I want to discuss this. I definitely do. I do realize that this question is about area51, but I beg you to talk about it here, having a wider audience. Since, I believe, this is a very complex issue, which, at then end of all, is influencing on quality of whole Stackexchange ecosystem.

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Let's starts from some assumptions. What for example questions do exist in proposals? Well, example questions are samples of data that gives you an idea of what this proposed stack will be exactly about. OK, let's go further.

Think about what exactly makes question interesting. Well, question itself can be a very interesting, but confess: Had you ever read a question and find it quite regular and then, only after reading some unexpectedly amazing answers, only after that you've up-voted the question itself?

This happens to me not that rare. I believe that I am not unique here in any context. The thing is that example questions from area51 are no exception for me. Sometimes comment provided has been really exciting, interesting, curious, etc. They've literally shed more light on how this very stack can be useful than questions without answers.

But for some reasons, which has been stated but still sound very strange to me, all comments with answers are deleted.

So, I want to ask the community: Am I the only one who thinks this is wrong?

UPD: I've decided to add a couple of examples to make it clearer what is it I'm talking about:

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    This is very specific to area51, not the rest of the Stack Exchange network and belongs on discuss.area51. – Oded Sep 25 '13 at 19:43
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    This question appears to be off-topic because it is about area51, not the stack exchange network as a whole – Servy Sep 25 '13 at 19:47
  • @Oded, first this actually influence whole community, second, I want to discuss with community how do the evaluate questions on any stack, not only on Area51, so I've intentionally mentioned this in title. Please, give this question a chance. I believe it would be valuable here as well. In any case, I'll be very much obliged if, in case you nevertheless decide to close, you'll help to move this question instead of closing it. – shabunc Sep 25 '13 at 19:48
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    The Area 51 process is a big part of the SE network, so I think this question is fine here on MSO. – Adam Lear Sep 25 '13 at 20:20
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    I agree with you that seeing answers will help define whether the questions are good examples or not (don't have enough else to say to make an answer). Good Luck. – Lance Roberts Oct 1 '13 at 5:20

The purpose of comments on questions in Area 51 is to enhance the question asked, not to answer the question. These comments can further define, or explain why / how the asked question qualifies for the site.

In my opinion, it is not immediately harmful to have an answer to a question appear. Many answers to questions lead to more questions. If an answer aids the elaboration of a question, then it should be kept. Unfortunately, moderators can be fickle.

As noted in the comments below, having an answer appear in a comment as opposed to a standard StackExchange-style answer, is problematic since the typical checks and balances regarding answer quality are not in place for comments; therefore it is probably best they are removed.

  • All I'm trying to say is that answers are enhancing question as well. In case, of course, if we consider making question more valuable as enhancement. – shabunc Sep 25 '13 at 19:50
  • As implied, I'm not against having / leaving answers on Area 51 questions, but then-again, I'm not a moderator for Area 51. The problem with having answers in comments is that they aren't malleable like standard SE answers, and the purpose of Area 51 is to evaluate questions typical of the site. – JoshDM Sep 25 '13 at 19:53
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    @shabunc I don't see how much value an answer that fits in a comment offers... Questions on A51 proposals deserve thorough answers, not just quickies, and they'll get them when (if?) the proposal graduates. – yannis Sep 25 '13 at 19:53
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    While I see this point, the problem is that if everyone is answering questions then it just creates noise that you have to sift through. 1 person answering is fine, you can easily ignore it, but what if there are 3 or 4 answers on 75% of the sample questions, how are you going to filter the noise and deal with the issue at hand, which is voting on sample uestions – psubsee2003 Sep 25 '13 at 19:56
  • @psubsee2003, I'm just scrolling questions further )) Seriously, I haven't encounter such case when there are so many answers that they make reading unfeasible. But I do have seen interesting answers. – shabunc Sep 25 '13 at 20:03
  • @shabunc my point was there might only be an answer every once in a while. That itself isn't an issue. But if the action is sanctioned or semi-sanctioned, I'd be worried that you'll get more answers – psubsee2003 Sep 25 '13 at 20:38

I think you're missing the entire point of why we created Stack Exchange to curate answers in the first place.

The reason we created Stack Exchange was to assure that information posted on the Internet is widely vetted, edited, and improved by a thriving community of peers. Area 51 provides NONE of those capabilities.

When unwary Internet travels come across those questions through search, we don't want to be the source of half-baked answers to rhetorical (and largely incomplete) questions. That simply is not what we do.

I understand your eagerness to get these "example questions" answered. But it is exceedingly rare that someone is posting an answer to demonstrate just how cool the answer would be if it were "real." The vast, vast majority of users see a text box and it becomes a knee jerk reaction to just start… typing.

Why have a Stack Exchange site in the first place if the comment box of a random proposal would suffice? The so-called "example questions" of Area 51 are only posted to help define the scope. That's it. But it is not a Q&A site. That's why we have to forgo that activity entirely in Area 51. It is not a proper forum to curate proper answers. Period.

Just winging an answer wherever someone finds a place to type goes against why we so meticulously curate these sites in the first place. These questions can be properly answered soon enough… when the Q&A site is created.

Please do not use the comment space of Area 51 to post answers. It was not designed for that.

  • 1
    So, the fact that de-facto hundreds and thousands of loyal users are constantly trying to answer proposed questions does not bothers you at all. Ain't it a hint that, instead of trying to say No.Period. you can at least think about why this constantly happens. Correct me if I'm wrong and that this not happens in statistically considerable amounts. – shabunc Sep 25 '13 at 20:17
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    @shabunc "hundreds and thousands of loyal users are constantly trying to answer proposed questions" ...in Area 51 proposed question comments? Not from what I've seen. More like tens, maybe tens of tens. – Anthony Neace Sep 25 '13 at 20:20
  • @HyperAnthony that is exactly the reason I've asked Robert to correct me if I'm wrong. Personally me seen a lot of such questions. – shabunc Sep 25 '13 at 20:21
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    @shabunc I think you need to take some time away from the discussion to process Robert's answer. You seem to have come in with a lot of assumptions about Area 51 that aren't quite reality. – Anthony Neace Sep 25 '13 at 20:23
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    @shabunc Just because you can answer questions in comments, doesn't mean you should. I take it upon myself to do all that cleanup — and teach through educational comments as I go along — because the developers do not yet have the bandwidth to fix minor indiscretions through the UI. So I take care of it through moderation. Most users seem to get it. – Robert Cartaino Sep 25 '13 at 20:27
  • @HyperAnthony I'll be very much obliged if you provide some real numbers - if you have such of course - how many answers on Area51 are deleted on a daily basis. See how it looks like now - there is my personal experience of using Area51 and I'm making an assumption and asking to correct me if I'm wrong. And you are blaming me for, well, actually, being wrong (about something that can be measured actually, it is not some kind of subjective matter) without any facts provided to prove your positions. – shabunc Sep 25 '13 at 20:28
  • @RobertCartaino, may I repeat my question again. Can you, please, tell (in percents) how many comments daily are deleted because users had tried to actually answer the question? – shabunc Sep 25 '13 at 20:29
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    @shabunc Your premise is wrong; the statistics are irrelevant. Answers in Area 51 proposed question comments do not fit in that scope. It doesn't matter how many people are trying to shove round peg into the square hole, except that maybe the presentation of the site could be amended if it was a gross amount. However I think it is very obvious by the fact that most proposed questions haven't been moderated that this is not the case. Go visit any Area 51 proposal -- visibly moderated comment sections will be in the minority. – Anthony Neace Sep 25 '13 at 20:30
  • @HyperAnthony, I repeat my answer, can you, please, provide some statistics on how many such answers are deleted daily? Cause my assumption exactly on how many such answers are you've claimed to be wrong. Not the fact that this statistics is irrelevant. – shabunc Sep 25 '13 at 20:32
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    @shabunc I have no idea. If you want to base it on the 10's of thousands of questions that have gone through Area 51, the percentage of is miniscule. But that's irrelevant and doesn't make my case any more so than you saying "because people answer questions in comments, it should be allowed." – Robert Cartaino Sep 25 '13 at 20:33
  • So, you have no idea or there are tens of thousands of such questions? – shabunc Sep 25 '13 at 20:34
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    @shabunc You're the one who's obligated to provide statistics to support your case, as you're the one making the assertions here. You don't get to make a bunch of baseless assertions and then demand that everyone provide factual evidence to prove you wrong. You asserted that there are hundreds of thousands of answers posted as comments on area51. Back that assertion up with your statistics if you want to make it. – Servy Sep 25 '13 at 20:40
  • @HyperAnthony, check out, for example this stack - area51.stackexchange.com/proposals/34139/polish-language-usage I'm not saying that there are MANY of such questions, I'm saying that they are quite a lot of such questions. – shabunc Sep 25 '13 at 20:40
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    @shabunc "but I've not stated that questions had been deleted" - " how does this changes the fact that 7 questions has been deleted?" – yannis Sep 25 '13 at 20:48
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    @shabunc An easy mistake to make, for sure, and I wouldn't worry about it. That said, perhaps it would be a good idea to take a small break from this discussion, you appear to get a bit overly emotional. Just a few minutes to regroup, re-evaluate your arguments and re-read what people are saying would be enough, imho. – yannis Sep 25 '13 at 20:51

Answers to the questions don't help define the type of questions the proposed site is expected to support.

The questions act as a fence or boundary line that delineate what is on-topic and what is off-topic. Answers to those questions won't push a question toward either side of that line - and if you can think of an answer that would change the question and make it more or less on-topic, then the question itself is flawed and should be edited so the boundary becomes clear.

Answers would muddy the water, and wouldn't help, in any way, to define the proposal, which is the sole purpose of Area51.

  • Of course there may be other reasons to allow answers on Area51, or you may have other arguments showing that answers are important to help define the proposal. If that's the case, make those arguments. Otherwise you're asking for a feature without showing the clear benefit to the proposal. – Adam Davis Sep 25 '13 at 19:59
  • Answers helps for some of us to decide whether they up-vote, down-vote or leave the question unvoted. This is just the way it is, this is a fact. – shabunc Sep 25 '13 at 20:00
  • @shabunc Those people that can't determine if a question is on topic or off topic without reading a few answers probably shouldn't be helping define proposals. This is just the way it is, this is a fact. – Adam Davis Sep 25 '13 at 20:04
  • sorry, but it sound like some sort of elitism. If community - for any reasons evaluates something, no matter positively or negatively, who am I to say that, hey, you have less rights to do this because your assumptions are based on worser principles. – shabunc Sep 25 '13 at 20:06
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    @shabunc Ok, so essentially you're saying, "some people want to add answers, and some people want to rate questions based on the answers, so we should let them." In that case, I might as well say, "Some people want to add videos rather than comments, and some want to rate the questions based on videos, so we should let them." The problem here is that neither you or I have convincing reasons that doing so will improve the proposal. "Just because" and "it helps some people" aren't good enough reasons. You need to make an argument that objectively shows that the proposals will be improved. – Adam Davis Sep 25 '13 at 20:10
  • nope, actually all I'm trying to say that answers help to launch interesting proposals (and filter out bad ones) and you insist that they don't and those who think so (and behave accordingly) " shouldn't be helping define proposals". The crucial difference between my opinion and yours is that I'm not stating that my opponents who do not see any benefits in comment/answers "should not be helping define proposals". – shabunc Sep 25 '13 at 20:13
  • @shabunc Yes, but you haven't said how or why. You've made the assertion that answers would make the questions better, but you have pretty much stopped there. Why does the answer improve the question? How does seeing an answer help you determine that the question is on/off topic? – Servy Sep 25 '13 at 20:17
  • @Servy, that was exactly the question I wanted to discuss: Am I the only one who thinks that answers helps to evaluate questions itself. – shabunc Sep 25 '13 at 20:19
  • @shabunc You're proposing that the policy be changed. You should be able to support that assertion with some reasoning. So far you have not. – Servy Sep 25 '13 at 20:22
  • @Servy, there's no proposal tag in my question, there is my personal opinion tagged with "discussion" label. I repeat, all I'm trying to understand am I the only person here who evaluates example questions just like any question on launched Stacks. – shabunc Sep 25 '13 at 20:23
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    @shabunc Your question reads like a proposal to allow answers to be posted to questions on area51, regardless of how you tagged it. The fact that you're unable to provide any reasoning, despite repeated requests to explain yourself, would indicate you have no real reasoning, and is a pretty strong point against your assertion being true. If answers really do matter, you should be able to explain why and how they help. – Servy Sep 25 '13 at 20:26
  • @Servy, it is very sad that my words made you think so. I will carefully analyze all what I've said in order to understand how to make my questions more clear. – shabunc Sep 25 '13 at 20:38

Answering questions on Area 51 leads to more confusion, and while it can occasionally give an interesting answer, it ultimately gets in the way of a constructive site.

The purpose of the comment button on Area 51 is to ask questions about the question, not to answer the question. Help clarifying it, is the question actually on topic, why should it be on topic? If there's answers tossed in there as well, this muddles the waters, making it difficult to actually discuss the points that need to be discussed.

Here's a few questions that had some discussion, which is to the ultimate benefit of the proposal:

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