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One of the main types of questions that inevitably overwhelms a Stack Exchange site during private beta are the easy, "soft" questions:

  • How do I do this really basic task, like reset someone's password?
  • What is your favorite module?
  • What are some good books on Drupal?

This problem is discussed in the Stack Overflow blog posts:

These questions are anathema to a functioning site that'll attract experts. We need to figure out quickly the level of expertise we're going to assume for Drupal Answers.

What constitutes a sufficiently interesting Drupal question? What questions are too easy and should be avoided?

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    To add to this, I think it's worth noting that everyone has the power to moderate the site. Easy/Soft questions need to be moderated and swiftly. I've noticed a huge increase in soft questions that really aren't helping. Don't be afraid to close a question, it still takes 4 more votes but don't be afraid to use them. – digital Mar 4 '11 at 10:11
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To define when a question is easy is quite subjective.

Is it an easy question for whom? For who knows the answers, all the questions are easy. If you ask a question to somebody that is directly involved in the development of Drupal core, and knows the most important modules because he is also maintaining his own website developed with Drupal, every question you could ask here would probably appear easy to him.

Reading for whom drupal.SE is thought, I read that is for "project managers, themers, developers, site-builders, administrators, and businesses using or thinking about using the Drupal CMS." The list includes completely different categories; what is easy for a category of users is probably not equally easy for another category.
The list includes also "businesses using or thinking about using the Drupal CMS"; who is thinking to use Drupal would probably not understand things that are clear to who is already using Drupal, or who is a Drupal developer.

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    I think the whole point is that this early in the sites life we need to be picky about the kinds of questions on here. If the site launches and we're swamped with questions like "How do I change my theme?" then the site is going to fail. I would say we need to extend who the site is for to "project managers, themers, developers, site-builders, administrators, and businesses using or thinking about using the Drupal CMS, and have bothered to read the documentation." – Paul Jones Mar 4 '11 at 11:51
  • Still, the documentation could be incomplete, or be contradictory; somebody could have read an article that is in contradiction with the Drupal documentation, and he is not able to understand if it's the Drupal documentation that is not correct, or the article he read. In such cases, I can understand somebody asks on drupal.SE. Saying the Drupal documentation is always correct is not exact; there are many issue reports opened for documentation pages. – kiamlaluno Mar 4 '11 at 14:08
  • Every instance I've seen of questions like this, searching for one of the tags on drupal.org has given me the answer with minimal scroll-wheel-finger stress. If a module is badly documented and the answer is genuinely difficult to find, then I don't think it's a problem. – Paul Jones Mar 5 '11 at 10:39
  • @Paul Jones: It's not a problem only with the modules; I opened reports (and other users did too) for changes that were necessary to do in the documentation of Drupal (the one you see at api.drupal.org). If there are users that, reading the Drupal documentation, are confused because they read something that is opposite to what they read in api.drupal.org (which could happen also in the case they read something on Drupal.org that has not been updated), and they don't understand which documentation is correct, I think it's opportune for them to ask here. – kiamlaluno Mar 5 '11 at 11:32
  • @kiamlaluno: I think we're agreeing here. If the information is difficult or confusing then questions here are welcome. What I don't want is people coming here and asking questions that can be solved with a simple Google or search of d.o. Questions like How do I get a site's base path? would take a couple of minutes at most to find the answer to. – Paul Jones Mar 5 '11 at 13:47
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    @Paul Jones: I agree that is a question that could have found an answer simply by reading the documentation. I would understand a question like "Is it better to get the site base path from the global variable '$base_path' or from the function base_path()?", though. – kiamlaluno Mar 5 '11 at 15:11
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Drupal has a lot of really good documentation, and almost every module comes with a readme file.

So I think a baseline should be "have read the basic help documentation and/or readme files". Questions like:

  • How do I reset a password in Drush?
  • How do I install a module?
  • How do I create a blog post?
  • What are views for?
  • etc.

Are, I think, too basic and would make this not much better a resource than the Drupal forums. I think information synthesis—using X advanced feature in Y way— is going to be far more useful and able to attract Drupal veterans than dozens (hundreds?) of really basic beginner-level questions.

Of course, the stand-bys like:

  • Whats your favorite module?
  • Drupal 6 or 7: which is best?
  • What are some good Drupal books?

Are right out, per Real Questions Have Answers: Stack Exchange is not a discussion board.

  • Questions about a good Drupal book is a real question; I suppose somebody is asking because they need to buy a book to learn more about Drupal, not because they are testing to see how quickly they can get an answer. The real problem is that the question is rather subjective; I think we are not interested on book questions for the fact we should add a new answer every time a new book is published, or update the existing ones. (Maybe the question could be a CW.) – kiamlaluno May 6 '11 at 2:38
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I propose that a good question meets the following criteria:

  • The answer to the question is not easily found in the first results page of a Google search.
  • The question is focused on Drupal
  • Not critical of Drupal
  • Answerable outside the context of the specific case

To support the first bullet point, you can Google any of the suggested questions that Mark through out as easy examples and see the first few Google results cover them easily.

To support the second point, I think it's obvious, but you will inevitably get questions such as, "How do I set up a LAMP stack on Ubuntu so I can run Drupal?", and this should not be discussed here but rather over at ServerFault (however, a question such as, what steps can I take to make Drupal 6.x run on Ubuntu 10.x. would be welcome).

The third point is subtle, but questions such as "Why is Drupal slow?" are just detracting. Questions should be more focused and worded so as to promote Drupal usage, so a better question would be "How can I improve the performance of Views in Drupal 7?"

Finally, for the fourth point, there are sometimes questions that come up in #drupal IRC where the person will basically say, I'm doing something really crazy, they cannot share the code, and they just want a quick answer to move on. I think the value of Drupal Answers on Stack Exchange will be to discourage hit and run Q&A, and rather focus on substantive answers that will be beneficial both to the original questioner and answerer, as well as to many future searchers down the road.

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    I think critizing Drupal is fine in general, Drupal still has many flaws and it's ok to mention and discuss them. But it should do so in a useful way and focus in improving something, just like your suggested example. – Berdir Mar 4 '11 at 16:54
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    @Berdir right: first and foremost this is a Q&A site and real questions have answers. If there isn't a problem to be solved, or the question invites opinion over answers, it should be closed without pity or remorse or fear. – user7 Mar 4 '11 at 18:20
  • @Berdir: That reminds me of "peeving disguised as question", which is one of the questions that are not allowed on EL&U. – kiamlaluno Mar 5 '11 at 11:36
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Easy questions, for which an answer can be find using Google, or any other search engine, could be closed as "general reference," if we had that closing reason. I opened a support request about that; if you want to see that closing reason added to the list of possible closing reasons, please vote it: Add "general reference" as reason to close a question.

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