2 of 4
add my thoughts on rep from ChatGPT answers
starball
  • 24.3k
  • 8
  • 46
  • 120

On Unanswerable Questions

If you're not asking solely about answerable questions, and instead asking generally about all / the average question(s),

Ever heard of "garbage in, garbage out"?

This is like the "oh no- computers are learning to code and now they're going to take our jobs- oh wait- for the computer to solve a client's problem, the client will have to accurately describe what they want".

Maybe instead, people should try to build things to:

  • detect unanswerable questions and ask the asker to clarify on points that need clarifying.

    I mean- what is ChatGPT going to do for a "can you help me?" question on Stack Overflow?

  • detect images of text and transcribe them, images of code and format them as code blocks with the right language classifier, images of tables and format them as tables.

I think (at least some) Stack Exchange sites need those more than possibly-accurate answers to answerable questions.

On Highly Localized / Unnecessarily-Non-Generic Questions

Maybe instead, people should try to build things to un-localize / generic-inate highly localized questions. (Though personally, I'd still want such automation to be an assisance tool gated by human supervision instead of an unsupervised thing).

We have dedicated badges to incentivize editing posts (including questions) (editor, strunk and white, copy editor) and editing them along with answering them (explainer, refiner, illuminator) because many questions have room to be improved for the benefit of people other than the original asker. A chat AI sounds like it's designed to chat with and help one person. That's not what Stack Exchange is (although that's what many new users think it is, and that's what often happens).

I entered a question from Stack Overflow relating to the numpy Python module and it gave a pretty convincing response

What was the question? If it was one of the many "please help me figure out what is wrong with my code" questions...

Maybe we should leave it at that. Maybe leaving it at that is a good thing for everyone. Even if an AI could provide correct, quality answers to any posted question (... again, how do you answer an unanswerable question?), then the value it would provide to the Stack Exchange network (I think) would be to make it so questions that aren't on-topic or don't meet community guidelines could be easier asked and answered elsewhere.

On Constructive, Subjective Questions

Would a bot such as this one change the future of question and answer sites?

Yes and no? If we get some magic-bullet™ that can answer any* question (that is on-topic and meets community guidelines for topics that are a good fit for the Stack Exchange Q&A framework) on the spot, many of the Stack Exchange sites mostly wouldn't be needed anymore.

We're generally a repository of information in the form of fact-based, objective Q&A.

What such an AI by-definition could not replace, is answers to constructive subjective questions where answers are based on peoples' personal experiences. A human experience cannot be synthesized. They can be gathered, which is one of the things we do here.

On Questions that Don't Meet Other Community Guidelines

Take a look at this MSO discussion: "Should I answer questions that include images of code (or violate other guidelines)?" (the answer is "No. Those questions should be closed.")

I mean- sure. Anyone who wants can write an answer if it's an honest attempt to answer the question. But if the question does not meet community guidelines, it should be closed (unless it has enough historical value to justify keeping it, in which case it should be locked).

On Misc Other Questions

What's it going to do when you throw something completely new at it? Ex. question about a new programming language?

My Closing Unsolicited Personal Thoughts: Do AI belong here on SE?

I think the Stack Exchange network is a community of Q&A for people.

When I read the Stack Exchange tour page, Here's how I read it (with my personal-thought inserted in parentheses, and emphases added):

Stack Exchange is a network of 180 communities that are created and run by (human) experts and (human) enthusiasts like you who are passionate about a specific topic. We build libraries of high-quality questions and answers, focused on each community's area of expertise.

Why do I read it that way? To me, a chat AI is not an "expert". I'm not sure how to explain it well. To me, an expert actually knows what they're talking about and what they're saying. Does a chat AI really know what it's talking about and what it's saying? And it's not an "enthusiast" either. It's mechanical. It has no motive (don't come after me, sci-fi people).

In 2008, Jeff Atwood and Joel Spolsky launched Stack Overflow, a site where (human) programmers could help solve each other's problems. Online. For free. Since then, millions of people have jumped at the chance to help a (human) stranger. And thanks to those people like you, the Stack Exchange network has grown to include 180 different communities visited by over 100 million monthly unique (human) visitors.

Also, the idea of people getting rep for an answer (even if the answer is correct) they got by blindly copy-pasting from ChatGPT feel... wrong to me.

The help center page on reputation says (emphasis added):

Reputation is a rough measurement of how much the community trusts you; it is earned by convincing your peers that you know what you’re talking about. The more reputation you earn, the more privileges you gain and the more tools you'll have access to on the site.

If someone uses ChatGPT only the write an answer and doesn't personally verify its correctness, then that person didn't know what they were talking about, and the AI that generated the response didn't really know what it was talking about either.

starball
  • 24.3k
  • 8
  • 46
  • 120