Player Tip #5) Ask lots of questions about what you see. Look up. Ask about unusual stonework. Test floors before stepping... In other words, die rolls don’t provide a short cut or a crutch to discover and solve all those interesting puzzles and clues scattered throughout a dungeon. The same goes for handling traps (unless there’s a thief class).So, that's the OSR's stance on observation skills. Tricky.
Cut back in time to the Traveller game I played in earlier this semester. As a player, I tend to ask a good number of questions in combat. Things like "What're they armed with?", "Any grenade belts or sidearms?", "How are they armored?", "How many of them are there?!", "Do they have any distinguishing markings?", "Any obvious alarm systems that it looks like they might try to set off?", and so forth. I may ask fewer questions during exploration than I should, but during combat, I feel like I go perhaps a little bit overboard. If all of my questions are answered (and sometimes they're not), it kind of strains suspension of disbelief; sure, I had a high Int and ranks in Recon, but I was absorbing a lot of information really really quickly. This bothered me a little.
I found a solution to both of these problems simultaneously in a most unlikely place: Grognardling's post on looting libraries for useful books. In particular, a number of his books provide the PCs with a set number of questions on a particular topic, which they can ask and the DM shall answer. When I read this, I was immediately reminded of Matt's character in the last Traveller campaign, who had a deal with a demon, whereby he could ask questions of the demon in exchange for radiation exposure. This mechanic worked pretty damn well, both providing a way to get limited information into the hands of the PCs and as a good flavoring device for the campaign. So I realized that perhaps this was the solution to Recon and Lore as well. What I am suggesting is this:
When combat begins, the GM paints things in vague strokes; "You enter a smoky cavern. Ahead stands a great altar on a dais, with a robed figure and a massive golden idol. Between you and it stand a mob of filthy cultists armed with an assortment of rusty weapons." He describes only things which are obvious to the untrained eye. PCs may then use Recon as an action in combat (Significant by default, or minor at -2 / Difficult for time-shifting) to ask a number of questions about the environment equal to 1 plus their effect. Particularly difficult or non-obvious questions may cost 2 or more points of effect to answer (spotting a hidden opponent might require a number of points equal to his effect on Stealth, for example). So questions here might be "How many cultists?", "Are there any chandeliers to swing from?", "Is the robed guy wearing armor underneath the robes?", "Does the idol have gems for eyes?" (though that's kind of a waste, since of course it does), and so forth. Naturally, this isn't the only way for PCs to gain information; if you engage in melee with someone, you obviously know what kind of weapon they're wielding, if they're wearing non-hidden armor, and similar things. Another possibility, even, would be to allow Melee + Int as a Difficult / -2 minor action to ask questions about your opponent's skill, strength, dexterity, and fighting style. Heck, possibly morale state too - sometimes you can see that in the way an opponent fights.
Finally, Lore / Science also clearly falls into this "skills for questions" category. More of an out-of-combat thing, but rolling Lore and asking 1 plus effect questions about a particular topic on a success does a nice job of limiting "knowledge dump" like you'd get with 3.x Knowledge skills, but also provides some degree of data to the PCs. As with Recon, some questions may cost multiple points of effect; you're not going to know the demon's Truename off the top of your head, period, but you might know of a few books where it might be found, or what this type of demon's weaknesses are, or what sacrifices might persuade it not to kill you. As we can see in that example, one good point of skills for questions is that there's some degree of player skill and planning involved in selecting the questions to ask.
Other promising skills for skills as questions include Wizardry for Scrying and other divinations, letting you ask a few questions about a remote locale or person, Liturgy for oracular purposes, and pretty much any of the magic skills for diagnosing things like "Is this magical?" and "What school of magic is this enchantment?" Backporting this rule to Traveller, you could apply the same principle to Sensors and Computers; a really good Sensors result lets you ask many questions about the target, while a good Computers check might turn up more data than you were initially looking for. Streetwise and Survival are promising, too, for 'number of questions to ask of your underworld contacts / number of illegal goods you can procure' and number of questions to ask about natural things ("Is this edible?" "No." "Is this deadly poison that we could put on our weapons?" "Yes." "Sweet!").
I think part of what makes this a promising 'bridge' mechanic between the Old and New Schools is that, if you give New School players a mechanic for asking questions, they'll start asking questions. Then, if you switch to an older style, they will likely continue asking questions. Basically, it builds a good habit on top of the "roll first and ask questions later" tendencies of modern players.