There are at least three major axes to evaluate a question.
- Is is fit to be answered? I think we have a consensus that this should be handled by closure, details TBD. See the discussion around closure in the MVP.
- How useful is it? How many visitors has the question helped?
- How skillful is it? Did the asker do it well?
Discussions on Stack Exchange have an unfortunate tendency to conflate usefulness with skillfulness. But the two are very different.
If a student copy-pastes their homework assignment, that’s extremely low skillfulness. There’s no effort from the student’s part and there’s no reason to reward the student. But that doesn’t mean that the question is useless. The professor may have assigned a very insightful exercise about a widely applicable topic.
Conversely, a question asking why some code isn’t working, with a well-formatted reproducible example, all relevant context and error messages and so on, may be very skillful. But it’s rarely very useful, because no one else has the exact same code.
The questions on Stack Overflow that have helped me most are not the skillful ones. They’re typically short questions with little or no code, asking how to do some thing that isn’t straightforward from the documentation: low effort, high usefulness.
Stack Exchange mixes skillfulness and usefulness in question voting. I think this is harmful. Can we do better? What do we need to do now and what can wait?