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I often see people writing very unspecific questions in the form of "I did this and an error occurred, here are some logs, please help me".

Should these types of questions be allowed on this StackExchange? I feel like quite a substantial number of them don't add value to others at all, since some of the authors felt like they really made no effort to at least read the error messages that the compiler has thrown, or requires too much hand-holding for the question to be of any benefit for anyone else.

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I don't think there's a straight answer to this. Anything that could be a bug should be re-directed to github issues of course. Things that we see become common stumbling blocks could, even when the answer is trivial and/or already covered by our docs, merit a short answer with links to the actual resources. That leaves the obvious "random noise" type questions which are to be closed.

So my two cents: it's up to us, the moderators and shepherds, to use our gut here and build a common intuition. I think that in this particular moment in time we should err on the permissive side to ensure the higher goal of being welcoming and inclusive; further down the line we can tighten things up.

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My tuppence:

If someone gets an error then, it's quite likely someone else will run into that same error, so I would favour that these are not deleted until they relate to old versions of substrate that are not relevant any more.

(But if there's likely not enough info for someone to solve it, we have to push back and close till there's more info)

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Related to the name change I think we should opt for more broad end-user type questions from non-substrate builders. So long as our (budding) mods are able to clearly define and use the tags question and outline "how to ask" that describes what tags to use for what, I think it would be a win for the ecosystem to have a common Q&A site that we can self-select what focus area the type of questions (dev or user related) would be our active area spending time in.

With respect to "I have X logs, what is wrong?" I think we aught to vote to close these, and instead point to the "how to ask" that should better define what a solid question is, a good first step is to insist on more specifics about the machine being used, the versions of software, and more detail about context. And ideally a https://stackoverflow.com/help/minimal-reproducible-example is what everyone should be posting for support like this IMHO.

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  • With some highly specific Substrate development questions as we have now, and others more Polkadot and high level use ones not very present or currently on-topic, we would likely need to lean into refining the tag system help everyone filter what target "class" of users here a post was aiming for. If the intent is to build a parachain that will get a slot on Polkadot (or Kusama), the polkadot & parachain tags could be used to identify a question around that. Equally so one might tag a "how can I do X on Polkadot parachain Y?" the same, and thus dilute the effectiveness of the tag.
    – Nuke
    Commented Mar 21, 2022 at 22:18
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We need to have content that will be indexed by search engines in order to attract as many people to this site as possible. For many people, the first response to an issue will be to search for a solution and this site should be ranking highly for common setup mistakes and errors related to Polkadot technologies.

Therefore, I think we should keep questions that post an error and logs as long as they are clear and provide steps to replicate. Questions that do not provide steps to replicate should be closed and duplicates should be marked as such.

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These questions can be difficult to ask - not only do they need to be clear, concise, and specific but they also require a significant amount of context - not an easy task! And not one that the underlying platform is geared for IMO - especially when the user may not know what exactly the issue is or where it is coming from.

I overheard this the other day in chat: often is the case that users ask the WHY without knowing the WHAT (Why is XYZ not working? vs first understanding WHAT is XYZ?) - this commonly leads to questions formed with improper context and the community "shooting arrows in the dark" as to what the answer could be. There is almost always a need for clarifying questions and additional info for the question to fully develop into a question that can be solved by the community - back-and-forth for these types of questions is essential. In this in-between period where the question is still being formed, there tends to be noise (other users guessing what the issue could be) - which creates a bit of a messy UX.

Although there have been cases where the user does ask a complete question in a clear and concise manner with the correct context e.g. logs, node config, etc., even so I notice that the question becomes "bloated". I don't think Stack Exchange is the best place to have these types of questions which lead into nested inquires e.g. what version are you running?, did you update to latest?, are you running XYZ?, try this, etc. but then again maybe it is the best place because there is no other better suited place for these types of questions to be asked?

I think Stack Exchange is great for "HOW" and "WHAT" questions but may not have the "deeper" UX to appropriately solve "WHY/WHAT" or "WHY/HOW" questions e.g. "Why is XYZ not working? AND how/what do I need to do to fix it?"

Even so, I have already seen value generated from these types of questions. For example, take a look at these posts:

The troubleshooting tips presented in these questions are a treasure trove of knowledge and they are indexed by Google! Even if they do not solve that user's issue they are valuable for others who stumble upon a similar issue. But then again is the platform being used in the appropriate manner?

Valuable indexed information vs high chance of unanswered questions

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  • "is the platform being used in the appropriate manner" - it's being used in exactly the same way as StackOverflow and it is pretty useful source of indexed information :)
    – forgetso
    Commented Mar 22, 2022 at 21:44

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