I find the quality and quantity of answers on SO/SF to be substantially better than on SU.

Troubleshooting questions on SU often get boxed answers from the first few Google hits. Same goes with How-do-I type of questions.

On SO/SF, it's almost assumed the author of a question has done some research before-hand, and giving them a boxed answer won't be useful. Because of this, answers on SO/SF often have elaborate, custom solutions, with answers often having many revisions to add/correct/clarify information. Sure some answers are obviously boxed there too, but most questions get at least a few original, custom answers.

Also, the level of viewership is also drastically different. I often wish I could get the viewership of SO or SF for a question I must post on SU since it isn't directly programming or server related. They could easily answer many questions that are posted on SU if only they saw the question and had an incentive to answer.

  • Do you find the quality/quantity of answers on SU to be inferior to SO/SF?
  • Would it be a good idea to encourage SO/SF users to answer SU questions?
  • How could we encourage SO/SF users to answer on SU?

2 Answers 2


Sadly I had an answer on this question I deleted 2 days ago which disagreed with the OP. However after some review in the last 2 days I have to admit I actually agree with the OP on this, sad as it may sound coming from a moderator.

In the last few days I have found myself more and more deleting my own answers, solely because of the lack of understanding, misunderstanding of the value of the answer to the question or even downright laziness by the SU community to do proper research, or even provide good quality answer.

Don't get me wrong, I can deal with people disagreeing with me, however I can't deal with people who don't bother to accept that there is alternatives to particular problems or no matter how many ways you ask a question the answer still remains the same. Just because you don't know the answer or haven't seen something work, doesn't mean it does not exists or hasn't been done.

Some examples of the current problems with the questions and answers on SU that I see every day:

  • Questions are duplicated, yet never flagged because it's more beneficial to gain reputation then close a question as duplicate.
  • Posting questions that are subjective and still not bothering to mark it CW, or getting upset because the question is closed.
  • Instead of upvoting an answer, posting exactly the same answer as 10 others. Sadly none of the other answers get upvoted.
  • Killing a question with lengthy and unnecessary meta discussions
  • Single link answers or LMGTFY answers. No description or attempt at solving the problem.
  • Not being able to define the logical line between gaming questions.
  • Users spending more time implementing their idea of what the tags should be to gain a badge, rather then fixing the question itself or providing a proper answer.

Since SU already has a fairly good percentage of high level users, I would expect these users to actually guide the rest improve the value of the site. I never understood why JohnT never upvotes anyone yet he is the highest user on the site, however the quality of his answers is brilliant. The same goes for Nik Therefore the potential for high quality is there.

At the moment it seems the biggest problem with SU is that the current user base treats the site like a dumping ground. Although these sites are part of a trilogy, they each stand on their own, and should be considered individually. Sadly this is not happening, and therefore the users that can add value doesn't want to contribute to the site, because it is overflowing and when they do contribute they don't get the level of response they do on the other sites, as mentioned by the OP.

I know I have been an over zealous moderator. I know I have made some bad judgement calls. However I have tried to be active and visible. As has the rest of the SU moderator team. We try improve the quality of questions and answers. Unfortunately this battle is becoming harder and harder everyday. I have started to step back leaving the community to handle the questions that I used to get involved in, unfortunately it seems that this is not working as well as it did for SF and SO.

At the end of the day the goal of the site should not be the issue. Quality questions and answers is a goal of all the sites, whether is development, server or desktop related. A standard was set a year ago on SO. SF outright inherited it. I can't believe it is that hard to meet this standard on SU as well. However I am not entirely sure if we currently have the user base that can make this happen.

Considering the target audience of SU, having detailed and high quality step-by-step answers your mother can follow should be the standard for providing answers.

  • 6
    Overzealous? Really? Haven't seen it from you. You keep a level-head on the close reasons and keeping the flames down. You're doing a great job on SU.
    – random
    Commented Sep 23, 2009 at 7:25
  • @random Re-reading this now I am thinking I should take that out of the answer, however I can't not include myself in the blame list for this.
    – Diago
    Commented Sep 23, 2009 at 7:27
  • You can't not edit comments, Diago ;)
    – Ladybug Killer
    Commented Sep 23, 2009 at 7:29
  • 2
    Part of the issue on SU might be the target audience using the site. On SO and SF we're dealing with more technical / professional people so the level of Q&A is better. On SU the majority is more an unwashed masses sort of thing, so the knowledge there isn’t as good and subsequently the quality of answers is less. At least that seems to be my experience of the three sites (I asked for Flash editor suggestions and one answer was Notepad++?!). I'm all for top quality answers, it’s I think just you've got your work cut out on SU, which by the way, you're doing a great job at.
    – Pauk
    Commented Sep 23, 2009 at 8:35
  • 4
    @Diago You're one of the reasons the site actually still functions. I've seen you close questions almost before I've seen the title on the front page. But still, it seems to be an uphill battle. No one seems to do any research before posting a question on SU; it's like they don't even care. It's the sort of "Do my homework" questions that you see on SO. I've seen a lot of people on the first page of the Users list not having any activity in weeks. At first it seemed weird but now I'm also starting to get tired of always searching for duplicates, always answering the same questions...
    – alex
    Commented Sep 23, 2009 at 9:07
  • Thanks for the support guys. I will be taking a break for the next 2 weeks. Should there be anything serious that needs to be addressed I can be contacted via e-mail or twitter
    – Diago
    Commented Sep 23, 2009 at 10:04
  • 2
    I understand why your feeling like this, you seem like a boogy man, simply because you're the only moderator that is actively visible. I think we need some clearer guidelines on what is and what isn't appropiate on SuperUser, making it easier for other users with moderator rights to act on this. Still the best thing off course is leading by example...
    – Ivo Flipse
    Commented Sep 23, 2009 at 10:05
  • 2
    @Diago So for the next 2 weeks we're pretty much doomed, right? :)
    – alex
    Commented Sep 23, 2009 at 10:21
  • I must admit being shocked by the total lack of votes by JohnT, he's benefited from the votes of others to the extent that he's the top ranked user on SU, but he's given nothing back. I've absolutely no idea what to do about it though.
    – ChrisF
    Commented Sep 23, 2009 at 11:46
  • A lot of people don't give back. It's his votes, but it's also unfair. His knowledge is not only important when answering; his votes and comments can help others perfect their answer or give credibility to their solution. I really like it when a lot of people contribute to someones answer, either by editing the answer or by leaving comments.
    – alex
    Commented Sep 23, 2009 at 13:52
  • I notice JohnT's SU account is now temporally suspended, wonder if it’s related to your answer.
    – Pauk
    Commented Sep 24, 2009 at 14:07

I feel that the quality of the answer on Super User is related to the quality of the question.

Plus I often find questions where I know there isn't a (yet) existing solution to or they simply ask for the impossible. Now if I were Jon Skeet, I might be able to hack a solution together, but I'm clearly not, so I have to do with my experiences and Google.

I would love more people from Server Fault coming over to help with some of the troubleshooting problems, since they often have good best practices on finding solutions and have more experience with it as well.

The people from Stack Overflow tend to know a lot of useful applications and typically now more about things that could cause software problems.

So yes, they would all be very useful to Super User, but we can't force them to come over! However I do have the feeling that some people find the questions on Super User too newbisch and therefore tend to avoid the site alltogether. They probably have enough people in their direct surroundings bugging them with those kind of questions already...

  • 4
    Some of the questions can be answered by just searching on Google. For instance, if someone asks for drivers for a particular type of hardware, there's only so many ways to answer such a question.
    – alex
    Commented Sep 22, 2009 at 12:34
  • 1
    Then give them a direct link to the driver page and explain where on vendor websites you can find it, that helps them too
    – Ivo Flipse
    Commented Sep 23, 2009 at 10:18
  • That's what I do :)
    – alex
    Commented Sep 23, 2009 at 10:20
  • A lot of the reason SU exists is because SF/SO users don't want to spoonfeed info or be 'tech support for the web'. So while some might be interested, others arn't going to even dream of it.
    – JamesRyan
    Commented Sep 19, 2013 at 9:52

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