Do the powers that be consider 180k unanswered questions a problem that needs addressing? How do they envision the current system clearing out that backlog? (Maybe there are some other mechanisms I'm not aware of as a relative new-comer). I want to get a sense of what the operators as well as the veterans think about this before I start lobbing feature requests around.
To me it seems like there's a lot of junk in SO's unanswered questions tab. A couple times I've tried to go through and clear a few out by answering or up-voting, but the signal-to-noise ratio is pretty low. Even if I was >3k, would enough other people come along to vote to close something before my close vote expired? I think some heavy culling would help answerable unanswered questions stand out and make the whole thing more useful. I know the goal is to be the repository of all programming knowledge, but perhaps the scales could be further tipped from quantity to quality?
One limitation of the current system is that the only people who are really good at answering questions can moderate. Even if those people are willing to spend lots of time cleaning up, I think the Jon Skeet's of the world are probably a lot more valuable to the site when they're answering questions and not playing janitor. But obviously we can't just let anyone come in and close or delete questions, which is why I'm feeling like some sort of automated culling would be beneficial.
I'm also curious about something that maybe one of the gurus can come up with a db query to answer: is the number of unanswered questions growing faster than the pool of people that can moderate them?
Did some more digging. Looks like % of questions that have answers of non-zero score has gone from 93% at the start of 2009, to 83% at the start of 2010, to 74% at the start of this month. At some point, that has to become a problem.