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Health is not very healthy. Many high level users have left. There are many low quality questions. While some need to be closed, others could be fixed with edits -- more descriptive titles might attract answers, clarifications have been added in comments, or the English just isn't great. In some cases a too-localized "what is wrong with me?" could be edited to a more general and answerable question.

With just a handful of users who can edit directly, these fixes (which would raise the site quality) have to be done as suggested edits. But the queue is full. Comments on that question indicate this is a long term problem.

Is it possible that people exist who could come and help? Community Managers maybe? Mods from another site? Is there any mechanism to get an edit queue cleared so that the few people who are willing to try to improve a site can do so? Or must it just languish?

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    I suggest lowering the suggested edits review required rep drastically, to 500 or even 300, so that more users can review edits. – Shadow The Curly Braced Wizard May 27 '17 at 13:46
  • I am at 820 (and I think some folks are taking the "get Kate 1000 rep" strategy) so that will take a while. But it doesn't solve the larger problem even if your votes are not reversed. – Kate Gregory May 27 '17 at 18:14
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    Also, just curious, but what drove the high level users away? Has something happened, or did the site just degrade without a clear reason? – Shadow The Curly Braced Wizard May 27 '17 at 19:05
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    @ShadowWizard That's a super broad question with complicated long-term dynamics that are also related to many other factors including the nature of site's topic, human behaviors, critical mass, disparities between the types of askers and answerers the site attracts, etc. When this happens (and it does, you can see it on other less-than-healthy beta sites too) it's generally not a single cause. It's too much to explain in a comment or even an answer. It's just, organically, this is what happens sometimes. Boils down to "loss of interest". It can turn around, though. – Jason C May 27 '17 at 19:24
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    @Jason which is exactly what I meant by "did the site just degrade without a clear reason?". Well, if you got more details there is always chat... – Shadow The Curly Braced Wizard May 27 '17 at 19:37
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    @ShadowWizard Don't get sassy with me. I've got my Star Trek: TOS Transcript Chat Ping Attack script queued up and ready to fly. – Jason C May 27 '17 at 19:50
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    Part of what caused some high rep users to leave is a high bar for answer quality, demanding references etc, when the bar is not so high for questions. Improving the quality of questions might retain answerers. And editing instead of closing low quality questions might retain askers. – Kate Gregory May 28 '17 at 0:11
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    So, this passed Definition and Commitment, but I think it's failing Beta. – OldBunny2800 May 29 '17 at 18:19
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    Update: having reached 1000 rep by the mechanism of another Health user who cares, I have cleared some space in the queue using Improve so as not to have to wait for a second reviewer. This doesn't mean the site is out of the woods but at least the most obvious quality issues should be improvable now. The question remains: how can a relatively new user who is gaining rep slowly due to site issues try to help with site issues? – Kate Gregory May 29 '17 at 19:24
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    If you find a solution, I want to know. Bitcoin has been stuck in a similar negative feedback cycle for about two years. – Murch May 29 '17 at 20:46
  • @KateGregory I've encountered the same problem and would volunteer to help, but the reputation limit doesn't let me. I will try to review the first post queue, so that the high-rep users can focus on edits. – Narusan May 30 '17 at 8:11
  • @ShadowWizard I'm always tempted to leave the site because it literally takes more than 30 minutes to do research and type a good quality answer, and the reward is somewhere between 0 upvotes and 2 upvotes. Most answers do not get accepted either. – Narusan May 30 '17 at 8:31
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    @Narusan totally agree. I won't spend 30 minutes, but did spend around 10 minutes yesterday writing an answer and got a single upvote just now. Personally I'm not there for reputation so don't really care, but the lack of any feedback means nobody really cares for the answer, so that's what drives me back. And lack of proper skills, my search skills on many areas are not really good. (And I don't have any professional information of my own.) – Shadow The Curly Braced Wizard May 30 '17 at 8:37
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    I'm not talking about the reputation either, but the lack of feedback both from the Community and the OP. By the way, I can tell you whom the single upvote was by. There are only 5 users regularly on Health.SE that would do that... – Narusan May 30 '17 at 8:38
18

The suggested edits queue is just a symptom of the larger issue. And it's actually one of the lesser symptoms.

The last closed question I can find is from March 28, there could be more closed and deleted ones, but it is extremely unusual that there are no recent closed questions at all. And looking a bit I found this completely meaningless, truncated question that has been there for more than two weeks and only has three close votes.

The site isn't being moderated at all, there are too few users without sufficient privileges that try to moderate the site. The site is actually close to violating the only requirement that SE imposes to keep a site running:

If a public beta site does not produce consistently helpful content, and lacks the caretakers needed for flags and spam to get handled and our Be Nice policy to be upheld, it will be closed.

There is a negative feedback cycle here that hurts any efforts to improve the situation as it becomes increasingly difficult to earn reputation on a site in a state like this. But without enough users with privileges, community moderation can't work. The only existing way to deal with this would be to hand out some more diamonds. A low traffic site like Health could be fully moderated by a few moderators without community support. But that can only be a stopgap until the community picks up the slack.

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    I agree. Especially about the feedback cycle. I am trying to do what I can to break that cycle by improving the quality with the tools I have. That includes learning what else I can do. – Kate Gregory May 29 '17 at 13:47
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    If its a site in beta, its not unprecedented to get new pro-tem mods to replace ones who are not active - so no real elections would be needed. And clearly we have a candidate in the person who asked this question ;) – Journeyman Geek May 29 '17 at 14:28
  • Related Health Meta post – Narusan May 30 '17 at 8:12
9

People without edit privileges on the site, as well as mods from other sites, cannot help (mods from other sites are just normal users everywhere else).

A CM could certainly help. However, this is probably not a good idea in the long run: In the bigger picture sense, if a CM has to step in, this isn't solving the site's real problems, and a CM can't be relied on to keep a site running, it has to be self-sustaining.

However, what we, as normal unprivileged users can do is: Spend some time on the site. In particular, visit the site, ask good questions, answer unanswered questions, vote on questions and answers. I don't mean randomly casting upvotes, I mean visit the site and participate legitimately. This has a few benefits:

  • Most relevantly, increased site activity = increased votes = increased reputation = empowering more of the existing users with moderation privileges (this is why low activity sites have trouble with community moderation).
  • You may discover a new community that you'd like to be a part of, and you may even help turn around an unhealthy beta site's fortunes.
  • You may learn a few new interesting things browsing questions. For example, there are certainly some interesting questions worth reading in the top-voted questions list.

In other words, the long term solution for these types of problems is to "heal" them at their source; do what needs to be done to help support a beta site. Everything else follows. For users who aren't normally involved in the site, this means potentially finding a fun, new community.

For users who are already active on the site, what you can do is help spread the word. Try to think of ways to attract more users to the site. More users = more voting = more moderation privileges all around. Things like community ads, asking good questions that attract good answers and new users (and potentially end up on the HNQ list), talk about the site in your blogs, tell your friends about it, etc., etc.

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    This is a step in the right direction. Just giving outside users the ability to edit does nothing for the site. The fact there is no one there interested in doing it on their own is probably a good indicator that the site is beginning to fail. However, simply voting isn't going to solve the other problem of the site - the fact that their answer rate seems to have plummeted over the past months. Seriously, looking through the past month's asked questions, we're talking about an answer rate of under 25% which seems to indicate a lot of users have lost interest. – animuson May 27 '17 at 18:31
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    There are people interested in doing it. Those people have filled the edit queue. There are not enough people who can approve the edits. – Kate Gregory May 27 '17 at 21:35
  • @KateGregory So there are definitely enough editors - do you think there are also enough answerers? (Are the editors also answerers?) – Cascabel May 29 '17 at 19:06

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