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Is there any way on earth to get a Jeff Atwood replacement?

Since February 6, 2012 I think the quality of the questions have gone down. IMHO the absence of Jeff is reflected on this site. I constantly find myself referring WhatHaveYouTried, What Stack Overflow is NOT and FAQ's.

Since Feb 6, Stack Overflow is filled with total newbie questions, and it's painful to see leaders of the community try to preserve the quality of (the best) site in the exchange.

Would it be possible for Stack Exchange to consider adding functionality for new 1st time questioners to be notified with a FAQ checklist, similar to The Joel Test: 12 Steps to Better Code

To Detect: practical, answerable questions based on actual problems that you face (no chameleons).

  • a specific programming problem <- detect through code that doesn't work - break/fix
  • software tools commonly used by programmers <- tag check
  • practical, answerable problems that are unique to the programming profession <- content length

It's not such a big deal, just give newbies a heads-up before they post, so that we can welcome them nicely. I'm writing this from a http://meta.stackexchange.com/questions/128548/what-stack-overflow-is-not perspective.

EDIT: I'm actually trying to suggest a cool pop-up that newbies see and decide to spend alittle more time asking their questions. I'm working on the logistics: Unable to research FreeText (reporting) applications

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Do you think that Jeff Atwood's mere presence somehow magically caused people to ask better questions? Also, what have you tried to solve this problem yourself? –  Cody Gray May 8 '12 at 11:05
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And technically Jeff's still around, rooting around meta :) –  Manishearth May 8 '12 at 11:11
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Since February 6, 2012 I think the quality of the questions have gone down. I'm observing a loss of quality in new questions since 2010...but that's because of the popularity. –  Time Traveling Bobby May 8 '12 at 11:13
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I do like the idea of something like "The Joel test" tick boxes on careers being attached to questions, but automating (most) of the things that would go on it would be a nightmare and doing it manually is pointless. –  Flexo May 8 '12 at 11:15
    
see edit, I'm not just saying filter crap questions, I've put a little thought into it. –  Jeremy Thompson May 8 '12 at 11:24
    
lol its a bit ironic I get down-voted on a question requesting to ask better questions! Thats meta.stackoverflow.com –  Jeremy Thompson May 8 '12 at 12:20
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@JeremyThompson: downvotes on meta means that they disagree with your suggestion. –  user7116 May 8 '12 at 14:30
    
@sixlettervariables lol –  Jeremy Thompson May 8 '12 at 22:43
    
Why "lol"? sixlettervariables wasn't joking. It's in the FAQ. –  Pops May 10 '12 at 13:43

2 Answers 2

up vote 22 down vote accepted

Since February 6, 2012 I think the quality of the questions have gone down.

This is a nonsense assessment based on very little fact. Jeff was away for many months prior to Feb 6, so you can chuck your Feb 6 theory out of the window.

As to quality, it is a never ending battle. My current concern is that the ratio of newbie to non-newbie question may be on the rise. Getting data to back this "gut" feel up is the tricky thing, especially since reputation is something that changes over time. I am working on quality at the moment, and as a team this is something we are not going to stop working on.

Do we need a system that chucks newbie questions in a "magic" queue, prior to subjecting the wide, general human race to it?

I am not sure, we will need LOTS of science to back such a radical change.

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This answer reflects how dedicated you guys are. thanks. –  Jeremy Thompson May 8 '12 at 11:13
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I likewise feel that the quality of questions on SO has trended down significantly (although it doesn't trace back to any particular date), and it seems to me like regularly tracking the new questions list is enough to observe that. But as tempting as a "magic queue" would be, the inevitable problem is that someone has to work their way through this magic queue. And I don't see why that would actually fix anything, compared to what we have now. –  Cody Gray May 8 '12 at 11:19
    
@TheEstablishment: Actually, contrary to my previous comment, I think that the quantity of good new questions has stayed the same...but the quantity of bad new questions has increased significantly. –  Time Traveling Bobby May 8 '12 at 11:24
    
@TheEstablishment it seems the ratio of newbie to non-newbie question seems pretty stable to me data.stackexchange.com/stackoverflow/query/edit/69486 –  waffles May 9 '12 at 0:47

The Jeff's official capacity has provided some magic only in the beginning (till 2009). Back then it was indeed very stimulating to see the founder interacting with the community. It's what every new site should do.

Later however it became more of a community shaping the place (till 2010).

Since 2011 it is mostly official management dictating what the service should look like. Here the individual influence of Jeff was less prominent as there was an official policy and every member of the team would basically fall in line.

As to the quality of the site content it began much earlier. Speaking of Stackoverflow its content quality began to drop dramatically at mid-2009 reaching a critical point in the second half of 2010, at which time I stopped my participation there. Programmers.SE was sort of a quiet harbor up until mid-2011 which then suffered a wave of bad questions and harsh moderator actions, at which point I left it too. Apparently no site in the SE network survives for more than 2 years until its golden times are over.

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So, do you consider a site that is a "quiet harbor" to be in its "golden years"? If so, then your prediction does appear to be a self-fulfilling prophesy. As time goes on, the site becomes more popular, and therefore has more activity, thus in your eyes, decreasing its quality and appeal. –  Cody Gray May 8 '12 at 11:37
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It's also interesting to me that you knock Programmers.SE on two fronts: "a wave of bad questions and harsh moderator actions". Either of those independently might be a valid objection, but taken together, they make your observation appear to be nonsense. In fact, it seems that the proper reaction to "a wave of bad questions" would be "harsh moderator actions" in an attempt to stem the incoming wave. –  Cody Gray May 8 '12 at 11:38
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I would add that the heyday you refer to (2009) was chock full of crappy bikeshed questions. Thankfully we've moved to close and delete these and get back to solving actual problems. –  user7116 May 8 '12 at 14:18
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@TheEstablishment To be fair, P.SE did suffer from many bad questions in its early days, and I agree with the feeling that SE responded way too harshly with their decision to change the sites scope completely. They should have cracked down on the bad questions only, not changed the sites direction entirely. –  Rachel May 9 '12 at 20:43

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