I have not had the impression that question quality is rising significantly.
Quality questions can often result from ones which start off shaky if you can get to them before they are put on hold by people who do not understand less clear-cut material as well as some others others do. More effort in this area seems to useful add to quality but it's annoying to have to respond with alacrity before the kneecappers arrive.
It can sometimes hard to get Olin to stop doing things in the corners :-).
(He has the same problem with me).
RH: I've heard this argument before, that the moderator despots are destroying the communities. It could have some merit, were it not for the fact that the percentage of bad questions that ever get rehabilitated is vanishingly small. Swift moderator action has nothing to do with that; questions can always be reopened if they are improved.
There's nothing more convincing to an argument than a fore-formed conclusion - and that of course applies to all points of view. A major problem is that "were it not for the fact that the percentage of bad questions that ever get rehabilitated is vanishingly small" is a self fulfilling prophecy and that "Swift moderator action has nothing to do with that" is demonstrably untrue (but nobody who doesn't want to care cares) and "questions can always be reopened if they are improved" is true for values of CAN = "yeah right". ie if improved but not battled for, nothing happens, and battling requires a far higher bar to be crossed than many other unclosed questions meet. | People with English as a second language face far higher rejection levels - even when when understandable to me - many readers seem to be unable to read material not written in a tightly Euro/US centric English subset. OR pretend not to be able to, as the case may be. High exclusions occur, regardless of WHY, for (often several of): English as second language, non-"European". Being distinguishably female also seems not to help. |People who downvote almost never remove their vote when question is improved. People who are confused are more liable to be abused than assisted. People who appear electronically clueless vote to close on questions with merit, giving caned reasons that are usually specious. || Merit is a fragile concept in this environment.
RH: Then why bother with moderation at all? The purpose of closing questions is to prevent new answers while the question is being rehabilitated, and if what you say is true (that my viewpoint is demonstrably false), then the theory of moderation is fundamentally misguided, and should be abolished. Regarding your ESL and female argument; meh. I've seen people abuse the minority/race card for their own personal motivations so many times it doesn't carry any weight anymore.
A few hours in a comfortable lounge with a few jugs of Coke for me (the black wet kind) & whatever lubricant you favour would be a bettwr way of addressing this :-). 1/3 of a world and some large oceans make that hard.| Note I applied "demonstrably untrue" (not 'false' fwiw) to ONE point out of 3 - and that means I can demonstrate it if anyone cares. I did not say moderation always fails - just that its never perfect. I'm a moderator elsewhere. Olin will happily tell you how imperfect my moderation is :-). Language/Asian/(female) - that's been what I see. Questioning my motivations is allowed (even though 'the 2nd' does not hold here in NZ :-). BUT my statement is based in what I seem to see. I have helped a significant number of people get their questions into circulation. Not a large % of total posts as it's just too hard to fight the system. I have see intelligent capable people with good questions so confused by the system that they've given in. Being easy for us makes it hard it is for others. That's standard in many areas. || My comments are based on substantial experience and ongoing attempts to assist newcomers - with many successful ones.
RH: I appreciate the candor. In my experience (on Stack Overflow and on Programmers), the number of people who are willing to moderate are far outnumbered by the number of new people willing to ask off-topic questions, and the moderation process itself is too difficult (it requires 8 people to remove unsalvageable questions) to keep the front page clean, so some of the responsibility for asking good questions has to reside with the askers themselves.
I'm not at all anti-moderator - but we contend fairly regularly, as they will tell you. You have my permission to ask them about me (should that be needed).
Over some years I've asked on a number of occasions for marginal cases to be given time to work on their questions IF there are people willing to work with them - and there are. But this request has ALWAYS been declined.
The logistics of global timings, people going to work/school/sleep/weekends/ ... mean that a person not looking at their post for 12 hours would be usual, for 20-24 hours not unusual and for 1-2 days normal enough. Our 24 hour presence means that "marginal " questions are reviewed and POH (placed on hold) "before they blink" in many cases.
I have had too many questions POH while I am typing an answer. One yesterday.
I started answering incrementally so I could at least finish what I had started and not waste maybe 20-60 minutes in some cases. And the moderators complained about me doing that - and DELETED a good answer to an understandable (to me) question to (presumably) teach me a lesson.
If I had eg downvoted an answer and given the reason that was given for the deletion I would have had my account placed on hold for abuse of the system. (Yes, that happened too in the past - even though my statement was misunderstood and my action legitimate).
I downvote ALMOST never - and tell people that I have, and why I did so, when I do.
I have people downvote my technically good (OK , superb :-) ) answers occasionally largely because (it seems) they don't like me helping the 'underdogs. Go figure [tm].
Look at my rep score. Big deal. If you have access to my site history you'll see it has a distinct change in slope some years back when I changed tack.
I'm happy to comment rather than answer, to try to assist than to score points. I have "enough rep" that it really doesn't matter. But for reasons which no doubt make sense to some my efforts are unwelcome.
**THE aim of this site is at core: "**To produce high quality question and answer sets that are of long lasting value and which will attract search engine traffic".
That's the site owner's spec, as I imagine you know.
Everything I do is aimed at achieving that - it's a secondary goal for me but one I'm aware of and try to meet.
Most people are unaware of this goal - and the moderation process sometimes seems to not only not be advancing it, but also to be trying to stop me advancing it.
If you gave a few people who are happy to do so a bit more time with SOME of the "unsalvageable" questions you could save some of those 8 people. Sure, some questions MUST die - but in some or even many cases a marginal question can either be improved to where it meets the OPs intention and gets good answers OR is changed to be good enough as a question even if the OPs purpose is too obscure to be certain of. In the latter case, if the OP will not or cannot express themselves then getting good Q&A rather than spending the effort of 8 person deletion seems to be a win.
My claim that I'm NOT antimoderator would probably be debated.
I'm pro-moderator, BUT I'm also pro-user, pro-newcomer and pro-education. Some like Olin (who I respect immensely, even though our vuews differ radically in some areas) think (or say) that I seek to dumb things down, promote sloppiness and laziness in question asking and seek to set a lower quality bar. I don't. But I believe that we can both treat many (not all) newcomers better and get better results.
I am certain (case studies available) that our system is newcomer unfriendly and does not serve many as well as it easily could. Newcomers often do not understand the basic rules and also often have trouble finding out what they are. Commenters are OFTEN rude and unhelpful and sometimes actively misdirect and misadvise newcomers. They would probably in such cases say that they are "being funny", but there is some rather malicious jesting being done on occasion.
Once a question is put on hold it is more often than not the death knell for the question. The reasons for closing are USUALLY spurious - the canned reasons are inadequate and more often than not the reasons given are "just plain wrong". It also seems that the core active subset of closers must have a very poor grasp of other than formal English and a marked inability to understand clearly enough expressed concepts questions and explanations.
Some commenters have taken it on themselves to deliver morals lectures to thos whose face they dislike - we don't do that here - yout\r question is type xxx - we don't like xxx here, he doesn't like it either, I have the death sentence in 12 systems ... [ah. wrong cantina scene - but too often too much like that].
We can do better by the newcomers, AND by ourselves.