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I'm just curious, I see a lot of new users around SE who ask a question and never come back, so what do we (or more specifically, what does the automated system at play) do to encourage ongoing engagement with SE?

I know users are forced to register before asking a question (although admittedly I'm not quite sure what that means, because I feel like I've seen a few questions by users who were marked as unregistered), but how is that utilized?

When someone asks a question that goes on for a few days and accumulates a few high-quality, complete answers, do we reach out to the asker (through email, presumably) to welcome them back to the site and inform them that their question has been answered? Or are they relied upon to personally remember and care to come back? And if so, is there a rep cut-off at any point?

The same question could be applied to comments as well. We all, obviously, get notifications for comments or answers, but how are those presented to someone who doesn't come on every single day?

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  • Short answer, nothing. If they don't care about the answer, so be it. IF it is a good question and there are good answers, it will help someone else – psubsee2003 Oct 4 '14 at 8:57
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    @psubsee2003 (thanks for changing the tag, I was debating between that and support). Fair enough, but I was thinking, it seems like accepted answers are valuable to the site as a whole, even if they're functionally meaningless (given the presence of votes, that is). – Matthew Haugen Oct 4 '14 at 8:58
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    Accepted answers aren't considered all that valuable since they reflect just 1 person's opinion on the solution, albeit the person that asked the question originally. Net score (Upvotes & Downvotes) from everyone else are usually thought to be a better indiciator on the quality of the answer. – psubsee2003 Oct 4 '14 at 9:02
  • @psubsee2003 Certainly, and as a relatively experienced user (albeit not on MSE, as you'll note :) ), I completely agree and value votes more. But it seems like a valuable branding strategy to have the green check, not to mention search engines show "Resolved" next to rich search results when an accepted answer is present. But I suppose it's an edge case to the point that it probably isn't worth supporting emails sending out to pointless users. Fair enough. – Matthew Haugen Oct 4 '14 at 9:07
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    Related feature request (from 2009): Email users to notify them of their unanswered questions – psubsee2003 Oct 4 '14 at 9:08
  • I won't go to say it is completely unimportant - I personally see some value and might encourage users to return. But SE seems to try to keep communications within the site and only reaches out in very specific (and limited) circumstances. Expiring bounties are the only thing I can think of where they go outside the site to communicate a change in circumstance about one of the users posts (that isn't a mod message, which is a different story entirely, although you would be well aware of that aspect) – psubsee2003 Oct 4 '14 at 9:19
  • @psubsee2003 I guess that makes sense. This avoids any privacy concerns, which is probably for the best. And huh, interesting. I hadn't thought of the expiring bounty one, but yes, you got me--mod messages had occurred to me as well. Good points, thanks! – Matthew Haugen Oct 4 '14 at 9:35
  • I believe for first time user email update should be by default. by this way guest user is updated. our 'Ask Patent' is quite about late answer type quality answer comes from 2 days or after few weeks and user forgets the same in meantime. – Pushpak Apr 13 '15 at 11:12
  • To make it more precise when registered user asks a question one check-box is present to ask 'Send me new responses to my posts via email' but when a fresh user asks the question as guest or via login its absent. is anything missing here for first time user? – Pushpak Apr 13 '15 at 12:07
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    @Pushpak this question asks what SE does (a discussion question), but your bounty text suggests you're advocating for a change in behavior (a feature request). – Monica Cellio Apr 13 '15 at 15:43
  • Thanks for your inputs Ms. Monika what should i do for this? – Pushpak Apr 13 '15 at 19:20
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+100

It's not good to come off too needy. Thus we don't like to bombard our prospects with spamish like emails and put them on a pedestal. We are cool and confident. If they don't want to hang with us, then it's OK, everyone can do their own thing, you know? The doors always open, just chill and be cool and go with the flow.

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  • We feel unregistered user can be remind and allow them track what was posted by them. It not like we want them to get mail every day or week but at least once they should be reminded about positive response like comments or answer. – Pushpak Apr 13 '15 at 9:11
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I am a "new" user but have used SE sites almost daily from the early days. The content is awesome. That is the main attraction. Almost daily SE helps me to solve a problem quicker and get things done sooner. This is why I keep coming back as a lurker and often add 'stack-xyz' to google searches. That is the great part and I would love to contribute in 'exchange'.

But the kumbaya is robbed by the 'new' user experience. To do anything a certain level of 'reputation' is required. It is annoying. It is pretty much saying, thanks for your attempt at contributing, but we don't want it, go away. If that is the signal, then surely that is what new users are going to do?

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  • Adding a comment to my own answer which probably should have been a comment, must be breaking quite a few of the laws. Anyway, next question provided: "if you don't know the culture of SO, then you shouldn't be here at all" I don't think any automation will help new user churn. There are deeper issues here. – wanos Oct 4 '14 at 12:34
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    There is a lot you can already do to contribute as a new user. You can answer, suggest edits to make posts better. That's how I started here a year ago. Now, as a 'trusted user' on SO, having quite some privileges, I enjoy having them. And to be honest, it was worth the effort. With only 125 reputation you can do a lot. – Patrick Hofman Oct 4 '14 at 12:54
  • Thanks Patrick, I am sure there are easy ways to earn rep. Since I find huge value in the SE sites, its in my interest to contribute. My point is that the barriers are steep. It is a burden to get going, earn rep, read guidelines and faqs (or else), get down voted for not following protocol, adjust to bad culture, this for every SE site. It is easy to see why it turns off many new users and why SE has such a high new user churn rate. – wanos Oct 4 '14 at 13:08
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    Yet another post whining about the need for reputation before participation.. Yawn. To once again beat the dead horse: The requirement to earn privileges is to ensure that new users spend enough time on the site to learn how it works before they're allowed to participate. There is a valid, demonstrated need for this requirement - see the many low quality posts by new users on any of the SE sites, because there is no requirement to learn how the site works before posting a question. If you want to participate, there are many ways to earn privileges, and there are many posts explaining how. – Ken White Oct 4 '14 at 22:34
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    Ken, if you read carefully you will see the post is not about reputation before participation. And it is not a debate about the merits of the reputation system. The point is that no amount of automation is going to help SE, because new users churn because of people like you. It is no problem either, because the new user can get all the content here for many years, without ever contributing something meaningful back. Unfortunately it is a win-lose situation, but that's tough love. – wanos Oct 6 '14 at 7:56

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