The private beta invite says:

Remember, you get the site you build! Ask difficult, specific questions — the kind of questions pros and experts ask each other, not the kind of questions novices ask pros, because a site full of pros and experts will attract everybody, but a site full of novices rapidly becomes boring. No easy questions, no survey questions, no polls, no intro-level/basic questions, no unanswerable hypothetical questions.

It seems like a language SE site like this could easy attract lots of basic "how do you say X?" type questions. What can we do as a community to encourage high-quality, specific questions and discourage simple, broad questions--at least early in the beta?

  • 1
    It's worth noting that "early in beta" really means the first 2-3 months, since betas typically last around 8-12 months.
    – Richard
    Nov 15 '11 at 22:37

Ultimately, we need to determine that we have a problem, formulate a response to that problem, and implement that response. At this point in time, however, we can't even say that we have a problem (or what the problem is)!

Let's go through the process to understand why:


  1. Identify the problem.
    If you want to narrow the scope, you really need to identify that there is a problem. To identify the problem, you need to identify questions that are low quality or too broad.

    • In general, the problem with poorly scoped questions is that they lead to multiple answers that either fail to answer the question or are pure speculation. These types of questions are low quality and too broad because they lead to answers that are low quality and too broad. Therefore, in order to identify which type of questions are low quality and too broad

    • Once you've narrowed down a list of questions that seem to be bringing in low quality answers, you need to categorize these questions. An example category could be "Questions asking for a translation of a colloquial phrase".

    • Once you have a category of questions that seem to bring in low quality answers, that is your Problem.

  2. Formulate a Problem Statement
    I'll make this sound easy. All you have to do is say take your category of problem questions and formulate a problem statement that says "All of these types of questions are not constructive or off topic because they generate low quality answers".

    Now, in reality, the community will kick back and disagree. Then you'll refine the problem statement and attempt to gain community consensus that this really is a problem.

  3. Formulate a Solution (This is the question above)
    Once you have a problem statement, you have to ask: what can we do to reverse this trend? Once you have easily identified the problem, the solution will be pretty easy: no longer allow questions that fall within the category of X.

  4. Gain community buy-in
    Now that you have a problem statement and a solution, you need to get the majority of the community to believe that your solution will solve the problem of low quality answers.

  5. Enforce
    Once you have community buy-in, you encourage the community to vote down and vote to close (VtC) any question that violates the new "standards". Getting some pro-tem moderators helps out with this goal significantly.

Summary (TL;DR)

At this point, with less than 50 questions, it's really hard to identify trends. We need to wait until there is a large enough corpus of questions to be able to determine what is too broad and what is generating low quality answers. Once we can identify our low quality questions, then we'll be on the way to accomplishing this.

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