The answers to a previous question I asked make it clear that the users who actually read here on meta know what the problems are and how to fight them.

To summarize:

  • Vote, vote, vote! (A question with an up-voted answer counts as answered.)
  • Use better question titles. ("How to do X?" instead of "Why does my code not work?")
  • In general, try to ask more general, "re-usable" questions.
  • Be a bit more strict on questions which are too localized; questions like "Help me with my exact problem" can't be improved by giving a better title and similar edits.

After I posted that answer, the answered ratio went up from 84% to 86/87%. So, that's great. But when looking at https://drupal.stackexchange.com/users?tab=voters&filter=month, it looks like only a very low amount of users actually vote on questions. I guess a few of them went on a voting spree after reading my other question and the answers to it.

The question I think is now: How can we get users to ask better questions, vote on answers, and so on?

The only idea I had so far is to write some more FAQ questions here on meta to which we can link to in comments etc. One of them was "How do I write questions that will be answered" but then I stumbled over How do I ask a good question? which is pretty much exactly what I had in mind to write. Can we maybe promote that page a bit more than only as an inline-link on the general page, which has like 100 more such links?

I haven't found a similar page about voting, but there is IMHO way too much text there, and nobody reads all of that. So maybe we could create a FAQ page for that?

Do you have other ideas?

  • Create a question, and tag it with faq-proposed. Only moderators can tag a question with "faq," but when a question is tagged with that tag, everybody can add the question to the FAQ index.
    – apaderno Mod
    Jun 7, 2011 at 1:49
  • Answering and asking questions is just a part of what I would consider participating in a Q&A site; helping to define the tags that should be used, or reporting any tag abuse is part of participating too.
    – apaderno Mod
    Jun 7, 2011 at 18:40
  • I agree, that's why I wrote "participate" and not "ask better questions" or similar in the title. I especially also meant voting as part of the participation. The voters link now shows 10 users, I think it was only 5 when I decided to ask this question (which was a day earlier than I actually wrote it or so)
    – Berdir
    Jun 7, 2011 at 18:51
  • I don't know if my two questions here on meta triggered it (I think they are at least partly responsible), but there are now 12 voters listed in the weekly list, 19 in this month and we have both much more active users and are back up to 88% answered questions. YAY!
    – Berdir
    Jun 17, 2011 at 1:04
  • @Berdir quick q: you say as a question with an upvoted answer counts as answered) but I upvoted the only answer (which was not accepted by OP yet) but the question still shows up on the 'Unanswered' list... am I missing something? May 16, 2016 at 14:04
  • I think it either needs to be accepted or have two upvotes. It should be somewhere in the FAQ.
    – Berdir
    May 16, 2016 at 14:08

3 Answers 3


To what you wrote, I would add to incite users to write an answer as answer, instead of a comment.

Writing in a comment what should be an answer has two negative effects:

  • The OP gets the answer and doesn't return back to the question
  • The OP doesn't have an answer to accept

Comments are just for questions about the question itself, to point out something unclear in the question, or to say the question as written is off-topic.
They shouldn't be used for a possible answer. Rather than adding those comments, it would be better to write an answer, adding in which conditions it is correct, or under which assumptions it is correct.

If the question is really not clear, the comments should not give a possible solution, but point out what it's clear in the question, to allow the OP to edit it and make clearer what solution the OP is looking for, or what problem the OP is exactly having. In this case, an answer should be avoided, since questions should not change their meaning once they are answered.


If you're asking the question you brought up in the middle there, how to get users to ask better questions and vote, then here's my opinion as a Drupal noob:

For the first part, a newcomer may not know Drupal (/PHP/database) terminology, and it can all seem a bit daunting. The FAQ is very general, and I feel leaves out some points. For example:

  • Be descriptive but concise with your title - it is your "selling point". Don't be too vague, try to mention the particular area you're having a problem with (e.g. "I get an error message" is too vague, but "Error when using Date in CCK" is both concise and descriptive).
  • List the version of Drupal you use, and the relevant modules (as a newbie, it's easy to forget to include this, and I'm sure it's frustrating for an expert if they have to ask - plus it slows the process).

Perhaps even something along the lines of - don't worry if you can't use correct terminology, be as descriptive as possible in your post.

As for the second part, I've noticed (and mentioned in meta before) that users replying do seem to assume that users have more knowledge than they actually do.

As an example (and I mean no disrespect to anyone - I greatly appreciate all help offered and respect the superior knowledge of users here!), I recently asked a question and the first reply stated that CCK comes with a module that I could switch on and would provide the required functionality. I could not find this module, and the reason for this (as pointed out by another user) was that I needed the alpha version of CCK to gain this functionality. I had mentioned in my post that I was using the latest stable release, so the reply wasn't really helpful. Furthermore, the module threw up errors. When I mentioned these in reply, the OP told me that this is an error with the module (yes, the one he suggested I use!) and was beyond the scope of this site, suggesting I go and post on drupal.org! Surely the point of this site is to help people with issues, not point them towards the Drupal site? My reason for being here is that I can't stand the layout of the Drupal forum and I find people rather unfriendly and unhelpful over there - if anyone bothers to reply at all! (The user did go on to tell me it's a known issue and link to the page, but I don't use Linux and don't know how to use a patch - again something that makes the Drupal site feel rather unfriendly to beginners - assuming you know how to!)

So my suggestions to the experts when posting:

  • READ the original post thoroughly, and ensure you give a relevant reply (check what module version the user is using, for example)!
  • Assess the user's abilities. If they're a newbie, remember what it was like when you started. Explain things clearly (e.g. "x module will do what you want" isn't as helpful as explaining HOW it will help).
  • Remember that users are probably here because they want an alternative help system to drupal.org. Try to avoid just referring them to that site wherever possible.

I'm finding Drupal very daunting and frustrating. It would probably have been quicker to design a site in PHP from scratch than to learn how to use Drupal as I want! There are situations where I know there would be a simple solution in PHP, or that a simple SQL query can do what I want, but it seems to be hard or near impossible to accomplish in Drupal! What I'm looking for in a site like this as a newbie is clear explanations given in a friendly manner. Sadly, sometimes the answers I receive only add to the depression that Drupal causes!!

As for rating, I am of course happy to rate, but I don't want to annoy those who are giving answers by rating their answer as unhelpful, and get no answer! And if I don't get an acceptable answer, I can't mark it as solved. So I guess the answer to that question is that it's only possible to mark solved if acceptable answers are provided... which I appreciate isn't always possible. As for answering questions, they're all above my head, so I respect anyone who can!


I just tried to vote down an answer to one of my own questions, only to be told I need 125 reputation to do so. There's no hope in hell that I'll ever be able to answer someone else's question, so I don't see how I'll ever be able to get that sort of reputation (I'm on 28). This reputation system and the way the site requires certain reputation levels to be able to do basic tasks is very unfriendly, and is going to put off newbie users.

I now feel that there's no way I can participate here if I'm not even allowed to state that I was unhappy with an answer to my own question.

  • This question is not the correct place for your rant about how unfriendly everything and everyone is. Alpha versions can break your site, that's why they are alpha's. Bug reports do not belong here, nobody can answer them away, they need to be fixed and the place to deal with bugs is the issue queue (not forum!). Downvoting is for wrong answers, not when you feel unhappy about them. That answer is correct but that feature is simply alpha state and if it does not yet work for your site, that's a bummer but there is nothing we can do here on this site to change that.
    – Berdir
    Jun 28, 2011 at 6:51
  • 1
    My comments are suggestions as an answer to your question. Thanks for answering my question, though (although it was more rhetorical, I appreciate the answer). My point was that the site is rather unclear about what it does, & the users are unfriendly to newcomers. It was a comment to help you understand why a newcomer is put off, not a rant. Now I only feel more unwelcome. Again, ranking is very unclear. I dont see why an unhelpful answer can't be downranked, but thanks for your explanation. Jun 28, 2011 at 9:41
  • Also, I was trying to point out that the response about the alpha bug pointed me to a patch that fixes it. However, I do not know how to patch and don't really want to ask on the drupal.org site as they seem to shoot down newcomers. Was it not reasonable to ask here how to patch? Jun 28, 2011 at 9:44
  • You can of course ask here how to apply a patch on windows. But, and that is the difference between this site and a forum, you should do that as a new question. Here, every post should be a single question or the accepting/voting thing won't work anymore as it is not clear what is a good answer to which question. Comments should only be used either by adding additional information that is not directly an answer to your question, asking for clarification if something is not clear to you and so on.
    – Berdir
    Jun 28, 2011 at 12:23
  • The basic idea of this site, beside actually answering questions of course, is that we can build up a large database of good questions and even better answers, which can easily be found through search engines. And as opposed to a forum, if someone has the same question as you did, a few months later, the correct answer is right there, upvoted/accepted. And by then, in your example, that bug will hopefully be fixed, which should make it clear that the given answer is the correct answer to your question, that there is a bug in that module right now doesn't change that.
    – Berdir
    Jun 28, 2011 at 12:32
  • And last but not least, remember that a) many users here do not speak english well (How well do you speak arabic/asian/... languages.. ?) and that comments have a length limit, which requires you to write short, blunt sentences. Do not confuse that with being unfriendly. After all, everyone here who provides answers does so because he wants to and likes to help others in their free time.
    – Berdir
    Jun 28, 2011 at 12:38
  • Well, I appreciate all that. I've actually commented on the short reply issue before - too short IMHO. I don't see why a question couldn't have another question. If "how do I achieve x?" is answered with "use y" and the OP can't work out how to use y, why should they have to start a new thread to ask this? As you said, the original answer can be edited and expanded, and a comment left to explain that was done. Then the OP would simply vote for the 1st answer, not the comment ;) Jul 1, 2011 at 22:48
  • Also, I appreciate short answers can sound blunt, but there's a difference between that and not expanding on an answer helpfully. I have great respect for non-native English speakers giving technical help, too! Anyway, when I help with hardware issues on similar sites and the user is clearly not computer savvy, I give a nice step-by-step that they'll understand. I was once told on here to "create a computed field" to solve my problem. For a newbie, that suggestion was not helpful, as I couldn't find the values I needed. So I think my comment was relevant - be detailed for newbies! Jul 1, 2011 at 22:56

Thanks @Berdir for pointing out that we can upvote answers to help offset the OPs lack of participation. I didn't know that!

Another encouragement I believe would be to allow OPs a period of a few weeks to accept an answer or lose 10 points. If they get 10 points for accepting an answer, they should lose 10 points if they don't make an effort to read what others have answered and wasting everyone's time. It'd be great if we can somehow have a "reminder" pop up saying something like "Hey you have this unanswered question, please accept the answer or if there is no answer edit your question for better clarity so others can answer it."

  • Most of these people tend to have little to no points, so they might not care if they would lose them... But I like the reminder idea. :) Apr 21, 2016 at 14:47

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