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I'm going to ask for a moratorium on questions from Interpersonal Skills Stack Exchange from appearing on the sidebar in the Hot Network Questions list, until a later date.

We've had a number of questions go onto this list which have all received incredible amounts of activity. However, with this activity, it's been more difficult to control some of the content that has been coming in - especially with quality control.

Why?

Many users who come in have the liberty to vote up answers they may agree with (due to the association bonus). But only users who are active in the community have the ability to counteract that with down votes. The result? A lot of poor quality content stays alive on the site, with little that the community can do to react, such as by downvoting or deleting.

I'm asking that questions stop appearing on the HNQ list until we:

  1. Have pro-tem moderators appointed
  2. If we deem necessary, we have site policies and other resources on meta to use to deal with low-quality posts, preserving our high standards.
  • That's a good idea. – SQB Aug 2 '17 at 21:12
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    Yeah. The few weeks of private beta isn't nearly enough time for a new site to work out its scope and norms, so hitting HNQ immediately upon hitting public beta can be really bad for a site. And it seems to be causing trouble for this site in particular. – Monica Cellio Aug 2 '17 at 21:22
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    First of all, the HNQ obviously isn't a problem isolated to this site. But you would have the same problem with, say, a reddit link or a viral tweet. The real problem in my mind is that with the rep bonus, people can upvote whatever content they like without participating in the community. If you look at the top voters in a lot of sites, you'll see that in many cases it's people who, without the association bonus, wouldn't be able to vote at all. Which doesn't really make sense. And the problem with the HNQ isn't that you get bad answers, but that the bad answers get upvoted. </endrant> – user288 Aug 3 '17 at 1:04
  • Possible duplicate of What caused this site to be excluded from Hot Network Questions? – gparyani Oct 17 '18 at 16:38
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    @gparyani eh I'm not sure this is a dupe as both of the pre-requisites OP lists (pro-tem mods and more robust quality standards) have been fulfilled. – scohe001 Oct 17 '18 at 16:50
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    @gparyani This post is literally a year old. It doesn't make sense to mark it as a duplicate in the slightest.. I doubt anyone knows about this anymore :P – Zizouz212 Oct 17 '18 at 18:16
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    @gparyani It's related, not a duplicate. The situation changed, big time. – Mast Oct 20 '18 at 13:15
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I don't think this will help. The attention we get from the HNQ list is a symptom of a larger issue and I think that shutting it off would only make the underlying issues less apparent.


Are the HNQ posts problems?

These questions drive traffic to the site which makes more users aware that we exist and makes us more likely to find new active users. They also attract votes. Users who have the 100 reputation association bonus can vote up any post they agree with, pumping much-needed reputation into the site economy. While some of this goes to users who never return, much of it goes to users who are regulars or who stay for more.

I don't currently have much data to back this up but I can anecdotally tell you that I've rep-capped three days in a row because of HNQs which got me to the 2K reputation I need to access the "10K tools". Yes, I had a bunch of reputation from the private beta but without the HNQ I'd probably still be stuck down around 1200 rep.

Access to moderation tools is the most useful thing we can give to our users and, particularly without pro-tem mods, we need a broad group of users who can close vote and delete and approve edits and write/approve tag excerpts. We don't need moderators if we have users with the ability to close vote and the willingness to use them and decide/discuss policy for the site.

Blocking off this source of reputation is short-sighted and counterproductive. It makes it more difficult for users to earn reputation and, by extension, gain access to privileges.

What about the quality of the questions on the HNQ?

It's occasionally bad, true. Many sites deal with having crud appear on the HNQ list. Many of them have tried to find solutions because they worry that their site isn't given the opportunity to put their best foot forward... That is fair. We're in the same boat. Congrats to us! We are 6 weeks old and already have bad questions on the HNQ list.

The reality is, it's more important (in my opinion) that we have users with sufficient reputation to moderate this site than that we have earned that reputation on perfect questions. Once you can close vote, it's just as easy to close vote a question with a +100 score as one with +5 or -10. Embrace it and use it.


But what about pro-tem Mods?

What about them? I'm a mod... You (Zizouz212) are a mod... what's the rule of the moderator? What's their job description?

Depending on who you ask we're either "exception handlers" or we're "janitors". We are not unilateral arbiters of scope. If anything, we should be working our hardest to earn reputation - by writing questions & answers and by voting for good content - so that we can do our jobs... closing bad questions.

Our potential moderators are not the solution to the HNQ conundrum or the "low quality question" problem - WE ARE.

So, if you don't like that there are a bunch of questions (HNQ or otherwise) that aren't a good fit for the site, vote to close the questions (or flag them) and write helpful comments that will encourage the poster to improve their question.

If you see good posts, vote them up so that your fellow users can earn the reputation to help moderate the site.

If you see answers that ignore the region of the question or that don't answer the question at all or that don't explain their answer, vote them down and, if appropriate, flag them or nominate for deletion.

Waiting for mods is our way of being lazy, as is trying to ban the HNQ. Appreciate the HNQ bounty of reputation, take advantage of it, and act on your interests to moderate the site.

I'm not saying "our" to be kind. I've realized this myself. I was sitting around hoping that Robert would just crown someone... crown me and I could just start acting... and then, today, I had a long chat with a very smart person and I realized... I already have the powers... and I can get more of them. I don't need to be a moderator or have a diamond to fix this site. I just need to do the work and if I can't do the work as a regular user, I'll make a pretty useless mod.

  • This. Just this. – heather Aug 4 '17 at 23:43
  • Re quality: Yes, the HNQ certainly does bring in a lot of attention to the site, and many votes. But is that the attention that we want to bring to the site? I'm not saying to discontinue HNQ forever, but only until we can get our stuff together. We have a decent number of new users who are asking questions, not through the HNQ, so the site will not become a ghost town without it either. When HNQ is overwhelming the community of the site, and the community can't always effectively deal with the content that is coming in, then we are negatively advertising the site, which is worse. – Zizouz212 Aug 5 '17 at 1:36
  • If we have an established community, then we should be encouraging each other to vote as well. We shouldn't have to rely on "outsiders" from providing members here with benefits to access tools. If those tools are being granted based on attention to, in many cases, poor-quality content, then do we deserve those tools? Those tools will not be going away, and while it may take a bit longer to access them, we will be able to deal with all the issues that we may have ourselves without any interference from attention created by the HNQ list. If our community members don't vote for each other, – Zizouz212 Aug 5 '17 at 1:38
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    Then arguably we have a more serious problem. Blocking off this "source" is not "short-sighted," but proactive. This is because it allows us to take matters into our own hands. If many of us barely understand when a question is too broad, or what answers are stupid-answers vs not-an-answers (and we've had many posts on meta about that), then we need to be able to fix them. The attention from the HNQ questions distracts us from it, and hampers the fact that we should be proactive in our moderation. We have issues - let's fix them as early as we can, without the HNQ interfering. – Zizouz212 Aug 5 '17 at 1:43
  • Re moderators: I think you read a little bit too much about that. I wasn't directly trying to say that the presence of moderators would make everything disappear (and as you noted, it certainly wouldn't). I've said in chat that moderators can expedite mod actions (e.g. deletion, closure), and that they also signal leadership in the community on issues. My later point also said that we could wait until we had issues such as figuring out what information is optional in questions, in answers... "policy" quirks that we would be able to devote more time to working out. – Zizouz212 Aug 5 '17 at 1:47
  • From my perspective, some of the activity has been overwhelming. Trying to coordinate tag cleanups, to writing many meta posts (which took me a few hours to write), and then finding poor answers that would seemingly get upvoted... There's just been a lot to focus on. I figured that a moratorium would allow us to temporarily align our focus to things that we need to get done in the short-term, but that's just my take on things. Others may have their own as well. – Zizouz212 Aug 5 '17 at 1:50
  • Also, thanks for reading this massive wall of text. But I think it was worth it ;) – Zizouz212 Aug 5 '17 at 1:50
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    At the point where you're posting five back-to-back comments, you might as well just post your own answer and link to it, @Zizouz212... – Shog9 Aug 5 '17 at 1:51
  • @Shog9 lol fair enough :P Unless you're bringing an answer of your own... – Zizouz212 Aug 5 '17 at 1:52
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    If you do answer, I'd caution you that the distinction you're trying to draw between "the community" and "outsiders" is essentially meaningless at this stage, @Zizouz212 - especially if you have to couch that in qualifiers like "if we have an established community" and "until we can get our stuff together". At this point in Stack Overflow's origin, it was many times larger than IPS, and yet folks like Jon Skeet and VonC hadn't even joined yet; there's a real chance that the future pillars of this site are still waiting in the wings. – Shog9 Aug 5 '17 at 1:54
  • @Shog9 I must say, I never actually thought about it from that perspective. And as you mention that, there are a few users (not a whole bunch, but a few) who have started to actively participate on meta since the time that they have joined. I'm going to think about this a little bit more, but I think I'll come back with an answer of sorts. – Zizouz212 Aug 5 '17 at 1:58
  • @Shog Would you mind chiming in on interpersonal.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/1251/… ? It looks like you handled the related flag and I'm guessing you would know if these things fall afoul of the TOS. – apaul Aug 5 '17 at 3:30
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    I feel like that answer is a lousy foundation on which to build a policy, @apaul. It was a bad answer with or without the suggestion of violence. – Shog9 Aug 5 '17 at 3:59
  • @Shog9 That was why I left it out of the original question and tried to address the larger issue. Seemed like the sort of thing that may come up again. – apaul Aug 5 '17 at 4:01
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    @apaul34208 It's generally better to tackle the problems you have rather than the problems that may crop up. This is why we have asked you to use examples in your meta posts. We can't know if it will happen again until it does. – Catija Aug 5 '17 at 4:03

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