There's been a lot of confusion over the years regarding the automatic "bumping" of questions...

Community user randomly pokes old unanswered questions every hour so they get some attention

I was discussing this with my esteemed colleague jmac the other day, and it occurred to me that we never actually hint at what we want folks to do when these questions are bumped.

To be clear, the intent here is to resurface questions that someone has attempted to answer, but which haven't yet attracted any votes to either confirm the usefulness or decry the worthlessness of the answer(s) that've been posted. Q&A that, above all, needs feedback.

...But we don't really say this anywhere. And I strongly suspect that an awful lot of folks viewing these questions just shrug and move on.

Well, now that we can measure this I think it's time to start thinking about ways in which we might improve it.

So with that in mind, what guidance for readers and voters would you want to see attached to questions bumped to the active lists?

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    Is there an explanation somewhere for why "unanswered" means "has an answer but the answer isn't upvoted" rather than actually meaning "unanswered" (has zero answers)? Could that terminology be cleaned up somehow? Because I don't think that the average user would think that unanswered = has an answer. This is sort of mentioned here but there's no explanation for why this is "by design". – Catija May 10 '16 at 17:16
  • Not really, @Catija - that's what I'm kinda setting out to address here! – Shog9 May 10 '16 at 17:17
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    @sandwich But that definition (and the actual site usage) includes questions with zero answers. – Catija May 10 '16 at 17:25
  • @Shog9 Just in case no-one has told you yet, your usercard is broken due to your huge amount of badges. – angussidney May 11 '16 at 11:47
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    "Esteemed", eh? Let me grab my Shog-to-English dictionary to see what the implication is. – jmac May 11 '16 at 23:16

Maybe just put a temporary message below the question body, right where the "closed" message currently goes.

Bumped by Community user 30 minutes ago

Please help make the site better by reviewing existing answers and voting accordingly.

That message should probably disappear after an hour or so, however long it takes for the "bump" to wear off and the question slips back into the sea of neglected questions.

If a question with no answers is bumped, the message should encourage users to provide one instead of voting.

Bumped by Community user 30 minutes ago

Please help out by posting an answer below, or share a link with someone who can.

After a comment by rumtscho, it would probably be a good idea to only show this message to people who have participated in the question's tags. This would prevent any problems with people who are only voting because they were told to, instead of voting because they know something about the topic. Maybe only users with at least a bronze badge in one of the tags should be shown these prompts? (A bronze badge is just a starting point. As pointed out, that will have to be scaled down based on site/tag activity.)

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    Hmm, maybe. I wonder if it will solve the problem or appear to have solved the problem. We were just discussing a recently bumped question on Cooking about an obscure Scandinavian cheese. It finally got an answer upvoted so it won't get bumped any more - but I wonder if the voter knew that the answer is true. The questions which get bumped are frequently too much of a niche question for the community to know how to vote on the answers. Such a direct suggestion may encourage them to vote "because it's your job to vote" even when they are not certain. – rumtscho May 10 '16 at 18:00
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    @rumtscho I think that's always a hazard, but it does raise an interesting point. Maybe the message should be shown conditionally? Maybe just to people with enough reputation in one of the question's tags? – Bill the Lizard May 10 '16 at 18:03
  • Very interesting idea! I was thinking "maybe I'm too pessimistic, if this is a large concern, we should make no effort at all to change things" but showing it to people with tag reputation would be a good starting point. Maybe there are more possible solutions which avoid the "vote because I was told to" problem. – rumtscho May 10 '16 at 18:05
  • It might be simpler to implement if you show the message to everyone but change the wording to be clear that voting should only occur when the person has sufficient knowledge or is able to confirm/discredit the answer by doing a small amount of research. – Catija May 10 '16 at 19:37

I agree with what @Bill said, we should place a message on the question to signify why it was bumped. However, I think that the bronze badge suggestion is too high1 and should probably be something along the lines of 3 upvotes in the tag.

I also suggest that the message in the active list should say 'bumped' instead of 'modified', and it should have a hover text of:

Please help make the site better by reviewing existing answers to this question and voting accordingly. Also consider posting an answer, or share a link with someone who can.

(derived from @Bill the Lizard's answer)

Quick mockup:

hover over bumped message

The text might need to be shortened slightly.

1My home site Arqade (ranked 8th in the network for both age and traffic) only has ~350 awarded bronze badges. That means that out of the 47.8k users which have > 10 rep, less than 0.7% have a bronze badge. The chance of any one user clicking a bumped question which they have a bronze tag badge in is extremely small, almost removing all usefulness of the feature. And if Arqade is one of the bigger sites, it would be even more useless to smaller sites.

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    Definitely agree that the threshold would need to be scaled based on the size of the site's user base, maybe even on specific tag popularity. Even on Stack Overflow there are niche tags where nobody has a bronze badge yet. – Bill the Lizard May 11 '16 at 11:40
  • Or a score of 5 in the tag, like used for voting on synonyms. – Nathan Tuggy May 11 '16 at 17:23
  • A score of 5 in the tag is very low, it can be gotten with a single easy answer without any deep understanding for the topic. – rumtscho May 12 '16 at 17:07
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    @rumtscho It varies between sites how common upvotes are - I know that on sites like RPG.SE, it is common to get a score of 10+ on an answer so this would be much easier to see this, while on my example site Arqade 3-5 votes is average, and on beta sites it is probably less. As for whether you can answer questions in tags you are not familiar with, that varies by site too. – angussidney May 13 '16 at 6:17
  • @rumtscho: We allow upvoting with a score of less than 2 across all tags, so having a low bar is not really an issue here. – Nathan Tuggy May 13 '16 at 18:29

A more informative message should appear on bumped questions. Rather than

Bumped by Community user 30 minutes ago

it would be better to display something more informative, for example:

Automatic bumping is designed to revive interest and encourage voting on existing answers.

Questions are bumped if: the question is open, with a nonnegative score, and has at least one nonnegative answer; there has been no activity for 30 days; and none of the existing answers has a positive score.

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