Based on the answers to the question posed here, it was stated that the goal of SE is not to aid the individual, but create a solid knowledge base of useful problems and solutions for posterity.

This is a valid, and worthy goal. And, this is why redundant answers and poorly worded questions are downvoted, and closed, in order to avoid glut in the knowledge base.

However, based on the above as well as and on certain basic economics principles about the eventual pooling of value, it would seem an unintended side-effect of this would be that (considering the site is now ten years old) that it is effectively closed to new and inexperienced users.

Let me explain

Users gain reputation by answering questions, or posting good questions. In the early days of 2008, there were NO questions whatsoever (obviously) so nearly any question - no matter how basic or simplistic - were good, and received both answers and upvotes (SE recommends also upvoting the question, when a useful answer is found).

Here are some examples of very simple questions from the early days ...

What does if name == “main”: do?

How to printf “unsigned long” in C?

How can I monitor hard disk load on Linux?

These are all extremely simple questions, which have received high points for the participants based on the usefulness and how long they've been out there.

But, in 2018, nearly all of "the easy" questions have been answered. Any questions even remotely similar to the above would be both immediately closed as redundant, and downvoted to very low stats (affecting the reputation of the asker).

On the flip side; "harder" questions are, of course, still valid and gain a lot of reputation for users. But inexperienced users cannot answer these questions. So, again, no possibility of reputation points.

As a user who deeply values SE, and is somewhat concerned for it's continued success...does this mean SE is effectively now a closed community? And how will this affect its future?

marked as duplicate by PolyGeo, Robert Longson, PeterJ, Ward, Servy discussion Nov 1 '18 at 13:14

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

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    Related: Does it feel lately like all questions have already been asked and answered and there is nothing more to do? Note: that was asked more than 7 years ago. – Dukeling Nov 1 '18 at 10:54
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    One of the ways beginners can still get in solid is by focusing on new and emergent technologies, where all the easy questions haven't been answered yet. – Magisch Nov 1 '18 at 10:59
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    If those new users just care about reputation, then they can suggest up to 500 edits for (easy?) 1000 reps. However... while SE is heavily gamified, the end goal is not to have the highest rep... – Meta Andrew T. Nov 1 '18 at 11:44
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    Voting to leave open because 2011 =/= 2018. – Rand al'Thor Nov 1 '18 at 12:17
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    @Randal'Thor What has changed since that affects the answer to this question? The accepted answer is just repeating exactly what's in the duplicate. And of course if you have a new answer to the question then post it on the canonical, rather than spreading out the answers to the question across duplicates. – Servy Nov 1 '18 at 13:14
  • @Servy I see that as a slightly different question. I think a good answer here would come down to explaining how new users should approach asking a question (considering any given question someone might have these days is probably, but not necessarily, a duplicate), and how this relates to how welcoming SE (SO) seems, where-as the other post is more about whether there are even new non-duplicate questions these days. – Dukeling Nov 1 '18 at 16:11
  • @Servy The "now" in the title essentially makes this a different question. Even if the answer is the same. Until the answer is known, it's not at all clear whether it will be the same or not. Let's assume that the answer to this question had changed between 2011 and 2018 - would you still call it a dupe? – Rand al'Thor Nov 1 '18 at 16:22
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    @Randal'Thor So according to you no question is ever a duplicate, because the answer might have changed since the last time it was asked? If that's true, why even have a feature to close questions as duplicates in the first place if we want people to post answers that just duplicate the previous question(s) every time? If something relevant has changed then I would expect a question to mention the previous discussions on those topics, acknowledge that they're familiar with them (so what's covered doesn't need to be repeated) and explain why they feel those answers are now lacking. – Servy Nov 1 '18 at 17:14
  • @Dukeling But this question is basically just saying that they think there are no non-duplicate questions (at least for topics they're qualified to answer) and asking what to do about it. It's not asking how users should approach asking questions in general (and that would be way too broad if they were), nor is this asking anything about "welcoming" at all. – Servy Nov 1 '18 at 17:20
  • @Servy No, that's not what I said. If two questions A and B are asking the same thing, then they're duplicates. Here, one of them is asking is X true in 2011? and the other is asking is X "now" true "in 2018", "considering the site is now ten years old"? (all "quoted text" is taken verbatim from this question). – Rand al'Thor Nov 1 '18 at 18:47
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    @Randal'Thor Again, asking exactly the same question doesn't make it a different question just because it's asked at a different time. If that were true, no two questions could ever be duplicates. If the question referenced the older question, stated that they're aware of all of that, and showed how the answer didn't answer their question, then it might be a different question. That's not the case here at all. It's just repeating the question, unchanged, and getting exactly the same answer. This is exactly why the duplicate question feature exists. – Servy Nov 1 '18 at 18:55

Any questions even remotely similar to the above would be both immediately closed as redundant, and downvoted to very low stats (affecting the reputation of the asker).

That depends. If they're duplicates of older questions which are easily Googled, yes, then they will be downvoted and closed, and rightly so. If not, for instance because they're about a new programming language, framework or OS version, then they're still welcome. (Incidentally, those questions are still not very often answered by new users; it's more likely that experienced users will answer them; they have the experience necessary to write a solid answer quickly.)

Note that inexperienced users can still ask questions. In fact, that's just how it works in real life: I don't expect junior developers to help me and provide a good answer to an intricate problem I'm facing. I'm expecting them to do relatively simple tasks, and if they're stuck, ask good questions.

Also note that new formats, other than traditional Q&A, might be introduced in the future. New users were capable of contributing to 'easy' topics during the early days of (the now defunct) Documentation feature.

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