What is being done in SE land with regards to directing people to question they are likely to be able to make good answers to? I'm going to take a wild guess and say that after getting more people on a site, that is the single biggest lever available for improving the quality of answers people get.

So, my proposal:

Run a "Stack Exchange 'Prize'" contest. (ah la the NetFlix Prize)

The challenge: write a program that can look at the current corpus and then, given a new question including it's tags and comment and maybe an early bird answer or two, predict how well different people will do at answering the question.

Scoring: Each month,just before the data dump goes out, all entries get run vs all (or as many as they can process in a time limit) new questions added after the last data dump (or maybe add a one month delay and run the entries on the month after it is submitted). The program should, attempt to predict who will do how well at answering the question, the closer the program comes to predicting the actual vote distribution of the answers, the better it's score.

The Prize: Bragging rights mostly. The best programs each month get on a high score board. OTOH real goodies every once in a while might be cool to.

Once good predictors start being submitted, they can be used for sorting/filtering the general questions page for each user.

  • I find it immensely amusing that a competition/prize is being proposed by someone named BCS. – Pops Jun 29 '10 at 18:39
  • What this?: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bowl_Championship_Series Total coincidence. – BCS Jun 29 '10 at 18:56
  • And that's why it's funny. If it were intentional, it'd just be kinda weird. – Pops Jun 29 '10 at 19:35
  • Perhaps an interesting use of this system would be to analyze the contents of a question prior to posting to suggest tags to a user. – Mark Elliot Jun 29 '10 at 19:40
  • @BCS - your end-goal sounds like Pandora Radio - try to play the songs the user will like the most. But unlike Pandora, there's no wanting in your proposal to play new things to add variety and try to expand on their interests. – rlb.usa Jun 29 '10 at 21:29
  • As for a prize - we could all put up some rep for a grand prize bounty to the winner. – rlb.usa Jun 29 '10 at 21:31
  • @rlb.usa. all it needs is to be a bit fuzzy and it should work better than what we have now because people would expect to find it's suggestions interesting. --- OTOH the goal is find questions people can answer. That these will tend to be interesting to the user is just a nice side effect. – BCS Jun 29 '10 at 21:41
  • @Popular Demand: If I were a collage football fanatic, it wouldn't be weird at all. – BCS Jun 29 '10 at 21:42

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