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Many questions on this site are from new/low-reputation users who may not know all of the common rules and expectations of Biology and SE sites in general. Compounding this is the fact that users below a certain reputation level cannot see close votes on their own questions, and may not understand downvotes that aren't adequately explained.

What are some good comments that could be used to educate these users?

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Please adapt these for the situation at hand, and don't just post them blindly.


Please read the comment editing help page for a list of shortcuts you can use in comments (some of which I use below). Things like [help], [tour], [edit], and shortcuts to other SE sites are very useful.

This is organized into three sections: Questions, Answers, and Useful Links.


Questions

Welcome/explain how site works

Welcome to the Biology Stack Exchange. Please take the [tour] and carefully read through the [help] to learn more about the site, including what is on-topic and what is not, and how to ask a good question. Please ensure your post is formatted correctly as well.

Welcome to the Biology Stack Exchange. Please take the [tour] and carefully read through the [help] to learn more about the site, including [what is on-topic](https://biology.stackexchange.com/help/on-topic) and [what is not](https://biology.stackexchange.com/help/dont-ask), and how to [ask a good question](https://biology.stackexchange.com/help/how-to-ask). Please ensure your post is [formatted correctly](https://biology.stackexchange.com/help/formatting) as well.


Too broad discussion/tutorial request questions

This takes the previous comment and changes the first sentence a bit.

This is not a forum or tutorial service; it is a Q&A site where specific questions relating to biology get specific answers. Please take the [tour] and carefully read through the [help] to learn more about the site, including what is on-topic and what is not, and how to ask a good question. Please ensure your post is formatted correctly as well.

This is not a forum or tutorial service; it is a Q&A site where *specific* questions relating to biology get *specific* answers. Please take the [tour] and carefully read through the [help] to learn more about the site, including [what is on-topic](https://biology.stackexchange.com/help/on-topic) and [what is not](https://biology.stackexchange.com/help/dont-ask), and how to [ask a good question](https://biology.stackexchange.com/help/how-to-ask). Please ensure your post is [formatted correctly](https://biology.stackexchange.com/help/formatting) as well.


General comment asking OP to actually think about their question. Useful for absolute garbage/unintelligible questions, and elsewhere as well.

Here's a hint on asking questions: Put yourself in the mind of another person - someone you might ask the question to. Then, carefully re-read the question and ask yourself "Do I understand what is being asked? Is there any other information that might be necessary to answer it? Is it grammatically well-formed, spelled correctly, and punctuated - in English? Does it fit with the rules of this site as defined in the [help]?" If the answer to one or more of those questions is No, then you need to work on your post some more. Please click the [edit] link to alter your question.

Here's a hint on asking questions: Put yourself in the mind of another person - someone you might ask the question to. Then, carefully re-read the question and ask yourself *"Do I understand what is being asked? Is there any other information that might be necessary to answer it? Is it grammatically well-formed, spelled correctly, and punctuated - in English? Does it fit with the rules of this site as defined in the [help]?"* If the answer to one or more of those questions is *No*, then you need to work on your post some more. Please click the [edit] link to alter your question.


Homework

This takes the standard close reason and adds some clarification to it. The last sentence doesn't always need to be included.

Homework questions are off-topic on Biology unless you have shown your attempt at an answer. For more information see our homework policy. "Homework" is interpreted to mean any academic or other assignment, test preparation, or task given in relation to a class, educational setting, or self-learning.

**Homework questions** are off-topic on Biology **unless you have shown your attempt at an answer**. For more information see our [homework policy](https://biology.stackexchange.com/help/homework). "*Homework*" is interpreted to mean any academic or other assignment, test preparation, or task given in relation to a class, educational setting, or self-learning.

or, you can use just the standard close text, which includes the homework policy link:

Homework questions are off-topic on Biology unless you have shown your attempt at an answer. For more information see our homework policy.

**Homework questions** are off-topic on Biology **unless you have shown your attempt at an answer**. For more information see our [homework policy](https://biology.stackexchange.com/help/homework).


Questions with little or no prior research effort

Since a number of people (understandably) have issues with lumping general, poorly-researched questions in with homework, you can use this instead of the above:

The Biology.SE community has agreed that questions that show little or no prior research effort are off-topic on this site unless you have shown your attempt at an answer. Please [edit] your question and tell us where you've looked for answers, what you do know about the topic, and where exactly you still have questions. Unresearched questions may be subject to down-voting and closure.

The Biology.SE community has agreed that **questions that show little or no prior research effort** are off-topic on this site **unless you have shown your attempt at an answer**. Please [edit] your question and tell us where you've looked for answers, what you *do* know about the topic, and where exactly you still have questions. Unresearched questions may be subject to down-voting and closure.


Hypothetical questions

Questions that ask about hypothetical situations are off-topic. For example, "What would have happened if we had evolved the ability to do ______?" or "How would life be different if ______ hadn't happened?" Worldbuilding deals with hypotheticals all the time, as many contributors are writing science fiction and want to be as accurate as possible, so we can direct this kind of question to them.

This is an opinion-based question because it is asking about a hypothetical situation. From the [help/dont-ask], avoid asking subjective questions where … you are asking an open-ended, hypothetical question: “What if ______ happened?” We expect answers to be based on verifiable facts and references, along with subject-related expertise. You may be able to get answers at [worldbuilding.se], but please read through their help center first.

This is an opinion-based question because it is asking about a hypothetical situation. From the [help/dont-ask], *avoid asking subjective questions where … you are asking an open-ended, hypothetical question: “What if ______ happened?”* We expect answers to be based on verifiable facts and references, along with subject-related expertise. You may be able to get answers at [worldbuilding.se], but please read through their [help center](https://worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/help) first.


Medical Questions

Personal medical questions and health advice are off-topic on Biology. We cannot safely answer questions for your specific situation and you should always consult a doctor for medical advice.

**Personal medical questions and health advice** are off-topic on Biology. We cannot safely answer questions for your specific situation and you should **always consult a doctor for medical advice**.


Bioinformatics questions not about biology

Questions regarding analytical methods, such as those related to bioinformatics or biological simulation, that do not ask explicitly about the underlying biology are considered off-topic. Please [edit] your question to address only your question relating to about biology or delete this question and visit another Stack Exchange site, especially [bioinformatics.se] including programming questions related to bioinformatics, or [so] for general programming, [stats.se] for statistics, [ai.se] for AI, and [su] for general computing.

Questions regarding analytical methods, such as those related to bioinformatics or biological simulation, that do not ask **explicitly** about the *underlying biology* are considered off-topic. Please [edit] your question to address only your question relating to about biology or delete this question and visit another Stack Exchange site, especially [bioinformatics.se] including programming questions related to bioinformatics, or [so] for general programming, [stats.se] for statistics, [ai.se] for AI, and [su] for general computing.


Do some thinking yourself

The first sentence doesn't necessarily need to be included, and should be altered to fit the question being asked. Basically, just try to communicate that this is not a tutorial site.

Unfortunately, this is not a tutorial site to explain every aspect of a given paper, concept, or idea. I strongly suggest you take the [tour] and carefully read through the [help] to learn more about the site, including what is on-topic and what is not, and how to ask a good question.

Unfortunately, this is not a tutorial site to explain every aspect of a given paper, concept, or idea. I strongly suggest you take the [tour] and carefully read through the [help] to learn more about the site, including [what is on-topic](https://biology.stackexchange.com/help/on-topic) and [what is not](https://biology.stackexchange.com/help/dont-ask), and how to [ask a good question](https://biology.stackexchange.com/help/how-to-ask).

You can also use this:

This is a Q&A site where specific questions relating to biology get specific answers. Please take the [tour] and carefully read through the [help] to learn more about the site, including what is on-topic and what is not, and how to ask a good question.

This is a Q&A site where *specific* questions relating to biology get *specific* answers. Please take the [tour] and carefully read through the [help] to learn more about the site, including [what is on-topic](https://biology.stackexchange.com/help/on-topic) and [what is not](https://biology.stackexchange.com/help/dont-ask), and how to [ask a good question](https://biology.stackexchange.com/help/how-to-ask).


Unclear what you're asking

Please clarify your specific problem or add additional details to highlight exactly what you need. As it's currently written, it’s hard to tell exactly what you're asking. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question.

Please clarify your specific problem or add additional details to highlight exactly what you need. As it's currently written, it’s hard to tell exactly what you're asking. See the [How to Ask](https://biology.stackexchange.com/help/how-to-ask) page for help clarifying this question.


Text posted as an image

Please do not post text as images. Copy and paste the text into your question. Images are not searchable, and can not be interpreted by screen readers for those with visual impairments. Use the [edit] link to modify your question. See this for more information.

Please do not post text as images. Copy and paste the text into your question. Images are not searchable, and can not be interpreted by screen readers for those with visual impairments. Use the [edit] link to modify your question. See [this](https://meta.stackoverflow.com/a/285557/1426065) for more information.


Miscellaneous comments under bad questions

From the [help/dont-ask], If your motivation for asking the question is "I would like to participate in a discussion about ______", then you should not be asking here.

From the [help/dont-ask], *`If your motivation for asking the question is “I would like to participate in a discussion about ______”, then you should not be asking here.`*

From the [help/dont-ask]: Your questions should be reasonably scoped. If you can imagine an entire book that answers your question, you’re asking too much.

From the [help/dont-ask]: *`Your questions should be reasonably scoped. If you can imagine an entire book that answers your question, you’re asking too much.`*


Answers

Please accept an answer

This does not need to be posted by the author of the answer, and if possible shouldn't be to avoid being perceived as a reputation hog.

If this answer addressed your problem, please consider accepting it by clicking on the check mark/tick to the left of the answer, turning it green. This marks the question as resolved to your satisfaction, and awards reputation both to you and the person who answered. Once you have >= 15 reputation points, you may also upvote the answer if you wish. There is no obligation to do either.

If this answer [addressed your problem](https://biology.stackexchange.com/help/someone-answers), please consider [accepting it](https://meta.stackexchange.com/questions/5234/how-does-accepting-an-answer-work) by clicking on the check mark/tick to the left of the answer, turning it green. This marks the question as resolved to your satisfaction, and awards [reputation](https://biology.stackexchange.com/help/whats-reputation) both to you and the person who answered. Once you have >= 15 reputation points, you may also upvote the answer if you wish. There is no obligation to do either.


Answers that are really comments

In addition to posting this comment, please also flag the answer as "Not an answer" or "Very low quality".

This should be a comment, not an answer. To critique or request clarification from an author, leave a comment below their post. You can always comment on your own posts, and once you have sufficient reputation you'll be able to comment on all posts. See here to learn about this limit and what you should do to earn this privilege. Comments posted as answers are subject to removal, or you can delete it yourself.

This should be a comment, not an answer. To critique or request clarification from an author, leave a comment below their post. You can always comment on your own posts, and once you have sufficient [reputation](https://biology.stackexchange.com/help/whats-reputation) you'll be able to [comment](https://biology.stackexchange.com/help/privileges/comment) on all posts. See [here](https://meta.stackexchange.com/q/214173) to learn about this limit and what you should do to earn this privilege. Comments posted as answers are subject to removal, or you can delete it yourself.


Answer needs references

Some of the information contained in this post requires additional references. Please [edit] to add citations to reliable sources that support the assertions made here. Unsourced material may be disputed or deleted.

Some of the information contained in this post requires additional references. Please [edit] to add citations to reliable sources that support the assertions made here. Unsourced material may be disputed or deleted.


Very short answers

We're looking for long answers that provide some explanation and context. Don't just give a one-line answer; explain why your answer is right, ideally with citations. Answers that don't include explanations may be removed.

We're looking for long answers that provide some explanation and context. Don't just give a one-line answer; explain why your answer is right, ideally with citations. Answers that don't include explanations may be removed.


Don't answer lousy questions

From How do I write a good answer? in the [help], Answer well-asked questions. Not all questions can or should be answered here.

From [How do I write a good answer?](https://biology.stackexchange.com/help/how-to-answer) in the [help], *`Answer well-asked questions. Not all questions can or should be answered here.`*


Link-only answers

Link-only answers are generally not acceptable on Stack Exchange sites. The link may change or become unreachable in the future, and without a summary of what the link contains this answer would be useless. Please summarize what is in the link (don't just copy and paste) and use the link solely for reference. If you remove the link and the answer cannot stand on its own, it is not a good answer.

Link-only answers are generally not acceptable on Stack Exchange sites. The link may change or become unreachable in the future, and without a summary of what the link contains this answer would be useless. Please summarize what is in the link (**don't** just copy and paste) and use the link solely for reference. If you remove the link and the answer cannot stand on its own, it is not a good answer.


Useful links

Understanding Evolution from the University of California, Berkeley.

[Understanding Evolution](http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evolibrary/article/evo_01) from the University of California, Berkeley.

American Association of Physical Anthropologists' statement on Biological Aspects of Race.

American Association of Physical Anthropologists' statement on [Biological Aspects of Race](http://physanth.org/about/position-statements/biological-aspects-race/).


If you have additional comments or links you'd like to share, please edit this answer.

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  • $\begingroup$ How about: Questions regarding analytical methods, such as those related to bioinformatics or biological simulation, that do not ask explicitly about the underlying biology are considered off-topic. Please consider editing your question to address only the on-topic question about biology or delete this question and ask a question on one of the many technical Stack Exchange sites dealing with questions of [Computer Coding, Data Analysis, Software Use, Statistics, etc] $\endgroup$ – AMR Jan 12 '16 at 18:30
  • $\begingroup$ Specific things about specific parts of the question/answer in question. And in finding issue with new users, show basic problem solving skills yourself, understand different knowledge backgrounds, they may be unaware of phrasing, what to look up and how, particularly data, where words are used differently between academia and common language, etc... Offer edit suggestions. $\endgroup$ – alan2here Feb 6 '16 at 14:56
  • $\begingroup$ @MattDMo You have also included Self-learning in Homework but this isn't mentioned in our Homework policy? $\endgroup$ – Tyto alba Mar 4 '17 at 9:14
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    $\begingroup$ I removed the all caps and bolded section of "Please do not post text as images". It seemed to rub some people the wrong way. If we really want to shout at new posters, we can change it, but it seemed simple enough to change. $\endgroup$ – De Novo supports GoFundMonica Mar 23 at 4:54
  • $\begingroup$ One more category you should add is regarding "Why" questions. These are not hypothetical. Completely logical evolutionary question but most likely will not get correct answer. $\endgroup$ – Dexter Jul 26 at 19:47
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Sometimes closing for "homework" is confusing to users if they truly are not asking for a homework assignment. More often, the flagged post simply just does not indicate the OP performed any previous research effort. Here's a comment that captures this lack-of-research concern a little more clearly for users confused about "homework" status...

No Research Effort:

Hi [INSERT NAME]. Welcome to Bio.SE! What attempts to answer this question have you already taken? We ask that all question posters here attempt to search for an answer to their own question and explicitly indicate what research they've already done, what they learned, and what is still confusing or unknown to them. Our goal is not to simply be an answer site, but rather a site that promotes self-learning with some expert help along the way :). Please take a moment to edit your post with this additional detail, and it will likely be received more positively by our community. Thanks!

Or if they are an existing member, simply remove the Welcome to Bio.SE! portion.


Alternative message that I saw @WYSIWYG use here:

Hi! Welcome to [biology.se]. In our site, we actively encourage users to put in an effort from their side towards finding the answer before asking. This effort is also usually dubbed as homework. If you provide context, background and show your own take on the question, then the question is not only easier to answer but is also useful for other people who visit the site to look for answers. Therefore, please [edit] to your question and add some details.

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  • $\begingroup$ @anongoodnurse thanks for the motivation :) $\endgroup$ – theforestecologist Mar 11 at 17:27
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Update: This is a sample template only. For the recommended template from moderators; please refer to user @MattDMo 's answer.


To welcome as well as give some basic instructions (for-which a newcommer might be stuck)...

Welcome to Biology SE. You could visit the [tour-page](https://biology.stackexchange.com/tour) for basic informations, the [help-page](https://biology.stackexchange.com/help) for more detailed informations about what [could be asked](https://biology.stackexchange.com/help/on-topic) or [could not be](https://biology.stackexchange.com/help/dont-ask). For formatting tasks in command prompt, visit [this](https://biology.stackexchange.com/help/formatting) help sub-page. Thanks.

This will give the following output:


Welcome to Biology SE. You could visit the tour-page for basic informations, the help-page for more detailed informations about what could be asked or could not be. For formatting tasks in command prompt, visit this help sub-page. Thanks.



( P.S. I thing this bit details should be informed to every newcomer; since when I've gone through the help-page, I didn't found https://biology.stackexchange.com/help/formatting page so far I can recall.).

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    $\begingroup$ I've modified a couple of my comments to include formatting help, thanks for the suggestion. I also linked to the comment formatting help at the very top of my answer. $\endgroup$ – MattDMo Oct 21 '16 at 23:34
  • $\begingroup$ @MattDMo Before asking an identification-question peoples should must follow a guideline (sample) so that the specimen is identifiable at all. Many of them didn't collect some good fingerprints which were available to them while photography. $\endgroup$ – Always Confused Oct 22 '16 at 2:13
  • $\begingroup$ OK, I'm not sure what your point is. Do you want me to add another comment to the list explaining how to do species identification posts? $\endgroup$ – MattDMo Oct 22 '16 at 3:44
  • $\begingroup$ Why did you just give me a link to an article entitled "Effect of Mental Practice on Isometric Muscular Strength"? $\endgroup$ – MattDMo Oct 22 '16 at 4:01
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    $\begingroup$ Regardless, I still don't understand why you brought the species identification post up. It can't be summed up in a comment, so this is not the right place for it. It's perfectly fine where it is, you can always save the link and post it in a comment below what you think is a poor question. $\endgroup$ – MattDMo Oct 22 '16 at 4:05
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for your effort. In most cases; people are not aware about what to photograph. As a simple example, biology.stackexchange.com/questions/46386/… in this post the asker had not a minimum idea about where to look; so uploaded an image of whole landscape. Now that growth form is so common in plant-kingdom it is nearly impossible to reach one answer except random guess. $\endgroup$ – Always Confused Oct 22 '16 at 4:08
  • $\begingroup$ Oh no it would be some copy paste error. I'm deleting it. It was posted on cogsci.se. $\endgroup$ – Always Confused Oct 22 '16 at 4:09
  • $\begingroup$ meta.biology.stackexchange.com/questions/3452/… it is the correct link. $\endgroup$ – Always Confused Oct 22 '16 at 4:11
  • $\begingroup$ I did not understood the statement " I still don't understand why you brought the species identification post up". I didn't meant anything about encourage or discourage peoples to upload identification-requests. I did meant maintain a quality-level so that their requests doesn't go in vain. perhaps one way is to add a hyperlink to an instruction-page in the tag-info of identification requests. $\endgroup$ – Always Confused Oct 22 '16 at 4:57
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Questions that are not vague/asking for tutorial but are too broad for the scope of the site.

Your question appears very broad; you can find entire books/reviews dedicated to this topic. Please narrow your question down and add sufficient details such that it is restricted to a specific issue and can be answered in a few paragraphs.
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