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The comment to an ELU meta-question states

the aim of StackExchange is not just to offer help to the person asking the immediate question, but to build a high quality repository of good questions and great answers. Libraries need librarians. Also, salutations and valedictions (hi / thanks ) do not automatically make a post low-quality, not at all. But they should not be included, and including them is a clue that the person asking is not familiar with the site and its tenets

goes a long way to show what is wrong (and, one could almost say disingenuous) with how Stack Exchange actually works, or what it really wants.

For instance if I go to a SE site that I am not a member of (I will use Academia, because it's the first one on the list), I see:

1 Academia Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for academics and those enrolled in higher education. It's 100% free, no registration required.

No mention of the purpose of SE of being a "library" or of "build[ing] a high quality repository of good questions and great answers." So don't blame me if "[I am] not familiar with the site and its tenets."

2 Here's how it works:
Anybody can ask A question
Anybody can answer
The best answers are voted and rise to the top

SUPER! This is exactly the place I want to be, because I have a question that I want an answer to.

No mention of the purpose of SE of being a "library" or of "build[ing] a high quality repository of good questions and great answers."

As for the tour, I did not take the two-minute tour when I came to SE/ELU (my first SE site). Why?

  1. Because I am a web-surfer looking for information that I can get quickly.
  2. Because I expect a site's opening description to provide the site's reason to exist.
  3. I don't want to waste two minutes on a tour, because frankly I am smart enough to know how to, quote unquote, "ask any question".
  4. And 120 seconds is too long a time out of my life on the same internet in which search engines provide 1000000s of results in seconds.

If I do return to the tour, then I get:

3 Taking the "2-minute tour":

Academia is a question and answer site for academics of all levels. It's built and run by you as part of the Stack Exchange network of Q&A sites. With your help, we're working together to build a library of detailed answers to every question about academia.

The main description that sticks out to me as a newbie to the site is that it is a Q&A site. The additional statement about "working together to build a library blah yada yada blah" rolls off my back like a duck out of water, because as a web-surfer I have not come here to help build a library but to get my question answered. This mention of a library does not interest me, and on the first page it is said "anyone can ask a question, anyone can answer it."

Ask questions, get answers, no distractions

Okay.

This site is all about getting answers. It's not a discussion forum. There's no chit-chat.

Okay, great, because that is what I came here to do: get an answer. I could care less about building some library and I have already forgotten that non-highlighted statement of the tour's first paragraph because we usually do not see what we are not looking for, and it is certainly not one of my concerns.

That mention of "building a library," of little interest to me, the new user, is the only use of the word library in the tour. (And yes I know, now, that what the tour does is to describe GOOD QUESTIONS so that SE can carry out IT'S (NOT MY) AGENDA of building a library.

In other words, it is kinda like a cult. SE invites people in, offering answers to life's problems (questions) but then only later does SE stress that what SE wants is to be a library, and that you are here for that purpose.

Therefore, do not fault me if I am, quote, "not familiar with the site and its tenets." I have not yet been brainwashed into SE's actual raison d'être.

SE is not all about getting answers is it?

  • 1
    So you want the manifesto written into a short sentence – random Jun 23 '15 at 19:39
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    You seem very angry about something which isn't important to you. If you get fast, free, often expert answers to your questions, why are so annoyed about the community's efforts to curate your questions and answers to as to help as many future users as possible? – Adam Davis Jun 23 '15 at 19:40
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    But 120 seconds is clearly enough time to skip "not just" in the line and form a wilfully ignorant opinion with knee-jerking "I'll show them who has the agenda" rant – random Jun 23 '15 at 19:46
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    Yes, SE is lying to you. I personally wouldn't stand for it. I'd leave and never come back. Write a ranty blog post about it, too, so everybody can link to it as an example of how much the SE sucks. – Won't Jun 23 '15 at 20:06
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    I hope you don't feel like people are being too hard on you here. We welcome your questions and answers, and if you don't know the rules and customs, or choose not to follow them, we'll clean up after you, or gently remind you of them. We don't want you to go away, but we readily recognize that this place isn't for everyone. Hopefully you'll stay, and if not, hopefully you at least received the help you needed to resolve the questions you brought to us in the first place. – Adam Davis Jun 23 '15 at 20:16
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  • rant rant rant rant... if you don't like it here, why stay? Also, it is not a great deal of adaptation to follow the SE 'tenets' – user289879 Jun 23 '15 at 23:44
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    If 120 seconds is too precious for you to waste on the tour, then it's also too long for one of the many learned professionals on the site to answer your question for free. – slugster Jun 24 '15 at 2:01
22

disingenuous |ˌdisinˈjenyo͞oəs|

adjective

not candid or sincere, typically by pretending that one knows less about something than one really does.

I don't see how that applies at all to the mission statements of the Stack Exchange sites. In no way is SE trying to lie to all of us or hide the true purpose of these sites. Everything about them and how they work is openly documented.

What part of

Academia Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for academics and those enrolled in higher education. It's 100% free, no registration required.

is untrue? These are indeed 100% free question and answer sites, and they are dedicated to providing answers to people within a specific scope.

"Answering questions" isn't restricted to the asker, and there's a good reason for that. If someone can ask a good, common question once and get a great answer to it, that can answer many variants of the same question by hundreds or thousands of people. It's far more efficient to have a single great source of information that can answer questions before they're even asked than piles of similar questions scattered all over the place.

In order to maintain a community around answering these interesting questions, you have to keep experts engaged. Part of that is identifying and filtering out bad or off-topic questions so that subject matter experts don't feel inundated in garbage and start to leave. There is a non-zero cost to wading through these to find the really good questions, so removing them helps us all by letting the better questions stand out and get answers.

As always, witness the quality difference between these sites and Yahoo! Answers. There's a reason for that.

  • This is it. Quite simply, there's just no contradiction -- and thus no disingenuousness -- between "the site is for asking questions" and "...as long as they're interesting and useful to other people". – Josh Caswell Jun 24 '15 at 1:26
17

I was going to address each one of your points individually. However, the more I read through your post, the more I saw basically "I don't care about what SE is trying to do/build. I just want my answer". And that's fine if that is how you feel but you are probably in the wrong place then.

You can't be bothered for a 2 minute tour but you can spend more than that complaining about how SE works. This does not seem very logical.

Therefore, do not fault me if I am, quote, "not familiar with the site and its tenets." I have not yet been brainwashed into SE's actual raison d'être.

Faulting you for not being familiar after admitting that you don't care about the site's goals and that 2 minutes is too long to learn how to use the site properly is exactly what will happen.

And 120 seconds is too long a time out of my life on the same internet in which search engines provide 1000000s of results in seconds.

Ok, then apparently SE has failed and you don't need us. You have everything you need in your "1000000s of results" (most of which, btw, are probably links to SE sites ironic, isn't it).

15

You caught us

Sorry

We tried to hide our secret shame from you, but you have ferreted out our innermost desire

KNOWLEDGE

We crave it. we desire it. We sprinkle it on our wheaties every morning.

This is nothing more than a knowledge mining society

It's not secret - like the many societies of yore - but in order to attract new... er... shall we say, knowledge repositories, and extract their most useful elements, we advertise free knowledge, free expertise, free help...

Internet users, like moths to a flame, come to obtain this free help, only to be caught in a web

A carefully woven web of KNOWLEDGE

Curated by the most sinister, nit-picky sort of people

The question is - now that you have found our true purpose - will you still feed at our wealth of knowledge?

Are you adequately ensnared?

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    Are you adequately ensnared? Yes, yes I am... oh wait.. – user289879 Jun 23 '15 at 23:42
  • I can't help but think of Megamind after reading this, in fact, I read it in his voice. – Tim Post Jun 24 '15 at 5:31

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