Oftentimes, a new user comes on here and posts a question to the tune of:

I need a syntax tree for each of these sentences

and in the question body: a list of sentences.

Fair enough; if it's a new user, that person is probably not going to be familiar with the rules and culture here.

So can we somehow put a warning, which pops up when a low-rep or new user types a question title containing a substring like syntax tree, saying that "If your question is a request to have a syntax tree drawn, it's explicitly off-topic and will be closed". That should warn

Stackoverflow has something similar, as I discovered yesterday. I posted a question which had a very similar wording to many other questions which had all been closed and I got a warning saying essentially "do you really want to post this question, it's going to get closed".


You question implies two other questions. The first is the technical on "can we technically do it": I don't know what the state of the art is but I suspect we cannot do it successfully (it is not an automatable task). The second is the deontic one, should we?

I would like to see a massive reduction of flagrantly off-topic questions. But I would not like to see pointless and ineffective hurdles be placed in front of questioners. It would be pointless to add a filter that sets off warnings "Your question may be off topic" if they mention "Chinese" in the body of the question. The intent might be to eliminate those "language-specific" questions, but what filter effectively identifies "language-specific" questions when the flesh and blood filters can't decide whether a question is or is not? We don't need to generally discourage people from asking questions, we need to encourage people to read the "on-topic" literature and then act accordingly.

I suggest that there are only two kinds of questions that rise to the level of irritation warranting an automated preemptive response: "Draw trees for these sentences!", and "What is this script/language?". Perhaps a short and prominent text box can be displayed for all users when they ask their first question, saying in effect "Don't ask tree questions, don't ask language-ID questions", and you could even require the user to acknowledge that text. That at least would filter out those people who innocently didn't know that such questions are off topic.


I think that such a warning would be better as part of the tag itself, which would be less obtrusive than a pop-up message but more prominent than the warning in the help center.

I propose adding this sentence to the tag excerpt:

Requests to make syntax trees are off-topic.

This uses the language from the close reason, following help center and meta, and is modeled off of similar tag wikis on other sites (two examples: ffmpeg and career-development).

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