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I just counted 16 of the last 28 questions (57%) as put on hold due to being off topic.

One step towards not being a "beta" step might be to reduce the number of off topic posts. It doesn't look good when a visitor comes and sees that the whole front page is "on hold".

One strategy might be use a keyword policy to force posters to confirm if they use words and phrases commonly found in off-topic posts. Stack Overflow does this. For example:

  • Hitler/Nazi/Nazis/Jews
  • what if / could / why
  • [short posts less than 3 sentences]
  • [words ending in -ism]
  • sources/references/citations
  • hate

Obviously, legitimate posts can have these words, but it may be useful to pop up a warning or reminder of what is off topic if the question has common off-topic buzzwords.

  • possible duplicate of Keyword warning – yannis Nov 4 '14 at 21:42
  • Not to get snarky (while I encountered this here recently, the problem isn't specific to you personally or even this site), but it might help cut down on off-topic posts if people don't falsely label on-topic posts to be off-topic based on subjective opinion. – DVK Dec 22 '14 at 13:55
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Hmm. We don't have enough posts to need to highlight a subset of traffic via syntax.

I think we should continue to consider each question on its semantic merits. Questions being put on hold are often from new users whom we should be generous and understanding towards. It is a rare person who doesn't take a hint after ten questions-worth of commentary; which we can to some extent blame on ourselves for not being sufficiently sympathetic to ESL members and for explaining what rules but not how or why we follow them.

Active chat engagement with a couple of new members may dramatically reduce our current crop of On Hold questions.

  • A simple comment or two often goes a long way towards helping new users understand the proper way to ask or format a question. – Steven Drennon Dec 12 '14 at 16:35
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Most of those closed questions are started by the same person (or two). Prompting a user with some guidelines on asking questions may be a good idea nevertheless, but I think this current situation has a different root cause.

Also:

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