Meta Stack Exchange is where users like you discuss bugs, features, and support issues that affect the software powering all 158 Stack Exchange communities.

What is meta?
Here's how it works:
  1. Any Stack Exchange user can ask a question
  2. The community provides support, votes on ideas, and reports bugs
  3. Your voice helps shape the way Stack Exchange operates

Because Area 51 encourages off-topic questions, and users receive rep when their questions are voted off-topic, have we created a haven for trolls? A user could post countless absurd questions throughout the site and rapidly rise to 10K status. Are these the people we want to trust with semi-mod powers?

(I am not posting specific examples because I don't want to a) feed the trolls, and b) single anyone out)

More thoughts:

A good off-topic question is one that is almost on topic. These are useful, and posting them and voting on them should be encouraged. There are lots of bad questions that are obviously off-topic. It's very easy to write bad questions, and they are easily identified. I am concerned that lots of overtly bad questions will be posted, and these will get lots of votes. I don't think this is helpful, and has the side effect of elevating the users who post them.

share|improve this question
voting will change today, you will have the Meh vote for trollish questions, or you can not vote on them at all, the best medicine for troll fever is to ignore it – juan Jun 4 '10 at 13:19
This is a non-problem; you can vote a question for deletion. It's a hypothetical problem, too; while I have seen numerous spam proposals, I have seen very few overtly bad questions. – Robert Harvey Jun 4 '10 at 15:30
Hehe, this is funny:… – jjnguy Jun 4 '10 at 17:59
@Jinguy - Rich B and Evan Carroll are in the same place at the same time. This could get interesting! – user27414 Jun 4 '10 at 18:13
So are 3 million other users. This could be less than interesting indeed. @jon – random Aug 11 '10 at 19:36

Off-topic question submissions are important to determine the boundaries of the proposed site. You don't know what you are unless you know what you aren't. I actually find it a lot harder to think of good off-topic questions than good on-topic questions.

If the questions are literally trolls - as in, they have nothing to do with the site, as opposed to just tip-toeing on the boundary - then they shouldn't be voted off-topic, they should be deleted. If people are giving them off-topic votes instead, then there needs to be some better education with respect to how votes should be issued.

I'm only following 3 proposals right now, but I really haven't seen that many troll questions. Actually, I don't think I've seen any. So I don't think it's really that big a problem, at least not on all proposals.

share|improve this answer

If you see a user posting absurd questions, flag those questions as spam.

share|improve this answer
Agreed, but most questions are not blatantly absurd and/or trollish, they're perfectly legitimate on-topic or off-topic (but plausible) questions. – Massimo Jun 4 '10 at 14:03
@Massimo: Then what's the problem? Vote on the content, not on who is posting. – Jon Seigel Jun 4 '10 at 16:08

A good troll isn't immediately recognizable as a troll. That's how they draw people in, get them to respond, sate that need for attention.

...And, IMHO, these are the sorts of questions you want to identify early on. Because they won't be dealt with effectively by the community after the site goes live - enough people will take them seriously to keep them open, or at least make them into centers of controversy. See "Boat programming", "Tabs vs. Spaces", "Why has [human society] [produced some outcome]?", etc. in the context of SO... These are not as easy to pull off - and I'm never quite sure if the individuals posting them are intentionally trolling or merely unable to grasp the purpose of the site. They're like Edward Norton's character in "The Score"...

So no, I don't think A51 is a "haven for trolls". Effective trolling is hard. It's the blatantly bad questions that are, as you note, easy to write and easy to vote on. But the voting system is changing anyway, so who knows what this'll end up looking like...

share|improve this answer

With the interface changes and changes to the voting system, posting silly or trivial questions will gain you little-to-no reputation. I'll post more about the changes as soon as we work out some of the details.

share|improve this answer


That's why I'm proposing to decouple on-/off-topic status from question score.

Proposal for a new voting system on Area 51 [Now with PICTURES!]

share|improve this answer
One more post like that and I'll believe you are a spam robot advertising his product/question. – Gnoupi Jun 4 '10 at 13:17
The problem is attracting some attention in the total chaos the new voting rules are going to create :-p – Massimo Jun 4 '10 at 13:18
Then you should have done that earlier. If it is planned to release this afternoon, it is already programmed and they probably won't change now. – Gnoupi Jun 4 '10 at 13:19
They announced the change yesterday, there really has not been so much time to do anything about that. – Massimo Jun 4 '10 at 13:22
Also, asking for some feedback before announcing the change would have been a lot nicer... – Massimo Jun 4 '10 at 13:30

Asking a silly question is easy, but brings you no reputation in itself.

People to blame are more the ones voting for them. If a trolling question raises 10 votes and no delete, the problem is not the one who asked the question as much as the other people.

share|improve this answer
That may be so, but we can't really change those people. – user27414 Jun 4 '10 at 13:24

I agree with this question. There seem to be a handful of people (<= 10) who seem to be dedicated trolls either proposing preposterous Q&As or questions or voting down questions without any clear explanation.

So my answer to your question is Yes.

share|improve this answer
Link it, or it didn't happen. – Ladybug Killer Aug 11 '10 at 20:11
@Ladybug Killer - I find your lack of faith disturbing. But OK, here's some examples of troll Q&As: * * * * That last one is all about trolling! Just look through the closed list about 60% are duplicates (not trolling) and about 30% are troll suggestions. – Wikis Aug 13 '10 at 4:49

You must log in to answer this question.