On Stack Overflow sites (at least on the English and Spanish "versions"), Server Fault and maybe other SE sites too, it's "required"1 to check the tag excerpts / wiki besides searching and researching but this not happen on Web Applications.

1: This is a soft requirement as it's enforced by the community through up/down votes and closing votes.

Following is a suggestion on how this new requirement could be worded for Web Applications:

How do I ask a good question?

We’d love to help you. To improve your chances of getting an answer, here are some tips:

Search, look at the tag excerpt and wiki and research

Have you thoroughly searched for an answer before asking your question?

Have you reviewed the specific guidelines for asking questions about the tags you choose?

Sharing your research helps everyone. Tell us what you found and why it didn’t meet your needs. This demonstrates that you’ve taken the time to try to help yourself, it saves us from reiterating obvious answers, and above all, it helps you get a more specific and relevant answer!

Be on-topic

Our community is defined by a specific set of topics that you can view in the help center; please stick to those topics and avoid asking for opinions or open-ended discussion. If your question is about the site itself, ask on our meta-discussion site. If you’re looking for a different topic, it might be covered on another Stack Exchange site.

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.

Make it relevant to others

We like to help as many people at a time as we can. Make it clear how your question is relevant to more people than just you, and more of us will be interested in your question and willing to look into it.

Keep an open mind

The answer to your question may not always be the one you wanted, but that doesn’t mean it is wrong. A conclusive answer isn’t always possible. When in doubt, ask people to cite their sources, or to explain how/where they learned something. Even if we don’t agree with you, or tell you exactly what you wanted to hear, remember: we’re just trying to help.

How is included "the requirement" about tags on other SE sites

SO sites

From https://stackoverflow.com/help/how-to-ask

Include all relevant tags

Try to include a tag for the language, library, and specific API your question relates to. If you start typing in the tags field, the system will suggest tags that match what you've typed - be sure and read the descriptions given for them to make sure they're relevant to the question you're asking! See also: What are tags, and how should I use them?

From https://es.stackoverflow.com/help/how-to-ask

At this time it's the official translation of the https://stackoverflow.com/help/tagging

Incluye todas las etiquetas relevantes

Intenta incluid (sic) una etiqueta para el lenguaje, librería y otros APIs específicos relacionados a tu pregunta. Si inicias tecleando en el campo de etiquetas, el sistema te sugerirá etiquetas que coincidan con lo que hayas tecleado - ¡asegúrate y lee la descripción brindadas a ellas para cerciorar que ellas son relevantes a la pregunta que estás formulando! Mira también: ¿Qué son las etiquetas, y cómo debería utilizarlas?

Server Fault

From https://serverfault.com/help/how-to-ask

Include relevant details

We expect you to be able to distill your problem down to something we can analyze - dumping an entire error log and server configuration on the site with "please help!" will not be well-received, but specific errors from your logs and the section of the configuration file they're referring to will be very helpful. Examples of things to include are:

– Your operating system and version (use the appropriate tags too!)
– Hardware and Firmware versions, where appropriate
– The expected and actual results of commands you ran, where appropriate
– Relevant sections of server logs and configuration files

Discussions on SE Meta

Once we agree how on this, how we should proceed

The following question on SE Meta has an answer about this.

Improved Help Center - site-specific pages and site-specific edits to all pages

In summary, we should ask to the Community Manager of this site to make the change

The complete procedure is the following:

  1. Anyone can suggest a change to the help center on meta.
  2. The community considers the request and hones it.
  3. Moderators (or really anyone who knows how to contact us) asks a CM to look at the proposed change.
  4. Community managers evaluate the change and push it as appropriate.


  • 2
    How is it required on other sites? Do you mean that it's in that section of their help centers that you've cited above?
    – jonsca
    May 17, 2017 at 22:58
  • @jonsca: I added quotes and made some edits (I changed "other SE sites" by SO sites) and also a note explaning that I'm talking about a "soft requirement". May 18, 2017 at 1:44

1 Answer 1


I believe that this text, without the tag and Tag Wiki provision, is the standard verbiage on all of the sites besides Stack Overflow proper and its sister sites in other languages, as you have pointed out. As such, this proposal would probably be better addressed on a network-wide level.

I am not aware of any data that substantiate whether the additional provision of "be sure and read the descriptions of them" actually deters off-topic questions on sites bearing that text, though there are a number of reasons why I specifically think adding the text wouldn't work on our site:

  • Our Tag Wiki Excerpts are getting a lot better, but many are still of the "Widgettown is a web application that allows you to design your own widgets" ilk, which are not very helpful for new nor experienced users to know what is de facto on-topic on WebApps
  • Many users, even those with the +100 reputation bonus (I can say anecdotally) don't know what we're about here, which means that many haven't take the time to take the Tour, let alone drill down a couple of levels in the Help Center, to where the "How to Ask" advice lives.
  • In general terms, even if users know what we're about, they still post development questions here in the hopes that they will be migrated to Stack Overflow to circumvent a ban, even though this is not possible. A handful of users will simply stick random tags or popular tags onto their questions on purpose

Parenthetically, as is evident from the recent UI changes to Stack Overflow proper, the Help/Tour menu may be short-lived on the remainder of the sites. I'm not sure what is in the cards for exposing users to the help information in the future.

I definitely think this wording change is reasonable, if that's something others on the greater network would be amenable to, but I'm not sure how well the proposal would go over on the mother Meta, nor am I truly convinced of how effective it could be.

[I'm racking my brain as to whether this list of requirements is presented to new (registered) users, but it is definitely not presented to unregistered users, questions from which make up a non-negligible portion of our traffic]

  • I'm gratefully surprise for getting and answer as soon as this one. Thank you. I understand your point and appreciate your suggestions and remarks. I will think and research more before posting something about the list of standard requirements for asking questions on Stack Exchange sites specially on their impact on traffic. May 18, 2017 at 2:49
  • @Rubén You did nothing wrong that bears changing your behavior. I definitely appreciate all that you do for the site! I wish there were a silver bullet for bad questions, so definitely keep pondering ideas and don't let a downvote (which more than likely indicated disagreement, I can't speak for the voter) stop you from having reasonable ideas.
    – jonsca
    May 18, 2017 at 22:41
  • 1
    Thanks for your nice words jonsca. By the way, I worked a bit on my research and found that Server Fault's how to ask a good question? also requires to check the tag excerpt and wiki (worded in a different way). May 19, 2017 at 12:16
  • @Rubén Good to know. I don't know when the SF help section would have diverged from the SO one, so I don't know if that was something they requested or not.
    – jonsca
    May 19, 2017 at 23:15

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