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We've had a single user for a while now (a few weeks?) flooding the site with questions. These are largely about a single topic.

I agree that the topic belongs here, and if these are truly questions about things he doesn't know and wants to find out, then I can live with this. However, that's not what it seems like. It seems to me that these are deliberately seeded questions. I find this very annoying, and think it's a bad idea for several reasons:

  1. It looks fake. If gives the site a cheesy feel to newcomers. It says that we're so lame that we have to seed the site with artificial questions to give the appearance of having real traffic.

  2. It is fake. It may drive up our traffic stats, but this is only in the statistics. We don't actually have more people coming here asking genuine questions.

  3. It hurts legitimate questions. Anyone coming here really wanting to know something will have their question flushed off the front page quickly by the flood of bogus questions.

  4. It gives the appearance of emphasis on one narrow topic. Someone new coming here not interested in the particular topic will likely be turned off by the high fraction of questions about that topic on the front page. We need the front page to have a good mix so that everyone sees something they are interested in.

  5. It is selfish, and unfair to those not interested in the particular topic. This site must support a broad mix of topics because the traffic in any one wouldn't be enough to sustain it. We all have our own interests, and except for a few of us apparently, we all understand that many, probably the majority of questions won't be about our specific interests. When questions come up about topics we don't care about, we may not like it, but understand that's how it needs to be for us to have a site at all. We're all in this together.

    When not-my-topic questions happen naturally, it's easy to accept. However, when someone goes out of their way to create a large number of them artificially, it's annoying at the least. It's one user doing something to their narrow advantage at the expense of many others.

    A good metric for such things is to consider the situation where everyone is doing it. Clearly that's unsustainable and will just lead to nuclear proliferation. If this is continued to be allowed, then I could respond with 10 made-up questions a day on things I'm interested in. These of course won't interest many other users, who then respond with their own made-up questions, etc. In the end we have all artificial babble with genuine questions going unserved because they get flushed off the front page quickly.

So my overall point is KNOCK IT OFF ALREADY!

Added

Sigh. Apparently people have a hard time separating the principle from a specific example. I have removed all references to the particular topic that was flood-posted here recently. It's not about that topic or any other particular topic, nor is it about whether I happen to like a topic that was flood posted or not, nor about the total number of questions in any particular topic.

The issue is about having a large number of artificially created questions about a narrow topic. This has the negative affects on the site itemized above.

As I also said, if a user really has a bunch of questions on a particular topic he genuinely wants the answers to, then I can live with that too. However, I think it's quite clear that's not what's happening in the incidents that started this discussion.

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    Calling someone out like this is not cool. Self answering is a legitimate activity. If someone want's to do this, that is there business. You also could of talked to him? – user2766 Dec 9 '15 at 13:48
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    @Liam: Doing what he's doing is not cool. Besides, It's not about him, but his actions. – Olin Lathrop Dec 9 '15 at 13:49
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    If it's not about him, why name him? – user2766 Dec 9 '15 at 13:50
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    @Liam: OK, I removed the reference to the particular user. I put it there initially so that people can look up specifics better. – Olin Lathrop Dec 9 '15 at 13:51
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    What's the problem at all? These questions are peanuts compared to other SE communities (Stackoverflow has this amount of "spam", as you call it, in the second I write this word). You are also able to ignore the archery-tag?! – OddDeer Dec 9 '15 at 14:55
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    Besides that... I would love to see 10 questions/day from you. Why not? It's not annoying at all cause we are on a Q&A-network. – OddDeer Dec 9 '15 at 14:57
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    @Odd: The volume of these questions is not peanuts relative to this site. Again, I think artificially creating traffic in a narrow topic is bad for the site. But, if you think it's OK and want to do that, and others here seem to think it's OK too, then at least spread them out. One a day wouldn't drown out everything else as the large volume is doing now. – Olin Lathrop Dec 9 '15 at 18:01
  • @OlinLathrop Okay, thanks for your input. I try to make broader, more interesting questions in the future. – OddDeer Dec 9 '15 at 19:06
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    To be fair Olin you can ask more questions, you've only asked 4 in total. – Aravona Dec 9 '15 at 19:22
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    @Odd: Write any questions you want, but if it's not something you personally truly want to know, just do it slowly. If you keep it to one question per day, I wouldn't have a problem even if they were all on the same topic. You have to give others a little breathing room and let the site find its mix on its own. No single person's questions should be such a major fraction of the front page that they have a significant affect on the topic mix. – Olin Lathrop Dec 9 '15 at 22:23
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    @Aravona: I only ask questions when there is something that I think the site can help with that I personally don't know and want to know. I actually have a couple I just haven't gotten around to thinking about clearly enough to phrase as coherent questions. Maybe this will kick me in the butt enough to do it. – Olin Lathrop Dec 9 '15 at 22:27
  • @OlinLathrop hopefully! Looking forward to reading them. – Aravona Dec 10 '15 at 5:22
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    Speaking as someone who has written more then a couple of questions on one site I can tell you, that you find a place to ask all of the questions that have been in your brain for years, and they just start falling out, you can't stop them. After a while, they slow down, after a while you are posting one a day, then one a week. Thank you to the people who post the questions and the answers. – James Jenkins Dec 15 '15 at 16:07
  • You can just ignore that user. For sure I dislike fabricated question that don't make sense. – paparazzo Sep 20 '18 at 16:14
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I didn't want to pop my opinion on until key contributors from the community had had a chance to, in case I skewed things, but I have to say I am in agreement that OddDeer adding a good stack of questions every day is a good thing.

One of the things I can see as a mod is how his actions affect visits per day, new users etc, and all the numbers have had a positive jump over the time period in question. Sure, I can't say that it is categorically the cause, but the stats look very positive.

Where an individual is trying very hard to up the question rate, they will by their nature be asking from their own experience, so the questions are likely to be in the same area (eg archery).

If you feel this makes the front page unhelpfully full of archery questions, the three obvious solutions are:

  • post questions of your own
  • answer existing questions (this bumps them up to the front page)
  • put the archery tag on your ignore list

Personally, I'd like to congratulate OddDeer on his efforts, and would love it if others could up their game to match (and yes, this includes me - I really need to ask/answer more questions here) because that is how we will work towards graduation.

Quick Update subsequent to your edit

Yes, we don't care whether someone is bringing in a whole host of new questions we haven't previously had. We also shouldn't care that they are self answering - if they are currently the lead on a particular subject, creating these questions is going to help draw others in on that subject. We have had this with climbing, angling, archery and a number of others.

While the short term impact on you personally may be mildly annoying, you can follow my 3 ideas to rectify that, and on balance, the overall gain to the site is incredibly positive.

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    Yes, lets encourage enthusiastic member's of the community – user2766 Dec 9 '15 at 16:24
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TL;DR

what rule has been broken here? this appears to be because I find it annoying and I'm not interested in archery?

SE use questions per day as the main metric of a sites performance. The baseline for this is 10 per day. Even with the self answering questions (which I re-iterate are fully endorsed and in fact encouraged by SE) we're only at 6 questions per day. You're main thrust (again I repeat) appears to be that this irritates you. I disagree that discouraging people who have enthusiastically embraced this community is the way forward. In fact I echo Rory's point:

Personally, I'd like to congratulate OddDeer on his efforts, and would love it if others could up their game to match


to address some of the points above:

We don't actually have more people coming here asking genuine questions.

..but we do, to quote Rory (who can actually see the stats from the site)

One of the things I can see as a mod is how his actions affect visits per day, new users etc, and all the numbers have had a positive jump over the time period in question. Sure, I can't say that it is categorically the cause, but the stats look very positive.

So at worst it's having zero affect and the stats are going up organically at best it's had a positive impact.

Anyone coming here really wanting to know something will have their question flushed off the front page quickly by the flood of bogus questions

We're getting 6 questions a day currently, SO (for example) gets thousands. Too many questions is not an issue we suffer from.

It gives the appearance of emphasis on one narrow topic. Someone new coming here not interested in archery will likely be turned off by the high fraction of archery questions on the front page. We need the front page to have a good mix so that everyone sees something they are interested in.

has 37 questions in total. has 47. No one complains about the number of bear questions so why is archery an issue?

It is selfish, and unfair to those not interested in the particular topic.

If your not interested in this topic you can flag the tag as one your not interested. This grays out any questions on archery.

This site must support a broad mix of topics because the traffic in any one wouldn't be enough to sustain it.

In my opinion archery was an under utilised topic. We get questions on many broad topics, this is good. I don't feel that archery is getting too much attention, in fact I believe it is under represented when compared ot other topics such as

If this is continued to be allowed, then I could respond with 10 made-up questions a day on things I'm interested in.

your welcome to do this, if they are on topic then that is fine.

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    As an added point we had a period where all the questions were about climbing... I don't climb and I don't understand the questions, but that period did indeed pass. – Aravona Dec 9 '15 at 14:27
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    The total number of questions about archery versus bears is missing the point. Those 47 bear questions trickled in over time. The 37 archery questions all came in a concentrated lump, flushing out other things. – Olin Lathrop Dec 9 '15 at 17:45
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    I wasn't too fond of this site when it appeared to be mostly about technical climbing either. However, it seemed those question came about "honestly", not someone deliberately setting out to turn GTO into their personal pet topic. As a result, I quietly decreased my envolvement here, and occasionally checked back. When the mix got broader I checked in here more regularly. I doubt I was the only one. Others are probably doing the same thing now, or may pass by and never stay due to it looking like a the site is all about a narrow topic. – Olin Lathrop Dec 9 '15 at 18:11
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    I'm still unclear as to exactly you want from this? I don't see how it does any harm to the site and it certainly hasn't broken any SE guidelines or rules. You appear to be irritated by it, fine, that's your prerogative. You can take steps to lower the impact (as detailed above). – user2766 Dec 10 '15 at 8:44
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Firstly, I really disagree about the fact people are seeding topics... this has been talked about in Meta before. See: We need to get the question rate up

Secondly, whilst there has clearly been a massive influx of questions on a single topic, and it has seemed like it was spam (I get that seeing just one user post X questions a day seems a little weird) and they could easily, from any of us in regards to any user posting multiple questions on a single topic a day, be spread out a bit... But we've gone from a pathetic 1~ questions a day to a whopping 6+ questions a day - and we've had a lot of less than 100 rep members pop up about the place!

Also a number of the questions have brought people decent rep - and is that not how the SE sites work? Good questions get good rep? Bad ones get down votes?

If this is going to become a bicker about disliking a single topic, then that's not cool - we're a broad spectrum website and we have a large number of on topic questions. I myself have been seeding both the and tags and I plan to keep doing so - if that is self answer or genuine requests for knowledge then so be it.

I really do not think it is fair to anyone, if we're going to complain about someone actually asking a regular number of questions then why have the website?

TL;DR

Don't like Archery? Don't read the questions. Simple.

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    You are missing the point. Don't make this about archery or not. As I said up front, I agree that is on topic. Its the sudden and artificial flood on a particular topic that is the problem. – Olin Lathrop Dec 9 '15 at 17:48
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    @OlinLathrop they're legitimate questions according to my husband, who has done archery for many years. If you're just complaining they're all coming at once, well... I don't see that as an issue. As said Climbing had a huge influx of questions at the same time by only one or two people. – Aravona Dec 9 '15 at 17:59
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    Yes, and I think the climbing flood we had turned people off. The difference is that it seemed to be real people with real questions, not someone artificially seeding questions. This is worse because the volume is higher and the questions are artificial. – Olin Lathrop Dec 9 '15 at 18:15
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    @OlinLathrop I disagree, I certainly didn't get put off by it. What I did was discuss, in chat, with other members of the site a sensible solution to that influx of one subject... Which was seeding other questions and everyone making an effort with more topics. – Aravona Dec 9 '15 at 18:16
8

I do understand what you are thinking about, and its absolutely alright to think about it that way, but keeping your opinion personal could have the best thing to do. Or may be better, you could always come in chat and have a word. I don't know if you have recently popped into chat or not, but trust me we discuss a lot out there. And, that has turned me into a better user.

Basically, in here at TGO, personally I'm not thinking much about what are my sort of questions, and what is my area of expertise. Its about us as a community. The more it grows, better answers I might get to questions that I ask.

We all know we've struggled for questions and we all know that we are determined to get the question rate up. Period.

While I personally have no interest in Archery, it is a valid, in-scope outdoor topic, and hence people have liberty to ask them all the time, while you and I have liberty to sort the questions by our favorite tags all the time.

Though, I do agree about the disadvantage of having good questions sidelined due to spurious questions based on one-seeded topic, we can always filter out the tags/topics we don't like. Same goes with other topics.

About:

It is selfish, and unfair to those not interested in the particular topic

Sorry about it Olin, but we have to learn that our scope of interest is a tiny part of scope of The Great Outdoors and not the other way round. I wouldn't say its unfair or selfish. Irrelevant to me and you, Yes.

Olin, I need not to tell you how SE sites work, you are the top user on Electrical Engineering, and I whole-heatedly respect you for that. Sorry its the nth number of time I am looking at your EE profile. (I was and am always fascinated and keen to go through your answers there, Genius, super stuff). Tags under Your profile reads Microcontrollers, Power Supply, Voltage. Does it mean questions on a topic that you don't really like make you unhappy about the place? No, I don't think so.

At this juncture, If I were you, a simple question that I'd ask myself: If I really don't like Rock Climbing much, would I react the same way you did for Archery? Probably not.

To sum it up, I don't think they are harming us by any means at all. Not having questions at all might be a bad bad stage to regret at.

P.S. You are a very valuable part of The Great Outdoors, and so is a new user.

4

For what it's worth: Olin, I'm with you on this, although we seem to be in the minority so far.

For me a real questionTM is one that solves a problem or fills a knowledge gap for someone. And not just some tidbit of information someone thought up and decides to share via SE.

SE is not a news channel, it is not a blog - it's a Q&A site.

0

I prefer the word artificial over fake. The site does not have much volume but I feel these artificial questions dilute the site. They also make the site feel like a club due to a narrow range of topics and users.

If the question is valid then you can vote it down but don't have a cause to Vote To Close (VTC) as artificial / fake is not a VTC reason.

Types of artificial

  • Detail that does not matter to the question. E.G. While on vacation.
  • XY. Ask for an implementation to a perceived solution without actually stating the question.
  • Ask a question they already knew the answer to. Technically it is OK but I it comes off artificial. Had a question and researched it is different - they don't typically come off as artificial.
  • Inconsistent. Question has conflicting requirements.
  • Not on topic. Just because it can happen in the outdoors does not make it an outdoor question. We have an active mod that is liberal on what is allowed so that is not going to change.
  • Would be a better fit on another site.

I used to call this stuff out a lot but was told quite firmly to just let the question stand or suffer time outs.

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