This idea is somewhat borrowed from puzzling.se's Riddle Sandbox and math.se's Draft Sandbox threads.

Would it be helpful or beneficial to have a thread on meta for posting question drafts as answers to receive help getting them stack shape before posting them on main?

Right now, when I want to trial a question before posting, I can only briefly describe my question in chat and then get some brief thoughts from those present. I would love to be able to format my full question as an answer here on meta and allow the community to leave comments and make edits as we work together toward a good question for main.

I think there are also some potential benefits for newer users here - it gives us a reason, and them an incentive to visit meta. It could be an opportunity to point newer users toward a place they can workshop their questions into good shape for the main site. I know we already try to do this on main, but getting users familiar with meta is a good thing, and this could be a good opportunity for that.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Last time we had this discussion: Should there be a sandbox for question development?. Three years seems like enough that a revisit doesn't hurt, but I say that having already answered. The arguments in there still hold though, but I still think there's something to consider in the second half of my answer here (I would, wouldn't I?) \$\endgroup\$
    – Someone_Evil Mod
    Sep 12, 2020 at 22:36

1 Answer 1


I don't think we workshop questions often enough to warrant a dedicated thread

The advantage to having a question workshop thread as I see it is if it is already done a lot and you need to condense it so as to not drown out other meta activity. We aren't exactly at risk of that happening at the moment.

And doing it without there being a major need won't accomplish much. Such a thread will probably do more harm than good if there aren't enough users engaging on it, and old meta threads simply don't get any significant attention. We aren't helping anyone if we direct their question to somewhere that will just gather dust.

On the other hand there is an option which you don't lay out in the question; you can workshop the question on meta. Ask a question on meta, state your problem, include a draft of the question, give your reason for thinking it might not work, and any other relevant details. This is often used as an escalation of the same process on main (generally because a comment thread has been shown to be insufficient). This isn't needed very often, for most questions comments are sufficient.

Is there something we can do to help question workshopping?

Well, it seems we could do a better job teaching our users it exists. Let's teach our current tool better, before trying to introduce a new one.

I've rattled ideas on this in the back of my mind since the last time we had to teach someone about question workshopping, and I suggest two simple tools; a guidance Q&A and a tag. The Q&A would be something we could point users to as part of suggesting they open a meta to make a question workable. The tag would primarily help serve as examples for how to do it (which I remember from last time was surprisingly tricky to find) as contains a lot of other stuff too.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Just for clarity, your suggested guidance Q&A would be something like "I have a question but I'm not sure how to ask it, what can I do?" correct? \$\endgroup\$
    – linksassin Mod
    Sep 13, 2020 at 3:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ @linksassin That seems like a good title and frame for it. I'd also want it findable when searching meta for "workshopping" but that should be coverable by the body. \$\endgroup\$
    – Someone_Evil Mod
    Sep 14, 2020 at 13:31
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    \$\begingroup\$ We don't have a workshopping tag. Perhaps adding one may be a good idea to help with discoverability. \$\endgroup\$
    – linksassin Mod
    Sep 14, 2020 at 13:33
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    \$\begingroup\$ @linksassin That's one of the things I'm suggesting :) \$\endgroup\$
    – Someone_Evil Mod
    Sep 14, 2020 at 13:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ After thinking about this, what if the reason we don't workshop questions enough is because we don't have a workshop thread? I worry that someone wondering how to make a question stackable might be thinking, "Is this really worth going to meta over?" If they knew we had a place where we encourage exactly that, it may lead to more workshopping of questions. Just thinking out loud here. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 25, 2020 at 19:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ThomasMarkov But having a thread for low volume would be a disservice to the asker because it's not very likely to get any attention (or at least response). I'm already suggesting a meta we could link to instead of a workshop thread, and which on some level include the notion that if it isn't worth asking a meta question to workshop, just ask the question and it'll get the feedback through comments and close votes. \$\endgroup\$
    – Someone_Evil Mod
    Sep 25, 2020 at 22:14

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