While announcing the second iteration of the Stack Exchange quality project, I not-so-briefly alluded to a collaboration we're kicking off with the University Of Melbourne.
The project presents some very interesting possibilities for us if their model validates as well as is hoped:
- Knowing very quickly if a question is not a duplicate
- Being able to quickly surface the most appropriate (by criteria we provide) duplicate with a high degree of accuracy.
- Being able to surface high and low quality groups of questions that essentially ask the same thing that aren't currently being surfaced very well
Essentially, we might to be able to alleviate two of the most frequent pain points for new and experienced users alike:
- By showing more relevant probable duplicates while folks ask, we should stand to lessen the frequency of duplicate questions (particularly, those that tend to be of not-so-great quality)
- We might be in a better position to more clearly identify something as not a duplicate, which could ease those mean jerks closed my question as a duplicate and it completely wasn't!
The paper describing the methodology is short and worth reading if you're curious.
So, what do we need from you?
The researchers have already validated data in subject domains where they're knowledgeable enough to make a clear call on something being a duplicate or not. However, we cover a pretty vast group of academic and technical domains, and they simply need knowledgeable people from those communities to help them decide if their method made the right decision.
How are we going to do this?
Easily. They've built a system similar to our review system where you're presented with a pair of questions, and can indicate if they're a duplicate, strongly related, or not a duplicate. You can use your Stack Exchange account to sign in.
Who is eligible?
Those with the ability to cast close votes on:
- English Language & Usage
- Software Engineering
- Unix & Linux
In the rare cases where you have a gold tag badge, but have not yet unlocked close privileges, a gold tag badge will allow you to work on that subset of questions.
What about other sites? What about Stack Overflow?
We'll have to see how things go with this initial set. If everything looks really promising, then they'll take a look at running Stack Overflow through the model. That would be an enormous undertaking since it would entail every single question since the dawn of time, while accounting for duplicate targets being deleted later.
There might also be a need to run a few more smaller sites through - we just have to see how it goes.
Where do we go from here?
Look for a post on your meta site from Doris Hoogeveen letting folks know that we're ready for help if you care to provide it. She'll link to this post for the benefit of folks that missed it.
What if it doesn't pan out?
We're okay with that because we learn quite a bit either way. It's my personal opinion that getting the right duplicates in front of people as they ask is probably the most impactful way that we can elevate the experience of both new and experienced users. If something looks promising in that direction, we feel it's worth exploring.