With this recent spurt of activity on meta, a number of opinions have come out. A number of these describe some rather radical changes.
(please pardon me if I ascribe rather extreme positions)
On everything should be open
There are instances where people seem to be opposed to closing any question for any reason.
- Many of these people who are 3k and above have few if any close vote reviews
This suggests that either everything should be open or that they are comfortable with what is closed. This is sometimes refuted by numerous "reopen" votes without any "leave closed" reviews. From this, I can only conclude that there is the perception that everything should be open and there should be no moderation closing things - everything can be salvaged, somehow.
On down votes
There are suggestions that there shouldn't be downvotes for users with less than a certain reputation.
- Somehow this suggestion has 10 positive votes at the time of this writing (and 11 downvotes)
- This is done in the name of "welcoming users"
- People seem to take down votes personally
Down votes are a necessary feedback to users and part of the design of the system. There is a threshold where questions don't show up on the front page if they are below a certain level (people complain about seeing too many closed questions on the front page that they don't want to see? Down vote them.)
We have a system for dealing with lousy answers This is where your argument fails. Yes, it's absolutely true that we have a system for dealing with lousy answers, but that's irrelevant if no one is actually using that system. Next time you see a closed question you think should be re-opened, moderate the answers first. Use your downvotes on crap answers that attempt to answer the question and your flags on answers that don't attempt to answer the question. Questions can easily get re-opened if people actually did something about it instead of just talking about it.
Downvotes are part of reopening good questions.
On closure reasons
There is a consistent misunderstanding about closure reasons
- I understand this is something that Stack Exchange is going to address
- Many people complain about something being closed as off topic when it was closed as non-constructive or not a real question.
Not everything is closed for off topic. Many of the questions of "I don't understand why this was closed" within are you still confused... had to deal with not the scope, but rather with the structure of the system.
One such examples was How can I learn algorithms and data structures of any type?
I am a novice computer science and engineering student. I am learning Java but i want to learn from the basics so I want to learn algorithms.
Where to start that?
This was not closed for scope reasons but rather that it is not a real question. It was overly broad. Attempts were made in the comments to try to figure out what is actually being asked - if there is some way to narrow it down. It took nearly an hour between being asked and closed and the original questioner was gone not to be seen again within 3 minutes of the question being asked.
Another question of confusion was My Company Wants To Get Into Mobile Development — And Use Multi-Platform Frameworks that has with in:
What do you guys think about this? No one at my company has any experience with any of the mobile development frameworks. We're starting basically from scratch. I know a bit about iOS, a few people know a bit about android but it amounts to little.
Would love some input from some experts :D
This question is polling - asking for lots of ideas. Not an answer.
There is lots of history
There is lots of history to what Progammers.SE was. Get over it. The site has not been that way for a long time. Go through the top users in the past year - The vast majority where not here in September of 2010. These are the people that are here now. Trying to tell us about how wonderful it was back then and how bad it is now - we don't think its that bad now, and what you try to tell us that we are missing, we don't think we really want.
You want to tell me about how wonderful the site was back then? Sure. I have fond memories of BBS's and that his of a 1200 baud modem connecting. Some of those old BBS's became telnet sites when slip and isdn became more common and web sites with forums and live chat later on. Its not the same place.
This isn't the same place of July 2010. It isn't likely to become so again.
Lots of ideas, not answers
In my mind, what people come to Stack Exchange for is an answer. They come to Programmers.StackExchange for a reason too - they want an answer. They don't want to reddit programming or ask slashdot when they have a question about programming. We offer something special here that people come here to find.
Stack exchange doesn't have polls. It doesn't have endless threads of comments. It wasn't designed to.
Stack Exchange and Social Media
I've said this before, I'll say it again. Read A group is its own worst enemy by Clay Shirky.
This isn't just because I think its an essential thing to read when trying to understand a group of people... but because this was part of the considerations when creating Stack Exchange and how it is built - and thus, how we can work within it.
Back in Podcast #23
Atwood: Maybe. But the cool thing about this is this is not just me, because that would be boring. It is actually me and Clay Shirky. You know, Clay Shirky is one of my heroes.
Atwood: Yeah I know, it's awesome. So we get to talk about like building communities online and I get to talk about StackOverflow, you know, and all the lessons we've learned and, get to present with Clay. Obviously he's an expert so. That's one of the people that I have emailed actually, because I thought that would be good, because he is from New-York city as well. So we could A) show him the site and B) talk about the thing we are going to do together in March, because he needs to see the site to have some context. I mean I did meet him and talk to him about this earlier a few months ago, I think I mentioned it on the podcasts. But that was before we had sort of even going to beta, so there's really not a lot to show him. But I would love to show him in person. So we'll see if I'll hear back from him, I do not know.
Programmers.StackExchange.com runs in the Stack Exchange framework. It was designed with Clay's writings in mind.
A Group... goes into many points of online communities. The one I've tried to bring to a forefront (there are far too many essential things in the article - for me to try to explain them all would have much more than the text I've already written, and I suspect by this time you are a bit weary.)...
And, finally, you have to find a way to spare the group from scale. Scale alone kills conversations, because conversations require dense two-way conversations. In conversational contexts, Metcalfe's law is a drag. The fact that the amount of two-way connections you have to support goes up with the square of the users means that the density of conversation falls off very fast as the system scales even a little bit. You have to have some way to let users hang onto the less is more pattern, in order to keep associated with one another.
We can't have a question that can be answered by 100 different answers. Jeff considered the issue of scale when he designed Stack Exchange to make it difficult to have conversations in comments (and has apparently been thinking of things in for discourse - which apparently had been nagging him for a long time).
So, what do you want?
Those of you discontent with Programmers.SE, when considering that this is the way that the software works and that great changes to the fundamental ideals of the sites won't happen - what is it that you actually see Programmers.SE being that it isn't today? How does the site work?
How do we clean up broken windows and trash in the park? What do you do about that guy who keeps asking how to interview for Google and Microsoft and Blizzard and Oracle again and again? What does the FAQ say? How does voting work? Is voting there at all? Do we try to make it so that every single person feels like this is a nice warm fuzzy place? Is there a place for As a programmer, what are the most routine and what are the most creative development tasks?
How does what you perceive as the ideal site differ from reddit? Ask Slashdot? Generic php forum? Can this be implemented in Stack Exchange?