I expect everyone has noticed by now the rapid increase of badly written questions over the last several months. We seem to be getting higher traffic, but that seems to be due to a flood of crappy questions that then need to be closed. I haven't actually counted, this is just a feeling, but I strongly suspect it is true. Either way, it's the perception that actually matters in the end, and my perception that this site is rapidly declining is definitely there.
What should we do about this decline in quality? Is there anything we can do, or is the slide into drivel inevitable and those of use looking for more learned discussion need to find someplace else (until that gets overrun by the zombies and the cycle repeats)?
We do seem to continue to get some good questions. My impression (again, not actually measured) is that those are coming at about the rate they did before, but are getting drowned out in the drivel that is making the whole site look amatuerish and less and less a rewarding place to hang out. I seem to be spending proportionately more time writing comments explaining why a question is being closed and closing and downvoting questions than writing decent answers to interesting questions.
Here is my own take: This site has hit the maturity phase. That means most of the experts that are going to find this place have. It used to be a place of high quality discussion and high quality answers. Now in the maturity phase, the unwashed masses have noticed that good answers are to be had. Unfortunately, they don't bother to read the FAQ or spend a little time on the site before blurting out their question. To them this site is merely a resource to take from. So what if my question gets closed? I haven't lost more than a minute typing some barely-readable gibberish. I've got nothing to loose. This isn't "my" site, so what do I care?". Meanwhile those that would have spent the time writing better answers have to waste it closing questions and picking thru the pile of noise to find the few good questions we still get.
Eventually those that are here for quality discussions will get dissolusioned and leave. This has already happened to some extent. Look at the list of users with 10k or more rep and see which ones are no longer active. Some of that happened earlier so they just moved on before the downhill slide, but don't underestimate the damaging effect of the high drivel level.
If this slide into the swamp can be fixed, it will need a very concerted effort to in effect say "no, this is crap, go away" to those that post crap. We are too gentle now in closing and downvoting bad questions. It needs to feel more like a kick in the butt so that those that don't bother spending time on their questions clearly get the message that they are not welcome here. Just as important, others will see that crappy posts aren't tolerated. I don't know what the mechanism should be exactly. That's what this topic is about. Ideas?