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It's frustrating that there aren't more questions to answer. If I keep checking for new questions and there aren't any, eventually I am going to stop bothering to check and then because I am mostly here to write and not to clean up after others, going to stop bothering to review/vote/edit.

This has been brought up before, over years ago and while we have added lots of users and content since then, the question rate has not really improved.

If you think about any of the big websites (Facebook/Twitter/Reddit/Stackoverflow) one of the big things they have going for them is that when you check them again, there will be new content.

The question rate is even poorer when you consider that one needs to subtract

  • Those you don't find interesting.
  • Where someone else has already answered perfectly.
  • When you don't know enough about the subject.

It's not impossible, we have had a week with an average question rate of 8 questions per day, and multiple days with 10 questions per day.

I have ideas and some stats as to why this might be but am interested in what other people think about why and what we could possibly do to get more questions.

  • One trick is to edit old questions to bring them forward. Unanswered ones can look new & encourage new users to start with answers, then ask their own questions. Established questions can show new users some of our different topics, giving them ideas of what type of questions to ask. Old posts are good for adding views and maybe getting nto the HNQ list. It keeps the front page from looking the same every day. I just did a few. (By accident I think two were from the same OP.) It's not a big solution but hope it will help in the meantime! – Sue Saddest Farewell TGO GL Aug 23 '18 at 23:24
  • A good way is to nurture people who's first post is an answer. Frequently a subject will catch someone's eye and they pop in to answer. If/when we don't use those opportunities as a way to welcome people and help them understand our system, they won't stay and ask a question! – Sue Saddest Farewell TGO GL Aug 28 '18 at 3:58
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    It would help if high quality questions were not frequently closed on technicalities. – Qudit Sep 5 '18 at 22:04
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I see two things we can do.

  1. Be nicer to new users who post for the first time. We now have the New Contributor Indicator! which has some guidences as well a reminder that the user is new. Wikipedia has an Assume good faith guidline, I try to apply it here as well.

  2. If you are an established user, post new questions. Yes maybe you can find the answer on the internet, but we want other people to find the answer HERE at TGO there is nothing wrong with posting and new question and answering it yourself as some users have been doing. Some people feel it is a flood of artificial questions! but in the end the community supports that is a good thing.

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    The new contributor post on meta.se has 157 downvotes so it may not be around for long. Your second point is what a lot of people don't seem to get – Reinstate Monica Aug 22 '18 at 17:42
  • James, I agree all around. As you said "Assuming good faith," is so important. People need the benefit of the doubt. I love our New Contributor Indicator, and our clearer Code of Conduct. I never saw that Wikipedia guideline. It's excellent as well. @CharlieBrumbaugh, NCI may not officially last forever, but it's worth it. Re-training our minds is a constant part of human interaction, so anything that nudges us in the right direction can be key in growing the community. – Sue Saddest Farewell TGO GL Aug 24 '18 at 3:18
  • I'd also add that being nicer to each other is another way of being nicer to new users. We set an example in our comment discussions, which is why Corporate is working so hard to control comments. Part of deciding whether or not to post on any community is seeing how other people are behaving. First impressions are not just the questions, but also the behavior surrounding them. That's not a criticism. It's easy, and natural, to forget that there are people who "look before they speak." – Sue Saddest Farewell TGO GL Aug 24 '18 at 3:25
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Speculative Answer:

English Language and Usage (ELU) has a similar problem, not with the number of questions per day, but with the number of interesting questions per day. This gets kicked around on their Meta periodically. Someone always suggests that the real experts on ELU should ask more questions, and one of the responses always is:

When I have a question, I can usually find the answer pretty quickly myself.

And ELU is not very welcoming to neophytes who ask conceptually simple questions.

Do we have a similar problem: (1) that the most expert users here know or can deduce the answers to the few things that puzzle them, and (2) we are not welcoming (or are somehow intimidating) to very basic questions from neophytes?

Or perhaps one of the reasons is the Y-chromosome factor. Men don't like to ask directions, so a neophyte backpacker or climber thinks he should figure out his problems himself.

Maybe some of us should ask more obvious questions - questions the answers to which would be a sort of primer on how to enjoy the outdoors. But then, would the OPs get downvotes for boring questions?

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I believe the reason is inherent in our topic: It's The Great Outdoors and people enjoying it are usually the types of people who

  • spend a lot of time outdoors -> no computer,

  • like to explore new things -> asking before is counter that spirit,

  • like to learn things practically -> find local experts, take courses

In addition there are also some arguments about the topic, which admittedly are pretty weak

  • The main challenges in TGO do not change every year like programming frameworks.

  • Many topics are very nuanced and do not have a general, clearly cut answer, but involve lots of training and experience.

Of course all of this is grossly generalised, but I believe it's true in a lot of cases.

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Edit: Here is another major reason why your question count is down!

So I asked that boating question, and you (OP here on this meta Q), as well as others, put it on hold as too broad. I get what you did here, but here's the thing...

I very specifically said "This is the sum of my knowledge. What do I need to do before going headlong recklessly into boating?"

I tried to throw you a bone here, as I was planning on doing my boating research myself some day when I have more time, but in this meta Q&A people have specifically said "Let us do it for you! Or at least help with it." So that's what I did.

I could write up an entire essay about why that is an appropriate question, even a good question, and argue why it can be considered on topic, and why such a "gateway question" is actually great for SE and even more for TGO, but since I asked that question in response to this meta one I will save my time and merely say...

If you want to get the question count up here, then act accordingly. I'm not going to bother asking any more questions about boating here (and I had several lined up) if that is the response my initial inquiry is going to get. I will go back to doing my own research myself.

You have to ask yourselves: Does every single question and answer have to robotically adhere perfectly to our very arbitrary guidelines about what we want, or can we relax a bit and allow more freedom to good questions and answers that are good for the site?

Despite my annoyance, this is not intended to dis anyone here. It's just that we either come here to ask our questions or we don't, and having these artificial barriers is not conducive to relaying information.

Update: Actually, on second thought, I will in good faith provide one more attempt. The comment by DJClayworth has prompted me to ask three more questions. Those questions could then be used as part of an answer to the beginning boating question (which I disagree about and think is answerable. If it's not, the burden is not on me as the question asker to figure out why, as that's the point of asking questions, rather the burden is on others to specify what would make it answerable, which has not been done so far).


Personally, my primary reason for not posting more questions is that I am the type of person who usually does my research myself, as much as I reasonably can. Sometimes I even think "Maybe I should go back and do a Q and self-answer on SE," but unfortunately that rarely realizes.

Another reason I don't ask about certain topics that I am beginner (or not even that) in is that I'm not even sure what to ask. In that light, I just asked a question to get that ball rolling: Beginning boating. I think it would be great if someone made a community wiki answer for this, if you think we have enough different boating experts to contribute to one full answer. Or at least had someone pull in all the various ideas thrown out by the various answers into one good answer after there are a bunch of them with random contributions.

I know more than I let on in that question, but I still consider myself very inexperienced when it comes to boating.

Another reason why our question count might be low is that, despite the fact that "TGO" is something that describes a type of activities, it is still a very broad type with a large umbrella including lots of different interests. I don't think that's a bad thing though; if TGO is having a hard go of it imagine how much harder yet an SE site only for camping would have it, or only for mountain climbing, etc.. Still, it means we have a harder time getting lots of people interested in any given post.

  • Your first question was very broad. However your second and third questions (sailboats and paddleboats) were not. If someone had asked a question about "moving on snow", that would be too broad. But if someone asked a question about how to get started skiing (or snowmobiling or snowboarding or snowshoeing or mushing) that would be answerable. I would be astonished if it were not. – ab2 ReinstateMonicaNow Aug 27 '18 at 19:13
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    While the stated topic is about the question rate, it is implicitly really about the good question rate. Allowing bad questions to persist is a great way to kill the site. Low quality is much more dangerous than low question rate. Questions like "tell me all about xxx" just aren't a good fit for this Q+A format. That's why it was closed. If you are really trying to learn about boating, or any broad topic, surely a few specific questions come up along the way. – Olin Lathrop Aug 29 '18 at 14:43
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My thoughts on this are,

  • People being jerks. I come here to have fun and when people leave rude comments, it makes me not want to participate and when this goes on for years and years well...

    (I am not going to quit over this, but new users will and there go our new askers)

  • There is a lack of voting, personally I won't ask questions on the weekend because I know that if I wait till Monday, I average 150% more votes. This also means downvotes, because if I see poor posts not getting fixed/deleted it makes one feel like not bothering.

  • Over eagerness to close, this past week people were trying to close non duplicates as duplicates and other silly things without ever bothering to suggest how to make them fit.

Solutions;

  • Flag the rude comments.
  • Go vote on things
  • Try to salvage what we can, I switched out one word on this question and that was enough to get it opened.

Look, this is a fixable problem we have gotten the rate up before and can do it again, it just takes a little bit of work.

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