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As you may have seen, we have an issue with technical support questions.

One of the various solutions that has been discussed (proposed in chat and in a meta answer by Andy) is to edit the text in the sidebar of the /questions/ask page. Currently, it doesn't say anything very useful:

How to Ask

Is your question about hardware recommendations?

We prefer questions that can be answered, not just discussed.

Provide details. Share your research.

If your question is about this website, ask it on meta instead.

We could edit this to say something more useful - potentially linking to the What is Hardware?, What is required for a question to be 'high quality'?, and help/on-topic pages. We could also explicitly state that we don't do tech support. Perhaps it could look like this:

How to Ask

Are you looking for a recommendation of a specific piece of hardware?

We can't help with support for existing hardware.

For details of what hardware we can find for you, see What is Hardware?. Please keep these things in mind when asking: What is required for a question to be 'high quality'?.

If your question is about this website, ask it on meta instead.

Good idea? Post your thoughts, objections, and alternative wordings below.

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    I like including more information. Do we have the ability to include formatting? If so, I think the existing hardware line needs to be changed slightly so we can bold that we don't do technical support. I'll try and come up with good wording. – Andy Feb 4 '16 at 17:25
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Ok, I took Andy & Art's proposal and hammered on it until it fit into the sidebar with only a minimal amount of ugly wrapping:

Questions here get better answers when you…

  • …show us what you've done and why it hasn't worked for you
  • …list all your requirements for a single, specific piece of hardware
  • …avoid asking for technical support

Remember, we don't do compatibility queries, build reviews or HOWTOs. For the full details on what sort of questions are appropriate, see our guidelines and the types of hardware we can recommend.

Questions about the site itself should be asked on meta.

visit the help center »
asking help »

enter image description here

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Here's my attempt at rewording. I've based it on ArtOfCode's rewrite, but made that third line shorter. I also worked out the technical support line so that we can bold a phrase that should stand out a bit.

How to Ask

Questions on Hardware Recommendations get better answers if they...

  • have some previous research: show us what you've done and why it hasn't worked for you
  • list all your requirements for a single, specific piece of hardware
  • don't ask for technical support: we don't do compatibility queries, build reviews or tech support

For the full details, see our guidelines and the types of hardware we can recommend.

Questions about the site itself should be asked on meta.

  • Nice one. That's definitely a better wording – ArtOfCode Feb 5 '16 at 7:54
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    It looks like you're trying to establish a dialog. However, the obvious way for the reader to respond is to just post their question, so that's kinda wasted - you're better off getting straight to the point: 1) Must want specific hardware; 2) list specific requirements 3) show your research 4) one hardware request per question. Last three lines are meta links. Six lines of dense information a conscientious asker needs to know instead of 8 lines of dialog. – Shog9 Feb 16 '16 at 21:41
  • Bullets 2,3 and 4 are all pretty similar, @Art. – Shog9 Mar 2 '16 at 18:27
  • @Shog9 There's an important distinction between them, though it may well be unclear. (2) is about knowing whether you need a frobble or a blobble; (3) is about the exact degree of pink your frobble needs to be and how far it can jump to the nearest millimetre; (4) is about if you need both a frobble and a blobble, you should ask about them separately. I did think of putting something like that in there, but it would have been rather long. What else could we do? – ArtOfCode Mar 2 '16 at 20:05
  • So you want folks to list all their requirements for a single, specific piece of hardware, @Art? – Shog9 Mar 2 '16 at 23:28
  • @Shog9 Yes. Experience speaks again :) Editing that in. (Done) – ArtOfCode Mar 2 '16 at 23:30
  • cheers, @Shog9! – ArtOfCode Mar 19 '16 at 0:22
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Highlighting the fact that we don't do Tech Support, or anything else that we don't do which gets asked a lot, is certainly a good idea... Bolded or otherwise.

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