There have been many posts on ELL, especially by 'first-time' users, asking questions without carrying out even the basic research about the same, with available resources like the dictionary and Google.

Although we have the options to vote those questions to be closed, the number of such posts have increased drastically. This is a good thing and a bad thing.

Why good?

Firstly, more and more people coming onto ELL is an indication that ELL is popular and our reputation precedes us. This shows that our answers have significantly helped many users and the word has spread.

Secondly, people are showing an interest to learn the language, more so than before.

What's the downside?

Posters tend to post questions without reading the help or going through the tour for the community. The number of close posts flags are alarmingly increasing. Most of the close post flags are raised against the fact that these questions should include more context, or are very basic questions regarding pronunciation, spellings and meaning. This is very common for first-time posts, and anybody who carries out reviews for ELL will be very aware of what I'm talking about.

What can we do?

A possible solution that I'm putting forward is a review method, where any 'first post' has to be approved by a moderator or a reviewer (preferably of higher rep points) before it gets posted publicly. The moderator or reviewer must go through the question, check for edits, ask for the contexts and any other information that a person might require to answer the post. Once the reviewer approves the posts, it can be made public and people can post their responses for the original post, but refined by the moderator.

What are the limitations?

The main issue that will definitely be a point of concern will be the 'delay' factor. A first post cannot remain as 'pending for approval' for a very long time. This means that any first post should ideally be approved or rejected within 5-10 minutes from the initial time of posting.

This is just a suggestion, and I think it may be worthy enough to be taken into a debate.

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    Just for reference, the average time for the mod team to handle a flag is 39 minutes, and that's without having to review first posts. I don't think 5-10 minutes from initial posting is a realistic goal, especially if that sort of response time is expected 24/7.
    – ColleenV
    Sep 18, 2017 at 12:20
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    I have two questions. 1. How can the OP make improvements if the posting is not public? Are you saying "private" is visible to mods + high rep + OP? 2. You should add what the current success rate of "First Post" question improvement actually is. Is this new process expected to improve that, and if so how?
    – user3169
    Sep 18, 2017 at 19:58
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    An example just popped up - The word government in colloquial speech. It has answers, but they are rather broad since the question is not focused.
    – user3169
    Sep 18, 2017 at 20:33

1 Answer 1


So I am opposed to this, not because it means extra work for me but because it hides important work that the community does, without really adding (in my opinion) much benefit.

The community collaborating on a first post to either edit it or explain to a new user how to interact with the site is a very valuable part of the site. We learn from each other things like where we think lines should be drawn, or what is good formatting, and the new user (ideally) gets some interaction with the community which makes it more welcoming. We can talk about what the standards are for the site, but we always learn more by doing (or watching someone else do) than by talking abstractly about what we should do.

I realize that a lot of first posts don't get that kind of attention, but I think enough of them do that it would be a shame to hide that process from the rest of the community. I think it would be more useful to force an approval before displaying the question after a certain number of "low-quality" flagged posts by the same user who has asked more than a couple questions and should know better. We already have some mechanisms around that though:

Why do I see a message that my question does not meet quality standards?

Why is the system asking me to wait a day or more before asking another question?

There is an SEDE query that returns recent first posts reviews if you would like to review ones that you might have missed when they were in the queue.

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