10

There are a lot of things to do on Super User.

But I wonder what the most important things are we should be paying attention at...

Is there anything we are skipping out on that will hurt us in the long end?

Here are some things I see:

  • The amount of low quality posts is 19,726 and rising.
  • 20% of the questions are unanswered, there are a lot of questions no longer being followed up.
  • The blog is getting less attention these days, we've got our views now but could lose them again.
  • There are still quite some questions that don't represent the site anymore, and I'm not only referring to the highest voted ones. Our delete votes don't keep up with that and the activity in the vote to close / delete chat room is quite low. We started cleaning but it isn't helping us much further.
  • There are a lot of questions hanging on the Unanswered Tab, low hanging fruit that isn't plucked.
  • ...

So, what of all these thing should we really work towards together?

  • 3
    I wonder who downvoted — what's wrong with suggesting that? – slhck Aug 30 '11 at 12:03
10

The amount of low quality posts is 19,726 and rising.

This is just a heuristic, it doesn't DEFINITIVELY mean that you have that many low quality posts. So I think you're looking at this the wrong way from the outset.

20% of the questions are unanswered

Again, remember that our definition of unanswered is EXTREMELY strict, so this isn't necessarily a problem. It's better to distinguish between "zero answers" and "answers, but none upvoted" when talking about this with some precision.

This is a really broad kitchen sink question so it isn't answerable, but I'd say the best advice to follow is the same advice I give on every site. Sure, cleaning house is great, but focus most of all on getting new content and new users into shape!

  1. Share great questions and answers
    http://blog.stackoverflow.com/2010/09/announcer-booster-and-publicist-badges/

  2. Vote, vote, vote
    http://blog.stackoverflow.com/2010/10/vote-early-vote-often/
    https://superuser.com/users?tab=voters

  3. Love and reward your new users for being awesome!
    https://superuser.com/review
    https://superuser.com/users

  4. Try to attract experts to the site by helping them get answers, too:
    http://blog.stackoverflow.com/2011/04/helping-the-experts-get-answers/

TL;DR -- what matters is not so much where you are, but where you are going -- use the hell out of the /review route.

  • That's the answer I've been looking for, thanks! :) – Tamara Wijsman Sep 1 '11 at 0:25
9

So, what of all these thing should we really work towards together?

Why not all? We are a large community, this is something we can easily tackle together.

The amount of low quality posts is 19,726 and rising.

A huge number of low quality posts like this is difficult to salvage. These all easily go back over two years, and a lot of these questions are probably ignored by now. We can't fix all of those, but we can start somewhere.

Rather than trying to look at 19k posts, why don't we put more emphasis on Reviewing more new posts, and those who have a more vested interest can go back a week/month/year and edit as they wish.

20% of the questions are unanswered, there are a lot of questions no longer being followed up.

The largest issue I see with this is users who post a question, then never get back to it, or just don't know how to accept it. The question MIGHT have been answered, but it's simply not marked because the user hasn't returned. There really isn't much we can do to this, as the users are gone. Unless there is a tool for moderators/administrators to mark the highest upvoted or something as correct, then this number likely won't change a lot.

The blog is getting less attention these days, we've got our views now but could lose them again.

We had a lot of posts for a while, but our writers burned out a bit. There are hopes that the competition right now will attract more bloggers. I think we should maybe add some more segments, such as the old "WTFriday" and interviews, etc. Drop by the Blog Editor room to shoot any ideas to the great people working so hard on maintaining it - Ivo Flipse, nhinkle, and KronoS deserve massive props for all the work they do to get us going.

There are still quite some questions that don't represent the site anymore, and I'm not only referring to the highest voted ones. Our delete votes don't keep up with that and the activity in the vote to close / delete chat room is quite low. We started cleaning but it isn't helping us much further.

I'm sure moderators will happily accept your flags for these items. I have been flagging many old shopping questions that got bumped lately, and they have all been deemed "helpful" by the moderators, and subsequently locked/deleted. Perhaps you should speak to moderators before flagging though.

This is my thoughts on the issue, and my ideas are starting to resolve it. Overall though, the only way to accomplish anything is by working together as a community, and getting the word around, let it be chat, meta, or the blog. We can fix this.

8

Well, to answer this one:

The amount of low quality posts is 19,726 and rising.

I think that's a part where we could really do better. I've started to increasingly downvote lazy, bad, poorly written answers, but it feels like a waste of effort and reputation (on my side), because

  • the user doesn't care to fix a bad answer, and, more importantly
  • the user gets their reputation back from even one upvote ("Hey, somehow this is useful!")

In the end, I came to the conclusion that the approaches

  • downvote → comment → wait for user to fix, or
  • edit the post → tell them how to do better

don't really work for all users. Some react and you can see progress, others simply don't care.

So, what should we do? Provide a better answer. Simple as that. Works most of the time.

  • 2
    Provide a better answer pretty much sums up the whole thing perfectly, +1 – Simon Sheehan Aug 30 '11 at 15:21
2

I agree to your possible answer for...

20% of the questions are unanswered, there are a lot of questions no longer being followed up.

I would like moderators be granted the privilege to answer an abandon question that has a correct answer. There should be limits and restrictions, such as a waiting period before allowing moderator accept an answer. If the user the comes back and review his question that a moderator accepted an answer for, he or she should still be able to selected another user's answer.

  • 3
    This has been asked on meta.SO many times before, but always declined. Ultimately, the problem is that you can't accept an answer for another user because you're not in their situation. That's what votes are for. A question that has received an answer with upvotes is not considered "unanswered" by the system anymore. – slhck Aug 30 '11 at 19:34
0

I would personally see more users voting down on newly created questions which they estimate as "low quality". I do that frequently and in my opinion. If more people did that it would make this site much better. (I see "superuser questions" being asked at stackoverflow instead of here. I suspect the reason is that we seem to have too few good users who can answer questions.

In that way it would be easier to know how to prioritize when in the mood of answering.

  • Define low quality. We already have three official reasons to down vote questions: No research effort (my favorite), unclear, and not useful. The last one is obviously not useful to anyone, otherwise I could down vote all Windows questions. So, what else is there to down vote? Do you have concrete examples? – Daniel Beck Jan 23 '12 at 11:46
  • To put it this way. A "less important question". This is obviously highly speculative and different from person to person. I.e. a not too great question. Therefor my opinion is that such questions deserves to be voted down. My own opinion is that this goes for probably half the questions of this site. (I can see one pattern. That such a question is often created by a very new user). This site is practically drowning in "low quality questions" (personal opinion). – r4. Jan 23 '12 at 12:20
  • 2
    All questions on any site with some substance are "less important" to the majority of users. That's not a useful rule to base votes on. There are enough Java, Python, and even Haskell users on SO to drown even C# questions in down votes. Users that aren't interested simply ignore those questions and browse their favorite tags, like what happens e.g. with osx questions on this site. And the users you down vote are left wondering what they did wrong, when the only reason is that you're not interested in their choice of hardware, text editor, or OS. Please reconsider your policy. – Daniel Beck Jan 23 '12 at 12:24
  • It's not like down voting of e.g. OS X questions makes it more likely I answer Windows questions I don't have any clue about. If you want more interesting questions on this site, you can always ask them yourself. Even if you have an answer, it doesn't have to be the only or best one... – Daniel Beck Jan 23 '12 at 12:26
  • (For starters. I am NOT voting down on things that I am not interested in so your analogies is a bit far fetched). What I am thinking is this. I think question X is a very very vague question. I don't get it at all. WHAT?!? How can he even ask such a question. Use google, another fourum etc, ask his friends first In one sentance **DO YOUR RESERACH. The most striking fact to me is this. – r4. Jan 23 '12 at 12:52
  • In that case, it's covered by no research effort and not clear, that are already on the tooltip, don't you think. As an avid and public down voter of bad questions, I agree with you, but I don't think there are many bad questions that don't get down voted already. Still, it'd be interesting to see what you would think are good, concrete examples of the problem you describe. – Daniel Beck Jan 23 '12 at 12:56
  • A. -> I don't think his question is a good one. B -> Hence I vote down "his crappy question X". BUT Then YOU (another user) comes. C. -> You think his question is in fact rather good. D. -> Hence you correct me by you voting up. , SUM, question back at zero. OR. E -> One other user thinks like me. Votes down question X. -> Question X at -2. – r4. Jan 23 '12 at 13:01
  • The most striking fact to me is this. SO is very very quick at removing spam, and politely asking users to refrase questions like, "I would like to start web development. Is rails a good framework.". Here it is much more vague (to vague) what kinds of questions is "in scope of this site. Hence A LOT of "bad" questions. (Personal opinion). – r4. Jan 23 '12 at 13:02
  • ((@Daniel. I was cut but the 'editing limitations here'. Hence above was written before your comment.)) My definition of a good question is a negating definition. Def. Good question: Not a bad one. – r4. Jan 23 '12 at 13:06
  • (Comment still regarding "A. ->") Well, yes. That's how voting works. You aren't the reference on what questions are good or bad. You could always comment on the question and point out why you think it's bad, this'll make others more likely to agree with you and also downvote (at least in my experience). See for example this duplicate. – Daniel Beck Jan 23 '12 at 13:12
  • Good/bad is subjective. If someone else likes a simple RTFM question, because they learned something new they didn't bother sifting through man pages for before, then you need to accept it and move on. At least it's ±0 instead of +1. – Daniel Beck Jan 23 '12 at 13:14
  • I don't see the particular issue. As far as I've been involved in community moderation, I believe we do a fairly good job of separating the good from the bad. – slhck Jan 23 '12 at 13:14
  • > Here it is much more vague (to vague) what kinds of questions is "in scope of this site. Hence A LOT of "bad" questions — Please post concrete examples, otherwise you can post them in the Vote to Close chatroom, or flag them for moderator attention. I think the FAQ is quite clear on what's allowed and what's not. – slhck Jan 23 '12 at 13:15
  • @slhck I have heard what you have to say. Still. I would like to have more downvotes. F.e. (I thinking loud) If all users voted down much more the average question would have perhaps -2 votes. Then. -2 would be the "normal". Really bad questions would fast gain -5 votes. The good questions would have perhaps 1 vote. As now is, all questions which have low attention has mostly 0 votes. If this was a the superuser.com in a paralell universe I would like that superuser better. – r4. Jan 23 '12 at 13:32
  • I see now. What's the point though? I mean, you won't get everybody to do it. Feel free to use your (limited amount of) votes how you like, but if you downvote a question, please include a comment saying why you're doing so. If the reason mostly is "This is just an average question", then you should be asking yourself if you probably just should not have voted. – slhck Jan 23 '12 at 13:37

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