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First off, forgive me if this has been proposed already. I did not find anything in the search, but of course I didn't search every suggestion there is.

In some SO questions (and I'm sure SF/SU as well), you will come across a nice practice: The asker will update their question frequently to adapt it to the answers given and discussion occurred, making the question itself a valuable resource. Let me point to a question of my own as an example. There are many, many others maintained with equal or more care, but I had great fun with this question and that kind of underlines my point.

This, of course, works best for questions whose answers can be compiled into a list ("what good x are there for platform y with technology z?"), but in essence, it applies to any question where the asker puts extra care into making the question a understandable, well-formatted resource that is helpful to somebody who comes across the question later.

The flow of questions on the trilogy of sites is always linear. Duplicates will sometimes be linked to older, already answered questions, but they might just as well be answered anew, because the duplicate can't be found or isn't searched for. The result is that probably most of the questions that have been asked are present multiple times, with answers that naturally differ in quality.

Now I realize this is in the basic nature of Q&A sites. Still, I would like to see a possibility and systemic encouragement to groom and update selected "worthy" questions (and their answers) beyond a few days after it has been asked. For the purposes of this proposal, for want of a better fitting word, I will call them "groomed" questions.

What I would like to submit for discussion is the idea of adding incentives for askers to take care of such questions, and update them if new information comes in, making them valuable long-term resources.

Steps:

  • To create a new category or special tag for "groomed" questions.

  • To give "groomed" questions some sort of visual preference when listing to point out that this is a question meant to be a ongoing, updated reference or list.

  • To list these questions in a separate area in the user's profile.

Potential up sides for SO and users:

  • A "groomed" question would be the reference link when pointing out that a question is a duplicate

  • Would be in accord with what I understand is SO's mission statement: To become a knowledge resource for all programming related questions

  • Could add incentive for users to outsource parts of their own knowledge base to SO, gaining recognition and corrections / criticism / feedback

  • Would increase the overall quality of the data base

  • Linking to a "groomed" question is more likely to happen than a years-old answer

  • Maintaining the information amassed in a SO question is hard work as well, and a list of well-maintained questions visible in the profile would become a user incentive in itself

Potential cons and down sides:

  • The biggest down side I can see is that attention - and probably the better part of long-term upvotes - would be shifted from the answers (whose authors do the main work, and provide their knowledge) unjustly to the question and the asker. This would lead to the asker being rewarded (by upvotes) for repeating the findings the answerers have gathered. This would have to be addressed in a way that serves both the answerers, and the asker. I don't think Reputation will be the reason for people to take extra care of your questions, but it is the most basic expression of approval and acknowledgement from the community, and as such, important.

  • This question asks about more incentive for editing, and its accepted answer is that there is enough incentive to edit as it is.

Note that I am not talking about turning SO into a site of static FAQ pages. What I mean is adding the possibility to give some questions a faq`ish touch without changing the basic way how things work.

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talking about turning SO into an FAQ. When did we change this? I thought the purpose of SO has always been to be an FAQ site. Ask Question. Get Answer. Accept Answer. Did I miss the boat? –  Diago Jan 17 '10 at 16:57
    
I changed the sentence a bit to clarify what I mean. –  Pëkka Jan 17 '10 at 17:08
    
Your missing the point. The Trilogy are FAQ sites, that is exactly how they work. Your idea is just making it why more complex then what it already is. There is already a badge for editing and I don't feel that we need more questions edited, rather answers kept up to date and seperated. –  Diago Jan 17 '10 at 17:13

3 Answers 3

IMHO there is absolutely no use in editing all the answers into the question.

The answers are right there under the question, in more detail and with votes and comments that show what other people think of that suggestion. What value would it add to copy parts of that into the question?

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Maybe my example is a bit weak, but simply copying answers into the question is not what I'm getting at. My basic idea is adding/creating incentive to keep selected questions in high quality, and adding a touch of "editorial" quality to them, regardless of how old they are. –  Pëkka Jan 17 '10 at 17:12
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@Pekka - Which is already the goal of the site and is already being done. –  Diago Jan 17 '10 at 17:14
    
@Diago, there is not enough incentive to do so in my opinion. Firstly, there is too little community reward in the form of recognition. Secondly, once a question leaves the hot discussion phase, it tends to disappear from the community's radar screen. The proposal is adding incentive by allowing people to take over quality control for a number of questions, and be recognized for it, and to give such questions a more timeless quality. –  Pëkka Jan 17 '10 at 17:17
    
The natural person to assign themselves to quality controlling and updating a question is the asker, which is why I am dwelling on the question so much. Maybe that's not the way to go. But the assigning is, I think. –  Pëkka Jan 17 '10 at 17:25
    
@Pekka - You've just described what CW is, and that happens automatically, when a question is edited often. I suggest you read the MSO FAQ tags on what CW is. –  Diago Jan 17 '10 at 17:30
    
Yet, my suggestion is the direct opposite of CW, making one person responsible (and recognizable) for the "well-being" of a question. Anyway, never mind, maybe this woule indeed be an idea for a project on its own. –  Pëkka Jan 18 '10 at 0:11

You're suggesting the exact opposite of what (IMHO) we should be doing - pulling answers out of the question into a separate reply.

Take this question of mine (not my highest-voted, but the most complex, and the one that led to the greatest discoveries on my part) - I actually discovered the beginning of the solution while I was explaining the question, but edited the answer out into its own reply. Since I've made further discoveries regarding this solution, I have revisited and edited the answer many times (it's almost pushed over to CW now, even), but the answer is absolutely the right place to put this information, not in the question itself.

tl;dr version: coming back to give more love to a post: good! putting the answer right in the question (particularly if it's not a one-line answer): bad!

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As I stated in my comments to Diago above, my emphasis is on "coming back to give more love to a post" (well put!). Whether it's questions or answers you edit is secondary. There is not enough incentive for that right now in my mind, and I would like to see something in that direction. –  Pëkka Jan 18 '10 at 0:32
    
@pekka: ok, makes more sense now! –  Ether Jan 18 '10 at 0:55

Considering the entire Trilogy's model is trying to be simple and straightforward (that's what I try to see it at least), there are still a lot of misuses.

The OP albeit a genuine attempt to improve the model and I would say a well-thought one will actually make the system more complex.

The core team and community are trying hard to make the Trilogy what they envisioned to be and I must say so far so good, job well-done. It's really tough to 'educate' new and 'stubborn' users on what and how the sites are suppose to be /work.

I'll say let's continue to make it simple and let the current model be as it is. Tweaking might be required along the way, not this one for me though.

Sorry mate. Good effort though!

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Cheers o.k.w! I'm aware that this would change how the site works not so much technically, but... uh.. semantically. Maybe this is an idea for a standalone project with an even more editorial approach than SO. –  Pëkka Jan 18 '10 at 0:12
    
@pekka: Yea, could be an interesting side project. :) –  o.k.w Jan 18 '10 at 0:18

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