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An unfortunate consequence of encouraging new questions that use a tag or tags eligible for the contest, is that multiple new users have submitted low quality questions that appear to have been suggested from the tags and little more.

The questions don't go much deeper than putting 2 tags together and asking "How do I…?" In some cases the juxtaposition of 2 tags create nonsensical questions (what is the psychology of using figures of speech). In most cases the questions are just ridiculously broad (how do I mix fantasy and reality?).

I have added screengrabs because the issue becomes apparent when the tags can be seen with the question title:

enter image description here enter image description here enter image description here enter image description here

Normally, poor quality questions would be absorbed by the site, VTC, or the user encouraged to edit to create a better question, but many together from multiple new users may be an indicator of a problem that the contest is encouraging.

If the net result is more questions it may be worth the extra edits and explanations, but a barrage of "contest entries" might also lead to member burnout.

  • 4
    FWIW I actually think the puzzle question is worthwhile and can stand on it's own. I upvoted accordingly. I can also remove my answer to the simile question if the community feels it needs closed and/or edited. – bruglesco Mar 3 at 14:36
  • I don't think we should over-react… Throwing 2 random tags together to see what the question might be isn't necessarily "bad"..., and details can be added to make a question less broad... I guess my real fear is that we see 20 low-quality questions and give up moderating because it's the new normal. – wetcircuit Mar 3 at 16:31
  • Were these questions submitted to the contest? (I know I can go look but I'm packing for a trip...trying to take just a short break.) Because there were plenty of questions for the sake of asking a question before the contest that were also poor quality. Maybe we have more of them now (or not) because people are seeing more questions in general and being encouraged? – Cyn Mar 6 at 1:43
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If a question is too broad or unclear or has some other problem, please vote to close and, if possible, help the author improve the question so it can be reopened. Edit if you can, comment if you have questions, and lend a helping hand to new people who don't know the ropes yet.

We have a strong community here; now that our volume is increasing, we can't rely on the same few people to do all the curating. If you see something you can help with, please help. (That's a generic "you", not a reference to the asker of this question in particular.) Showing that we can not only attract but manage a higher volume of activity will be important to the folks at SE who will sit in judgement of our site.

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I've VTCed several of those questions - I agree they are too broad and of poor quality. (I do like the puzzle one, though.)

We appear to have had a growth burst that is beyond what we can currently police. We've had an influx of new users hurrying to post questions. Which is not in itself bad, except that there aren't enough of us experienced users to guide our new members through the learning process.

Proposed solution:

  • Let us all be more active with reviewing posts. Commenting, explaining, VTCing - whatever needs to be done.
  • Posting good questions that can serve as an example of what our site expects.
  • Next time, maybe a question should only qualify if it has 5 upvotes, not 1. Then, it would create pressure to ask good questions. (I don't think changing the contest rules now would be fair. Although, maybe we should change now. I don't know.)

I wouldn't blame the contest directly. I would blame the SE administrators, who wouldn't let us graduate without the 10 questions per day. We were happy being a smaller site with ~5 good-quality questions per day. We were steadily generating quality content. But we were pressured to double our output. Of course it's going to come at the expense of quality.

With time, some of the new users will learn the ropes, others will leave. I already see at least one new user who is consistently generating quality questions. I love that. In the meantime, I guess we'd just need to put a little more effort into keeping our SE the way we like it.

  • all sensible advice. – wetcircuit Mar 3 at 16:24
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    Upvoted but I don't agree with the suggestion (which I know you weren't pushing) to change contest rules right now. But future ones, sure. Whatever the rules are is fine. – Cyn Mar 6 at 1:42
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I think it is worth noting that while these are not the best quality questions, none of them are bad. I even found a little bit of value in them, although some of them need work before they can be answered. And I think this was a natural consequence of the contest. The contest has still generated way more positive content. If the quality metrics of the contest were much higher though I likely wouldn't have participated out of fear that I couldn't score high enough.

I also think part of the issue that you highlight above is that it happened all in a short window of time (approx. two hours if I recall.) This can be a problem for any Stack Exchange site. If it had been more spread out the community would have absorbed it more easily.

Increasing the number of questions is going to increase the number of low quality questions. It's inevitable, but also not a bad thing. Some of these users may learn to write better received questions and become quality members of the community. Having more questions also means some of us new people find more opportunities to answer. Which is why I am finally active here after lurking for months.

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    Opportunity for new users to answer is definitely a positive. I am usually against VTC. if the question has a slant and generates a few answers, it's good for a site search to see more recent Q&A. – wetcircuit Mar 3 at 17:02
  • @wetcircuit VTC isn't always a bad thing. It can encourage people to refine questions and improve them when they otherwise wouldn't. – bruglesco Mar 3 at 17:06

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