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We all love The Workplace Stack Exchange, but there is a whole world of people out there who need answers to their questions and don't even know that this site exists. When they arrive from Google, what will their first impression be? Let's try to look at this site through the eyes of someone who's never seen it before, and see how we stack up against the rest of the 'Net.

The Site Self-Evaluation review queue is open and populated with 10 questions that were asked and answered in the last quarter. Run a few Google searches to see how easy they are to find and compare the answers we have with the information available on other sites.

Rating the questions is only a part of the puzzle, though. Do you see a pattern of questions that should have been closed but are not? Questions or answers that could use an edit? Anything that's going really well? Post an answer below to share your thoughts and discuss these questions and the site's health with your fellow users!

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I must admit that my reviews didn't go fast. The instructions tell us to take a different approach to reviewing the posts. Unlike other review queues, the instructions tell us to focus on how a non-Workplace SE user may view our site by forcing us to go check out the competition and do Google searches, as if we were the person looking for the answers and evaluating content in different search results to determine which resource may be most helpful.

I don't think it's fair to say reviewers are being lazy or not taking their time, but I do think it's possible that maybe some folks have misinterpreted the point of this exercise. This isn't a normal, everyday review queue, and the approach to these reviews is quite different:

Run comparative Google searches on these questions and see if the content is better or worse than what is already out there on the internet. Are the answers correct, clear, useful and informative? Would the question and answer be interesting to the kind of user this site is trying to attract? Choose:

  • Excellent if this question is well-written and has a clear, comprehensive answer that is far better than other available resources. This question shows up early in search results.
  • Satisfactory if this question has a clear, comprehensive answer that is comparable or better than the information found elsewhere. This question shows up later in the search results or requires oddly specific search terms to find.
  • Needs Improvement if this question is poorly written, not generally useful, or has an answer that is no better than what can be found elsewhere. Alternatively, this question does not turn up on the first page or two in Google despite repeated search attempts.
  • Skip if you are not sure and want to go to the next question

Based on these instructions, I found that I gave a Satisfactory or Needs Improvement rating to questions that I previously thought were pretty awesome and that I had upvoted! I found that what I perceived as really awesome posts didn't show up in search results and were buried on the third page, or the posts were on the front page of Google but weren't as good as other material out there.

The challenge as I see it is that the really useful information is sort of in the long tail. It's useful, but perhaps a bit harder to find. Maybe this is a problem, but maybe it isn't. After all, someone who has a specific problem will likely tailor their search keywords until they find what they're looking for. I know that when I have a problem, and I do a search, and the generic answer just doesn't cut it, I keep searching until my keywords lead me to the same or a similar problem as what I'm facing.

  • 2
    I've found, across several sites, that needing both a well-asked question and a comprehensive answer keeps most things out of "excellent" territory. So if a question has an excellent answer, but the question itself is so-so, the best it can hope for here is "satisfactory". We wouldn't want to make changes during the review (moving targets invalidate the data), but should we revisit these questions after and try to fix anything that can be fixed? Yeah, it's just 10 drops in the vast bucket, but gotta start somewhere... – Monica Cellio Jun 16 '13 at 19:53
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    @MonicaCellio - I may have upset that balance then, as I immediately edited the posts that I thought had issues. The edits were minor, but it involved things like, for instance, making sure the question that was tagged as "India" also mentioned that in the post body, since it was important to the question. In another case, I believe I clarified the title of the post to make it easier to find via Google. I like your thinking... we should totally follow up on the review and then discuss how we might take what we learn and apply it to other posts. – jmort253 Jun 16 '13 at 19:55
  • I do think it's possible that maybe some folks have misinterpreted the point of this exercise. oh hi :) – enderland Jun 16 '13 at 22:20
  • Point taken, @enderland :), but a bigger question is should we use this as an opportunity to improve these posts while they're fresh on our minds and while energies are high, or should we leave them as-is in hopes that we will focus on them later, once the dust settles and our attentions move to something else? I'd personally rather see us make improvements, even if it might skew the results, but I'm also open to discussions about what to do with these questions after the review comes to a conclusion... Hope this helps! – jmort253 Jun 16 '13 at 22:26
  • Another reason I edited now is because I sometimes find that information on Stack Exchange comes at you fast, and oftentimes I feel like we put things on our todo list but then forget about them. So I tend to act right away so as to avoid letting procrastination win! :) – jmort253 Jun 16 '13 at 22:29
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    I think you have a pretty good handle on what the evaluations are supposed to accomplish. :) Also, if you come across a post that needs editing, by all means edit it! The review scores are subjective no matter what, and if at the end of the week y'all end up with a few improved posts, that's a great outcome. – Adam Lear Jul 5 '13 at 15:44
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Final Results









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This is a largely meaningless exercise for Workplace SE, am afraid.

The recent reviews have been automatic.

The information is available on reviewers' activity tabs (profile pages). The value of reviews without doing at least some research is nil.

Reviewer Min time betw. reviews, s Max time, s  Max (w/o gaps) Average (w/o gaps)
A        3                         26           26             11.8
B        14                        257          257            56.0
C        13                        113          113            37.7
D        28                        42728        151            82.3
E        3                         20           20             8.7
M        7                         68           68             16.8
R        6                         50           50             25.2
S        4                         30           30             17.4
T        3                         385          75             18.2

I have checked ALL 9 reviewers, and you can see the pattern - the exercise is rather sad.

Longest spell of reviews with the same mark: 2, 2, 2, 3, 3, 3, 3, 4, 6.

  • 3
    Any particular reason why? – Rhys Jun 11 '13 at 14:58
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    @RhysW - too many soft questions that cannot have objectively measured counterparts elsewhere. – Deer Hunter Jun 11 '13 at 18:48
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    This would be a good opportunity to select some examples from the self-evaluation and discuss them. Perhaps there's something we can learn about a particular example so that we can improve. – jmort253 Jun 12 '13 at 2:23
  • I believe you can see the list of questions in workplace.stackexchange.com/review/site-eval/history – jcmeloni Jun 12 '13 at 13:22
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    @jcmeloni - the problem is I pushed "Skip" diligently and then posted this answer here, frustrated by the softness of the questions :) – Deer Hunter Jun 12 '13 at 15:03
  • So you're saying that link doesn't work for you because you don't have a history and therefore can't see everyone else's? Since I can see other people's review votes, I figured everyone could (I'm not special). Sorry! – jcmeloni Jun 12 '13 at 15:41
  • @jcmeloni - no need to apologize, in a kind of oblique way I visited your activity page and snatched the question links. – Deer Hunter Jun 12 '13 at 15:44
  • Super, so it basically "worked". :) – jcmeloni Jun 12 '13 at 15:45
  • @jcmeloni - yeah, but what I dug out is not exactly funny :( – Deer Hunter Jun 12 '13 at 16:21
  • @jmort253 - fixed that, added statistics. – Deer Hunter Jun 12 '13 at 17:02
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    I can't speak for everyone, but I know that my votes were not automatic, even while very fast. I read and process information extremely quickly (like, "was a test subject for many years" quickly), and I'm also quite familiar with every question and answer that comes through because I read them & vote on many (former mod who hasn't broken the habit). So for me, it was "cursory look to jog my memory" rather than "automatic". I will bet that many people who were first to review were also already very familiar with the Q&A. Just a possible asterisk for the findings, is all I mean to offer. – jcmeloni Jun 12 '13 at 18:38
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    @MonicaCellio - the survey found no great difference between the users. I was under the impression that one had to look at other sites, do a search or two. (¿all of that can be done in 3 seconds, right?) I have also found some repeating patterns in votes (four out of nine reviewers, AFAIR). – Deer Hunter Jun 12 '13 at 20:29
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    One possibility you're forgetting; many active users of the site may already recognize the question and it's answers. If I immediately get an "Oh, right, THIS question" reaction it might require very little, if any, looking to determine whether the Q/As were good bad or indifferent. – Rarity Jun 13 '13 at 13:20
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    @Rarity - again, aren't we supposed to compare Workplace SE with other places on the Web? I seriously doubt it is possible within the timespan of 3 or even 30 seconds. – Deer Hunter Jun 13 '13 at 14:33
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    Hmmm, maybe I'll stop contributing and reading questions here so my reviews in the future are based off a fresh perspective and not "oh, this question" reactions instead. – enderland Jun 14 '13 at 18:27
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One of the impressions I have of The Workplace site is it's kind of a 'Dear Abbey' Q&A. The emotional level in this is far more involved than in Chemistry, History, Stack Exchange, etc. since people are dealing with the perceptions of their employers, co-workers, etc. In short, this thing is kind of like 'Dilbert', the cartoonist was bored and sent a drawing to an electronics magazine once in awhile, then suddenly he was commenting on the 1980s/1990s corporate culture and it turned into a cultural phenomenon. In short, rating the questions on this site is going to be fundamentally different from more 'objectively' demonstrable answers. When someone gets 23 answers and 2K hits in one day for a question you're putting 'on hold', someone isn't understanding the draw of the site. 'Facts' may be less material than emotionally intelligent responders.

  • To a large degree, there is more emotion involved in this site's topic, which is precisely why it's important to back up answers with facts or with experiences that happened to us personally; otherwise, it becomes hard to distinguish the right answer from fiction. With that said, please don't confuse voting with something that determines if a question, in its current form, is good for the site. We look for content that will attract and be helpful to future visitors, as this will help us stand out from all the forums on the Internet. Hope this helps! :) – jmort253 Jul 2 '13 at 5:11

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