For New Stack Exchange sites (not SO, SF or SU.)

As a moderator on a new SE site (WordPress Answers) I'm pondering how to get more people to return and accept answers and to then continue to participate. Unlike most of the constituents of SOFU for whom SE has become ingrained into their lives many of our users ask a question and then never come back.

One thing I think would improve it would be if the OPs got an immediate email notification that their question had being answered (which they could opt out of when they ask the question.) I also think it would be helpful if there were email notifications after a week and after a month that said (with single-question and all-question opt-out, of course):

It's been 7/30 days and you've not accepted the answer; can you come back and accept an answer, or would you like to add detail in hopes of getting a better answer?

Both of those solutions just mentioned would take Jeff and Joel to agree and then implement which I fear is unlikely. So what other things can be done to get users back to the site after they've forgotten about the question they left unaccepted?

P.S. I asked "Okay for Moderators to Email People with Unaccepted Questions?" and @Pekka suggested I ask this question instead.

  • Why is this CW? Why is it tagged [community-wiki]? It's normal to have discussion on a meta site with various answers and comments, no need for wiki. – Gnome Oct 24 '10 at 1:54
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    @Roger Better yet, to me, how is it CW? You can't mark questions CW anymore when asking them... – Jared Harley Oct 24 '10 at 4:44
  • @Roger Pate - Then why does meta have CW at all? I marked it that way because I've come to understand that CW if for discussions where there is no one right answer. How is marking it CW wrong? BTW, your edit made my phrasing unclear. – MikeSchinkel Oct 24 '10 at 8:20
  • @Mike: I didn't edit this question; check the history. Meta has CW for the same reason it exists on non-meta: when you want others to change your words because it's a "community-owned" post. See the FAQ for example. – Gnome Oct 24 '10 at 8:26
  • @Roger Pate - Sorry about that. I could have sworn your name was next to my in the "edited" section. That said, I still don't understand why me setting this to be community wiki was troubling for you? – MikeSchinkel Oct 24 '10 at 8:35
  • @Mike: Community wiki means community owned, and then you got upset when someone slightly changed the words of "your" post. Do you see the contradiction? – Gnome Oct 24 '10 at 8:39
  • @Roger Pate - I didn't get upset at all; I was pointing out that a poor edit was made (sorry I wrongly pointed the finger at you.) If someone is going to edit they should take care not to make the post worse, that's all. I edit a lot, but I'm very careful not to change meaning or make a post less clear when I do. BTW, you made the CW comment before I said anything about the edit so how is your perception that I got upset related? – MikeSchinkel Oct 24 '10 at 8:51
  • It's related as a handy example of how you attach a strong sense of personal ownership to a community-owned post, which shows you probably didn't intend for it to be community-owned. – Gnome Oct 24 '10 at 8:54
  • @Roger Pate - Fair point. But you didn't have any evidence at the onset. Anyway, this question has an accepted answer because it came from Jeff and is thus policy so...let's put it to bed. – MikeSchinkel Oct 24 '10 at 9:00

Sending users nag emails is philosophically counter to everything we have ever done.

We actually don't care if question askers come back; that's up to them. The important thing is that the question gets asked, is edited into shape, and reasonable answers are provided.

In many ways the question asker is the least important user in our system. We're really trying to satisfy:

  1. the expert answerers who answer questions -- and yes, we definitely want these people coming back
  2. the vast hordes of anonymous internet users who can benefit from this breadcrumb trail of information, as they find it in Google

Note that we do send "top new user" emails every week, to the three new users who generated the most reputation in that week. (see below; this email can only ever be sent one per user.)

To me, this is a much more sensible approach than nag emails. These are the users we want.


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  • What is wrong with you man? Don't you know email=efail? – random Oct 24 '10 at 2:17
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    I like that <3 at the end. – BoltClock's a Unicorn Oct 24 '10 at 4:42
  • @Jeff Atwood - Fair point. BTW, I don't think I've never gotten one of those emails you mention though I know I've been a top user for at least a few weeks. – MikeSchinkel Oct 24 '10 at 8:29
  • Wow, "the question asker is the least important user in our system" ? I thought good questions attract good answers, not the other way around – Andomar Oct 24 '10 at 9:05
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    @andomar the world is awash in questions. What it's not awash in, is answers. – Jeff Atwood Oct 24 '10 at 9:55
  • @Mike: Maybe you were skipped because you are a moderator? – Jan Fabry Oct 24 '10 at 17:30

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