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I'm throwing an idea out there about an event for everyone to get together and throw ideas out there for new questions that would benefit all the users and hopefully increase some site traffic.

At the moment we're averaging 5.5 questions per day according to the stats. Although I know these shouldn't be taken literally and its all about quality not quantity. I can't help feeling something like this may do some good.

We have 62 users with over 2k rep and I know some may not be active it will give people a chance to ask some good quality questions they may not have thought of before and give everyone a chance to chat and bond so to speak.

What do you think?

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Sure we need more questions, but what we really need is (a) more agreement on scope and (b) more questions that don't have to go through a close/edit/reopen cycle.

One recent example of (a): people mustered close votes for an ergonomics question, but our scope says that's on-topic. Obviously not everybody agrees. As part of generating a bunch of new questions, let's try to vet the scope before they get asked rather than after.

On (b), anecdotally (i.e. I have no real data) it looks like we close a lot of questions, compared to other sites I'm on. While some of that is the scope-diasgreement issue, more is that many questions aren't asked well initially -- they're too personalized, or too rambly, or too opinion-seeking, or something. So before we adk a bunch of new questions, let's try to help people ask them well.

Instead of a brainstorming session, I suggest having a few sessions where people bring (real) questions that they want to ask and people here help to refine those questions in chat, with spectators. Seeing the back-and-forth will teach people what assumptions they need to validate, what questions they need to ask themselves about their questions, and so on. On the main site, on the other hand, once a question has been fixed the comments tend to get purged (which is good!), so somebody coming along later doesn't get that education (beyond what he can glean from the edit history). Chat logs, on the other hand, are approximately forever.

So I guess what I'm suggesting is not a brainstorming session but a practicum, where people try to actually develop a smaller number of good questions, collaboratively.

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  • "it looks like we close a lot of questions, compared to other sites I'm on". Agreed. I suspect the high closure rate deters some people from asking questions. – Joe Strazzere Jul 18 '13 at 13:34
  • @JoeStrazzere, it may be helping to deter me, though that's not the main thing in my case. (The main thing has to do with the demeanor of comments; the community here feels a lot snarkier than my other SE sites.) – Monica Cellio Jul 18 '13 at 13:48
  • I agree with your assessment. – Joe Strazzere Jul 18 '13 at 14:51
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This isn't a terrible idea, we would just need to make sure folks don't just go out half-cocked and start writing every single question that comes out of the discussion. One thing we've all learned is that hypothetical or "fake" questions tend to sound like what they are, fake or manufactured, and it takes a special skill set to write a question so that it does sound like there's a real, actual problem to be solved.

If managed properly, this could help us better define our scope, or identify real, actual problems we've observed our colleagues face that we could ask on their behalf.

The Water Cooler chat room has scheduling features built in to where we can schedule an actual event in the chat room and advertise it in the bulletin board on the main Q&A page.

If there is interest in this, and a plan for making people aware of what the goals are, we can make arrangements to schedule something. But it's critical that everyone involved believes that quality trumps quantity.

I'd suggest doing this in two scheduled phases. In the first meeting, you simply identify some possible questions, but don't ask them on the Q&A part of the site, not yet. We don't want to flood the site with questions that aren't going to work out as this might just make people feel bad who are really trying to help. Then, before the second meeting, pick a few of the best questions and work together to ask them and edit them as a group so they're outstanding posts. We might also consider whether these should be community owned posts, meaning anyone can edit them and no one single person gains all the reputation.

Of course, at the end of the first meeting, you might just decide that, hey, this really is a bad idea and none of these questions will work. In that case, there's no harm done. Conducting this experiment in a controlled manner will likely yield better results than visiting the site one morning and finding it flooded with downvoted, closed questions. :)

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