Like it or not, people are going to continue to post variations of the "How do I get started in AI" question. No matter how many get closed and marked off-topic, they're going to keep showing up. And closing them, while arguably "correct" in a pedantic sense, is not contributing to a good user experience for users of this site. It's especially galling that we're going to leave bad taste in the mouth of newbies who are just trying to get started, only to (from a subjective, personal perspective) have a door slammed in their face.

I feel like we need to do something to address this. An obvious choice would be to write a "getting started guide" and link to it somewhere in the sidebar on the right hand side of the page. Another option might be to pick one of the existing "getting started" questions", pin it to the front-page somehow (might take special support from SE staff??) and make it the one, sole, "blessed" newbie thread.

Possibly there are other options, but I strongly feel that we need something in place to address this question.

  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for raising this issue. I strongly agree, not just on new user engagement, but b/c I think simple, fundamental questions have value. (it's also a way to engage experts, and provides opportunities for them to get rep by providing comprehensive answers on subjects where they have applied experience.) Because overall engagement is still quite low, this is a tough stack to get rep on. $\endgroup$
    – DukeZhou
    Commented Dec 13, 2017 at 17:47

1 Answer 1


Sites like SuperUser.SE and Physics.SE deal with this by having a set of “canonical” questions. These are usually specific questions/answers that are very specific but very well explained.

I imagine that approach could very well apply here too, and the SE system already provides support for it.


I think this link provides a lot more information. https://meta.stackoverflow.com/q/291992/147507

To sum it up: there's currently thing "special" about the canonical questions and answers, aside from being asked and answered very thoroughly, and sometimes with varying levels of detail, so that it handles most users questions.

Into how they are suggested to users: they go through the same process as every other question, by appearing on the sidebar or searches. (See notes here). If the question is properly redacted and the answers are detailed enough, it should pop up among suggested answers, and users should find it relevant to their search/question.

How to generate them? As simple as it sounds: once identified, start a new question, write the hell out of it, which will get it upvoted, and let it sit around. Maybe save the link if we're thinking in closing questions as duplicates to it.

  • $\begingroup$ Interesting. How are the "canonical" questioned denoted? $\endgroup$
    – mindcrime Mod
    Commented Dec 13, 2017 at 19:39
  • $\begingroup$ @mindcrime Sorry I'm kind of in a hurry now. Here's how Physics.SE dealt with it. I'll come back and expand later on: physics.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/6060/… $\endgroup$
    – Alpha
    Commented Dec 14, 2017 at 18:44
  • $\begingroup$ @mindcrime There it is! Sorry it took me so long to get back to this. $\endgroup$
    – Alpha
    Commented Dec 17, 2017 at 18:54

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