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We started with a terrific tag-boosting contest that ran Feb 21-Mar 23, 2019. This was an official SE contest with real prizes and everything. Entrants got a point for every question they asked (open and >0 at the end of the contest) that used one or more qualifying tags (any tag with 10-199 questions on it). This contest generated 118 qualifying entries from 16 entrants and encouraged others to ask questions they didn't enter.

Next we decided to continue question pushes with informal tag contests. We started with just those tags that were in the top 40 but hadn't yet reached 200 questions. That led to 7 Tags of the Week promos, which have just concluded.

These promos were a terrific success. The number of new questions were generally low but the community took the opportunity to look closely at the 17 targeted tags. One tag was turned into a synonym of another. Two tags went over 200 questions before we reached their turn. And one tag went over 200 questions as a result of the contests. Several others are close. We discussed usage for tags and retagged as needed. The results were staggering.

Here are the 17 tags. Each has the number of questions it had on April 2nd and the number today, May 19th, 2019.

  • × 197 — now 211, OVER 200!
  • × 194 — now 205, OVER 200!
  • × 178 — now 194, tag of the week April 1-7
  • × 182 — now 207, tag of the week May 13-19, OVER 200!
  • × 165 — now 185, tag of the week April 15-21
  • × 160 — now 176, tag of the week May 6-12
  • × 156 — now 192, tag of the week May 6-12
  • × 149 — now 162, tag of the week April 29-May 5
  • × 138 — now 148, tag of the week April 1-7
  • × 138 — now 157, tag of the week April 22-28
  • × 138 — now 151, tag of the week April 22-28
  • × 134 — now 148 tag of the week April 15-21
  • × 133 — now 155, tag of the week April 8-14
  • × 121 — now 181, tag of the week May 13-19
  • × 119 — turned into a synonym of
  • × 118 — now 140, tag of the week April 29-May 5
  • × 117 — now 186, tag of the week April 8-14

A tag we didn't feature was because took that top 40 slot. But now is part of it. On April 2nd, it had 110 questions and today it has 119.

Including and not , we needed 872 questions to get to our goal of the top 40 tags being used for 200 questions or more. This would get us the coveted Generalist badge to hand out to those who qualify.

As of May 19th, the end of this promo push, we only need 506 questions to reach our goal! Remember that a question can have up to 5 tags so we can need as few as 102 questions for this.


QUESTION: Where do we go from here?

  • I am a bit lost: what is the overarching goal that we are trying to achieve? [I was away a few days and a revolution of tags happened here O__O ] – NofP May 21 at 22:00
  • Hi @NofP there are a few goals, depending on the long game & where your emphasis is. The goal I'm focusing on is one that we have a chance of achieving before the year is out, certainly by the end of 2020. That's for the Generalist badge to be available. That requires at least 40 tags with 200 or more questions each. Another goal is to graduate Writing.SE. The only thing we're missing is our questions per day are 4-5 when they should be 10. We did get them to an average of 10 during the contest but it didn't matter. Also, plenty of other stacks are allowed to graduate with worse stats than us. – Cyn says make Monica whole May 21 at 22:09
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    thank you. Super clear. Let's keep these tags rolling then :) -- for the questions rate: 5/day may be the baseline under current constraints. If the graduation criteria are that dumb (ehm... strict), we may increase our question rate substantially if we allowed critiques of short texts, maybe one critique on a paragraph shorter than X words per user per week. That looks like the questions that get closed the most frequently. We could revert back to no critique (or more stringent criteria) after graduation. – NofP May 21 at 22:22
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    @NofP Some of us think we shouldn't have to game the system, that Writing is simply a stack that does very well with a lower question rate. We have terrific user engagement, 100% of questions answered, usually with multiple answers, lots of eyeballs on posts, and high quality. SE has graduated several sites with worse stats than ours; it's fairly arbitrary, yet they tell us it's about the q/day. There are multiple threads here on Writing Meta and also on the main Meta, if you want to make your eyes bleed. – Cyn says make Monica whole May 21 at 22:25
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    I agree on not gaming the system when the system is fair. I just can't stand double standards. Thank you for the clarifications. I'll go ask some more questions in the meantime :) – NofP May 21 at 22:29
  • @Cyn Funnily enough on that topic, I ended up on Area51 today. We've fallen below the 5 questions per day, yet we have an estimate of 10k visitor per day (while only 1,5 k is recommended for graduation). I'd say that a site that gets more than six times the intended views is a good site, but go figure what the promotion-gods are thinking. – Liquid - Reinstate Monica May 24 at 14:45
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    @Liquid Yeah, we're not only "excellent" on every single measure besides q/day but we're way WAY over the threshold for them. – Cyn says make Monica whole May 24 at 15:45
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    Wow @Liquid. that's an interesting stat… We are more than a "questions" site, people are reading us for information/entertainment. – wetcircuit May 26 at 14:58
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We should wait a week then continue

In my belief the retagging efforts have been a net-positive for the site. We are much closer to generalist and I would like to see us get there.

I did post a somewhat pessimistic meta: Why isn't our tag challenge working? The goal there was to gain feedback from the user who weren't participating in the tag challenge to see if we could change it to increase participation. From that I have a few ideas.

We should wait a week

Some users have expressed a competition-hangover effect from our massive tag competition a few months ago. I feel like that should be beginning to fade around now but leaving a week without a competition may help.

Also some users have expressed concern about our retagging efforts, this is a legitimate issue and I will admit some fault here. By waiting a week all our current retagging efforts will have disappeared and we can do new ones at a lower rate in the future.

Increase to three tags

The combined factors of diminishing returns and the difficulty of fitting questions to tags contributed to a low participation rate. I think we should expand the next version of the tag challenge to use three tags instead of two.

One tags should be a high popularity tag (>200 questions) to promote the tag challenge and increase participation. One should one of our generalist targets (100-200 questions) to continue moving us toward that goal. The other is a free choice, maybe a new tag, or a once popular but forgotten tag, or even randomly chosen.

Again we should make efforts to ensure these tags do not overlap too much so that they serve our entire community equally.

We could add a running tally across weeks

This is a possible suggestion not something I am certain about. But it would be nice to have some way to recognize users with consistent high commitment to creating new questions and participating in site promotion activities. Maybe we could add a leaderboard that spans across multiple challenges and award a prize for the top user as then end of the year? Hopefully this will help us maintain a higher overall question rate.

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    cheering you on from a far! – Cyn says make Monica whole May 21 at 2:15
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    I agree. If you need an extra pair of hands for the next week, I'm in. – Liquid - Reinstate Monica May 21 at 7:15
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    I love the 3 tags at different tiers of popularity. With an extra tag, may I also suggest each challenge last 2 weeks? There were a few tags that I just couldn't get a question together in time, although I put some thought to it…. – wetcircuit May 25 at 18:30
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Group questions?

Maybe the next step is to have group input on question creation (like Wordlbuilding has) so we can groupmind more advanced questions…? (Apology if this exists, I never see it mentioned.)

We also end-up with mostly hero's journey type questions, then YA Fantasy… Is it possible we are just weak in genre diversity?

Other (popular?) genres aren't well-represented for some reason. Romance for instance is supposedly the biggest genre, I wouldn't say we are anti-Romance biased but there is a bit of cultural embarrassment.

Anecdotally, I've noticed sci-fi questions might get a lot of answers but aren't asked very often (maybe the majority go to Worldbuilding?). Horror questions don't get very many answers… I'm not sure how we could boost membership from these genres (if that's even something that can be done, attract more question askers).

If the real goal is to reach a steady stream of 10 Questions/day, maybe the Tags-o-the-Week should target some less-represented genres (unexplored terrain) in an effort to deliberately generate some heat in those categories?

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    I'm not sure exactly what you mean by "group questions". Do you mean like a sandbox? We have a meta that says we don't want one. – linksassin May 27 at 1:11
  • Ahh! thank you. I thought Meta was just for site issues. – wetcircuit May 27 at 2:40
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    No you can also ask for help work shopping particular questions as well. Writing Chat is also a good place for that. Anything related to the site but which wouldn't be on topic for the main site can be discussed here. – linksassin May 27 at 5:33

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