.
Behavior that makes us look like look unwelcoming is not likely to serve that goal. Engaging and educating newcomers is a much better strategy than rapping them on the knuckles for not obeying our obscure rules.
A few minutes before reading your original comments in meta, I added the comment to this "angry" answer https://genealogy.stackexchange.com/a/1470/70
In hindsight, the bare link to the faq is probably not a great idea but the character limit on a comment demands some clever writing to catch the correct tone.
For a case study in HOW NOT TO encourage new users, take a look at the comments and the edit trail on How to make Gramps show more than 5 generations in the pedigree view
It is fortunate that @Luke has been in since the beginning, but if I were a new user who joined the public beta and was looking for examples of how to frame my question, that would drive me away forever.
For all the reasons stated in other answers in this thread, I suggest that we vote to re-open this question. And @RobertCartaino, would you please refrain from scaring away people who need encouragement rather than punishment?