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You might not be aware — because it is currently empty and you don't see an edit button — there's a space on the main help page which is editable for diamond moderators. It's the space between the search box and the list of articles. It seems to support full CommonMark, so formatting, links and even pictures (we probably don't want pictures). This is what it looks like at the moment (with the edit button included):

enter image description here

And since this is one of places we guide new users towards for learning about the site, and it's one of the places we can customize, we should at least look at doing so. From the get go I can think of two considerations:

  • It should probably be kept reasonably short, we don't want to drown out the rest of the help center nor be so long it won't be read.

  • It should probably include a link to our FAQ Index which is actually part of the impetus for this discussion.

I'm sure there may be other things which deserve consideration and/or mention, but I can't think of them, nor how it would be best formulated. So, how do we want to use this space?

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    \$\begingroup\$ In case anyone needs inspiration, here's how Buddhism.SE did it. \$\endgroup\$ – Andrew T. Jul 6 '20 at 19:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ @AndrewT. Well that definitely seems to be far into the “too long” territory... \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Jul 6 '20 at 23:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Someone_Evil By the way, although it's only been less than a week since I posted my answer, and it's only sitting on +5/-0, which is hardly a massive consensus, at what point would you choose to act or not to act on my suggestion, and how would you signal that to me/us? (This is just me being impatient, I'll admit...) \$\endgroup\$ – NathanS Jul 17 '20 at 8:19
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    \$\begingroup\$ @NathanS I'll leave until it's off the hot meta bulletin, which would be monday/tuesday. As going with yours doesn't actually mean not going with KRyan's answer, I'd probably set out to do the new one then. And leave a comment on yours and KRyan's answers with that too. That seems fair to me. \$\endgroup\$ – Someone_Evil Jul 17 '20 at 12:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ That makes sense; since the new question will be about what actually makes in onto the final list, that's when people can decide between details such as: do we actually include the policy, as I suggested, or just how to ask the question in the first place such that it doesn't fall foul of the policy as KRyan suggests? That sort of thing... \$\endgroup\$ – NathanS Jul 17 '20 at 12:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ The new meta Q&A: Main help center page: Question collection and voting \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Jul 20 '20 at 22:39
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We should add links to important meta Q&As, either existing ones or new ones that we create specifically for the purpose of educating new users

This is partly inspired by what Buddhism.SE has done (based on the comment by Andrew T.); we should add a list of meta Q&As about topics that we feel new users should be made aware of, but aren't currently covered by the tour or the help center. I'm undecided as to whether we want to link to existing Q&As that weren't written for that purpose, or whether we should write new Q&As write for new users as our intended audience.

Here are my suggestions of what I think those topics should be (note that I'm going to assume that upvotes to my answer here represent that people think this kind of thing is a good idea, even if you disagree with some of these suggestions; see the section at the end for more on this):

  • The "don't guess the system" policy

    We have been struggling to find a way to signal to new users that this policy exists, and whilst we can't do so on the Ask a Question page, we can at least put it on the front page of our help center (even though this won't help them until after they've already asked their first question); I think this should go first in the list on our help page.

  • "Closed" doesn't mean "banned forever", but more like "work in progress"

    "Closed" can seem rather final to users who are more used to forums, so explaining to them that it's more like a "work in progress" state and that the community can reopen any closed question might help to make it feel less final, and therefore more likely to engage and work with us to get it into a more on-topic state.

  • We are an edit happy community

    To try to avoid situations like this one, it might be worth having something here to explain how here at RPG.SE, we tend to edit posts into shape, so new users who might be rather attached to "their" post should perhaps not take it personally; it's just what we do here.

  • Answers in answers, comments in comments

    Not all of the other Stack Exchange sites are as strict as us on not answering in comments; SciFi.SE does it often and don't seem to view it as a bad thing. Not using answer posts for comments is also something that should be emphasised.

  • Encouraging users not to accept straight away

    This one might be a bit more controversial, and I don't think it matters too much, but based on the accepted answer to this Q&A: Should we encourage users to wait 24 hours before accepting an answer?, it might help to encourage deeper engagement rather than hit-and-run users who we never see again.

  • Don't signal your edits

    If new users are more used to forums where it's comment to say "EDIT: Blah blah" instead of just making the edit, it might be good to point them in this direction to explain why that's not necessary.

Ok, I'm running out of ideas now, but this is the kind of thing I'm suggesting. I'm not sure if all of my suggestions above are that good or relevant, I've tried to order them according to how important I feel they are, so the first two I really think should be there, the middle ones probably ought to be there, but the later ones, I'm not so bothered about...

How should we decide which topics get included?

I'm going to assume that upvotes to my answer here represent that people think this kind of thing is a good idea, but as for exactly what topics should appear on this list, that could be handled via another meta Q&A, where each topic is its own answer. In other words, I'd submit each of the six suggestions I've made above as six separate answers, and the community can vote on them each accordingly. I assume others would submit additional answers to make additional suggestions.

So, if the policy suggestion gets loads of upvotes, that'll be on the list, but if the one about waiting 24h before accepting gets downvoted or a mixed reception, maybe that one doesn't get put on the list. However, as KRyan points out in a comment, this list shouldn't get too long (although we'd need to include a lot of stuff before we reach the level of how large Buddhism.SE's help page is), so if we have, I don't know, 20+ suggestions, we might need to only include to top 20 or something...

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Things I think we should cover

  • That you need to explicitly mention the game you are playing if you are asking about that game’s rules, setting, lore, and really anything at all that isn’t a purely social question. Mentioning the importance of tags here is a good idea.

  • The process for working with questions, e.g. closing and/or editing. Something to try to mitigate any bad feelings that might be unintentionally generated when we have to close a question, because when we have to close a question, we have to close the question, but it has nothing to do with how much we want to welcome the querent. (If anyone can actually sucessfully express this, though, pitch your ideas to SE network-wide—this is a huge difficulty for every site and something SE Inc. has been actively flailing at.)

  • That we can’t handle idea-generation. Give examples of the kinds of details we need, and then a link to our forum meta.

Things I don’t think deserve this large a highlight

  • “Don’t guess the system” policy—that’s a meta thing that isn’t relevant to the typical new poster—read, one who is there to ask their own question.

  • Answers vs. comments—new users can’t even comment, and those from other Stacks are unlikely to even read this page. And again, it’s a meta thing that doesn’t make sense on this page.

  • Delaying answer acceptance; honestly, I don’t even recommend this anymore. People are pretty much gonna answer if they’ve got an answer, the degree to which an accepted answer even matters isn’t much. It’s not worth the effort or confusion (“oh but don’t feel like you can’t accept an answer, it’s just a suggestion...”)

  • Edit signaling; if people do it, we can easily edit it. It’s just not a big deal.

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A quick reference for What is Meta?

So, our most upvoted and accepted answer tells us that we should link to meta. But for people not familiar with SE, they may not even understand what the meta is.

The existence of this sub-site does not appear in our Tour nor in our Help front page. Users will only find out if they go digging in "Our model", and find out the What is meta? help page or if they actually read the privilege page, which also contains this page.

I suggest that, before listing useful Q&A in meta, we may actually guide new users through this mechanism.

Something like

If you are interested in learning about specifics of our site, the meta is useful. You can learn more about it in this help page and you can check our frequently asked questions and policies there. A list of our most important Q&As is gathered below.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I'd at least love to see this ported over to here though it isn't exactly an actual Q&A being suggested so I'm not sure if it can be moved over either... This at least gets my +1 \$\endgroup\$ – Medix2 Jul 21 '20 at 4:34
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Medix2 I thought about posting it there, then I was confused because it's not a Q&A, so I posted as an answer here. \$\endgroup\$ – HellSaint Jul 21 '20 at 4:35

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