How do I ask a good question? gives this advice:

Be specific

If you ask a vague question, you’ll get a vague answer. But if you give us details and context, we can provide a useful answer.

That section is ... vague. Is it time to revisit that section of the help center and add a bit more information to help newcomers to the site write better questions? It doesn't need to be as wordy as I would be (see Crafting an Irresistible Research Question), but I feel we could help newcomers out a little more than this.

Possibly relevant prior discussions:

2 Answers 2


Suggested change in boldface:

"If you ask a vague question, you’ll get a vague answer. But if you give us details and context, such as a locality and a date range, we can provide a useful answer."

  • @PolyGeo Thanks -- I can never remember which pages we're allowed to edit and not edit. Another friend who is a user of SE suggested that I include a copy of the material from theancestorhunt.com/blog/… on G&FH SE itself so there would be a backup copy in case my host's site went down. I'd like to have something here I could refer users to, especially my further reading list where people gave specific advice about writing specific questions, which had to be scrapped for the guest post.
    – Jan Murphy Mod
    Jun 29, 2019 at 0:00
  • 1
    There's now a Meta SE Q&A about the Help pages we can change at meta.stackexchange.com/questions/331026/…
    – PolyGeo Mod
    Jul 18, 2019 at 4:23

I agree with you that it is time to revisit our Help Center and its help on how to ask questions.

Unfortunately, we cannot edit How do I ask a good question?, but there is a Meta Q&A hoping to change that at Customize the How To Ask page.

In the meantime, we could do something now like what is done at the GIS Stack Exchange by using a link from its https://gis.stackexchange.com/help/on-topic page to a Meta GIS SE Q&A titled: Asking good Questions for GIS Stack Exchange?

I proposed similar wording, tailored to G&FH SE, in an answer on this Meta to Dealing with broad questions that ask for "any information about <person/family/etc>"?

I think we should draw from many sources to try and achieve an "Asking good Questions for G&FH SE?" that includes content from your blog, my answer and other contributors by using this Q&A to assess the need, and if that need is agreed then starting a Community Wiki Meta Q&A on "Wording <whatever we call it> for linking into our Help Center?"

  • This is probably the right way to go about it -- and could subsume the question aspects of genealogy.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/3427/… as well. Remind me, do we have any way to customise 'good answer' guidance in a similar way?
    – user6485
    Jun 30, 2019 at 14:55
  • @ColeValleyGirl it can be linked in at the same spot and in the same way - it’s the only help page that offers moderators an edit button.
    – PolyGeo Mod
    Jun 30, 2019 at 19:07
  • Not ideal, but might be the best we can do short term.
    – user6485
    Jul 2, 2019 at 7:58
  • @ColeValleyGirl There is also a section on the front page of the Help Center where we can edit above the Find out more about... title. I only became aware of it recently: meta.stackexchange.com/a/331029/215590
    – PolyGeo Mod
    Jul 18, 2019 at 4:30

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