We need to:
- Leave comments telling users that their posts are getting negative attention, and more importantly, how to fix it
- Aggressively edit posts (especially closed posts) where the asker has stopped participating (doesn't respond to clarifications) and there is a good core question that can be drawn out
Our track record as a community isn't too good on these of late.
There are three ways to deal with less than stellar questions:
- Close to maintain site quality
- Edit to improve question quality
- Comment to maintain user involvement
These are not mutually exclusive choices, and everyone seems to agree they are necessary, but the devil is in the details:
- What order should we close/edit/comment in?
- Who is willing to close/edit/comment?
- Is our theory actually being put in to practice?
While we have had many different discussions on meta about aggressive edits, and about closing questions, the community consensus seems to be:
- Closing isn't bad so long as we don't abandon questions
- Editing aggressively is good if it gets answers useful to the asker and provides a quality resource for future visitors
- Commenting to let users participate in the process is important to make sure we don't alienate newer users who may become productive participants
The real issue is that nobody seems to agree with the order.
Chad says we should close first:
My opinion is that any edits to "Save" a question should only happen after the question has been closed, unless the OP has clarified, or the question can be easily reworded.
Jim G. says we should comment before editing to get consent:
Before making a heroic edit, we should ask the OP if they'd like a little help fixing their post so that it will remain open.
My personal belief is that editing first with a comment is okay:
I think that questions should either be edited soon after being asked, or that we should wait until they are closed (or soon to be closed, if it has 4 close votes and you would issue the 5th without an edit, I am okay with that too)
Editing and commenting are hard. They require more effort, more time, and more tact than voting to close. It is natural that there will be fewer editors than commenters, and fewer commenters than close-voters. But it would seem that the balance may be a bit out of alignment since we have so many closed questions, and far fewer people commenting and editing them to become productive questions for the community.
Note: There is absolutely nothing wrong with voting to close, and I don't want to discourage that behavior, I just want to point out that in addition to the close-voting we need to have people working to improve content quality otherwise we will naturally end up with walls of closed questions, which seem to bother many members of our community
There are also going to be natural ebbs and flows to participation in any community. Members move on to new opportunities and have less time for us, or find themselves too involved and take a step back to spend time on their hobbies or their families, and sometimes we get new members who have a different perspective, and this is all okay.
The point is that we get out of The Workplace what we put in to it as a community, so it's all nice and good to say we should be doing X, Y, or Z, but they won't get magically done by someone else if we don't pitch in.
Putting Theory to Practice
So how are we doing?
I took all the closed questions from the last week (12/05-12/12) with this search. The full list is below.
Of these 30 questions, 11 had no comment explaining why the question was receiving close and/or downvotes.
There were only 7 questions which had a comment explaining why the post was receiving negative attention, and how to fix it. Of those 7, a majority were by me or jmort.
Only two questions were edited to try to improve the question. One by Jim, one by jmort.
Eight questions were closed without a comment or an edit.
Commenting and editing need to be a community effort and not limited to two or three people. After all, we wouldn't want the community to collapse if one of those more active members gets hit by a bus, would we?
- Is asking employees to wear formal clothing on client visit, meaningful?
- Are there any UK laws about allergies in the workplace?
- I've discovered that our DBA is abusing his position. What do I do?
- The boss asks to return money?
- Where do CVs have a smaller weight
- Tech work culture in the U.S
- Do self-employed also write resumes?
- How to prepare for interview during technical round in Software Industry
- Starting from scratch: can someone transitioning careers be successful?
- What should I tell about myself in a interview
- How do I avoid driving with a coworker who drives dangerously?
- If I get blamed for a delay I didn't contribute to, how can I defend myself?
- What should you know about your department?