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I know that getting users to read About, FAQs or the Formatting page is not something that will ever be guaranteed, but at the same time I feel that the layout/lack of highlighting of these areas of the site can lead to a lot of new users posting questions, answers and comments that have to be cleaned up.

I don't know if it's possible within the structure of SE to add additional links to top of the sidebar on the main page highlighting these sections more or if we could also add a link to the formatting guide on the ask a question page.

Praise where praise is do I do like that the FAQ is prominently displayed to the right when asking a question to help new users.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I think this has been brought up to the devs before, and the response was a disappointed "no it's fine!" I'd hoped that with the opening of the UX.SE, that user-experience issues like that would get more positive attention… \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Apr 24 '13 at 19:54
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    \$\begingroup\$ However, new users get a big banner with stuff in it now, with a big "tell me more" button that goes to the About page, so it's better-highlighted than it used to be. (You can see it by going to that UX.SE link above if you're not already a user there and you're not on mobile.) \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Apr 24 '13 at 19:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks, did not know that! I know that its unlike we can change how big the font and whatnot is in the header since that seems to be uniform across all SE, but I thought at least we could add in some big blocky, highlighted text something at the top of our sidebar to address this issue. \$\endgroup\$ – Joshua Aslan Smith Apr 24 '13 at 19:59
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The About page already has plenty of attention drawn to it. Log out of the site or enter it in private/incognito mode: there's an introductory panel to briefly inform new users about the site's basics, plus a button that links to the About page.

Maybe the FAQ and the Formatting Help pages can do with more attention, but the About page already has plenty.

The About page links to the FAQ, though only at the end, possibly because linking to it earlier would cause people to stop reading about the basic way the site works.

the layout/lack of highlighting of these areas of the site can lead to a lot of new users posting questions, answers and comments that have to be cleaned up.

Maybe that should just be OK. This site works differently to others. New users are going to make mistakes not realising how it works, even if they have read the FAQ (because none of us are flawless information sponges, and we read things without really reading them or understanding them sometimes).

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  • \$\begingroup\$ It's true, improving posts is an expected activity on the site. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Apr 24 '13 at 23:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm not saying we shouldn't be improving posts, that's a key feature of SE in general, merely that we could need to improve less posts/spend less time improving posts and possibly get a better educated user base out of this. \$\endgroup\$ – Joshua Aslan Smith Apr 25 '13 at 13:13
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    \$\begingroup\$ @JoshuaAslanSmith Editing can be a way of leading by example, though. To be completely honest, we have a way more educated (in terms of how our site works) userbase than some other SEs. Arqade comes to mind—they're constantly dealing with poor-quality posts, too much to edit. We're doing pretty good here. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Apr 25 '13 at 18:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ These things cause me to niggle as I learn more about Analysis and Design for websites and systems IRL. \$\endgroup\$ – Joshua Aslan Smith Apr 25 '13 at 18:23
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We could make a Community Ad for each of our FAQ, About, and Formatting pages.

CAs show more to new/non-users than to older users, so the right people would see it. The downside is it will be random whether it's shown and which, and it will compete with other CAs for being shown.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Also, since users are unaware of the community nature of the CAs, there's a really good chance that their general internet-browsing training will cause them to ignore it entirely. That's assuming they don't have something that blocks it to begin with. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Dec 8 '14 at 23:53
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    \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan If the styling of the CA echoes the site branding (colours, layout, fonts), it's more likely to be seen as part of the page than mentally filtered out as an ad (especially since there's nothing besides CA content that betrays its ad-ness). \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Dec 9 '14 at 0:29
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The formatting page could defintely use more highlighting; it took me seeing other users with fancy formatting not covered in the tiny answer/question box header to use a google search to find the Meta.SE post about formatting, which links to the actually formatting guide here. That's a little silly, especially considering that guide doesn't even cover nested lists, which we cover here. Some way of better highlighting both of these sources would be much appreciated, although the click '?'-> click 'advanced help' route is at least possible without googling around. If that could be linked to in part of the FAQ or help center, that would be good.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ For future access, the formatting guide is most easily accessible from the [?] above the edit box when writing a new post or editing an existing one. (Our flavour of Markdown is a bit different than the original reference standard at Daring Fireball, so differences can be chalked up to additions and changes to the SE MD parser over the years.) \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Dec 9 '14 at 0:27

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