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Workout review type questions are one of our more common question categories, but I have started to notice that they are also one of the question categories that most frequently has quality problems. For this reason, I think it is crucial that we find a good way to drive these questions toward providing more helpful details without discouraging them being asked.

I won't point to any examples, they are easy enough to find a with a little research, but we often see workout review questions resembling this:

How is workout?

Squat Curls Run

Bench Tricep Pushdown Eat a Protein Bar

Back Day Sauna

Obviously, this would be representative of the worst offending questions we have seen, and many of the workout review questions we get are much, much better than this. I've written the example question this way because it captures all of the quality problems we need to address, though not every question with quality problems has all of these quality problems at the same time.

What can we do to improve the state of these questions?

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    "I won't point to any examples, they are easy enough to find a with a little research" --- I think it's important to see real examples in order to know what the problem is that we are trying to fix. You haven't even given us a tag to direct our "little bit of research". I looked at the tag workout-routines and found this and this. Are those questions representative of the problem that you're trying to fix? Sep 18, 2023 at 15:13
  • @NikeDattani The swimming one is more of a “recommend a plan” than a “review” type question, and the second one has all of the elements I think we need. I’m trying to get out in front of questions that leave out crucial information. If you ask “how is my workout plan”, and you I don’t know what you’re doing during your workouts, I can’t say anything about your workout.
    – Thomas Markov Mod
    Sep 18, 2023 at 15:45
  • @NikeDattani Here is a good example of what I’m talking about. It has a weekly schedule and exercise selection, but nothing about sets, reps, intensity, or proximity to failure. We can’t say anything about that routine except to comment on the diversity of the exercise selection, because we don’t actually know what they’re doing when they step into the gym.
    – Thomas Markov Mod
    Sep 18, 2023 at 15:48
  • @NikeDattani Going back through questions the community has closed, most of these questions have been roomba’d for inactivity, so you won’t be able to view them.
    – Thomas Markov Mod
    Sep 18, 2023 at 15:54
  • This is why I think it's important to provide examples (the first example I found through my own "research" was the swimming one, which you say isn't a good example). As for the example that you gave, I worry that your comment "We need some more details here, at the very least, a rep scheme, but preferably some loading and progression scheme info" was not understood by the OP. Instead of asking for a "rep scheme" I might have just asked for the number of reps and sets for each exercise, and I'm not sure if they understood what "loading and progression scheme" means either. Sep 18, 2023 at 16:53
  • I totally agree with you that the number of reps/sets is crucial to answer that users question, because s/he was asking whether or not his routine was good for "strength and hypertrophy", and the number of reps and sets play a role in both strength and hypertrophy development. However, the question was closed within a day after your comment right? This might have discouraged the user and made it hard for them to come back and improve the question (i.e. answer your question about reps/sets). I vividly recall my first question on a site being closed quickly before I could address concerns in the Sep 18, 2023 at 16:56
  • comments, and in the end I just completely abandoned that question instead of fixing it. This turned out to be a loss for both me and the site. Anyway, in the example that you gave, I think it's fair to ask for the number of reps/sets (provided the question is asked in a clear way that the OP understands, and I worry that in this case they didn't understand), I don't see the need for the establishment of a full-fledged formal procedure for this though. Unfortunately I can't see the roomba-deleted examples though, so I'll take your word for it! Sep 18, 2023 at 16:59
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    @NikeDattani It’s these closures that I think we can get out in front of with a little bit of guidance on the ask page. If we can nudge users to include these details before their questions are even posted, I think we can avoid some of the comments and closures entirely. And I really appreciate your feedback about my comment, it’s insight like yours that is going to be really useful in putting together meta guidance and a distilled version of it for the ask page.
    – Thomas Markov Mod
    Sep 18, 2023 at 17:02
  • Thanks for the open ear that you have towards feedback! If we can solve these problems before they even happen, it would be great! I agree that removing the need for these comments and closures would be a very positive thing for the site, and that newer users will have a much better experience here if they don't have to see their question get closed or to get comments suggesting that their first attempts are not adequate. In terms of the guidance on the ask page though, I worry that not many people read it at all. Ideally SE would help us make users go through a process that forces reading. Sep 18, 2023 at 20:21

1 Answer 1

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1. Establish a tag and differentiate it from more general programming questions.

I think the first step here needs to be establishing a tag category for these sorts of questions. JohnP, Sean Duggan, and myself are all active users over at rpg.se, and I am going to be drawing on some of the things the community does over there. At RPG, there is a homebrew-review tag where users can ask for critiques and reviews of homebrewed RPG content. It works really well for differentiating proper review questions from more general review questions about the homebrewing process. I think this paradigm would serve us well here. We would create a tag (name subject to change) to be used for questions asking for program reviews, and go through the pageantry of retagging questions. Call this step 1a, because, step 1b is...

We also need to unify the tagging used for general workout questions. Right now we have , ,, , , , , ,, and , with no meaningful guidance about which to use in which circumstances. From these tags, we need to come out the other side with a tag and, well, we'll worry about how to organize the rest later. The point is that all of these tags have program review questions in them, and we need to gather the program reviews into one tag.

2. Create a program review guidance meta post with some concrete expectations for the question type.

This is where we stand the most to improve on the quality of these questions. We often go through a close-edit-reopen before we get a question in a state that it can be answered, because these questions are often missing crucial information. At a minimum, I think we need to know:

  1. Some idea of your goals. We need to know what you're trying to do before we can tell you how to do that better.
  2. Enough detail about the program to actually know what you're doing through a training week. We often see these questions start with a list of exercises, but omit one or more of reps, sets, frequency, load, relative intensity, etc. I think that before we can really review a workout routine, we have to have a concrete idea of what you're doing when you step into the gym or set out on your run.

I think this is the bare minimum that we need, but questions can be improved further by including additional details about training history, diet, lifestyle, and other relevant things. For reference, here is rpg.se's version of such a meta post.

3. Add abbreviated guidance to the ask page when the tag is used.

There is a neat feature on the ask page where certain tags can be set up to give warnings before the question is posted. For example, over at RPG, using the presents you with this warning before you post the question:

enter image description here

I believe this requires the assistance from SE staff, but we could have the tag provide similar usage guidance when trying to submit a question, asking the user to make sure their question has included the minimum required details mentioned above.

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  • For the third section in this answer, I think these RPG.SE Meta threads are relevant. I still have to read those before I can fully appreciate your proposal. I'm particularly interested in the "Resolve 1 issue before posting" part. Is that presented to everyone, even if they don't have any issue to resolve? Or is it only presented to people that actually made the error of using that tag for a question about a specific edition of DnD? I'm sure it's the former rather than the latter, but the former doesn't seem to be "accurate". Sep 18, 2023 at 20:25
  • @NikeDattani Ah, the “resolve one issue before posting” bit is probably there because I put a bunch of nonsense letters in the question title and box. The tag warning is always present when you use the generic dnd tag.
    – Thomas Markov Mod
    Sep 18, 2023 at 20:46
  • Okay, I had never seen it before so I thought it was unique to RPG.SE and other sites that have something special configured. I was now able to reproduce that error message on a relatively new site that doesn't have any tag warnings set up. Sep 18, 2023 at 21:00
  • I wonder if it would be a good idea for this answer to actually be part of the question, and for the rest of the community to be able to provide their feedback in the form of answers? Also for the screenshot in this answer, maybe it would be useful to show what it would look like when the question is not full of nonsense letters (the red error message would not be present anymore, and one might wonder what the rest will look like, since the yellow warning icon followed by the "Other suggestions" wouldn't be there). I can try myself tomorrow (I assume the red error line and yellow warning line Sep 19, 2023 at 3:18
  • will be out, but the rest will still be there. If that's what it will look like, then overall I don't see much harm in the proposal to have further guidance provided (in the way that you've shown) on questions that use the program-review tag (or related tags). This would be me "answer" if your question included your proposal as part of it and asked whether or not the community agrees with the proposal. Sep 19, 2023 at 3:20
  • @NikeDattani I’ll update the screenshot. I think we need to be able to vote on the question and the answer separately.
    – Thomas Markov Mod
    Sep 19, 2023 at 7:11

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