Since questions about

AppleScript, Automator, and UNIX shell scripting

are on-topic here, more impetus should be given to the questioner to include the script they have used.



These are some of the latest under or , where code was required.

Using automator to parse URL

Folder Action on Dropbox Runs More Than Once

Error 50 in Apple Automator

One of them arguably lacks proper research, but what is common, is the lack of the script they tried or pseudocode of what they want to try.


Since we accept questions similar to both of the sites', we should also add a paragraph in How do I ask a good question? under Be specific.

Or:The relevant tags in the usage wiki can have the same info included because the asker might possibly read the tag wiki tag as compared to the how to ask.

Or:An additional message to appear on at least desktop site (assuming most scripting is done on desktops) if a particular tag is selected.

See and refine the answer below!

  • 3
    Thanks for raising this on meta. Can I suggest you edit your question to propose a specific paragraph and the page (eg. our How do I ask a good question page etc) you'd like to see the paragraph added to? Keep in mind that, unlike Code Review, we don't have a problem with broken code questions, so we can't just reuse their paragraph. Once you've done this we'll have something more definitive to work with. Thanks again for taking the time to propose this.
    – Monomeeth Mod
    Commented Jul 14, 2019 at 6:46
  • @Monomeeth Welcome! While I am comparing how do I as a good question pages, ours has some more problems. This might make my edit broader than the title. I am trying to keep it... what do I say? narrow?.... Also, the ranking of this page in the list of FAQ's is very low as compared to 3rds etc on others.
    – anki
    Commented Jul 14, 2019 at 7:13
  • 2
    Just a quick note: Unlike Code Review or SO we do get questions from people who heard about scripting but haven't wrote any line of code yet (or ever). So while it's definitively a good idea to ask for code if the asker already has some, don't make it too restrictive :-)
    – nohillside Mod
    Commented Jul 14, 2019 at 8:38
  • @nohillside Should I write an answer post with the last part and keep it up for revisions? Making everyone write another answer with slight and overlapping modifications is ugly.
    – anki
    Commented Jul 14, 2019 at 8:50
  • 1
    Posting an answer with a proposal for the wording is ok for me, we can use edits and comments to improve if necessary
    – nohillside Mod
    Commented Jul 14, 2019 at 8:58
  • Related: Ask Different question checklist
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Jul 24, 2019 at 17:56
  • @Tetsujin The list is comprehensive and much more useful than my proposal. But as fsb had pointed out, its usage is unclear. If that can be incorporated into an article, or maybe users should link the question itself when they see a low quality question, that would be great. Also, Most of the points seem to be incorporated in the answer below. If you see something, more or less, I would love to see changes.
    – anki
    Commented Jul 26, 2019 at 12:19
  • I wanted to update you we’ve had some mod discussions on how we would move forward with an actual change. This isn’t something we can just edit on the fly so it would be good to A) Get more up votes here to indicate broad support - +3 is pretty thin - we could move forward with low votes, but it would be nice to see this more positive B) I’m going to suggest we borrow heavily from the main FAQ / perhaps add a new item there to get advice and input from other sites - if many sites come together to have a better “be specific” this will be awesome and help us all.
    – bmike Mod
    Commented Jul 29, 2019 at 21:37
  • @bmike Thanks for updating! Yes I totally agree with A. I did try to attract more views/votes, chatroom of IPS, pinging etc. For B, I haven't thought of FAQ for better/coherent phrasing between sites. I just checked the code sites' pages. As for adding a point there, title would have to be rephrased as the issue at hand grows from asking for code to editing Be specific completely. you should recommend who should go asking for inputs on meta.SE?
    – anki
    Commented Jul 30, 2019 at 13:18

2 Answers 2


To reduce the emphasis on code, another problem of repetitively asking OS versions and devices should be addressed too. Some parts copied from SO.

Be specific

If you ask a vague question, you’ll get a vague answer. But if you give us details and context, we can provide a useful answer.

  • "It doesn't work" isn't descriptive enough to help people understand your problem. Instead, tell other readers which steps you took, what the result was and where/how it didn't match your expectations.
  • Include relevant versions. It helps checking against software release notes for the possible bug.
  • Include how to reproduce your error messages by showing:
    • your code
    • your command that invokes the code
    • your errors when invoking the script (or code)

Consider adding one tag or in addition to the specific script or OS in question. The easier we can see what you expect from a result and how you are running, the more chance we’ll try and reproduce your situation and write up an awesome anwswer. Without clear details, answers will be more like “Have you tried X” as well as sending you here to help improve the details on your question.

  • 1
    Wondering whether including a link to stackoverflow.com/help/minimal-reproducible-example in a meaningful way might add value.
    – nohillside Mod
    Commented Jul 17, 2019 at 5:07
  • 1
    @nohillside Although the intent is to get the code out in the first place, that particular link can be reserved for the rare cases where a lot of code is there. Most of the scripts are small; we don't have cases like HTML, CSS, JS combo, or questions discussing efficiency of algorithms etc. The thing is, the person is already getting tutored, another page which is not applicable for all questions?
    – anki
    Commented Jul 18, 2019 at 9:40
  • 1
    Fair point, maybe it's too much in such cases. Let's start small.
    – nohillside Mod
    Commented Jul 18, 2019 at 10:18
  • @nohillside Shall I close it and you do the necessary?
    – anki
    Commented Jul 29, 2019 at 4:29
  • 1
    just mark it as accepted, I‘ll update the help pages tonight (my tonight, in about 14 hours :-))
    – nohillside Mod
    Commented Jul 29, 2019 at 5:25
  • Sorry for throwing a wrench. I made some pretty big changes. Any heartburn with the suggested new items. Also - we can steal from the FAQ - see my answer here as well.
    – bmike Mod
    Commented Jul 29, 2019 at 21:44
  • @bmike No issues with the edit about tags. I myself added it with not so high enthusiasm; just to lower emphasis on code, which I guess wasn't required.
    – anki
    Commented Jul 30, 2019 at 13:20

Here is a proposed first addition to the help:

I’d remove the tag guidance - that applies to all questions.

I’d maybe want to select a “soft question” example and then have a “better version” like on Code Review - I really like the formatting and flow but not so much the focus on tagging.

Can we steal (and attribute) or point to this to help us with a first step here?

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