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I'm getting a lot of old questions on the front page that were bumped by the Community user. I understand that this is usually a Good Thing, to get some attention for buried questions, but should there be some kind of discrimination to what gets bumped?

For example, don't bump the question if:

  • The author has been inactive for over X years/months
  • There are X or more answers, or votes on answers
  • The question itself is over a year, or two years old
  • Some combination of the above

Ideally, Community would read the posts and decide if they're worth resurrecting, but of course that's not possible. Some may argue that even the most obscure, out-of-date questions from long-gone users still have value, but I think there are plenty of active questions from active users that could use attention.

Related: Force Accepted Answers on Questions by Inactive Users

I'm frequently getting low-quality questions from 2-3 years ago on the home page, from users with 11 rep who haven't logged in in ages, and/or "solved" the problem already but didn't accept an answer (making it a candidate for Community bump). I would say I run into variations of these about 2-3 times a day.

Aside: Often these old posts have content that should rightly be flagged for removal (i.e. "Did you try debugging?" answers). I suppose things were more relaxed in those days. Should I really waste a mod's time removing these on a really old post?

Aside 2: A link to what makes Community bump questions would be appreciated as well, in case I've assumed too much about how it actually works. As far as I understand, the only requirement is to not have an accepted answer. Do they only get one bump?

I'm not saying "don't bump questions", I'm suggesting that there should be more discrimination regarding what Community ♦ decides to bump, to keep less clutter of the home page. SO is eventually going to be overwhelmed with "unanswered" questions, maybe it's time for something like this.

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If I might add another question to the above: I was under the impression that all questions were equal in respect to community bumping, and that abandoned or no longer relevant questions would get flagged/closed by the trusted/mods who spot them when they get bumped. Is this the right way to go? – Frédéric Hamidi Jul 24 '11 at 18:28
I was just wondering the same, but often the question is still technically relevant, or otherwise not removal-worthy. Sometimes the user is active but just doesn't accept answers enough, and has several good answers with votes. They don't always need to be removed, they just don't really need to get bumped to the front page. Maybe accept rate of the user could affect this as well? i.e. less than 10% accept rate = no bump. – Wesley Murch Jul 24 '11 at 18:34
Not a 100% duplicate, and opinions on these things do change over time, but see Would it be feasible to have Community only poke questions of active users? – Gilles Jul 24 '11 at 18:43
up vote 13 down vote accepted

Just to be 100% clear, our definition of unanswered is "no upvoted answers".

I think this has been adequately answered in the other answers + comments, but I did want to add one thing.

I recently tweaked the community bumping so that it favors unanswered questions with lots of views. Right now it takes the top 100 unanswered questions with no recent activity by views, then picks randomly from within that group.

Therefore, the more people that look at an unanswered question, the more likely it is to get bumped for some much-needed attention -- editing, answering, flagging, voting, all that good stuff.

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I was in fact under false assumptions in my post, thanks for clarifying. I always felt like flagging old content was a waste of time, like the mod looking at the flag is thinking: "Sheesh, seriously? This is a boring post from 08, who cares?", even if they validate the flag, but it's part of the janitor job I guess, and work that must be done to maintain the site. I guess that's just how I feel about editing those posts as well, maybe time for me to take up a new attitude about it. – Wesley Murch Jul 25 '11 at 1:00

Random bumping is not done just to get old unanswered questions answered. It is also done to highlight questions that need other kinds of attention, like being closed.

Aside 1: Yes, go ahead and flag. The cleaner the site is, the less we have to explain to new users why their content is unsatisfactory, without them pointing to old posts as evidence that their posts are OK.

share|improve this answer
For a low-visibility question, would you prefer a close vote (which may never accumulate enough) or a flag for removal, directly asking for mod attention? – Wesley Murch Jul 24 '11 at 18:42
@Wesley: If the question has low views, you can flag it, as it is unlikely to achieve close velocity anyway. But you never know. Sometimes questions that got a pass the first time are closed aggressively the second time. It just depends on who is looking at the site when the question is bumped. – Robert Harvey Jul 24 '11 at 18:51
That works for me. Should I retag this "discussion"? Any comment about the assumption in the other answer? – Wesley Murch Jul 24 '11 at 18:59
@Wesley: You can leave the tag. Yes, I believe the way camcann described the process is the way it currently works. – Robert Harvey Jul 24 '11 at 19:00

From Community ♦'s profile on SO:

I do things like

  • Randomly poke old unanswered questions every hour so they get some attention

Assuming "unanswered" means the same thing as the "Unanswered questions" tab, then Community ♦ will only bump questions that have no upvoted answers. This should immediately rule out any questions where the OP simply didn't accept an answer.

If there's a decent answer that got ignored, then just upvote it; problem solved. If the answers are all bad, why not add a better one? If you can't because the question is unanswerable, then flag it and/or vote to close.

Regarding aside 1: Similar questions have been asked before. I think the general verdict is don't go crazy and flag everything in sight, but for especially useless stuff, go for it.

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Assuming "unanswered" means the same thing as the "Unanswered questions" tab, then voting a good answer is a great idea (well, it's always a good idea to upvote good answers) - but I think I'd feel inclined to vote up any answer just so the question stays buried. As far as "Why not add a better one" - because OP is a ghost, I'd rather spend time helping active users. I'd like to know if that first part is true or not though. – Wesley Murch Jul 24 '11 at 18:47
Keep in mind that SO has crazy amounts of google juice. What about helping people who google for their question first instead of going to SO and posting a duplicate? Why not help them? – McCannot Jul 24 '11 at 18:50
Good point. So then I see 3 cases where a Community bump helps 1.Getting answers for OP 2.Getting answers for Googlers 3.Getting the post cleaned up or removed. All 3 are beneficial. Thanks for the perspective. I suspect the mods will be a bit busier with my flags. I still think the "duplicate" concept is a bit rough around the edges though... After 3 years, I would think it's OK to ask some things again in a different context. – Wesley Murch Jul 24 '11 at 18:55
@camcann: Duplicates help the Google juice.… – Robert Harvey Jul 24 '11 at 18:56
@Robert Harvey: Which is reason not to delete them. But if someone searches Google first and finds a dusty old question, it seems better for everyone if they can get their answer immediately, rather than going to the effort of posting what they know to be a duplicate. – McCannot Jul 24 '11 at 18:59

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