The top listed questions on the front page of superuser.com at the moment:
- Side Effects of Reformatting Hard Drive
- Must have iPhone applications
- “Must-Have” Firefox Addons?
- What is Wolfram Alpha good for?
- How to completely turn off UAC in Windows 7?
- Can I use any USB hub with an XBOX360 and Rockband controllers?
- Recommendations for a Pre-Built Computer
- Simple video cropping app
- What’s your favourite piece of (Linux) software nobody’s heard about?
- Google Contacts and Mac OS X Address Book
- Is it better to leave your computer on all the time?
- Launch synergy client on boot in Mac OS X
- “Must-Have” Linux Software
- “Must Have” Mac OS X Software
- Default Windows 7 Install: What to change to make it faster?
Of these, I would say that maybe a third are the type of questions for which these sites were originally intended: I have a specific problem, I post a question about it, I get an answer that hopefully fixes my problem. The rest are basically for shooting the breeze.
One particularly unfortunate side effect of this phenomenon is that the shoot-the-breeze questions keep getting recycled to the top of the front page, because they attract so many answers (95 answers here for a question that was asked this morning, for example). Meanwhile, questions looking for answers to problems disappear beneath the waves within minutes before attracting a single answer, or even very many views. Witness the plight of the poor fellow looking for a way to connect a MIDI controller to CentOS5 (admittedly a rather esoteric question): 22 minutes after being born, the question scrolled off the front page with a grand total of 0 votes, 0 answers, and 2 views.
The community wiki-type questions can be fun, but at this very early stage in the development of superuser.com it seems like if this trend continues it could create a culture that discourages the participation of people looking for solutions to real problems.