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(Note: this question is slightly tl:dr but to sum up, I'm interested in figuring out how to increase the quality of the site's questions. The following is the reasoning I worked out)

This is poke, on Facebook.

According to the Facebook help page, its main purpose is to give a notification to the user I "poked".

Why do I ask this? Well... let's see the following facts:

  1. There are a lot of people at Super User that have accounts on other Stack Exchange sites.
  2. There are a lot of people that are more active on other Stack Exchange sites than Super User.

(This problem can be transversal to all sites, but I'm posting here, instead of Meta Stack Overflow as I found this problem here first).

According to 1. if they had the commitment to join Super User, then those peoples also have an interest in asking or answering questions.

The problem is that there are some people that ask questions and afterwards stop visiting SU. They don't stop being active in Stack Exchange as stated in 2. (in fact, they are quite active on Stack Overflow, for most of the users I checked), but they stop being active on SU.

Why is this a problem? If the problem was about answers given, there exists a quite nice setup (editing, reviewing, getting compensation for improving a post) designed to increase the quality and therefore the signal to noise ratio on the site. However the same can not be said about questions.

I can divide most questions here on 2 types:

  • Generalist, easy access and wide answering questions (e.g. "How to daggertooth my jabberwocky without using the flux capacitor"). These kinds of questions, when even written with some detail, can be fixed and therefore can be of more use to the community.
  • Specific, very strict and single answer questions (e.g. "Installation of localaxis failed because error not an axis was given") These kinds of questions rarely have more than a single answer, and most times the answer is specific to the problems faced by that user and rarely to a greater audience.

The latter can't be reformatted without the author. Unless we can open his head remotely and see what the actual question is, these kinds of questions, if having content issues that not condemning it to oblivion but make it incomplete or hard to understand, can't be easily edited.

Furthermore, what if someone has answered the question, and the author fails to give it attention? The people that gave an answer have some expectation that the person who did take the time to write a question can retribute the time that the persons that answered took.

In fact, this is how this problem came to be, for me. I checked my answers for some information I had and that wanted to adapt to an answer. For pure curiosity, I checked some of my "inactive" answers and I found that the authors of the respective questions, although inactive in SU, are active on other SE sites.

What I'm not asking: I don't want a poke feature like the one on Facebook (that was merely to illustrate/bold the post), but I'm interested in knowing of good ways to call back the users, to give a little attention to the questions.

I know that regardless of site, the user does receive a little red dot on the left upper corner stating someone somewhere answered the question. But for this to happen, the users might simply forget or disregard fully the question they themselves asked.

Signaling in with @(someone's_name) in a comment box seems to be somewhat like a plea for attention (emphasis on the plea). I could open a private chat room with the user, but that seems even worse.

The most "delicate" way I came across of signaling this is to... say, if the question is standing still in 2 weeks time, then a new notification should be sent to the user, maybe saying something in the order of "Hey, someone answered your post and you haven't done anything about it".

share|improve this question
The inbox already works across the whole network. A comment on SuperUser is seen when visiting Stack Overflow. – Martijn Pieters Oct 30 '13 at 18:35
I know about that, but it is incredibly easy to disregard a notification. – Doktoro Reichard Oct 30 '13 at 18:36
Please also add "Trout Slap". – Wesley Murch Oct 30 '13 at 18:36
@DoktoroReichard So how would this be any different. If people aren't interested, they aren't interested. – Servy Oct 30 '13 at 18:37
@DoktoroReichard But what if the person is trying to disregard you? :P – Mysticial Oct 30 '13 at 18:37
And poking cannot be disregarded? You cannot force people to participate. – Martijn Pieters Oct 30 '13 at 18:37
What if they stopped using the site? – Travis J Oct 30 '13 at 18:37
Lets turn it into a social network while we're at it. – Josh Crozier Oct 30 '13 at 18:38
@JoshC Good idea! Here's my first status update – Andrew Barber Oct 30 '13 at 18:39
It's true that I can't force people to participate, but they are the ones asking the questions. Shouldn't they have the littlest bit of interest in seeing them solved? – Doktoro Reichard Oct 30 '13 at 18:39
@DoktoroReichard Yes, they should. But no, you should not be able to bug them about it. And this would be used for far more than that, even if this were a good reason for it. – Andrew Barber Oct 30 '13 at 18:40
@JoshC - Can we also add a feature to broadcast every post to all of our followers? And perhaps email. Definitely need some sort of private messaging. And more images, perhaps a list of galleries. – Travis J Oct 30 '13 at 18:40
@JoshC (poke) haha. I just liked your previous comment! Can't wait to see a shared status update on your timeline so I can retweet it with my witty but useless hashtag! – Travis J Oct 30 '13 at 18:45
I stopped reading at this point: This is poke, on Facebook. – brasofilo Oct 30 '13 at 18:53
This question appears to be off-topic because it is about poking – Lorem Ipsum Oct 30 '13 at 19:29
up vote 15 down vote accepted


There is no reason to add this feature, whatsoever.

A comment on a post on SuperUser goes into the global inbox, and will be seen by the user when visiting any site in the Stack Exchange network where the user has a linked account. That is enough of a poke.

You cannot force anyone to participate. Additional poking is not going to motivate people any more than a regular comment would.

share|improve this answer
As I stated, I wasn't asking for a outright poke, but a reminder. – Doktoro Reichard Oct 30 '13 at 18:40
@DoktoroReichard - Reminder: accept an answer. – Travis J Oct 30 '13 at 18:40
@DoktoroReichard: Yes, I know. That reminder is still a poke, an automated one. – Martijn Pieters Oct 30 '13 at 18:41
@TravisJ: Reminder: poke the OP again in 8 minutes when the question is at least 15 minutes old, to remind him to accept an answer. – Martijn Pieters Oct 30 '13 at 18:42
Please, we don't need reminders to accept an answer, especially within 15 minutes. Just let it be. If you see the user has accepted any answers, they know the feature exists. – Wesley Murch Oct 30 '13 at 18:45
To at least make some closure about this topic. I didn't ask for a feature like "poke" to be added (there are enough similar topics around here), I asked whether there were more subtle ways to make someone participate (but as shown in comments, people stopped reading after the first lines). However, and as the community shows, you can't really force anyone to participate. I'm accepting your answer at it shows the generalized community's view on this topic. – Doktoro Reichard Nov 2 '13 at 17:14
@DoktoroReichard: I understood that you didn't want a feature for people to 'poke' someone, you wanted the system to poke someone. I just don't think that that is needed. – Martijn Pieters Nov 2 '13 at 17:33

a big NO to poke someone as stackoverflow is maintained by people who voluntarily contributing and helping others, and this is not a social network and people are not ask to help they do whenever they are available and the want.

share|improve this answer
And I'm not asking for a poke, nor a social network, but rather for a way to remind people. – Doktoro Reichard Oct 30 '13 at 18:44
Yes you are. You are asking for a poke. – Mr Lister Oct 30 '13 at 21:01
If I were asking for a "poke" I would have tagged it as feature-request. Instead, I tagged it as discussion because I wanted to know if, besides the examples I gave, there were better ways to "remember" people. But the reading skills of most viewers seem to deplete as soon as they read the first lines. – Doktoro Reichard Oct 30 '13 at 22:41

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