24

I can't say I'm an incredibly active user here on Writing, but I do drop in most days to see if there are any interesting new questions. However, lately I feel like there's been a big drop in the quality of questions since the whole CoC debacle.

I've felt like there's been noticeably more posts from new users who perhaps don't have a very good grasp of what is considered on-topic/a good question for Writing, and I especially feel that there's been an increase of Asking What to Write and grammar/language usage questions. I also feel that there's been a drop in answers being posted, but that's to be expected, I believe, what with the number of high rep, reliable users stepping away from the site (be it temporarily or for good).

But, has there really been a drop in quality of questions, or am I just imagining it? If there has been a measurable drop, could we do anything to remedy it, or must we settle with just VTC/down voting unsuitable questions and hoping people learn what's considered a 'good question' on the site?

  • 5
    There's been a very big drop in everything related to moderation and participation from regulars. Look at this answer from me for more details and this query on SEDE I found for some general statistics. – Sec SE - clear Monica's name Nov 21 '19 at 22:54
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    Another factor to consider is that we have 0 active moderators. Obviously bad or off-topic questions used to be closed single handedly. This also means no flags and being handles so all the moderation falls to the few remained users with the reputation to complete review queues. Often this means is can take days for a question to get closed. – linksassin Nov 21 '19 at 23:53
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    Today was the first time I checked a review queue in ages, and it used to be how I started my day. So I marked voted 3 LowQuality answers as delete, and I think I was the 5th vote on each of them. – April Salutes Monica C. Dec 2 '19 at 14:52
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    @April--Un-SlanderMonica-- If you are interested, we have an alternative to Writing SE here: qpixel.artofcode.co.uk/questions/39219. We also have a discord dedicated to it, which you can find an invite link for in my profile. – Thomas Reinstate Monica Myron Dec 12 '19 at 20:04
  • I've never used Discord (I assume it's blocked at work?) , but I'll check out the other site. – April Salutes Monica C. Dec 12 '19 at 22:45
  • Did the situation improve in the last two months or did it stay the same? – Trilarion Jan 27 at 10:21
  • @Trilarion It got worse. – Sec SE - clear Monica's name Jan 27 at 10:32
18

I think this is, as you say, due to the number of high-rep users who have left the site. According to this comment on a post I made on MSE, we were averaging about 8 questions/day prior to Monica's de-modding and the subsequent controversies. As of right now, looking at the first page of questions, that's down to 2.5 questions/day. I'd expect the drop in the number of answers to be about the same.

I don't think we're necessarily receiving a higher number of off-topic questions than before. However, due to the ongoing exodus and the resultant drop in activity, we're seeing a higher proportion of off-topic questions, because the people who were asking the good questions... just aren't here anymore.

As for what we can do about this... I don't really know. Many 1-rep users just dump their questions and run, so "hoping they learn what's considered a good question" is often a pointless exercise. We need to focus on retaining the ones who actually stick around to read whatever answers and comments they receive. But I don't know how we can do that.

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    I'd say the proportion of off-topic and "what to write" questions has risen. I still check every day looking for questions worth answering, and it's a desert. I'd also say the number of readers have dropped off; I answer enough questions that my rep increases at a fairly steady pace, but that has slowed down, too. Or maybe that's just because there aren't enough new questions to answer. Oh Well, nothing lasts forever, right? This was fun while it lasted. – Amadeus-Reinstate-Monica Nov 21 '19 at 19:29
  • If you can work a SEDE query and want to run an experiment, grab a list of all questions asked in the month of August alongside author and question score, strike out the ones written by users that have since left the site, and see what's left. Iirc there were a lot of questions asked by high-rep users mixed in with all the low to medium rep questions. – Troyen Nov 22 '19 at 11:13
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    Concerning what we can do about it: nothing. SE brought this on themselves, and they are quite literally the only people capable of fixing it. I wasn't for leaving myself, but virtually all the other high-reppers were, giving us the situation we have now. It is neither our job to fix this, nor are we capable of doing so. The only thing we can do at this point is either struggle on or move elsewhere. – Thomas Reinstate Monica Myron Nov 25 '19 at 23:33
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    If you are interested, we have an alternative to Writing SE here: qpixel.artofcode.co.uk/questions/39219. We also have a discord dedicated to it, which you can find an invite link for in my profile. – Thomas Reinstate Monica Myron Dec 12 '19 at 20:06
8

Definetly. I was about to opening a meta question myself.

What's more - speaking for myself here - the damage done to Writing's community and "family business" feel after the CoC controversy has left me in a really bad mood. I rarely find the will to post or answer here, let alone edit or manage questions. I can't help but feel that it would be a pointless exercise.

And to be sure, I'm a nobody - but I used to be a somewhat active user here. I guess there are others who started with me that are either lurking or have migrated to other sites.

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    You are not a nobody! You're a valuable member of this community; don't let the SE overlords tell you otherwise. I fear for our community and hope we can all gather somewhere else and pick up where we left off. – Monica Cellio Nov 27 '19 at 16:23
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    You're definitely not a "nobody". You were an important member of this community. (Using past tense since the community is mostly dead, and there's no Miracle Max in sight.) @MonicaCellio yeh, looking for another platform, hoping we can start away somewhere else. If you know a place, let us know. – Galastel supports GoFundMonica Nov 27 '19 at 22:40
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    Thanks, I guess I'm still in the mindset of when I started posting here - looking up to you two, among others. Anyway, I second the idea. Reddit has some writing communities; I don't actually know if they would be suited. – Liquid - Reinstate Monica Nov 28 '19 at 8:26
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    You're not a nobody. For what it's worth, I really enjoyed how you brought back the writing challenges this summer. (Before SE decided to trash the place and not apologize...) – user36961 Nov 29 '19 at 21:33
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    Please know that I value you and so do others. I miss you and everyone. It's horrible. Please don't delete accounts folks, if there's news, we want you to hear it and we have no other way to reach you. – Cyn says make Monica whole Dec 1 '19 at 21:25
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    @CynsaysmakeMonicawhole Not deleting anything. Waiting for a Hannukah miracle that would let us purify our stack and get back to work. – Galastel supports GoFundMonica Dec 2 '19 at 15:51
  • @GalastelsupportsGoFundMonica I'm so glad. Hoping also for Chanukah. But keep your eyes peeled between now and Tu BiShvat. – Cyn says make Monica whole Dec 8 '19 at 18:12
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    @Liquid-ReinstateMonica If you are interested, we have an alternative to Writing SE here: qpixel.artofcode.co.uk/questions/39219. We also have a discord dedicated to it, which you can find an invite link for in my profile. – Thomas Reinstate Monica Myron Dec 12 '19 at 20:08
  • @ThomasReinstateMonicaMyron Thanks, I'll give it a look| – Liquid - Reinstate Monica Dec 13 '19 at 9:17
7

For me, my "SE Energy" has been funneled into Meta, mostly. (I just joined in early spring of this year, and there was the question contest surge around them, too. )

First Chart - my reputation graph from my start - in Writing.SE

Reputation Graph showing high activity in March and April, hardly any since September

Second Chart - my rep graph also from start on Meta.SE

Reputation Graph showing high activity starting mid October

I know points aren't purely equal to participation (and most of my Meta.SE points are from a snarky 1-liner on when they appointed @Monica Cellio the moderator), but they're an acceptable proxy for showing the trend.

-2

I'm personally hoping this is just another step in the evolution of the site. A temporary lull that will lead to a proud resurgence.

This effective 'changing of the guard' that will happen over time could have any multitude of outcomes, from a change of perspective and quality to an outright scope change. I don't think we should fight the process, though, lest we appear hostile and drive away what could be the next 100k rep user.

If demands on the site are changing (and not catered to by other stacks), we should be open to meeting some of those rather than sticking to tradition just because.

We should stick to the processes as they are in place, stay patient with new users, and keep an open mind for change.

  • Wow, 3 downvotes already? I must be getting popular. – Weckar E. Dec 7 '19 at 4:53
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    Slandering a respected volunteer in the press is not "a step in the evolution of the site". At least, not the kind of evolution I'd like to see. A large number of people left in protest over said slander. What you're saying is "changing of the guard" - "go people who've left in protest, good riddance". Then you proceed to say you're hoping for a change of perspective - a.k.a for it to become OK for SE to slander and harm users? Of course you're getting downvotes! – Galastel supports GoFundMonica Dec 8 '19 at 1:39
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    @GalastelsupportsGoFundMonica While I agree what happened was not right, it should not prevent us from picking up the pieces. We should not allow a whole institution to fail over a single person; we are not waging a Trojan war here. – Weckar E. Dec 8 '19 at 2:08
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    This is where we disagree. For me, if a company commits an act of blatant injustice towards an individual, and refuses to acknowledge it has done wrong, I can't just act as if nothing happened. First because the victim deserves better, and second because then I'm telling the company I'm fine with that happening again. Where that road leads I don't want to go. – Galastel supports GoFundMonica Dec 8 '19 at 21:35
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    As someone part of the "the guard" that would be changing, if I work with your analogy, this feels more like a "good riddance" to me and the other (former) writing mods. – Cyn says make Monica whole Dec 8 '19 at 23:28
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    @CynsaysmakeMonicawhole If it reads that way to you, I can't help that. I am just trying to work within the bounds of the self-imposed exiles rather than let those define what positive this site may yet bring. I am not saying those people were bad for the site, quite the opposite! But if it is their choice to leave, I am in no position to oppose that, and a vacuum must be filled. I have always believed that taking something in the most negative possible way is a choice on part of the reader. I Did not WANT anyone to leave, but they have. Those are the facts we work with. – Weckar E. Dec 9 '19 at 3:55
  • +1. Whether you're hopeful or not, this is just another step in the evolution of the site. I didn't want anyone to leave either. But SE deletes any comment that talks about what will happen to you after you pull the throne out of the lions paw. - This was like 5 months ago and people still have Monica monikers, and that doesn't help anyone GAF – Mazura Feb 20 at 22:51

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