When the initial Area 51 voting system's problems started to become apparent and the SE team decided to (quite drastically) change it, they said "Feedback is welcome!" (actual citation from Joel Spolsky here).

And feedback it was. There has been quite a lot of it. Mainly here and here, although I also consider this to certainly be relevant.

The feedback, of course, varies; but it has been basically of four main types (from worst to best):

  • "Oh sh*t!"
  • "This is just wrong."
  • "I tried it and it has some serious problems."
  • "We'll eventually get accustomed to it, but it isn't exactly wonderful."

The most relevant point here is, there hasn't been even a single enthusiastic response to the new voting system. "It's just great!" is the only feedback that nobody actually gave.

I don't know what the SE team thinks about this, but such a negative feedback would have made most people re-examine very carefully the changes they had just introduced.
The problem is, I don't know what the SE team thinks because there has been no feedback at all from them: they changed the voting system, asked for feedback from the community, then simply disappeared. There has been responses (mainly from Jeff Atwood) to bug reports and feature requests, so someone certainly is reading posts here... but nobody directly addressed the issue of how this new voting system has been received by the user community.

Ok, I'm just going to ask what's actually going on here.

What's the SE team's position about this?
Do they acknowledge the new system has been mainly received with rejection and frustration?
Are they going to do anything at all about this?
And, basically, do they really care about the community feedback?

I'm looking for official answers here. Even "we love it and we'll defend it with our own lives" would be a lot better than just no answer at all. "We're working on it" would at least be a sign that, well, they're working on it.

I sincerely hope this post does not look like a flame; this is definitely not what I mean. But I really think some explanation is needed here.

  • I can't answer your question, but the general impression is that they are pretty much making it up as they go along (maybe that's what beta means?). And while you are right about most of the feedback being fairly negative, I don't think that there is yet any kind of consensus about what to DO about it that the SE team could pick up on.
    – Benjol
    Commented Jun 8, 2010 at 10:41
  • @Benjol, there has been quite some consensus on my proposal for a voting system (linked in the main post); which, BTW, has yet not received any comment from the SE staff. Again: if someone doesn't agree with it, it's perfectly fine... but at least don't ignore it. The same of course applies to any other feedback.
    – Massimo
    Commented Jun 8, 2010 at 12:31
  • OK, some. I think your analysis of the problem is ok, not so convinced about the solution. To my mind, it is having to simultaneously filter and rank which is just too much effort. It's easier just to drop out and think up silly questions...
    – Benjol
    Commented Jun 8, 2010 at 13:16
  • @Benjol: I actually think the brainstorming/definition phase and the filtering of good exemplary questions should be divided; but being able to upvote/downvote them at the same time could also work; it just doesn't work well with the current system (and with the previous one, too).
    – Massimo
    Commented Jun 8, 2010 at 13:32
  • 1
    There is silence from Cathedral. Old voting worked, new voting doesn't. Personally I think they don't care if we like it or not.
    – Justin
    Commented Jun 8, 2010 at 14:02
  • 2
    Why would you be expecting a "It's just great!" response? There are now over 1,200 people registered which means that fewer than 2% of the userbase is complaining about it. We could equally make the counterargument that 98% are fine with the change, and many (gasp!) even think it's a change for the better. Grabbing your soapbox and decrying Stackoverflow for not caring about the community's feedback on such tenuous information is at best disingenuous. Go to those threads, and make clear, cogent, logical arguments as to WHY the change is going to RUIN area51. All else is useless babbling.
    – Pollyanna
    Commented Jun 8, 2010 at 20:21
  • @Justin: I got the distinct impression the old voting completely failed. See "As a result, the very act of voting was effectively meaningless, because the first few on- and off-topic questions to be proposed ALWAYS won." below. This appears to be a similar phenomenon to how comments are voted on popular SO questions: the top 5 get 95% of the "great comment" votes and the hidden ones barely get seen. Contrast that with comment voting on Meta.
    – Gnome
    Commented Jun 8, 2010 at 20:27
  • 1
    @Pollyanna, this is exactly what I've been doing since the change was announced. And in those threads where the new voting system is being discussed, nobody ever defended it besides SE team meambers. I think this should mean something...
    – Massimo
    Commented Jun 8, 2010 at 20:31
  • @Pollyanna: there's also the fact that all activity on Area 51 has greatly slowed down after the change. People are less involved, less active, less excited, because now they have to ponder carefully any vote, and revise it each time a new example question is posted (or leave it as it is, thus effectively ignoring new example questions). Yes, of course, the few remaining active users are putting a lot more care into what they vote... but I can't really think this is has been a change for the better.
    – Massimo
    Commented Jun 8, 2010 at 20:34
  • @Massimo: That lower activity level appears to be because many people didn't realize the site was in beta; they expected that once the "progress bar" filled up for their pet proposal that they were just minutes away from getting the new site created. Once that bubble burst, well, people understandably have less interest in helping design Area 51 than they do in their favorite topics.
    – Gnome
    Commented Jun 8, 2010 at 20:47
  • 1
    @Massimo - I think people are slowing down their participation because they don't want to put a lot of effort into it while it's still in such an extreme state of flux. In the long term, though, I think the site will settle down to a lower level of activity overall. People will participate in one or two proposals they really want to get going (they'll follow and vote on many more, but really only pay much attention to the few they really care about) and it won't be a huge burden to manage their votes accordingly.
    – Pollyanna
    Commented Jun 8, 2010 at 20:52
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    @The Cat: I can only speak for myself, but my reduced participation has nothing to do with implementation timelines (of which I had zero initial expectations to begin with). I simply don't have the patience to deal with the user-hostile voting system.
    – Aarobot
    Commented Jun 8, 2010 at 21:53
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    @Aarobot: I was mostly considering the non-Meta-regulars for sites such as the WordPress proposal. There, in particular, was a flurry of activity that is now at a standstill. Even for regulars, though, the excitement has to have dropped off now that we can't explore more of how Area 51 works.
    – Gnome
    Commented Jun 8, 2010 at 22:11
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    @The Cat: I can also speak for myself but my interested in area51 has vanished. I've used my votes, now there is nothing left to do but HOPE that the proposal sees the light one day. Unlikely since they expect 60 people to all vote in unison on 20 questions. This is the internet PEOPLE DISAGREE AS A RULE. Also HOPE is a pretty fubar strategy. Maybe 2% of the user base are the only unhappy ones, maybe most of the 98% stopped using area51?
    – Justin
    Commented Jun 9, 2010 at 6:04

6 Answers 6


Nobody is ignoring your feedback. Part of gathering feedback is LISTENING to what people have to say. This is a community-driven forum for feedback and discussion. Thousands of people have a say here. If I issued instant verdicts in on every recently-opened issue, that would effectively end any sort of on-going contribution.

These aren't bug reports where you respond with "ah yes, confirmed." These are usability issues. You release something, you watch how people use it, you gather feedback, you tweak where you can, you redesign where you have to. There's no instant gratification pill to "your voting system sucks." Saying "we're working on it" all the time is redundant and noise. We're working on it. Consider every vote on one of your suggestions an "I agree with you." Consider all the recent activity here, here, here, and here as someone stepping aside from their work and saying "we're working on it."

To answer your question, here's a quick overview from the guy who gets just about every stitch of mail that comes in about Area 51 and reads just about every single message posted to meta.

Limiting the number of questions:

Overwhelmingly positive feedback. Users didn't like the glut of questions asked. Most felt that users were asking questions to get reputation rather than making the proposal better. Users didn't want to wade through all that noise. Many people feel we should allow less than five questions each (surprising).

I like making questions a precious resource. You ask your best questions or you won't get the votes. I prefer that to the down-voting mechanisms (taking away reputation) as a way of encouraging good content in Area 51. I'm losing that argument.

Limiting the number of votes:

Initially, somewhat neutral to negative. Some users wanted more votes, some wanted to vote on everything, some liked the change. The more people realize they aren't voting on each question but selecting their favorite from the nominations, the more they feel we are on the right track.

I agree but I think the interface is awkward. If users just scanned the list and picked "good" questions, the system would work. But, understandably, users feel compelled to select the five perfect questions and optimize for that activity. The current interface doesn't support that. We need a better way to manage use question review and selection

The voting reset:

Whether you agreed with the reasons for the change or not, most people supported the decision to issue a do-over to get things right early on rather than fighting with bad data later.

Most of the down-side was with regard to wasted effort. In any beta, it always says "Don't use this for production work." It's nice that we can get working systems out of this in the end (these aren't practice proposals). I think Google ruined what it means to be in a beta test.

The voting interface:

Not a lot of feedback on that one. What little feedback we got was mostly negative.

Most of my concerns about the voting interface revolve around the selection/list management (discussed above). I'll have to come back later and update this or talk about this issues in another post.

I hate these epic posts so let's call it. Anything else I have to add is better handled as individual posts. Now back to your regularly scheduled program.

  • 5
    "The more people realize they aren't voting on each question but selecting their favorite from the nominations, the more they feel we are on the right track." --> Funny, this isn't how I read it. Of course I'm biased here, but most of the questions, answers, comments and upvotes on meta about this seem to be converging on the fact that requiring us to do what the system is supposed to do (actually rank the good questions) not only has serious usability problems but isn't particular effective at its goal.
    – Aarobot
    Commented Jun 8, 2010 at 17:36
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    "I like making questions a precious resource. I'm losing that argument." :( I was very surprised to find that I'd actually prefer fewer questions. Maybe that's just the current circumstances (lots of silliness, for example) plus how I'm interpreting the focus shift from "discussion" to "definition". Could a completely made-up example of a "perfect" definition phase be constructed to allow us to see what the team expects from it? It feels too much like we're flying blind on evaluating examples and what the consequences of that will be.
    – Gnome
    Commented Jun 8, 2010 at 20:22
  • @The Cat: That's actually an excellent idea, coming up with elements of a proposal that exemplifies what people should be asking/looking for. The trick is coming up with a generic enough case that would help people generally. I'll have to think on that one. Commented Jun 8, 2010 at 20:32
  • 1
    If you do construct an example, I wouldn't worry so much about making it generic enough: but do include specific instances of what it did well with reasoning (the more specific the better, even). Maybe use SO as a model and imagine what the definition phase for it would have looked like?
    – Gnome
    Commented Jun 8, 2010 at 20:38
  • 1
    I agree with The Cat on this; if it's hard to construct a generic example, then use Stack Overflow as an example. That's your most successful site; if you can't make it fit that mold then something's definitely wrong.
    – Aarobot
    Commented Jun 8, 2010 at 21:56
  • (FYI, for anyone reading:) I've tried to incorporate my above thoughts into a single post, which may be a better place to continue that discussion.
    – Gnome
    Commented Jun 8, 2010 at 23:11

First of all, I should say that we really appreciate all the great feedback we're getting here. We're continually reviewing it, and will incorporate it into future iterations.

I want to explain, from my point of view, what our goals are with this change just so you know how we evaluate if it's working or not.

Why is there a "definition" phase in the first place?

Let me work backwards.

In the crucial early minutes of a new Q&A site's existence, it's likely to get blogged and tweeted and a lot of people come by to check it out.

Some of those people post questions.

If they get answers quickly, they will think the site is amazing and come back. And the site will take off like a rocket. If they don't get answers, they'll say, "oh, another dumb community, nobody goes there," and leave.

Thus, a new site works best if we can get a lot of people coming in at the same time on the first day answering each other's questions and building momentum. If the same number of people dribble in over the course of two weeks, not nearly as many questions get answered and those that do take a lot longer.

So, we created a commitment phase... a phase where we gather a list of people for two purposes:

  1. So that we can email them all when the site opens, bringing in a critical mass of people all at the same time.
  2. So that we can gauge whether there are enough people interested in Q&A on a given topic.

Now--still working backwards here--in order to gather names on the petition to create a site, you need a proposal to show people. The proposal has to tell them what the site would be about, so that they can decide if they would participate.

We could write all the proposals ourselves, but that would be communism. Thus, we attempted to come up with a system whereby the community itself could collaboratively create proposals that explain what a site might be about.

The first system we came up with had a serious bug in that the sort order in which questions were presented was not randomized. As a result, the very act of voting was effectively meaningless, because the first few on- and off-topic questions to be proposed ALWAYS won. They were not the best on- and off-topic questions, either, they were just first. This was, essentially, a bug in democracy. We had to fix it.

And we had another bug in the old system, whereby people had as many votes as they wanted, so people who spent three times as long going through proposals had three times as many votes. This too was a bug. We had to fix it.

So far, the new system does not seem to have either of these bugs, so I think, by our metric, it is actually working. By limiting the number of votes, we send a message that the community's job is to select a few great questions, not to rate all questions. People appear to be doing that, and, most importantly, the top on-topic questions and the top off-topic questions are now much better than they were under the old system.

What we care about is getting proposals that do a good job of describing the site to someone who comes in at the commitment phase and needs to decide whether they want to commit, and I think we're a little bit closer to that than we were when we started.

Now, I realize that we're in an early beta here, so things are changing, and that's annoying, and sometimes it feels like amateur hour, because, well, we're amateurs. We all strongly feel like it's worth the time now to get this right, spend an extra week or two fine tuning the process, because our goal is to make the Internet a better place to get expert answers to questions, and that's a big goal, and one day there will be millions of people using these sites that we define today, and when we think back to this little beta with a few hundred participants, and think of what an amazing thing we built out of that little beta, we'll be amazed.

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    that would be communism. - no it wouldn't it would be totalitarianism. It's proper communism when it's created and run but the community. Don't confuse it with Stalinism.
    – ChrisF Mod
    Commented Jun 8, 2010 at 19:16
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    @ChrisF He's (jokingly) using the standard American definition of communism, i.e. the opposite of democracy Commented Jun 8, 2010 at 19:25
  • 2
    @David - I did realise that, I just thought a little education wouldn't go amiss ;)
    – ChrisF Mod
    Commented Jun 8, 2010 at 19:28
  • @Joel, I answered down there (or up there, depending on how voting goes :-)); I'd be glad to hear your opinion on that.
    – Massimo
    Commented Jun 8, 2010 at 20:36
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    On what basis do you assert that having "as many votes as they wanted" was a bug? It clearly wasn't an actual bug, so you must mean a design flaw. Why? This is the part that makes no sense. You're all refusing to even discuss the possibility that votes do not need to be limited (or at least not this severely); you see a wonderful healthy site, I see a dozen proposals that were coming along nicely but now seem to be languishing because people are too tired/annoyed to cherry pick. 17 paragraphs and the 1 that's relevant just papers over the most prevalent criticism.
    – Aarobot
    Commented Jun 8, 2010 at 21:45
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    @Joel This new change doesn't make me think "I better spend my votes on those questions I think are best", it makes me think "I better spend my votes on the questions that already have a high number of votes because I want the site to actually get somewhere". I'm certainly not going to wade through hundreds of questions and choose the ones I think are best, only to find nobody else thinks the same way.
    – Bob
    Commented Jun 8, 2010 at 22:25
  • @Aarobot ... that's ok, we're trying to find the sites with enough fanatics to make them work, not the sites that we have to coax out of the community. If we have to coax a site out of the community, it won't survive. Commented Jun 9, 2010 at 0:49
  • @Bob ... that's OK too. If everyone just browses questions from top to bottom (in the default, random order) until they find 5 that they think are exemplary, basic probability indicates that the 5 questions with the most votes will actually be the most exemplary, even if not everyone read every question. Commented Jun 9, 2010 at 0:51
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    @Joel: You're confusing people who are ambivalent about the proposed site/topic with people who are just fed up with the proposal system. You can kill any site with poor usability, no matter how fanatical the users are.
    – Aarobot
    Commented Jun 9, 2010 at 1:39
  • 1
    So, because of the mistake in not randomizing we had the whole process change? It occurs to me that all one had to do was randomize, not change the process...
    – tim
    Commented Jun 10, 2010 at 14:30

Answering here to Robert's post, because comment space is too limited.

  1. First of all, as I already said, no flame was intended. Everyone knows you're working on it (and is grateful for that). But, as I agree with you that saying "we're working on it" continuously would be just noisy, I also think that sometimes a little more communication just helps. Particularly on controversial issues like this one.
  2. I never disagreed with limiting the questions each user can submit. I actually completely agree with that one. But they were already limited to 5 example questions per user before the Big Change, so this isn't the issue here.
  3. Au contraire, I think limiting the user's ability to interact with the site has the only effect of frustrating them; do you honestly think S[OFU] would work better if users could only upvote one answer per question? Do you think there would be any need for that?
  4. I have no issue with the voting reset per se; this is beta, things like that can happen. But something went bad in this specific case: it was just too rushed. I don't know how much time the SE team had been thinking about it, but we users just saw "we'll change the voting system because the current one doesn't work well" on day one, and the change being done on day two; there has been no time for us to provide any feedback, and for you to evaluate it. Gathering feedback before such an invasive change could probably have allowed you to implement a better system... and possibly without the need to delete existing data (f.e. that wouldn't have been required with the solution I proposed). Also, it would not have created that awful feeling of being ignored some of us experienced.
  5. About the voting interface, I already expressed my thoughts, as many others did.
  • 2
    As a representing French person on this site, I will start asking for royalties each time someone uses a French expression to make their answer look "classy". Besides, I agree in general with your points. Mostly the voting one. Voting has become useless for me. So limited, that I don't even dare to vote anymore. Moreover that now with 30 votes for an "on-topic" question, I just feel like I have no weight, especially if voting for a question without any vote yet. People will anyway go to vote on the highest voted, to push the site to release.
    – Gnoupi
    Commented Jun 8, 2010 at 19:08
  • I didn't mean to imply you were flaming. I find the discussion productive. I would ask that you break your feedback into smaller, vote-able, actionable pieces. Like your voting widget post, very helpful. Trying to hold a broad "discussion" like this; not nearly as so. Commented Jun 8, 2010 at 20:40
  • @Robert: so you can downvote them more effectively? :-p
    – Massimo
    Commented Jun 8, 2010 at 20:59
  • @Robert: Just kidding, of course. Anyway, my main topic here is always the same: I think on-topic/off-topic and upvotes/downvotes should be decoupled, because keeping them linked the way they are only generates confusion. Let's reverse the question: do you think this could worsen the current system? Current limits could be left as they are, no need to remove them; but users would gain the freedom to classify questions as on- or off-topic without needing to worry so much about this simple action.
    – Massimo
    Commented Jun 8, 2010 at 21:03
  • Decoupling the actions isn't completely out of the question. I like that better than two-axis voting. One function to generate on-topic questions, one function to generate off-topic questions; it's come up a few times in discussion. Commented Jun 9, 2010 at 0:23

Joel, I have to respectfully disagree with the premise that some well-defined and voted on set of questions will allow me to decide if I want to join a firearms SO site or not or a bicycling SO site or not or an organic farming site.

I'll join them no matter what the limitations or questions are. Why? Because I am interested in those topics and I participate in them every day in the real world and like to discuss them.

It is not the PEOPLE who are going to be different on the site(s) - it is the QUESTIONS.

I know I won't convince you of this, but it will be the same set of people REGARDLESS of this definition phase...

All that this change will likely do is postpone the launch and perhaps have very precisely defined rules and questions. I think the same sorts of questions will get voted up and you are going to have the same users.

I hope it all turns out well, but frankly I find it a bit tedious. I understand you and your team really do like to do things the right way. But I don't see how this is going to really make a difference. If people like Astrology then they are going to try an astrology site. Moving the margins of acceptability slightly based on some sample questions is not likely to have much effect.

  • Astrology... now that's a interesting proposal...
    – Massimo
    Commented Jun 8, 2010 at 19:26
  • 1
    I know I've definitely looked at some proposals thinking "Ehh, I don't know..." and then seen some sample questions that got me really interested Commented Jun 8, 2010 at 19:28
  • @David, That's fine, but those same questions would have been there under the old rules as well.
    – tim
    Commented Jun 8, 2010 at 19:44
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    @tim - You are right in one respect: It is tedious... but only because you are working on cherry-picked proposals that are, frankly, predestined to become sites no matter what happens here. They are great ideas, so why bother with all this claptrap? Because it helps us work out the process of judging whether the 99.5% of sites that come hereafter are workable. We're just not qualified to judge them all the way your post is implying we should. Commented Jun 8, 2010 at 19:53
  • @Robert: I disagree; see my other answer for details. Even the most carefully crafted site proposal will need its followers to clearly define site boundaries, and that's what on-topic/off-topic votes really are about.
    – Massimo
    Commented Jun 8, 2010 at 19:57
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    @Robert I would expect that one metric you'd care about is activity and interest. Computers can measure numbers easily. I think they can do, like 1000 additions per second now or something! Limiting does nothing to help with analysis... It just makes the net numbers smaller. I guess what I am saying is that at best, the new system is equivalent to the old one (if you had not had the lack of randomness bug)
    – tim
    Commented Jun 8, 2010 at 20:01

I like the new system.


Answering to Joel here, same problem as above with comment space.

Joel, I understand your goal to find the most representative questions for a new site, and I totally agree with it. But I think there's a point you're missing here, or, to be more precise, a point that you're disregarding in favor of pursuiting this goal; I'm talking about the crucial brainstorming phase that follows a proposal and defines what the new site's actual content will be.

When a new proposal is made, stating "this site will talk about X" is clearly not enough; the proposal author will have his/her own ideas, and every potential user will have his/her own ones, too; and there will be things on which various people just will not agree, or even potential topics they will not even have thought about, before some other person mentioned them.

The initial brainstorming phase is exactly about this: defining the site boundaries; this happens through the posting of example questions, through the voting and through the discussions people have about them, in the community process you mentioned. This is what the "on-topic"/"off-topic" votes need to accomplish: reaching a common agreement on the site's topic. If this isn't done properly, the site's life (if it can even be born) will be quite difficult, and endless debates will arise when borderline questions will be actually posted (and they will be).

What the current voting system limits heavily is exactly this: the ability of potential site users to freely discuss about what is on-topic or off-topic. Besides usability problems with the system (already discussed endlessly), you just can't classify all questions as on- or off-topic: you simply don't have enough votes to do that, so everyone will just focus on the most relevant ones, because the very act of classifying them is in fact an upvote. So lots of questions will just not be classified, leaving many gray areas, which should instead be defined before the site goes live.

I'm totally with you on the issue of finding the most representative questions; but I think defining the site boundaries is at least as important, if not even more.

This is exactly the main reason behind my proposal of decoupling on-topic/off-topic votes from up/down votes. This way, people would be free to talk as much as they want about what is or is not on-topic, but only the most useful and representative questions will get upvoted.

Besides that, I completely agree with you on the random order issue; also, I could agree with limiting upvotes, although I don't think this would be necessary, with the system I'm proposing; but I really think the two types of vote should be distinctly separated.


A little clarification. I never said thet everything should be defined in this phase, and/or that every possible question should be analyzed before finding the most relevant ones; I acknowledge this is (and will probably always be) an ongoing process, which even on S[OFU] isn't finished yet; trying to complete it before a site even goes live would be crazy.

But, at the same time, I think this should at least partly be done before the most relevant questions can even be found. Defining, at least in a broad sense, what the site boundaries are is a prerequisite in order to do anything else. The details will of course have to be defined during the site Beta... but that will have to leverage the on-topic/off-topic example questions which are discussed in the first phase.

Basically, my approach to a site proposal is "first define, or at least discuss in depth, what is on-topic and what is not; then (or meanwhile) find the most relevant example questions and start the Beta"; instead, it seems the SE team's approach is "first find the most relevant example questions and start the Beta, then define clearly what's on-topic and what's not". I think the second one is a little... awkward.


I'm really curious about the issue described in the last paragraph; is this the way the SE team really think things should work?

  • You're looking to ask and classify all possible questions from day one while we are looking to set up a basic framework to see if people are interested in the idea for a site. What you are asking for will be handled in Beta. You'll have a dedicated meta area set up where actual users of the site can work out individual issues and ask every conceivable question they have about the site. Commented Jun 8, 2010 at 20:02
  • @Robert: "all possible questions"? Certainly not. But with the current system, very few of them can and will be classified. And users feel a lot more limited in what they can do.
    – Massimo
    Commented Jun 8, 2010 at 20:05
  • @Massimo: They should feel limited. Coming up with awesome questions is freakin' hard. Coming up with off-topic questions, ten fold so. The Definition phase is not to hash out the minutiae of every which way the site can go. That's for beta. We just want to set up a basic framework to get your site out to more productive phases. Come up with one good question, and you're done. I promise you can ask all the questions you want and vote all you want when you're hanging out with actual users of the system in Beta. Commented Jun 8, 2010 at 20:56
  • @Robert, so you're basicaly saying that defining the site's boundaries should be done in a subsequent phase than finding the best examplary questions? Sorry, but this really looks awkward to me. Defining (at least broadly) the site's scope and then choosing the most representative example questions by voting them up makes a lot more sense.
    – Massimo
    Commented Jun 8, 2010 at 21:09
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    @Robert: Ranking before classification sounds like a recipe for inconsistency. It's the social equivalent of cowboy coding - "we'll write the spec after it's done, too complicated to plan it all in advance."
    – Aarobot
    Commented Jun 8, 2010 at 21:51
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    @Aarobot: Until you have an established broad scope, how can you decide on fine details? I could see that the "audience" description attempts that, but it's largely decided by a single person without much community feedback and appears too broad.
    – Gnome
    Commented Jun 8, 2010 at 22:17
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    @The Cat: Exactly. 10 questions isn't enough to define the entire scope; imagine trying to pick 10 questions that define the entire scope of Stack Overflow! A reasonably-sized list of boundary-testing questions does define the scope, and it's easy to decide at that point which questions are really in the "sweet spot" and which ones are borderline. What we really want to know is where people disagree on the on-topic/off-topic status; with this voting system, almost all of the highest-voted questions are skewed entirely in one direction, which tells us next to nothing about scope.
    – Aarobot
    Commented Jun 8, 2010 at 23:32
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    @Aarobot: You're looking to write Moderation policy and all the close reasons, while we're just setting up a basic framework; an outline for the basic FAQ. Stack Overflow's faq certainly doesn't need more than 10 sample questions to lay out the framework for the site. Those fine details took months. Super User is still being defined, all in detailed discussion... in meta. Commented Jun 9, 2010 at 0:17
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    @Robert: I challenge you to find 10 "exemplary" Stack Overflow questions that actually have any correlation to the voting and answering patterns of Stack Overflow. I do not agree that the boundaries of the site are "details" and that the "top 10" examples are the "framework". Once again, that seems ass-backwards; the boundaries are the framework (that's practically the definition of the word framework), the top 10 questions that you put on the FAQ are the "details."
    – Aarobot
    Commented Jun 9, 2010 at 0:25
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    @Robert - if all this is supposed to be a simple test if the site would work then clearly many of the sites have already reached that and i am wondering why the silly rules. You can't really treat them all the same. Each one is different. I am amazed and the way the team is clinging to this framework stuff.
    – tim
    Commented Jun 9, 2010 at 1:20

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