Good/bad question handling


One big problem with SE is bad questions and the inability to deal with them without noising up the site, dissipating volunteer energy, burning out the experts, and/or making the user feel unwelcome. The steady shift of SE to favor the new users who writes bad questions at the expense of the resident users providing content finally caused me to leave.

I have thought about how to tweak the system quite a bit, but finally came to the realization that a totally different approach would be better.

A radical solution

Forget what you know about closing and downvoting questions, suspending problem users until they get their score up, answer review queues, and even how comments on questions work.

There are three orthogonal metrics by which a question can be judged good or bad. These are writing quality, content, and topicness. Questions will be rated on these criteria. The ratings are from -2 to +2 in the database, but that is not presented externally. A horizontal bar is shown for each criteria, with -2 maping to no bar, and +2 to a full bar. There are 5 radio buttons under the bar that voters can pick one of. These correspond internally to the integers -2 to +2, but are simply positioned along the bar. These votes are then essentially “really bad”, “mildly bad”, “neutral”, “mildly good”, “really good”.

A score of greater than 0 must be achieved on all three criteria for the question to be answerable. In other words, a question must be at least some smidgen above neutral to allow anyone to answer it.

The ratings of any new question you post start at whatever the average is for all your previous questions. New users start at 0. Yes, this means the very first question someone asks starts out just below answerable. In other words, when you’re new, you have to show us you can write a good question, but it’s not hard to get there as long as what you write is reasonable. If you’re successful, the system will trust you more the next time, and so on.

The first time you try to post a question, you are shown a page explaining all this in detail. Here is how it works for all users. You are not being singled out. Here are the things we look for in evaluating each of the three criteria.

The OP sees the question with the quality bars at the top. Those with greater than 0 have a green check mark next to them. Those with 0 or less have a link to a one-page or so document explaining how to do better in that particular criterion.

For everyone else, the quality bars are at the bottom (you can’t rate a question until you’ve read it), with the radio buttons for voting. If you haven’t voted, then no button is selected. Otherwise, your last vote is shown selected.

When you cast a negative vote (-1 or -2 internally) a popup will appear asking you to explain briefly what is wrong. That will turn into a comment below the question. You can leave it blank, but the fact that you voted negatively on that criteria will still be shown as a comment.

Votes 0 to +2 allow you to leave a comment, but do not force one.

You can change your vote at any time by clicking on a different radio button. That completely deletes your previous vote, including any comment associated with it. This vote is then handled like a new vote, as above.

These comments have “Agree” buttons. Clicking that is just as if you cast the same vote and wrote the same comment. The only difference is that the two comments are combined, since they are in fact the same. Multiple users can be shown to have made the same comment.

The votes and comments are actually separate in the database. When one voter of the combined comment changes their vote, the remaining users are still shown as having made the comment and cast the associated vote.

When the OP clicks on the “details” or “more info” or whatever link next to one of the bars they see above their question, they are shown a separate page with the votes and comments pertaining only to that criterion. These are also visible below the question, but there aren’t so neatly arranged to make editing the question easier according to that one criterion.

This is the only way to leave comments on a question. The purpose of comments on questions is to ask for clarification and modification of the question.

When the OP edits a question, he (or she, not going to say this every time) can click on “addressed” associated with any comment. That will remove the comment from below the question, although the votes remain. This also notifies all the comment authors of the change to the question. They can then, if they choose, review the question and possibly revise their vote.

Questions that are blocked (0 or less average in one or more criteria) where there has been no activity by the OP for some time (one week?) are permanently deleted from the system. However, the votes on that question remain in the user’s lifetime average.


This mechanism solves a number of problems.

It clearly enforces Thou shalt not pass until you write a good question.

It will feel less unwelcoming since nobody is being singled out. Everyone gets treated the same. The expectations are clearly spelled out before you write your first question. This isn’t personal. It’s how the system works. For everyone.

If you do get rated low, you know why, and should have a clear idea how to fix the problem.

The downvote comments can be terse without coming off as insulting. A -1 with “Needs schematic” is clear and to the point. The resident users don’t have to waste as much time explaining why questions are bad.

There is no need for a separate question ban mechanism.

No matter how bad your other questions, any one question can still be salvaged if you put in the effort to fix it.

You are automatically trusted more as you build a history of writing good questions. The reverse is also true.

Bad questions don’t pollute search results since there will be few of them in the system at any one time. A bad question is either being actively worked on, or is declared dead and removed.

Using comments to answer the question, and thereby side-stepping the mechanisms and intent of the site, is avoided. Someone could vote 0, then use the comment to answer the question. However, it would be clearly spelled out in the rules that this is not allowed, and moderation would eventually enforce this. Nobody will get away with answering in a comment more than a few times. Those comments will be swiftly flagged and deleted, and there will be negative consequences for repeat offenders.


I’m strongly against a system like this. I’ve explained most of the reasons already, in various other posts around the forum, but here’s as good a chance as any to bring them all together.

Voting on Stack Exchange is already incredibly low. A quick SEDE query indicates that on Stack Overflow, only around 3% of users viewing a post vote on it.

Now, put that next to the fact that voting on SE is also incredibly simple. Pick one of two buttons. With this system, where you have a choice of 15 buttons and have to pick three (or up to three, depending how it was implemented)… you’ll have barely anyone voting.

I’m not entirely sure what you mean by “content” here. What constitutes a good rating for content? What’s bad?

Topicality I can agree with.

Writing quality I cannot. Judging questions based on their writing quality introduces a significant bias towards native English speakers on a website that’s already biased that way simply by the language it’s in. Why should we exclude those who go to the effort of trying to speak another language to get help? I tried on es.SO—it’s hard. There’s simply no good reason to intrinsically penalize these users because they happen to speak another language.

You’ve also expressed elsewhere that you don’t believe we should copy-edit users’ questions for them; that they should ensure they have a good standard of English before they come asking for help—how does that jibe with this proposed system? If you’d still advise that with this system in place, you’re essentially saying “you must have a near-native level of English before posting here at all”, and I don’t think that’s acceptable. We are an international community, and I do not want to see barriers to allowing ESL users to post.

This is an interesting idea. I like the principle of trusting those with a good track record. Whatever scoring system we end up with, I’d be interested to see if we can work this principle in somehow.

Just-in-time help is good. I like this.

These are functionally the same - either you’re requiring comments, or you’re not. If you’re requiring comments, I’ve explained the problems with that before, and we come back to my first point - given how simple voting on SE is and yet how few people vote, adding any sort of barrier to the process will reduce rates of voting - especially negative voting, to almost zero.

This also introduces a lot of noise, which is also something you’ve complained about elsewhere. If every negative vote creates a comment for every category, you’re creating hundreds of redundant comments on every post with any sort of attention. Think of SE’s recent “apologies” on Meta - they’re thousands of votes under, and we’re starting to look at tens of thousands of comments with this system. Even if you agree with an existing vote, if you cast your own rather than clicking an Agree button (which is the “default path”, so is the one that a majority of people will take), you’re creating more comments.

Oh, for an ideal world. In practice, comments are used for much more than that. What about “Related question: (link)” comments? Those are useful, but they aren’t asking for clarification or revision. What about comments that point new users towards help and guidance? They might not otherwise find it, so a helping hand is often appreciated. And then there’s comments on Meta questions - would you have us build an extra system again, just for Meta? Those comments are fundamentally more for short-form discussion; see any question on MSE or MSO for confirmation of that.

I can’t get statistics for this, but from experience: folks revising their votes, even when they’ve left a comment and the author has pinged them to say “I’ve fixed this”, is rare. Once again coming back to my first point, having to then revise not one vote but three will again reduce this to almost nothing.

How do you do this, technically? There almost certainly is a way, but it’s not easy if you want to permanently delete the post - you lose the association between the vote and the receiving user, so you lose your ability to correctly fully recalculate the lifetime average, even if you keep the vote record.

This is not a mentality we should have. This does not make for a good community. Good community for experts, sure, but if there are no newbies because “Thou shalt not pass” has scared them away, who’s going to ask the questions? The experts already know the answers.

See above.

Voting on Stack Exchange works the same for everyone too… does that make it sting less when you’re at -2 in all three categories and have a hundred comments telling you your English is crap? Users are human.

Any reason you can’t do this on Stack Exchange (or here, with a similar voting system)? A downvote and a comment saying “A schematic would make this more answerable” takes 5 seconds. If you’re worried about wasting your time, you’re on the site for the wrong reasons.

Again, the same is theoretically true of Stack Exchange - the roomba removes downvoted, closed questions. Once you get up to decent volume, even “a few” being worked on is still “a lot” in real numbers.

Again, this is true (to a greater or lesser degree, down to community policy and moderator strictness) on Stack Exchange. Answering in comments is against the rules; if you keep doing it, you can be suspended. The same can be done with community policy on any Codidact site, without having to use this voting system.

I am strongly of the belief that simple up/down-voting is the most effective system available. Not necessarily the best, but the most effective in ensuring that quality control works, because voting is so easy. Help and guidance can still be offered automatically, and can also be offered by community members in comments.

Whatever system we choose for voting, it must be simple above all.


Content is whether what you are asking makes sense, includes sufficient information, etc.

That’s probably true, but one way or another we still need questions that can be understood and not annoying to read.

First, we’re not trying to exclude anyone. We are trying to exclude bad content. How hard it is for someone to achieve reasonable quality is completely irrelevant. Quality standards are there because low quality causes problems. None of that goes away just because the author isn’t good with the language. Trying to judge effort is impossible, and doesn’t give us a useful metric anyway. We can only judge results, and that’s all that matters anyway.

To follow your logic, it would OK to let blind people drive. You let them crash into things because they’re doing the best they can. It’s not their fault they are blind.

First you say nobody would vote, then you say there will be hundreds of comments due to votes.

However, I did fail to mention one point that would address this issue. The number of comments for the same criterion would be capped to some small number. In case of a question that gets lots of votes, only the first few would be shown.

We’ve already seen how that system is widely abused. SE currently has too many comments, except for a few rare sites where the mods go out of their way to try to keep things clean.

That doesn’t work. We need to reign in comments somehow, and definitely not have short answers in comments.

Cleary not, as we have seen ever-decreasing quality and more bad questions on most sites. The problem is that we’re not saying Thou shalt not pass hardly at all these days.

Also keep in mind we’re not talking about a very high bar. We want questions that are on topic, readable, and contain the content that makes them answerable. That’s really not hard, as proven by the many daily questions that are just fine.

Try doing that 10 times a day and you’ll get annoyed eventually too. Your sentence is way too polite to someone that just dumped obvious crap on the site. After the 100th time, you won’t feel like writing a whole sentence either.

Also with the current system, you end up with retribution downvotes more often than you probably believe. The more you take the trouble to do the right thing, the more you end up with a target on your back.

That’s all nice in theory, but it’s just plain not working. There are a few sites that take some care to clean out comments, but far too few. And, I’ve never heard of anyone suffering consequences for answering in a comment.

There may be a good point here, but also keep in mind that’s what we have now and it’s not really working well.

I still think its very important that the first question asked by a new user needs to be “released” somehow before it can be answered. In your system maybe that’s just getting a positive score. At least one user has to agree the question is good enough to allow answering. That’s not a high bar, but there needs to be some bar. We have none now, and it’s clearly not working.

It seems to me like what would work here is a system where people like Olin can choose not to see questions that haven’t been triaged, while people who like to do triage can work with askers before that to get them in an answerable state.


First, speaking about post quality, a note: There should never be more than a single <h1> on a page, and that should be the page title. The software may allow to use it in posts, but that doesn’t mean you should.

I took the liberty to change them into <h2> in the quote.

Sounds awfully complicated. Look at the amount of text you needed to describe it. My prediction is, most people will see the description, and from the sheer size of it will decide to not read it, and then when they don’t get any reactions (because they don’t understand the system), they’ll just go elsewhere,

The end result will be abandoned questions, and no users willing to participate.

Yeah, you’re not singled out from being scared away from the site the very moment you try to post your own question, it happens to everyone. :wink:

Bad idea. UI elements should always be in the same position.

Strong disagree. To start with, there are not only bad or unclear questions, there are also bad or unclear comments. You have to be able to ask for clarification, or to state your disagreement.

Again, you are implicitly assuming that all comments are correct, understandable, and indisputable. The only options the asker has is to “address” the comment, or to abandon the post.

Again, disagree. Permanently deleting content from the system should always be a conscious act.

And here I see the first problem. Almost nobody will get it right the first time. A system with zero tolerance for error will inevitably fail.

The goal must be to keep the rate of low-quality answers low. But if you try to get it to zero, I believe the system is doomed from the start.

A system being hostile does not necessarily mean the users being hostile. A desert is hostile to most life forms, but that’s not because it contains so many hostile life forms.

Yeah sure, because every comment is always helpful and to the point. </sarcasm>

It may be clear to you. I don’t have the slightest idea what you mean with “schematic”.

A question ban mechanism is for users who intentionally and consciously are misusing the system. I don’t think you ever get banned for merely asking bad questions. But then, I’ve never been moderator (nor have I ever been banned), so maybe I’m wrong here.

Those people who write bad questions won’t build up trust on SE either.

Actually, when I’m searching for an answer to a question I have (which is the main reason to use the search function), I don’t really care about the quality of the question. I care about the quality of the answer. A perfect quality question without answer won’t solve my problem. A terrible question with an excellent answer will solve my problem.

The quality of the question matters to those that answer it. The really important metric in my opinion is the quality of the answers.

Actually I prefer if bad answers are buried in the comments. Good answers rarely fit into a comment anyway.


Do you mean “non-temporary soft deletion”, or “hard deletion”?

SE’s Roomba routinely performs non-temporary soft deletions on three different timescales (9 days, 30 days, 365 days), wiping away substantial fractions of questions asked, and this is generally a good thing.

(I’ve had 10k privileges on a few sites, have rather exhaustively picked through the detritus of these deletions, and found very few that deserved an undelete vote.)

Of course, hard deletion out of the database is another story. I doubt we’d need to give anyone the privilege for that at any automatic threshold; elected mods etc should have it, but it’s not often needed.

You definitely can be in SE’s system. SE uses (secret) weights to combine consideration of your average question score being negative, the majority of your questions being closed, and the majority of your questions being deleted, and if those three factors, and probably one or two others, are sufficiently bad, then you’ll be automatically warned and eventually question-banned. No intent to maliciously abuse the system is implied or expected, and in a number of cases it’s obvious if you look at their posts that the user is not malicious. They’re just that bad at asking. (These users probably number in the thousands on SO, maybe more.)

This is true, but it depends on the comments successfully burying the answers, which is difficult to manage without the comments being ignored by some users who need to see them. (SE’s system sorts comments on the question above all answers, although it does at least render them in a smaller font, so there’s very little effective burial there.) And, in particular, I don’t think it’s a good idea to have a route built into the site where a mediocre question can bypass quality control, get a quick and dirty answer that is quite possibly wrong and very difficult to cross-check, and then vanish into oblivion without ever giving the opportunity to gather reliable knowledge from that question’s root cause.

Basically, we should not have a “forum mode” short-circuit in Q&A. All questions that are answered at all should be answered as well as we can manage.


Sorry, too many good points and rebuttals to quote by name, I hope you all know whose point I am trying to support or demolish.

Firstly my desire is to have as little deleted as possible, let bad stuff get voted into oblivion and even eventually locked but do not remove it, we have no real mandate to do so and I never signed up for it on SO and will resist allowing this mandate for Codidact.

Having your question status equal to all your past questions is a very tempting barrier to entry but for me it would be very bad if all my downvoted/deleted questions remained to haunt me without me being able to remove the bad cred from them. A compromise would be that I can personally delete poor questions to remove the bad cred they give me (I would do this if it mattered, as it is now I let them languish, I think they eventually auto delete). Having one good question should give you positive score for future questions. My questions on many stacks are received badly because I ask cryptic stuff that has no home so I try to find answers. The fact that I have medium high rep on one stack counts for nothing and this is kind of sad. I am an asset but because I ask orthogonal questions I get downvoted on almost all my questions. I don’t ask easy or obvious questions, I use google for that. Others have their own reasons for asking questions that are not the flavour of the day but we should be nice to them too.

Having a question require a single positive vote before it can be answered is not a bad idea. The person answering it obviously thinks it has some value and voting it up is only fair (I always up-vote any question I answer, it could even be automatic after answering).

Hiding low vote questions from those who opt-out of them (this can be automatic opt-in for high rep users) has been a call I have asked for for a long time. The value at Codidact is the user community, more accurately it is the users who answer questions, SE has forgotten this. EVERYTHING ELSE is to support those people BUT it should not be done at the expense of other users, visitors or moderators, it should be done in synergy with them. The best is to make it easy and to default to hide objectionable stuff from them. Automatically, by procedures, by voting, by lesser user efforts and by moderation if required.

Negative tags (like homework, speculative, short lifespan, how to, shopping) should hide questions from those who do not want to see them. Those questions should find a place on Codidact because SE will not have them and because I want a place somewhere in the interweb to be able to ask them once in a blue moon that I have such a question. In principal I will always champion (have on SE) for a site that can take on anything and will bury what it cannot handle right now but will not be rude or arrogant enough to say that such and such a question is taboo or beneath the site or bothers the high rep question answerers. I know how Olin suffers, we were both most active on SE.EE and quality is important there. If a question cannot be understood it cannot be answered BUT if a newbie is prepared to suffer in repairing a question then why should we delete it, WHAT GIVES US THE RIGHT to delete a question that a well meaning asker asked, tried their best and received a fair and accurate answer from a low rep user trying to gain points on the system. It has been my biggest gut wrenching smack on the system when someone else decides that I cannot answer a question because it is beneath them.

As for newbies being welcome. It is many times worse to have your question critizised downvoted and deleted after you have posted it than have clear guidelines, popups, support, CoC, policy that helps you formulate a question before you post it. Having the votes and comments appear promptly from well wishing users indicating what it wrong and what is right is a good idea but should not prevent answering.

Any question with a factual answer should be prevented from deletion (foul play excluded) it has value and should be indexed by spiders. Questions with low votes and no answers might be excluded from spiders if required but it seems pointless. Let the internet users and the search engines decide if there is a match in meaning, Google can find it better that the best intentioned moderators on Codidact or SE.

There should be a drain or recycle bin that a question that is tagged off topic can go there and anyone can try and find value in it, it would be better than deleting. Then if it is repaired enough to fit some better place it can be moved to a new location. Some mechanism for making random changes and comments harder with time is a good thing to prevent conversations from taking place there but valid good faith edits should be allowed. User authentication is an important concept and I do not know how I feel about it. I prefer not to be personally identifiable in all things I do on the internet and having a default sock puppet on Codidact would be kind of nice if I want to get into political down voting. However there is a risk to allowing unauthenticated users ability to use the system as a communication platform in the drain section.

I am in favour of neutral comments in lieu of answers in a limited way. I have often done it and have received good help from them to my questions. Sometimes leaving a +2 vote and answer that is just one word is much better than no answer because it cannot be just one word. Let a newbie flesh out the one word into an answer and get the cred for it. I would actually prefer to give a terse comment and get no points (who needs them after 300 anyway) and let some new person gain familiarity and get to know the answer by fleshing out the details and becoming a valued member of the community. Points are over rated.

The word glean comes to mind. Let the high rep users answer the tricky questions and let the llow rep users glean the points from repairing and answering the sad questions.

Bad questions do not pollute search results, even an unanswered question is a good datapoint from a Google search if I have a problem and want an answer. It may indicate the answer in the other question, a new direction of research or demonstrate that an answer is not possible. Removing a question is fraud, treason and counter productive to preserving human knowledge.

The prevelance of voting will be what we we decide it will be. If an upvote is required before questions can be answered then they will all receive one before they get answered. You will have drive by automated upvoting to make the system work by someone like me who also has scripting skills so either way is irrelevant. A forced vote is pointless, it is coerced. A meaningful vote has value and should be as easy as possible and have as much value as possible. A vote should prompt for a comment. You may remain anonymous if you leave a comment but not otherwise and even then it should be two clicks to remove your identity and a point penalty. Up or down vote with a comment is plus point up or down vote with no comment is minus point. Comment with no vote is anonymous with no point.

JIT help at all phases is the desired goal of the new site.

Language is sometimes important. However it should only be important on a language site. On other sites it should be adequate that there is clarity and understanding. I make mistakes and hope I will be forgiven. NOBODY EVER (I hope) quotes from the questions in a doctoral dissertation so why should they read like one. A question should be adequate to frame the issue unambiguously. My wish is for cross language sites is to be able to cross post a community translation onto a technical site from a lesser language site and then link to it, if a good answer is found the community may translate it back perhaps. This would increase the user base of Codidact by about 200% and make for a much more diverse community.

A second click to determine who left votes is a valuable way of reducing abuse. Either you put your name where your vote is (or pay the piper in lost points) or you leave a comment with your vote. This will make people responsible for what they do.

I suggest a system where you up or down vote a Q or A. You can then leave your name, a comment or some rep. Call it experimental and see what people prefer and why.


In theory this would be good, but in practice I’ve not yet seen a site culture that actually succeeds in doing this much, although a number of SE sites have tried. Instead, laziness, timidity, and a basic misalignment of incentives mean that all anyone ever does get in the large majority of cases is the overly-terse answer in a comment that seems correct enough, but hasn’t had the careful thinking through of a full answer, because no one is confident enough and in enough need of rep to actually do the work of fleshing it out and risking being wrong about someone else’s answer.

And this is all fun and games until you find a comment-answer that’s actually badly wrong in a subtle way.

I disagree strongly, but it’s evident from this hyperbole that there is no point in trying to convince you otherwise.

Actually, based on my time at ELL, I would disagree that it’s most important to have clear, correct language on a language site, at least one that permits second-language learners, and in fact that is probably where it is most important to instead have a generous site culture of extensive post editing, time-consuming comment clarification, and so forth.


There is a way to get these statistics. But it is not simple.

Ever profile page contains a counter for the total number of up and down votes. That counter does not present the net number of up and down votes, but instead it includes the deleted votes as well (if you have ever changed a vote then you can verify this by comparing the aggregate numbers of votes on your own profile with the number of votes from the table of votes which can be viewed under ‘all actions’).

So you could scrape this information from all existing profiles and compare that sum with the number of votes available from the database dumps.

A simpler way, but possibly not exact, would be to observe the votes table in the database dumps. We can see that there are id-numbers that are not used. Those are probably votes that are removed. Given that assumption/approximation (the votes table is also including bounties and those may also possibly get removed, but much less often), we can compute the fraction of votes that have been removed (either by deletion or by changing). This is done in this database query. And it reveals that on the stackoverflow site an estimated 10% of the votes are removed.

You seem to have the perspective here (and in several other discussions as well) that the (resident) people that are writing the answers are the users of the website (I would regard them more as contributors).

It almost seems that the experienced professional answer-givers should be the ones that are most entitled to decide on the mode of operation of the site and they will choose a site that only provides them with high quality questions that are nice for them to answer, and they decide that that is the whole point of the website:

  • A place where people can answer questions, instead of a place where people can ask questions.

Sure, there can be different places with different levels of questions. Like you have math-overflow and and you have physics-overflow and They deal with very different type of questions. However, for the system that is being used to run it, a multi-purpose Q&A designed for a high load of questions, the system should 1) not be designed solely for the purpose of high quality niche questions 2) be simple in order to have people shape the content rather than the system (I would agree that the people need sufficient tools to do this and agree that just up/down voting might be too simplistic).

Say, when you are gonna have a teams Q&A website or a small website organized by a small group of experts then all this stuff about complicated voting is not gonna be necessary (and neither the other features of the software).

The point about voting or similar systems is to have the big mass figure things out instead of the little group of experts.


I think they should have a bit more weight. They know the site better than new users, and are the ones that need to be kept happy long term.

Yes, sortof. I think you are confusing quality with advanced. I have no problem answering very basic questions, but I want them to be well asked.

You seem to be missing my main point entirely. I’m not trying to make a site for a little group of experts at all. That would be boring and inactive. My point is that you won’t have an active long-term site if you can’t keep the experts happy that are supplying your core value. All those clueless hordes asking questions want answers. They are going to go to a site known for providing answers. You need the experts to provide the content that the masses come to get.

There will always be masses with questions. The valuable commodity, which is something SE seems to have forgotten, is the ability to provide high quality answers.

1 Like

However if nobody asks questions, there will be nothing for the experts to answer. And it is a fact that other Q&A sites exist.

As someone who has a question, there are several metrics you will take into account when considering where to ask. First, how much effort is it to ask a question, second, what is the chance that you’ll get a good answer (note that it is not always the experts who give the best answers; sometimes, what is needed is not so much expert knowledge as didactic ability — an expert may know more things about topological spaces, but for easy questions, someone who has just successfully finished a topology course but has excellent didactic ability may be much better qualified to answer).

If you scare too many experts away, you lower the chance to get a good answer. But on the other hand, if you raise the bar on asking a question too much, people will simply go to another place where it is easier to ask. There’s a sweet spot where enough experts (not all of them!) feel comfortable, and at the same time enough new users (again, not all of them) feel the effort worth the results.

Focusing too much on making experts feel well will kill a site just as thoroughly as focusing too much on making newcomers feel well. SE currently is biased too much to pleasing newcomers. But I have the impression that you are biased too much at pleasing experts.

Both newcomers and experts matter, and the goal of the site must be to balance out their needs as much as possible. That inevitably means that some users will not feel welcome (and there’s nothing wrong with it), and just as inevitably it will mean that some experts will not feel comfortable (and there’s nothing wrong with that, either).

Not only users asking bad questions are detrimental to the site, also experts holding new users to unreasonably high standards are.


Also, if there are too few questions, it won’t be worth the experts’ time to hang around waiting for things to answer. Sites need a reasonable volume of questions of reasonable quality, and the community can refine things from there.


It can be both unwelcoming, and not single anyone out. Just because everyone is treated the same does not mean the treatment is fair, or feels fair.


Yes, we most certainly have the mandate to remove stuff. Or more correct, we will have any mandate that the community agrees upon. Posting questions on a public forum is not really a human right. I think deletions should be more frequent than on SO to keep the noise level down. The problem on SO is not the number of deletions. It’s that so many questions needs deletion. Sure, if you somehow can make people only post good questions, that’s great. But crappy questions should be deleted. I really cannot see anything wrong with it.

This was really spot on!