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The tour page presents a sample of the kinds of Q&A we might see on this site. Moderators can pick what shows up there from a very limited list of questions, with a preview of how it will show up on the tour page. Answers are limited to just one paragraph, or cropped to their first paragraph or something apparently.

I have a complaint to make about that: every single question sample available to choose is a terrible example of how our site works. And when I say every single one, I mean I went through all of them. Every example I can pick is just two one-paragraph answers, or even one-line answers, each of them with no citation or reasoning evident. They are examples of what not to do and completely misrepresent the quality bar this site expects (which is relatively high).

It is very normal for brand new (1-rep) users to come to the site and leave a spree of one-paragraph or even one-line answers, each of them with no citation or reasoning evident. This happens at least once a week. If the tour is made to show people how our site works then by all means it is succeeding at teaching them, but it is teaching them wrong. It is like how the masters trained Wimp Lo: “we have purposely trained him wrong as a joke.” Later: “My answer has the least citations and sentences, making me the victor!”

Today I went through that list again hoping to find maybe one sample that would actually convey we require citations, and found one, but lo and behold, the tour actually adjusts the view to present the answer without citations as the one that gets accepted, which is incredibly poor teaching:

“according to this cited text, here's a conclusion” gets downvoted. an uncited paragraph gets upvoted above it.

Left: “Good answers are voted up and rise to the top.” Right: an example of the opposite actually happening. You can find that question here; note that the bottom answer in this example by RoryN is actually at +33/-0 and accepted, while the apparently upvoted-and-accepted answer is at +3/-1. Why on earth is the tour pushing the worst answer to the top?

This is the current example in the tour, so head there to see that yourself if you want to see it in action.

Teaching by example is great and all, but the examples should be any good. They are not.

Instead, we should be able to choose:

  • samples that present longer answers of more than one paragraph
  • which two answers get presented
  • which one gets upvoted and accepted, as a demonstration that an answer like this one is better than the other one and more likely to be upvoted and accepted

If we can't choose answers, then the tour page should at least pile the upvotes and accepted mark on the answer that is in reality the high-scored accepted answer. (Omit questions where the high-scored and accepted answer are different answers for simplicity's sake.)

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Can't support this strongly enough. Negative training has negative effects on a training audience. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Dec 18 '18 at 14:10
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The difficulty with the Tour is that it is trying to do two contrary things:

  1. Show the sort of posts communities are looking for and
  2. Fit in a relatively small vertical space.

As you've mentioned, we prefer long answers and not short ones. This is especially true on sites where one liner code examples don't exist.

Now I've expanded the restriction to allow longer posts, so you might be able to find one that's appropriate for your needs. But I'd like to caution that picking longer examples comes at a cost. Longer questions and answers distract from the main point of the page: the mechanics of the site. If a user spends too much brain power one the example posts, they won't learn what the Tour is trying to teach. (Though this does make me wonder what would happen if we did some usability testing with new users.)

Another approach that I've tried is to manufacture a tour-worthy question. Over on Biblical Hermeneutics, I wrote this question and one of the answers. Then I took a sock puppet and wrote another answer. I made sure that each of those posts was short, but also (I think) examples of what we want in terms of content. Those posts were the example in the tour for a while. (Currently it fails one of the checks, however. The Hermeneutics tour now uses the generic unicorn question. If I have time, I might see if I can correct whatever the problem is.)

Finally, it really is fine to use the generic examples. They are so clearly constructed for the purpose of teaching nobody would mistake them for good examples of content. But live questions might be taken that way.

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After some investigation it turns out there is one question I can choose that actually works well for the tour: Are Hags Fey or Fiends?

With this question chosen the tour will present the stronger of the two answers at the top, one with a clear citation and quote. Hopefully this makes for a positive influence.

I'm still not totally happy with that tour page—we prefer longer answers, not short—but at least we have OK material for the tour right now.

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