Stack Overflow is so successful because hardcore programmers and IT professionals ask and answer hard challenging questions that are interesting to their community.

If someone came in and asked a stupid user support question like "Why is my Computer running so slow?" it would be closed in less than 10 minutes.

We need the type of questions that are asked on WP Hackers Mailing List not the kind that are asked on The WordPress.org How to and Troubleshooting Forum. WP.org has a dedicated group of moderators and volunteers who answer the same questions over and over from users who never come back or even mark their topic as resolved.

Most professional WordPress developers, designers and webmasters don't use the forums because of the enormous amount of questions similar to the ones get every day from clients or friends. Most real questions there are answered with a link to the Codex.

If we want to continue to attract users who are passionate about WordPress and care about the how and why then we need to make sure that we don't ever become a "Yahoo Answers for Wordpress" then we need to make sure that crappy questions like I need a plugin in wordpress like google tasks are closed and removed.

I don't want to discourage new users from asking questions but I want them to put a little effort in the question if I am going to put effort in to the answer.

Listen to Joel and Jeff's Podcast or read this meta question to hear how they feel about the subject.

MY Suggestion:

We only have 9 users with enough "power" to vote to close 6 who can edit and 3 who can delete after close.

We should lower the requirement needed to vote to close and comment more on the users who continually ask bad questions and never accept an answer.

If you see a bad question take a few minutes to comment it on it or vote to close if feel like it doesn't provide value to all the other users.

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4 Answers 4

I've been struggling with this question and I'm coming to the following conclusion: it doesn't matter. Poor quality questions will disappear into obscurity while the better questions will get voted up and answered. I really am getting to the point where I'm not sure we should police "bad" questions unless it's obviously has nothing to do with WordPress. (But, my opinion could change with new evidence, or changes to the was StackExchange currently works.)

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Mike, I agree that the mechanisms in place here help good questions float to the top and get noticed more. However, there is the matter of first impressions for new visitors. Because the default view for the site is questions with recent activity, at any given time there may be several "bad" questions near the top, which could be quite the turnoff to "experts". –  tnorthcutt Sep 29 '10 at 13:20
    
@tnorthcutt - Sorry I didn't see your reply earlier. After working on this for about 3 months now I'm taking the long view. I think we just need to focus each day on answering good questions and over time I think we'll build up a really great site and google will drive more and more traffic. And as the traffic grows, so will those more experts arrive. Anyway, that's just how I'm seeing it right now. –  MikeSchinkel Nov 1 '10 at 11:18

I think we should leave comments on "bad" questions, encouraging the asker to improve the question or informing them that it doesn't fit here. If someone is a "repeat offender" or if they do not edit their question(s), then we should remove their "bad" questions. I think this will balance taking an open/inviting stance to new users, and keeping the overall question quality high.

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If one user has a history of questions with many downvotes, he or she could be banned from asking new questions. Of course, this only works when we downvote questions we think are bad.

Since today, new users on the main Stack Overflow page get a mandatory advice page. If we think this would be useful here, we could probably also request it.

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Personally, my thoughts are in line with these:

Can we prevent some of the low-quality questions from entering our system?

As in, new users shouldn't be allowed to post any questions until they've posted up-voted answers to up-voted questions. Or if they're patroned by an existing user with a high enough reputation. This would ensure they've a minimal understanding of wp, some ability to read the wp code base and/or an ability to google for answers.

I realize it's elitist, but it really breaks down to what we want to do with the site in the long term. This place, IMO, should be the place for experts by experts. Not a place for garbage like this:

Adding pub_Date to an RSS feed hosted on Wordpress

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I agree that's a bit elitist, and because of that I completely disagree with that idea. Right now, we're going to get more than our fair share of "garbage" questions because the site is young and doesn't have a large user base. As our community grows, the bad questions will be vastly outnumbered by the good questions and the point will be moot. Such a high barrier to entry for new members will prevent any interest in participation, particularly from those who want to learn WordPress from the "experts" by asking questions. –  EAMann Nov 2 '10 at 14:20
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I sincerely hope you're right... :-) I've seen the WP support forums go from occasionally useful to mind-numbing. It was a hangout for genuine hackers; no longer. (Which is fine, in practice, since it was meant to support end-users anyway.) My worry is that this place might suffer the same fate if we're too permissive in allowing new users to ask any question. –  Denis Nov 2 '10 at 14:35
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Being an elitist community must not be a bad thing per-se. It can even make a difference and motivate users to give the best. Because Low-Level questions and answers can be a real drain. As we are getting more and more attention I think the bar should be raised accordingly. There is too much in the community that is mean, let's add some value. –  hakre Dec 24 '10 at 11:06

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