At present TSE is receiving about 18 questions/day. In addition, many questions are posted in the frame for Answers. These may be downvoted and are regularly and expeditiously deleted.

It seems that, other than where the frame is used for Comments or clarification (eg by a new user who is also the OP but under a different account) the vast majority of those posting such 'answers' do not subsequently post their question as a Question. User names might confuse the issue but subject matter gives indication.

Perhaps the one-time users involved do not realise they may try again (in the right place) and simply give up because the print version of the problem they wanted solved has mysteriously disappeared.

I am aware that moves are afoot to revamp the entire user experience for posting Qs & As but rather than wait the usual "6-8 weeks" might something be achievable, say in my lifetime. It might be to all appearances quite simple, such as a sentence or so along the lines:

Be sure you are answering the Question. To ask one of your own click Ask Question

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A couple of recent examples of "the wrong box":


other than spam and other non-answers that are not questions.

2 Answers 2


There is already an animated slide-out message shown to new users when they begin to type in the answer box (actually, as soon as they focus that textarea):


There is an obvious overlap with your proposal. Perhaps a link to ask question should be added to one of bullet points... and maybe italic in "answer the question" is too subtle for many, it should be BOLD ITALIC IN ALL CAPS.

Lastly, it seems the mobile theme doesn't have this message at all. I posted a feature request about it: Warn new mobile users not to ask questions as answers.

  • 1
    You can see it by visiting the site as a new user. (I think it's shown to users under certain reputation, perhaps 50 - not sure what the threshold is.) The relevant discussion is here... Shog9's version had bold instead of italic, they should have used that.
    – user22295
    Commented Nov 27, 2016 at 1:40

There are many measures in place on SE already. However, the system is pretty good at detecting new from old users so most users don’t see them anymore and forgot they existed (if they even existed when the old users started answering). For example, I remember banners popping up, giving me guidance on what should be included in an answer and what constitutes an answer. They were much more obvious than your mockup.

I think that most of these NAA answers — typically, it also raises a late answer flag, i.e. it is an answer to a question at least 30 days old — are simply hit and run users. Their line of thought is probably: ‘This is what I need to find out (now!) → why should I start a new question? Reposting old issues is frowned upon in other places → hm, the answers are not satisfying. Let me post to rebump the question and maybe get better ones. → Damn, this isn’t working. Oh well, let’s move on.’ However, there could also be a second train of thought. That is, when users click ‘ask question’ and write a title, they are given a selection of posts that ‘could contain answers to their question’. They might find one that looks good and then continue above from the bumping thing.

Also, I’m not sure whether the answer would really be gone. I would have thought that a system-deleted answer is displayed with the same reddish background as a user-deleted one is. It would make sense considering people can see their self-deleted answers. But I haven’t had an answer deleted by the system, so I cannot tell for certain.

Finally, in many cases the questions they write into an answer box are clearly almost the same as the original one — often with clutter such as ‘I have the exact same question!’ included. If they really did go and ask a new question, it would probably be dupehammered back to the one where they would have otherwise answered. In fact, I witnessed that train of thoughts sometime not too long ago. User posted NAA, user was told it was NAA and to use Ask question to ask a different question. User asked their question. Question was immediately closed as a dupe of the one they had answered in. Not a reassuring experience imho.


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