With about 1 million views a month at the moment, Super User is turning out to be successful, however due to the general audience the concept of a Q&A vs. a forum is still something we need to deal with every day. Part of the problem is a few of the high reputation users do not understand Super User, and one idea to help improve this is to send an e-mail to all users with 3K+ reputation with the goal of explaining how Super User works, and the role these users play on the site. The content of the mail would be something along the lines of the following:
Dear Super User,
We would like to thank you for your contribution to the Super User website, and appreciate the time and energy you have put into being part of the site. As a high reputation user, your role on the site is
slightlymore than just answering questions, and we would like to ask your help with the following:
Due to the larger audience Super User caters to, and the lack of understanding about the site, we would like to ask that you are vigilant with closing duplicate questions, and identifying questions that do not meet the criteria listed at http://superuser.com/faq. Unfortunately, there are currently a lot of these questions being answered rather than closed, which makes it hard to control the level and quality of the content on the site. Please keep in mind that the goal of Super User is to be a canonical source of information, linked by Google, with a single up-to-date question providing the most up-to-date answer.
Super User Team and Moderators
There are a few of the top users constantly answering these questions instead of closing them, and this has actually created friction, highlighted by various comments on answers. The problem is that it reflects negatively on the site as well as causing these users to stay away or even needing the diamond moderators to intervene. Honestly, the diamond moderators are just that, moderators, not psychologists. As pointed out by the answers, some of the existing regulars have already started to leave Super User because of this.
Instead however of penalising users and potentially losing valuable members, there needs to be some way to encourage more positive interaction. However this can't be done unless these users are made more aware of the goals and functionality of the site, instead of it being treated as another forum.
Thanks to Jeff:
So the real implied question is, how much direct coaching should be/is appropriate for the 10K+ users on a trilogy site?
And how can we do indirect coaching, that is, make the software nudge them to do the right things and nudge them away from the wrong things?
Some more recent examples of where these issues occur:
- This answer on a question closed as subjective by the community caused some interesting comments.
- This question which is not computer related has 1 answer. Common pattern here: Vote to close and answer question.
- This exact duplicate generated 1 high rep answer.
- This question should have been closed outright.
- This is another multiple duplicate question.
Some more samples courtesy of random with comments:
- ISO on a USB drive? Answers sound eerily familiar?
- Got a problem with a drop-down list on Windows? Enlarge the original screenshot.
- Clearing history on Windows 7? Two high rep users answer instead of casting a vote to close or a comment about the dupe sitting in the Related list.
- Monitoring network traffic? Split the answers across questions!
- 7zip command line getting you down? Post dupe questions. Always gets an answer.
- And when a high rep user finds out after they post a shot in the dark that there is a close vote, but all they do is comment? Don't worry, if a question is open, that brings in more eyeballs.
- What if a new user finds the dupe themselves? Post answers anyway!
I do not agree with the stance "I am going to answer and vote to close just in case it stays open", I also do not agree that closed questions should allow accepted answers or voting. However apart from putting the high rep users in the penalty box, which is a negative solution, I would rather find a positive way to encourage correct behaviour.
Furthermore, the two items I would really like to see changed on Super User are:
- Diamond moderators having to intervene and close every question.
- Users staying away because of the actions of high reputation users.
Is there currently any way apart from the suggestions already made in some very good answers on how to deal with this correctly? Is this really a problem? Currently there seems to be strong support for some sort of intervention, however is there also strong support for not doing anything?
Some Implemented Solutions
- SVN Revision 6276: Introduced expanded closed boxes with more detailed descriptions for closing reasons, including detailed descriptions of the specific close reason once the question is closed.