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It's important to every main site that its meta site is healthy and thriving. One way to ensure that a meta is thriving is to make sure that posts don't go unanswered.

However, we have some meta posts on Parenting that are more in the form of "announcements" than actual questions. These are basically unanswerable. An example would be a pro-tempore moderator announcement: That is an official statement and definitely not a question.

How should these be treated? On one hand, I'd just leave them as they are. OTOH, they stick out like a challenge against that "unanswered" statement.

You could also argue that some announcements could be made a little theatrical and posted as a (fake) question, having the actual content of the post as an answer. That would satisfy the Q&A form, but then it's not really an announcement anymore. Our Policy for voting might be put in that form.

You could also close questions that are really announcements; then they don't count as unanswered but that would have the undesired effect of invalidating the announcements. The policy for voting mentioned above should remain in effect, but closing the question would make it appear invalid.

Surely other sites have also had this situation.
How are announcements handled, and how are they "answered"?

Response to comment:

I realize that "zero unanswered questions" is more an ideal, or goal, to strive for, especially for sites with hundreds or even thousands or unanswered questions. Since we're lucky to have practically reached that pinnacle, we're facing the question of whether to actually take those last three steps to the top. Or, it's like like Neil Armstrong wondering how to get off that ladder. Should he not leap?

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You don't have to have a zero count –  random Feb 3 '12 at 21:00

3 Answers 3

up vote 9 down vote accepted

Edit the announcement so it become a question and then answer it with the announcement e.g.

Q: What is the policy for voting ?

A:

This topic defines the policy that users can refer to when deciding if a contribution merits a vote. This will ensure that high-quality answers that have community support bubble to the top.

upvote Upvote a high quality contribution.

High quality means that the contribution addresses the question well, is well worded, and adequately comprehensive. Bonus points for background information, relevant personal experience, references and hyperlinks.

novote Don't vote if an answer seems safe and sound, but doesn't agree with your parenting style.

downvote Downvote:

  • a low quality contribution, e.g. if it contains items that are verifiably incorrect or unsafe, and add a polite comment with a solid reference. If the error is inconsequential to the author and not likely to upset anyone (e.g. citing the wrong author of a book), then just edit the contribution directly.
  • a contribution that does not directly answer the question. We seek answers to the posed questions, not soapboxing. E.g. if someone asks, Is it normal for a newly-circumcised son to experience mild swelling then answering don't circumcise because medical argument XYZ simply doesn't answer the question. But it would be a great answer to a question that asks for arguments for and against circumcising.
  • when you strongly disagree, and add a polite comment explaining so, or even better, provide an alternate answer that describes your perspective.

flag Flag offensive contributions (including comments) and let the moderators sort it out. Never participate in personal attacks. Remember that you can also use the chat to send messages to individuals in order to discuss a topic.

(Sources: Several earlier discussions about what should be the proper practise for voting. )

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A few tactics we use on Programmers:

  • Answer the question with "Answering this to get it off the unanswered questions list"

  • Post secondary information—like tips and guidelines related to the announcement—in an answer

  • Post a "this event was completed on X date. It was <insert adjective here>. We <insert verb here> the <insert noun here>, and it went well." recap as an answer.

With the added action of getting people, whether prompted in chat or random passers-by, to up-vote or accept the dummy answers.

Yes, it's kind of cheesy, but if you're really interested in cleaning up the unanswered questions list, there's not much else you can do other than close the announcement questions.

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You could close these "announcement" questions -- closed questions don't coun't as unanswered.

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3  
That would work for announcements that have lost their immediate relevancy, like a pro-tem mod announcement. But it would be wrong to close other posts like the "policy for voting"; that would make it look no-longer-valid which is not the case. I'll add this to my question for clarification. –  Torben Gundtofte-Bruun Feb 3 '12 at 21:13

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