You could sense when a big MOOC session starts by the nature and quality of questions incoming. They seem to be asking similar questions as the previous wave of students, and not knowing how to look for answers here.

Should we do something about it?

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    $\begingroup$ I often wish for the superpower to be able to freeze certain keyboards remotely. Seriously, what would that be? There is no provision in our guidance to discriminate according to where questions originate. $\endgroup$ – Nick Cox Feb 14 '18 at 18:37
  • $\begingroup$ Agree with @NickCox. If we "did something" with MOOCs, then what about academic year, maybe we should also "do something" with students? What about conferences? Or publishing cycles for journals? $\endgroup$ – Tim Feb 14 '18 at 18:39
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    $\begingroup$ @NickCox, actually, I was thinking about accommodating, not discriuminating. Maybe something can be done to help these people navigate. Maybe a welcome page or something along those lines. My sense is that most MOOC students here are programmers, they're smart but don't know anything. So, there could be a way to adjust to their needs $\endgroup$ – Aksakal Feb 14 '18 at 18:39
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    $\begingroup$ @Tim, I think MOOCs are different, because they can have thousands people studying exact same thing in exactly the same schedule. That's why they're noticeable unlike ordinary students who are less correlated. $\endgroup$ – Aksakal Feb 14 '18 at 18:41
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    $\begingroup$ I'd argue that at the beginning of the academic year there is even more "Statistics 101" students... $\endgroup$ – Tim Feb 14 '18 at 18:42
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    $\begingroup$ Here's an easy way to try what you want. Ask a Meta question which is "I am doing a MOOC. I am smart but I don't know anything. So, can you give me specific hints about asking questions here?" -- and then answer it. The wording should not be exactly that, naturally. In general, it would be subject in the usual way to the whole range of reactions possible on Meta. My own wild guess is that it's hard to find much to say that differs from anything we say already, but I would be very happy to be shown up as wrong (well, here at least). $\endgroup$ – Nick Cox Feb 14 '18 at 19:02
  • $\begingroup$ how about a "MOOC" tag? we'll ask them to self-identify the questions with it. it'll make them easier find similar questions. there are common themes coming from MOOC students in my opinion. $\endgroup$ – Aksakal Feb 14 '18 at 21:27
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    $\begingroup$ @Nick Actually, I think that may serve well, even though we have similar questions and answers already. We could make such a post "featured" for a few weeks each time it was thought to be necessary, so it would appear near the top of the right hand sidebar -- with a catchy title it could attract the attention of at least a fraction of those visitors. The answer(s) could provide some general orientation and some specific links to other sources of information (like how to write a good question, how to write a self-study question and so on). $\endgroup$ – Glen_b Feb 15 '18 at 0:34
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    $\begingroup$ I am not in favour of using tags for this purpose. Tag identify content, not something about how threads arise. $\endgroup$ – Nick Cox Feb 15 '18 at 6:46
  • $\begingroup$ If they are "asking similar questions as the previous wave of students" should these question naturally be treated as duplicates? $\endgroup$ – usεr11852 Mar 19 '18 at 1:32

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