Over the past 24h, 22 questions have been posted and 15 have been closed.

That means more than 68% of them have been closed.

All those people couldn't be all wrong. I think it's how we present stuff on the homepage that leads them to posting off topic questions.

Our problem is that we are selling chinese food in a restaurant that looks like an indian flavor.

When we arrive on the website, we see the big letters "Programmers". We should change this and put something more explicit.

Any suggestions?

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Part of this issue with the older offtopic questions appearing on the home page more frequently likely has to do with the structured tag cleanup initiative and the editing that has been going on. –  maple_shaft Apr 2 '12 at 11:07
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I did a sorting per datetime before of course. –  user2567 Apr 2 '12 at 11:16
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"All those people couldn't be all wrong." Actually yes, they can. Did you go through the questions? –  Yannis Rizos Apr 2 '12 at 12:32
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@YannisRizos: it's not my point. I say we are wrong because we should advertise our community in a way there is no ambiguity for newcomers. People coming here really don't have a clue about the FAQ that most never visit. –  user2567 Apr 2 '12 at 12:38
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@Pierre303 People coming here really don't have a clue about the FAQ that most never visit. That is a problem we can't solve. –  Yannis Rizos Apr 2 '12 at 12:50
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@Pierre303 I don't want to be rude, but this has really been discussed to death in previous Meta questions. A user who asks questions on a topical Q&A site without even doing the slightest modicum of research into the appropriateness of their question is NOT a good user on the site. Most of these questions will bring up nearly everything they needed to know on a quick Google search or they are just worried or concerned about their career and money. –  maple_shaft Apr 2 '12 at 12:51
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@YannisRizos: I think we can. By modifying the user interface. Or at least the site title. –  user2567 Apr 2 '12 at 12:56
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@maple_shaft To be fair, some of my first questions on both this site and on SO were really bad. However with a supportive community, I was able to learn from my mistakes and think I became a fairly good member of both sites. With an unsupportive community that simply downvotes with no explanation and closes my question, I would leave, as I have seen many users do with this site already. If you want a community-run site, you have to be willing to put up with and teach new users of the site so they can one day grow into the sort of person who will be responsible for maintaining the site. –  Rachel Apr 2 '12 at 14:15
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@Rachel I almost never downvote without a comment and IMHO all of the mods here do an excellent job of educating and helping the community at large, Yannis especially. No one can certainly accuse him of not educating with his enormously detailed answers that he provides on meta. The other problems you mention are pretty much the actions of the community and the mods don't and shouldn't try to influence this. –  maple_shaft Apr 2 '12 at 15:13
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@maple_shaft I didn't say anything about Yannis... I'm commenting on my own recent observations where many questions have quite a few downvotes, a bunch of close votes, and no comments. Sometimes I'll step in and leave a comment telling the user why they're getting the downvotes, but unless the question is extremely bad, I don't donwvote - I just vote to close. –  Rachel Apr 2 '12 at 16:02
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@MarkTrapp What would you suggest we do if an idea on meta comes up repeatedly about the site's content, gets a lot of support, but nothing ever gets done about it? I really don't want to harass people over it, however this question keeps coming up, gets support, but no action gets taken. We can't post bounties here either to draw more attention to the subject. –  Rachel Apr 2 '12 at 17:59
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@Rachel Maybe it's just me, but when I see something I want to happen and believe has support not getting done, I start to think maybe my perception of the situation isn't square with reality. Looking at the previous discussions, I don't see anything indicating "a lot of support" for changing the site's name: the highest rated answers all seem to converge on "no, this is a bad idea and it's not going to happen." –  user8 Apr 2 '12 at 18:53
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"I do not think that there is any other quality so essential to success of any kind as the quality of perseverance. It overcomes almost everything, even nature." John D. Rockefeller –  user2567 Apr 4 '12 at 13:45
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"The reasonable man adapts himself to the world: the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man." - George Bernard Shaw –  Corbin March Apr 4 '12 at 14:32
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The only reason I see why we don't move on and do what is necessary is to keep good statistics. If we reduce the number of closed questions we also reduce the number of questions asked here, reducing the metrics that is used to qualify a community as healthy or not at area51. In addition to that, the extra traffic that those offtopic bring here also contribute to the accounting of visitors, another metrics used to please everybody. If this is the reason (or part of it), make it clear. –  user2567 Apr 5 '12 at 7:17
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2 Answers 2

Let's go through the questions:

  1. Which is the best book to learn OOA&D, including Design Patterns?

    Not constructive for Stack Exchange, and that won't change whatever action we take.

  2. Horizontal Navigation menu with sub menus

    We are not a replacement for Google, and that won't change whatever we may do.

  3. How to count the number of affected rows in mysql

    Off topic, clearly belongs on Stack Overflow, were OP has successfully asked 6 questions (!?). Extremely trivial question (we don't migrate crap) and OP posted an answer immediately after they posted the question (rep-whoring?).

  4. Grouping a comma separated value on common data

    Exactly the same as (3), same OP (off topic, belongs on SO, self-answer).

  5. Video codec price

    Too localized for Stack Exchange, and that won't change whatever action we take.

  6. Keyboard shortcut to focus on Side bar for Sublime Text 2

    Off topic, a far better version of it could belong on Stack Overflow.

  7. What is the lowest ICQ number that was ever used?

    I don't even know where to start with this one.

  8. How to learn the math behind the code?

    Not constructive and there's a ton of duplicates on the site.

  9. Should I go back to college and graduate with a poor GPA or try to jump into an entry-level development position?

    Good question (the first so far that shows at least some effort), but unfortunately off topic.

  10. Decimal to hex with same value

    The full text of the question:

    How can I do the below in c, 12 in decimal to 0x12 or 20 in decimal to 0x20

  11. Is it worth the time to learn to program iOS apps?

    Not constructive for Stack Exchange, and that won't change whatever action we take.

  12. Frustrated where I am, but not sure where to go with my career

    Career advice, off topic.

  13. How to effectively design a piece of software

    Vague, open ended, not constructive.

  14. Error mpicc command not found

    Off topic, a far better version of it might belong on Stack Overflow.

  15. What Web Technology to use for web app?

    Vague, open ended, not constructive.


This list of closed questions has little to do with Programmers. Most off topic, belongs on Stack Overflow questions are from unregistered users. There is a trend of people posting their Stack Overflow questions here to sidestep question blocks on Stack Overflow, and if I had to guess I'd say they are getting smarter and posting from unregistered accounts (so we can't find duplicates, or even the fact they have an Stack Overflow account).

I don't know if it's possible but if there's consensus we could require users to register before asking, that way we would at least be certain that OP is trying to sidestep a Stack Overflow ban and we could be deleting these questions ASAP, instead of waiting for them to be down voted to oblivion or attract delete votes.

Anyways, we have four of those, that far better versions of which could possibly fit on Stack Overflow. Then there are the herp derp questions (2), (7), (10), which brings us to 7 questions that are worth no one's time. That's almost half of the list.

Questions (1), (5), (11), (13), and (15) are not a good fit for Stack Exchange in general, there's little (if anything) we can do there. That brings us to 12 questions that we can't really do much about.

And questions (9) and (12) are career advice, the first item on our "do not ask" list and question (8) may be salvageable with a heroic edit, but I'm pretty sure any sane edit would make it a duplicate.

I don't see how any action we take will stop people from asking low quality questions, 7 out of 15 show no effort at all, other than typing the question itself. For the 5 questions that aren't a good fit for the Q&A format of the site, there has been a ton of debates on Meta Stack Overflow, I don't see the format or philosophy of Stack Exchange changing any time soon to accommodate such questions.

Which brings us to the two career advice questions. We can do a lot of things, but there are always going to be some topics that are off topic, regardless of what those are. If people fail to read the FAQ, why should we spent any time and effort on them? Why should the site change for the few that don't care enough to even skim through the FAQ?

I thought the whole point of this was quality, not quantity. We don't need more people or more questions just for the numbers, we are a mature Stack Exchange site with a steady crowd and a steady flow of great questions and even greater answers. There is no point in trying to accommodate every user who doesn't care enough to spend 5 minutes reading the FAQ.

We are not the only Stack Exchange site there is, there are 84 other sites currently, most of which have largely non technical crowds. Somehow people find it quite easy to participate on English Language and Usage, Bicycles, Photography and Cooking, but when we ask them to RTFM on a site called Programmers, we ask too much?

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I'm sorry I wasn't more clear. I wanted to point out that the site, with its current design, name, structure, leads to misunderstanding and ambiguity. I suggest that we fix that to avoid frustration on both side, the newcomers and ourselves. I don't think "we don't care of people not reading the FAQ" is a correct attitude in any context. –  user2567 Apr 2 '12 at 13:29
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@Pierre303 And with my answer I want to point out that accommodating most of these questions wouldn't contribute in our goal, which is quality content. Personally I don't care for people not reading the FAQ, in the sense that I will not spend any of my time trying to help them. Why should I? I, you, and everyone else here volunteer our time, and I have better things to do than trying to help someone that doesn't care enough for the site to do the minimal effort of reading the FAQ. –  Yannis Rizos Apr 2 '12 at 13:34
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You read the FAQ when you have questions right? So when you are sure to understand the topic of the community, and you have a problem to solve, why would you read the frequently asked questions section? –  user2567 Apr 2 '12 at 13:37
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@Pierre303 You lost me there. How are you sure you understand the topic of the community without reading the FAQ? How are you sure you understand the topic of any community without doing some minor research? If you didn't know what YouTube or Google was about, would you have guessed just from their names? –  Yannis Rizos Apr 2 '12 at 13:39
    
lot of humans are sure of buckets of things! If it was not true, mistakes would not exist ;) –  user2567 Apr 2 '12 at 13:44
    
@Pierre303 Not what I meant. It's one thing to not read the FAQ and quite another to read it and not understand it. I don't care for people not reading the FAQ, but I don't have any issue trying to help people who read it and found it misleading or confusing. –  Yannis Rizos Apr 2 '12 at 13:45
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Yes I see that. But what I want is not make you more friendly with other human beings ;) What I want is be able to get less frustration here, on both sides, newcomers & ourselves. I think clarifying things with a proper site title and/or design can help, a lot. –  user2567 Apr 2 '12 at 13:48
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@Pierre303 On the other hand, the large number of bad questions could be interpreted as a sign of a healthy site, we wouldn't be getting them if people weren't so overeager to participate in our community. –  Yannis Rizos Apr 2 '12 at 13:52
    
well, I strongly believe "bad question" doesn't exist ;) But that's another story. Let's say they are not suitable here. –  user2567 Apr 2 '12 at 14:01
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@YannisRizos How do you interpret a "large number of bad questions as a sign of a healthy site"? That doesn't make any sense to me. To me, a large number of bad questions is a sign of an unhealthy site, and that we aren't doing our job to educate our users about what the site is about. A big part of that is our site name. We advertise as being a site about programmers, but we implement a site about software development only. –  Rachel Apr 2 '12 at 14:18
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-1 for not actually answering the question. Pierre was pointing out that the name of this website (programmers) does not accurately represent the content, and he used that timeframe as an example. I looked through the questions and would say 8 of the 15 examples were caused by people thinking this was a site for programmers, about programmers, regardless of if they're a good fit for the SE model. We'll never stop bad questions entirely, however taking the attitude of "If people fail to read the FAQ, why should we spent any time and effort on them?" is not the way to run a community-driven site –  Rachel Apr 2 '12 at 17:45
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@Rachel This is a site for programmers and about programmers, the only limitation is that questions should be on what programmers actually do, programming. Furthermore it is a Stack Exchange site, where quality should be more important than quantity. Also I don't run the site, the community does. I, personally, refuse to waste any of my time for people who don't respect this community enough to even skim the FAQ. You, on the other hand, can do however you please. –  Yannis Rizos Apr 2 '12 at 18:10
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Nobody reads the FAQ. –  Morons Apr 2 '12 at 20:21
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FAQ = Frequently Asked Questions. Why should a new user read the Frequently Asked Questions page when the site advertises itself as being a Q&A site about Programmers? The description seems pretty explanatory to me, and I wouldn't go into the FAQ unless I actually had a question about the site. –  Rachel Apr 3 '12 at 13:54
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@Rachel I'm late to this party... :) Links four and five in that Google search point to blog and meta posts that explain the intent behind Programmers-the-site. I may be missing something here, but beyond your own interpretation of the title where do you see that Google search advertising Programmers.SE as a "Q&A site about programmers" (emphasis mine)? –  Anna Lear Apr 11 '12 at 21:32
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Yes, please change the site's name from Programmers to something that more accurately represents what this site is about (Software Development?)

I have seen this issue many times in the past and feel the same way. Our site name does not accurately represent what our site is about, and I think it is misleading and confusing for both new users and existing SE users

The way our site name is now, it sounds like we are a place for programmers to meet and discuss programmers. Sure it won't stop all the bad questions, but it will stop the off-topic questions that people ask because they think the site is about programmers.

This is meant to be a community-run site, but that's getting increasing hard to do when we don't take the time to make sure new users understand what the site is actually about.

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As a side note, I've made the request to change the site name or the site scope in the past, with quite a few upvotes, however nothing got done. Since I can't change the site name, I've also tried to suggest some actual changes we could make to align the site scope more with the site name, however nothing still got done. –  Rachel Apr 2 '12 at 14:23
    
There are six up votes and four down votes on the single answer that agrees with the premise of your question on "Renaming the site to match its FAQ or changing the FAQ to match the site name?", and quite a few upvotes on the three answers that disagree with the premise of your question, which explains why nothing got done (consensus was actually against the premise of your question, regardless of the creative way you count upvotes and refusal to acknowledge downvotes or other answers that actually got quite a few upvotes). –  Yannis Rizos Apr 3 '12 at 6:13
    
Your "(Edited) Update our FAQ to improve the on-topic definition" is currently at -4, so it's no surprise that nothing got done, and your single positively scored answer on "Changing the FAQ to reflect the site's name" points to another Meta answer that will probably make it into the FAQ. You get points for effort, but at some point you need to stop ignoring the fact that most people don't actually agree with you and perhaps start counting upvotes on answers that don't agree with the premise of your Meta questions. –  Yannis Rizos Apr 3 '12 at 6:19
    
I made the mistake of waiting over a month to post an answer that agreed with the question, so it didn't get nearly the attention that it should have. By the time I posted it, both the other answers had 7-8 votes. As for the -4 question, it was originally a proposal for something else and I changed it based on a user suggestion. It already had a bunch of negative votes, although it started getting positive feedback after the change. As for the "single positively scored answer" to my 3rd question, the majority of suggestions have equal up and down votes, so are sitting at 0. –  Rachel Apr 3 '12 at 11:51
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I made the mistake of waiting over a month to post an answer that agreed with the question, so it didn't get nearly the attention that it should have. Right... It's always someone else's or something else's fault, this time it's the timing of the answer. None of your suggestions was well received, deal with it. And yes the majority of suggestions have equal up and down votes, which means they are zero scored, they are not positively scored. If 100 people like your post and 100 don't, that's zero scored, not 100 up votes. –  Yannis Rizos Apr 3 '12 at 16:12
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