11

I am a new user of Stack Exchange. I have gotten a pretty good response to the first question I have answered, and nothing but unhelpful responses to every question after that.

In some cases I have gotten downvotes with no comment, or a copy and pasted comment I have seen applied to every new user posting regardless of the quality of their answer. In most cases the comment is in regards to not repeating answers, although I read all of the major answers and not add one of my own unless I have at least one new thing to say.

I understand that the nature of this site means that there are more than one solution and makes it hard to know the level of experience of the answerer.

However, I do not feel that the comments are constructive at all, they seem to actively discourage me from posting anything rather than improving my answering skill. And I feel that edit being overly critical of newer users stifles open discussion.

Thank you for addressing this.

  • 1
    Hi kleineg, we're happy to address any and all concerns brought here. What makes you feel, that people with more points are treated with less criticism than newer users? – CMW Mar 31 '14 at 21:53
  • 5
    Thanks for taking the time to write this up to try to address the issue in this way. When you encounter issues like this, you can always flag comments (rude/offensive, not constructive, etc) for us mods to take a look. Nothing is permanent on this site (comments, closures, deletions), and most anything can be undone. – yoozer8 Mar 31 '14 at 22:25
  • 1
    @CMW That comment was unfair, I edited it out. – kleineg Apr 1 '14 at 12:21
  • 2
    I've been downvoted by a mod on a relatively useful answer having just been asked to cite a source that backs up 'that a defence against something illegal wouldn't stand up in court (clearly, because it is illegal)'. That's pretty barmy moderation if you ask me. I can definitely sense the hostility more on the workplace SE site over others that's for sure. – zigojacko Apr 1 '14 at 13:05
  • it would be much easier to give soft, tender and delicate treatment for new users if SE team was not so zealous in their attempts to make us happy – gnat Apr 1 '14 at 16:46
  • @gnat How about instead of "soft, tender and delicate" the goal is constructive, fair, and polite? You will get better results in the long run. – kleineg Apr 1 '14 at 17:03
  • 2
    It seems like saying there are too many people willing to spend the effort improving your site is solving the wrong problem. – kleineg Apr 1 '14 at 17:04
  • "human interaction... doesn't blow up like a balloon". As long as SE team ignores seminal work that laid out a solid, reliable foundation for successful scaling of Stack Overflow, it is unreasonable to expect this flaw to be corrected by community members - multiple hot questions simply put too much work for volunteer contributors to cope with – gnat Apr 1 '14 at 17:10
  • Okay, there is a problem. I see that. Does it make sense to take it out on people trying to return something to their community? – kleineg Apr 1 '14 at 17:55
  • 2
    Also, I just thought of the perfect adjective to describe good moderator interactions. Professional. – kleineg Apr 1 '14 at 17:56
  • 4
    @kleineg with all due respect, I've spent a year and a half working towards getting this site to graduate (which it now has). One of the primary problems is chatty and low quality posting from users not familiar with the site. I suspect had this been allowed to be as prevalent as you seem to want, the site would have not been around for you to post on. You can dislike the specific style, but the reality is this site is a question/answer site, not a hugglefest - the voting mechanism here is one way the community can promote good behavior and discourage things which do not improve the community. – enderland Apr 1 '14 at 17:59
  • 1
    Can it be more welcoming? Sure. But right now, that effort requires a huge amount of time and energy and generally speaking, most people seem to want to go "screw you" when presented with information about how the community functions. I tend to be far more patient and optimistic than others - most often positive encouraging falls on deaf ears. Others are likely less inclined to try to baby every single new user here. – enderland Apr 1 '14 at 18:01
  • 2
    I'd suggest you take a trip to Chat as most of the regulars (in fact everyone who has answered this) frequent chat. If you are serious about wanting to be involved in helping make this community better, that would be a great first step. – enderland Apr 1 '14 at 18:03
  • 1
    @kleineg - I encourage you to hop into The Workplace Chat and at least say hi. I think once you get to know a few people, it won't feel so awkward. :) – jmort253 Apr 2 '14 at 4:28
6

Generally

We are trying to make the experience for new users one that is as positive as possible, but we are also concerned for the quality of this site and the value to its community.

While new users of course are important to us, we don't want to be too lenient and let site quality drop. This might cause a broken window effect, we strive to avoid.

Your answers

I currently only see 3 of your answers on your profile, and from those, one is rather exceptional, in length and quality as in appreciation by the community. One is +/- 0 without comment, which is unfortunate, and one is rated negatively with a longer but not really productive comment thread. The latter is unfortunate as well, but can happen. I personally don't see anything wrong with your post, but others seemed to disagree.

Bad luck

I think the biggest negative factor there was bad luck, as your post might have drowned it older, highly-rated answers and only those thoroughly reading (and downvoting) everything may have gotten there. Or maybe people didn't agree that your answer adds value over what had already been said. It's hard to tell and I hope that you don't take too negative a feeling from this. It happens.

Downvotes

You will also rarely get real feedback from downvoters. Some users are thorough about it, helping you improve, some just want to weigh in with a vote and probably hope that somebody else that agrees with them will point out what they found wrong.

Taking it personal

Please try not to take any downvotes persona. I'm aware sometimes they may be and sometimes it is hard to bounce these things off. I hope with time, more positive feedback will make this much easier.

Negative feelings

I hope to guide everybody who feels feedback (or lack thereof) affects them negatively to our chat, to take this up in direct conversation. Even the most active people miss things and can't weigh in everywhere, but we usually linger around the water cooler, happy to talk.

  • (I commented earlier today, don't know what happened to it) In addition to the three you saw there were two more answers, one I deleted and one that was deleted. As of now the answer that had been deleted has been added back with constructive criticism... However it has attracted more downvotes since being undeleted. – kleineg Apr 1 '14 at 17:33
  • @kleineg That is an answer on a pretty controversial topic, and almost all the answers there have at least one or two downvotes. It's also a couple days old already and has such a high volume of answers that it's unlikely much will happen to your answer by now. But please, please don't feel discouraged by this. In fact, I invite you to visit us in chat and we (being the people active there) are more than happy to discuss answers you posted or wish to post, with you right away, give you constructive feedback or show appreciation through voting. I'd be more than glad to see you there some time. – CMW Apr 1 '14 at 19:33
  • @kleineg - I see in your reputation history that you did get two new downvotes on the undeleted question but also an upvote. Whenever you post a meta question about a subject such as this, it draws attention, both good and bad. I can see some other of your posts received two up votes, one from a person undoing their down vote. Also, the act of me editing one of them bumps the thread to the top where more people see it. Hope this helps. – jmort253 Apr 2 '14 at 4:36
  • The way you worded this meta post though, I'd like to think most of the votes have overall been positive or with constructive guiding comments... we really want people like you who care about quality Q&A! – jmort253 Apr 2 '14 at 4:41
8

There are two main reasons I believe:

  1. You tend to answer popular questions that have many answers already
  2. First posts are automatically reviewed in a queue

You Answer Popular Questions

Here are your answers and which # answer it is (based on undeleted answers only):

As you can see, you answer a lot of popular questions. While this isn't necessarily a bad thing (we appreciate good answers regardless), we do have a don't repeat others rule:

Before you answer, you should read other answers and think whether or not - "Does your answer add substantial value or new input which hasn't already been covered in one or multiple answers above?"

When there are already a half-dozen answers to a question, by the time they read your answer they have likely already read the same thing in the other answers, and are less likely to upvote it (or even downvote it) because of this rule. It is also considerably more effort to review and comment on one answer out of a dozen (although that doesn't mean it's a good idea not to say anything).

Review Queue

But your first answer was on a question with a lot of answers too, right? So why was the reception (the upvotes, the comment) so different?

When a user posts their first question or answer, it automatically gets reviewed in the First Posts Queue. The First Posts Review Queue shows only the post and the question it is an answer to (if it isn't a question), so people generally look at the question as if it is the only answer.

That means that someone will look over your post without reading the other dozen answers, are more likely to upvote it, and give you comments on the quality of the answer in a vacuum.

Suggestion

From the question choice, it seems like you come here and contribute to questions on the Hot Network Questions List. We have a long history with Hot Network Questions, and have struggled with cleaning up popular questions because of the exposure they get.

Most of our repeat visitors contribute to more than hot questions -- they will ask questions of their own, or visit some of our less popular questions, or help us edit/comment to moderate and improve the content on our corner of the web. While I'm sorry you had a bad experience, please understand that your experience is most likely unique and not how our average user feels.

That isn't to say that you shouldn't provide good content where you can, just realize that it is a lot harder to provide good original content when you're competing with a half dozen other people for limited answer elbow room.

  • 2
    Good point on the "first post" review. I wonder if this happens to a lot of new users where their first post is widely accepted but others not, simply because of the isolation of the review queues... – jmort253 Apr 1 '14 at 5:35
  • @jmac while I agree that a lot of questions have people jumping on the bandwagon after they have been answered, I disagree about the method used to discourage this. In one case I saw an answer that mirrored arguments above but was written well (not mine) receive the exact same comments and negative votes and an answer that made no logical sense whatsoever. The comments had nothing to do with the quality of the post and no chance was given to that user to improve or delete the post. – kleineg Apr 1 '14 at 11:53
  • For myself, I am not posting answers to hot network questions because I am looking for a lot of traffic, it is mainly due to using links to get around. Not only the list of hot questions on the side but all of the links to related questions favor those with high traffic. I read the question and the answers and only if I think I have original input I have shared it. – kleineg Apr 1 '14 at 12:02
  • 2
    @klein, I definitely don't want new users to be given unclear messages or be treated poorly, and apologize if my answer came off as condoning that. The reality is that the more answers there are, the higher the standards those answers get held too. Even if there is some measure of original input in adding an answer, I would recommend asking yourself, "Does this improve the quality of the Q&A over an edit or a comment to another answer?" – jmac Apr 1 '14 at 23:42
7

It does look like none of us left any feedback in comments, until now, and that's unfortunate because you seem like you could be a really great contributor to our site. Thanks for bringing this up in a constructive manner!

I looked through some of your posts and edited one or two of them. The ones I looked at, I didn't see anything glaringly out of place, but I could see how someone might not quite see what you were saying. With my edits, I fixed the following things:

  • Split some large blocks of text into paragraphs. This psychologically makes it easier to read and compartmentalize the information for the reader.

  • On one answer, your solution was creative and unexpected, so I could see how someone might not see it as an answer. I inserted the question in your post as a quote block so it was more clear what you were addressing.

My suggestion is to look through the rest and see if you can't edit to make things a bit more clear and readable, if applicable. Edits will bump the post to the top of the "active" page where users can review, offer comments, and even change their votes. For help with the editor in terms of formatting posts, see the advanced editing help

One thing about our site: We like seeing answers backed up by facts, references, or experiences that tell future readers you're not just some random person on the Internet making unsubstantiated claims. If there's an area where you see you could expand on a claim you made, either with an explanation or ideally citations, that also helps too! See the back it up guideline for details.

If you need more help, jump into chat as CMW suggests. There's generally people there happy to help! Good luck!

  • 2
    Thank you, I appreciate the constructive comments and will try to improve my posts. – kleineg Apr 1 '14 at 13:29
5

My thoughts, in much less organized fashion than the others:

  1. I evaluate each answer individually. Your first answer here was great and I commented as such.
  2. When there are already lots of answers, additional answers need to be better - not just rewordings of existing answers. When a question hits community wiki status, I tend to be very willing to downvote answers which don't contribute (though I'd not downvoted yours, interestingly) because the additional answers now are causing those with quality answers to no longer benefit any reputation from them.
  3. This is not a forum, it's a question answer site. This is a fundamental difference between Stack Exchange and the majority of the internet. Lots of generic answers start making a lot of noise and hurt the ability of the site of be a good question/answer site. Would you rather each question receive 5 high quality answers or 15 lower quality ones?
  4. I have a lot more thoughts here on this whole subject. Answer quality is something I am very much an advocate for.

For what it's worth, I almost never downvote without leaving a comment of any sort. The exception is almost always "hot questions" which start attracting a lot of answers which quite frankly take a lot of time to respond to and deal with appropriately.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .