Is our metaphor broken?
Just asking this question makes my anxiety level approach the point it gets to almost every time I've ever asked a question, (which is well documented).
My anxieties are apparently not unique. Many people get a negative vibe from this site and I wonder if it could be fixed with a better metaphor.
I feel like the current metaphor is one of a garden in which the good questions are supposed to flourish and grow. The problem is the bad questions need to be weeded which makes for some tired and cranky gardeners.
It sort of reminds me of the old days on Digg, when a duplicate story was submitted and the community at large would have a conniption. In comparison, Twitter is a torrent of duplicate stories and it works!
What if the metaphor for StackOverflow/StackExchange was more like that of a river? Poor, off-topic, and duplicate questions could just flow by to a lake of obscurity.
Great, you say, but how would this work?
Glad you asked.
As noted on a recent question about negativity in the community, @Mystical had a nice breakdown of the types of problem users. To counteract that I picture a system like this:
Question askers should get zero rep for an upvoted question. Zero. None. Zip.
- As a self-declared question asker, it pains me to say it, but an answer to a question should be reward enough. This would prevent people asking questions just for the hope of rep.
Answers should get zero rep unless N number of people (other than the answerer) upvote the question.
- The idea here is that bad questions can get answered all day, but the answerer wouldn't get any rep unless the community agreed the question was worthwhile. Maybe the rep of the upvoter could play in here.
No more vote to close, flag as dupe, etc.
- In short, no more weeding. Just let the trash get swept to the sea. Moderation would still be necessary for gross abuse, but most of the irk would be eliminated.
- With regards to duplicates, let them be. If there are duplicate questions that get enough upvotes to generate the answerer rep, so be it. Whoever declared questions can only be asked or answered once?
These are just ideas. I don't have answers. But I think the StackExchange network has a lot of discontent and my aim here is not to be derisive but constructive rather.
The End (?)
I've always wanted to love this site (and network). I love its ideals. I love the commitment that so many knowledgeable people put forth because they're passionate about what they know. But I rarely find what I am looking for here anymore and I am often too afraid to ask.