I was just looking at the list of Stack Exchange sites and noticed that WPSE has the lowest percentage of answered questions (besides StackApps): 79%.

Does that just mean that we get the highest number of drive-by askers?

Now the unanswered will stay higher for ever and ever as mr. scribu announced that he won't participate on WPSE anymore. –  kaiser Aug 23 '11 at 17:16
Say what! When did this happen? –  marfarma Aug 27 '11 at 9:23
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4 Answers

I think one of the reasons for this is there are 3 different types of Wordpress users:

User A: has setup a WP blog and is getting along fine just dropping in plugins and themes, however, he actually knows nothing about PHP and only very little about HTML/CSS. As soon as a plugin goes wrong or doesn't do something he needs to do, he asks a question.

User B: Is a web developer, only uses WP as the majority does (he could make own platform but no need to re-invent the wheel). User B can easily answer user A's questions as they are simple. However the WP core is complicated and messy, and User B does not have the time/need to delve into the core. User B asks question regarding core functions and custom plugins which only very advanced users could answer...

User C: Is a die-hard WP developer, as much as a developer as User B, but specialises in WP and knows a lot of the core and hooks off by heart, maybe he's has his own plugin. User C rarely asks questions and can answer User A and B's questions with little research, but they are few and far between.

Sadly, the issue with this branch of SE is that user A is the majority due to the low entry level of Wordpress.

All of who have the time, knowledge and want will do as much as they can to answer questions, including me. However WordPress as a publishing platform is directed to those who publish, not to those who develop, it's not a framework. Hence why the majority of it's users are indeed A type. We can't really do much about it other then just to answer as we can and keep it going. No matter how big the unanswered questions percentage is, the important thing to remember is that we do serve a purpose nevertheless. –  Asko Jan 9 '12 at 19:40
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I think that, given our scope, we will have to accept that we will get a higher percentage of users who are "drive-by" - who ask one question, and then never return. Such users would naturally be less likely to mark an answer as "accepted".

Of more concern are users with multiple questions and corresponding low (or zero) accept rate. Those users should be expected to learn the WPSE MO, or should have subsequent questions ignored.

I'm sure this question/problem isn't unique to WPSE. How do other SE communities handle it?

Some ideas (mostly for brainstorming purposes; I don't know if any are particularly good or bad ideas):

  1. Prevent users with a certain threshold of questions asked, and a certain threshold of questions without accepted answers, from asking additional questions. (Basically: force users to mark some answers as accepted before being allowed to ask more questions.)

    I'm not sure this will work; it may very well just encourage users to mark arbitrary answers as "accepted" in order to ask additional questions.

    Also, this can be self-policed by users, simply by refusing to post answers to questions from users with such low accept rates.

  2. Mark answers as auto-accepted if they have a certain threshold of upvotes, after a certain period of time.

    This could work, if the right threshold is established (eg. an answer with 10 upvotes has a fairly high likelihood of being correct).

  3. Require higher reputation, or casting a certain number of upvotes, before being allowed to ask a question.

    These would perhaps help ensure that a user understands the nature of WPSE before asking a question.

  4. Consider Plugin- or Theme-specific support questions as out-of-scope.

    This would cut down on the drive-by support questions, and would encourage more universally beneficial questions/answers.

  5. Stop migrating questions from other SE sites to WPSE.

    I notice that most migrated questions end up abandoned by the asker, perhaps due to the user/profile segregation between SE sites. (Really: who wants to register to multiple sites, and follow his or her question as it gets migrated from site to site?)

(1) system already throttles users that continuously ask poor questions. But since (as many other aspects) it is scaled to larger sites in the network, its effect is not as obvious for us. (2-3) strongly not a network style. (4) I personally disagree. These can be not overly specific and highly useful. (5) on-topic question here is always better than off topic question elsewhere. –  Rarst Aug 15 '11 at 14:12
It would probably be more useful to discuss such ideas in the context of addressing the problem of high percentage of unanswered questions. Outside of that context, I would probably agree with you almost 100% (though we differ - a bit - on the question of applicability of Theme- and Plugin-specific questions), but your disagreement of each point doesn't address their efficacy in the given context. –  Chip Bennett Aug 15 '11 at 16:33
I highly doubt the context of this question (and many other on meta) will bend the larger network principles. –  Rarst Aug 15 '11 at 17:40
Agreed, but it would still be useful to discuss what methods would actually help increase accepted-answer percentages. Finding such methods could be universally beneficial across the network, and as such could result in modifying network-wide principles. Regardless of that outcome, it would be helpful for the purposes of this question to get some handle on what the community thinks might/might not or would/would not work to resolve the issue. –  Chip Bennett Aug 15 '11 at 18:10
I was hoping maybe we could get some input from other stack site admins, I'm sure similar ideas must have been discussed at some point and maybe even tested. –  Wyck Aug 16 '11 at 1:02
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Would an increase in moderation help tidy this up and encourage a larger audiance to participate? How do the other stack sites deal with,

  • Overly specific questions (theme or plugin related)
  • Questions asking for too much (example: how do I code "insert complicated plugin idea").
  • Questions that are too broad in scope (usually the answer is yes/no or maybe).
  • Questions that make no sense or are hard to understand.

Lately I have noticed when I click a question I often have no idea what the person is asking.

Maybe we need something like this for WPSE, http://blog.superuser.com/2011/05/02/how-to-get-answers/

I guess the question is, would the more experienced users become more involved if there was less fluff and more interesting stuff. And how do the other stacks deal with this.

Define "increase in moderation"? Starting to delete/close off more questions because they are merely less likely to get an answer is not a solution. Dealing with those is issue of having relevant expert looking at it. –  Rarst Aug 14 '11 at 9:13
Yes I suppose it would mean to close off more questions, maybe there can be a "jail" feature for questions, meaning in some cases the questioner is asked to re-write or re-word the question and it will re-appear. How do the other stacks deal with it though, that is what I was wondering. –  Wyck Aug 14 '11 at 14:31
"Jailing" would be quite useless and equal to delete in practice. It may seem strange but most people don't really care about quality of their question. They just throw them around and don't bother to cleanup, follow up or stick to the rules and recommendations. But that doesn't meant that question can't be salvaged and answered for benefit of community rather than its author. –  Rarst Aug 14 '11 at 14:36
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I am not sure which definition of "answered" that table is using, there are two definitions of unanswered:

There are different issues that contribute to these piling up:

  • as I heard WPSE attracts a lot of people new to network. This means less upvotes and accepts from them.

  • a lot of questions, especially plugin and theme related, are very specific ("how do I do X in plugin Y?"). If they are simple they are usually about relatively obscure plugin/theme. If they are complex they are about something like bbPress/BuddyPress and we are still lacking in experts on those.

  • "unanswered" section is obscure in interface and we don't have enough people looking at it.

I think Stack Overflow site tries to deal with some of this by having personalized home page that feeds you questions that need answer and in line with your interests. But it's been implemented while back and doesn't seem to be extended to other sites in network.

I would assume that "answered" in this context is accepted answers. And IMHO the problem is that WPSE attracts a lot of drive-by support-question users who do not familiarize themselves with the MO for WPSE. (I would guess that these users correlate strongly to the WPORG support forum users who also fail to mark their topics as "Resolved".) So, either we change our scope, or accept that we will have a lower-than-average accepted-answer rate. –  Chip Bennett Aug 15 '11 at 12:33
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