This is, I hope, a "constructive subjective question", within the spirit of stackexchange.
I am sometimes shocked in Chess Beta how apparently unwelcoming can be the responses to newcomers' questions. The question usually comes from someone who has reputation in single digits, and an overcritical response typically comes from someone who has 4 digits of reputation. As far as I can see, the recipients of such treatment do not come back for more.
Initial questions might be ill-expressed or somewhat off-topic: but they usually come from someone who is genuinely interested in chess, and has reached out to us across the internet. I think we need to always read their question charitably and help them towards the question that perhaps they were trying to ask. At the very least, the experience should be a positive one, that encourages them to remain in Chess Beta for the future and contribute better as they learn more of our recondite ways.
It seems to me that treating newcomers well is the single most important step we can take towards removing the "Beta" from our name. I base this subjective assertion (channeling the "Back It Up" principle developed in the Moms4Mom stackexchange) on what I have seen in other forums and groups over the years, and seeing niceness work. If we value this community, it's in our own interest to treat newcomers with a little bit more latitude. A guy with 1 reputation today might have 10,000 a couple of years from now and be a pillar of the community.
My suggestion: at the very least, can we agree that a newcomer should be told "Welcome!" That sounds trivial, but I really believe it would set the tone for the future experience of that newcomer.
Thanks for your time!
EDIT: Good to see the following Stack Overflow blog post. Note footnote 1:
"This post focuses on Stack Overflow, but most of it applies to the broader Stack Exchange network as well."
I don't think that our issue is nearly as bad as some other communities, but I wonder if that's because of our small size and Beta status.
A concrete point: not just in the spirit of kindness but also that of justice. Often when I look at the help centre about a closed "off-topic" post, it's extremely difficult to see how a post is actually off-topic given the criteria listed there. Frankly, there is judgement required, and whoever makes this judgement may need to have the courage to explain why they came down the way they did. It also requires more effort, and shows greater respect to the poster.
There are low quality posts which would not merit this treatment, but I think that these are the exception.