I am often disturbed by how easily the community of Biology.SE close and down vote questions asked by newcomers and layman.
When I go on other SE websites, I often have to ask unclear questions or too broad questions just because I am not able to realize how complex is my question or because I don't understand the epxistemiology of the subject of interest. I think that users of other sites are more welcoming and more willing to formulate answers that give me hints in order to improve my knowledge and eventually my abilities to formulate better questions in the future.
I think that if we want to increase the popularity of BiologyBeta we have to start to offer more help to newcomers and be a bit less strict in how we judge the quality of their questions.
Let's consider the Core Architecture of the Body Encoding post for example. I actually started to write this meta-post in response to 5 closing votes that it received. Of course, it is not the first example of questions that get closed while I would have liked it to remain open. Core Architecture of the Body Encoding post has several issues. It contains several questions and it is extremely broad. However, I think that it actually is quite easy to provide an answer. I know very little on the subject so I formulated a quick answer from what I could remember from my
Developmental Biology first year class. I accompanied the answer with a bunch of wikipedia references. I think that my answer can typically help the OP to realize what was wrong with his question and to understand why he touched too many different topics. It also gives the name of the different fields to the OP allowing him to go for some wikipedia reading.
I think that, very often, we should rather offer criticisms, ressources and a sense of the disciplines that are concerned by the question(s) rather than voting to close, leaving the newcomer in ignorance and frustration, pushing him to leave Biology.SE.
From the FAQ:
Biology - Stack Exchange is for people studying biology at any level.
If the reasons for closing questions come from refusing low-level questions because we want to attract a higher-level community, then I think that we should create a new reason for closing:
Vote to close because it is a low-level question. Biology.SE is for Biology students and professionals which activities directly relate to Biology.
If we are so strict because we want to make sure that newcomers learn how to use this site, we may eventually be nice at the beginning and slowly get harsher if we see no effort from the OP to improve his/her posts.
What do you think? Should we be more tolerant with newcomers and bad questions?