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Note: This is not an official question!


I'm posting the same question than this one but several months later. I know that, at least some of us, are still thinking about HNQ (see here, here and there) and I'm wondering what does the whole community think? If we could, would we want to be back on HNQ?


To have some data for this question (but you can already see it in the other links I posted) here is what I observe about the effect of the HNQ removal (these facts aren't backed up, it's just my personal experience of I feel things have changed):

  • Decrease in activity:

    • Fewer questions
    • Fewer answers (especially for questions who would have hit HNQ)
    • Fewer upvotes
    • Fewer chatty comments
    • Fewer bad answers
  • I feel that the proportion of community moderators vs "regular users" has increased

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    The proportion of community moderators vs "regular users" has increased - what do you mean here? – OldPadawan Feb 15 '19 at 13:03
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    @OldPadawan I feel that there are more people leaving helpful comments under questions/answers compare to the number of "bad" questions/answers we get. I feel like moderating the site has become easier and that, as a community mod, I have less work to do (if the proportion hadn't change, I would still have the same "work load") – Ael Feb 15 '19 at 13:08
  • Would be nice if we had confirmation here that the request won't be rejected by SE should the outcome of this discussion be positive. – gparyani Feb 16 '19 at 18:08
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    FWIW I found this site from the HNQ, and saw much of the discussion on leaving the HNQ. I just happened to come over here today because I noticed it still wasn't on the HNQ, and wanted to see if the site would be coming back. I joined this site specifically to make this comment. I would like to see it come back. – CDspace Mar 1 '19 at 16:29
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    Given recent massive changes to HNQ, a CM has started a new discussion as to whether or not this site should be re-added. New points should be brought to Revisiting HNQ participation for IPS so that the SE team sees them. – gparyani Mar 11 '19 at 23:05
10

It looks like questions per day has dropped significantly since being removed from HNQ. Going on the Area 51 averages, it's down to 2.9 questions per day. That's less than half of what it once was, and less than a third of what it ought to be. From personal observation it looks like the site routinely has periods of 5 hours, or more, with no activity at all.

When new users, or occasional users, drop in and they see that there has been no new activity in hours or days, you're greeting them with a ghost town. That's not very inviting. It doesn't tell people that they're likely to get questions answered here. And that may be creating a negative feedback loop. No new activity, leads folks to be less active, which leads to fewer new questions, which leads to no new activity.

If the existing userbase doesn't ask new questions, you'll need new users to join and post questions. That may mean that HNQ is needed.

It also likely means it's time to do some introspection, individually, and as a community, about why existing users aren't posting questions. I doubt that it's because we're all experts at this point and no longer have any questions worth asking...

The community probably ought to take an honest appraisal of why folks who are already here aren't asking new questions, or are asking so few questions, before opening the HNQ floodgate to solve this low traffic problem.

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  • You make an interesting point. I would be curious to know the ration between old/high rep user vs new/low rep user asking questions on IPS vs the other stacks. – Ael Feb 15 '19 at 15:23
  • @Ælis I doubt rep has much to do with it. Think regulars vs new folks. – apaul Feb 15 '19 at 15:25
  • Yeah, but how do you distinguish them on a query? Maybe average number of comments posted and be a member for at least two months? – Ael Feb 15 '19 at 15:27
  • @Ælis it may be better to set up a user survey than to query data for something like this. – apaul Feb 15 '19 at 15:31
  • Well, making a survey for all the SE network in order to compare data between site isn't something I can do but making a data query is, so... – Ael Feb 15 '19 at 15:32
  • Ah, I see what you're getting at. I was more thinking that it would be a good idea to actually ask people why they don't ask questions rather than comparing stats between sites. @Ælis – apaul Feb 15 '19 at 15:37
  • I got that, but if we do ask, on average, as many questions as the other stacks, then this might be a false problem or/and just something we can't really fix – Ael Feb 15 '19 at 15:41
  • @Ælis You may also end up comparing very different things. The reasons someone might not ask a technical question will likely be really very different than the reasons they wouldn't ask an interpersonal one. – apaul Feb 15 '19 at 15:44
  • @Ælis Comparing green apples to red apples, or comparing green apples to wombats. – apaul Feb 15 '19 at 15:47
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    @Ælis I frequent many stacks, but very rarely post questions or answers, simply because I don't have a problem or a solution. But I read quite a lot, and vote on Q/A very often. As a new user to a stack (when I do inevitably join to ask a question), I feel very hesitant. But on StackOverflow and SoftwareEngineering, for example, I feel comfortable asking questions when the need arises. However, on stacks like Physics, I probably won't ever ask a question because I don't want to look like an idiot asking an elementary subject in a field I know nothing about. It's all relative (pun intended). – Chris Cirefice Feb 26 '19 at 20:06
8

I think that we ultimately will want to be back on HNQ, largely for the reasons outlined in other answers: more visibility means more users, more questions, more answers, and more views. These are healthy for a SE site, and a site that is working well is one that should probably want to be eligible for HNQ anyways.

But I think that the HNQ debate is largely a side-issue. We have some more serious issues that seem to be deep-seated in the site and the core community that remains here. This thread isn't the place to get into all of that, but as long as those issues remain HNQ will be problematic for us (and other reasons as well, as in the problems which caused us to drop off of it in the first place). I view it as a symptom more than a cause (though there is definitely some degree of feedback to it), but while those problems persist returning to HNQ will be problematic.

I think that at present we've got one foot in the grave. Being on HNQ would keep us going, though it wouldn't do much to improve the stack on its own (sort of like a zombie, I guess). I view improving the site and getting back onto HNQ as two points on the same line.

In summary: I think that we ultimately should at least want to be back on HNQ, but that that would be a side-effect of addressing some other problems that exist here. The status of those problems is the first thing that should come up when we talk about returning to HNQ (even though it's not the only thing that should come up).

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  • Could you give some example of what issues you are talking about? I'm not sure I follow you here. – Ael Feb 16 '19 at 8:04
  • @Ælis As I said, this isn't really the place to get into all of that. But, as a light summary, some of the policies we have are unclear in both intent and presentation, many policies are unevenly applied, some application/enforcement of policies is heavy-handed and opaque (especially for regular users of other SE sites), problems with subjectivity and detail in both questions and answers are awkwardly integrated against the SE format, and there is some asymmetry in how much respect people feel they are owed compared against what they owe to others (askers and answerers, both). There are – Upper_Case Feb 16 '19 at 19:08
  • (continued) real reasons why relatively few people come here, and fewer remain, and fewer still remain and actively participate. HNQ is certainly a part of that, but our presence or absence from HNQ neither created nor solved those problems (although some are exacerbated by being on/off HNQ). – Upper_Case Feb 16 '19 at 19:10
  • I'm a bit surprised by all you are saying here, have you consider writing a meta question (a different for each point)? I think it would be good to talk about that since you (and probably other) feel there is a problem with all these points (before you bring this up, I did not see all this but I will try to keep an eye out for it now that you mentioned it) – Ael Feb 16 '19 at 19:52
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    @Ælis I have considered it, but ultimately decided against it. I may reconsider. Some of the issues have been brought up in other meta posts, but not really resolved. Some of them are impossible to discuss without calling out specific users and posts, which tends to produce hard feelings and backlash. Some of them I believe are unfixable and inherent to SE, but especially significant here at IPS. And some of them are problems without solutions, and the decisions we have made require tradeoffs that contribute to problems but aren't obviously worse than other solutions. – Upper_Case Feb 16 '19 at 20:31
  • Maybe you could try using a custom flag mod if you see a specific user or post being a problem? It might not be a perfect solution but it's still better than nothing in my opinion. – Ael Feb 16 '19 at 20:58
  • @Ælis Perhaps. The issues that I'm hinting at are more about the approach this stack takes to things and less about individual incidents. They aren't catastrophic events, they just underscore some unfortunate dynamics. – Upper_Case Feb 16 '19 at 21:56
  • I see what you mean, but it just makes me even more convinced that we should talk about this, one way or another. – Ael Feb 16 '19 at 22:09
  • @Ælis I'll consider it. – Upper_Case Feb 16 '19 at 22:11
6

As an "outsider" (in that I participate regularly on SE in general, but not very often here), I wouldn't have found out about IPS.SE if not for the HNQ sidebar. Moreover, I wouldn't have learned so many amazing things about interpersonal skills if IPS.SE didn't show up in HNQ.

I absolutely think that IPS.SE should get back to being in HNQ - because discoverability is important for new users, and the questions I've seen in HNQ have been overwhelmingly positive. One or two made me scratch my head and say "hmmm... really though?", but the overall experience for me as a new user has been very positive.

I frequent HNQ very often for a source of information from sites I don't regularly frequent or am not even a member of. I am a very active SE user in that I read a lot and vote. If I can answer, I do, but it's less often than I'd like. IPS.SE not showing up in HNQ will inevitably decrease my activity on the site, simply because of lack of visibility.

PS - I just came to IPS.SE to post 2 separate questions. I'm glad I saw this meta post so that I could chime in. You're about to have 2 new questions because HNQ was what gave me visibility to this site.

I hope my 2 cents has some merit here as a lowly <1000 rep user. I love this site and want to see it grow. Interpersonal skills are something that every human inevitably has trouble with, and this site is one of the most valuable on Stack Exchange (in my opinion).

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Yes, but not yet.

Why do we want back on HNQ?

This is pretty simple. We don't have enough content being created. As Apaul pointed out, Area51 has us listed at 2.9 new questions per day. In addition to that, I did some quick number crunching based on this sede query and found that since the start of the year we've only been averaging 2.4 answers per question (a much lower mark than the 4.3 that is reported all time on Area51). The amount of content being generated on IPS will go up if the site is put back onto HNQ. This is important because we need more content for the community to be successful.

Why do we want to wait to go back on HNQ?

Yes, we need more traffic and ultimately more content being generated. The problem is that we also need to make sure the content being generated is high quality. With the slow rate of content we have coming into the site currently, we are able to perform all of the moderation activities that we need to in order to keep the site clear of troublesome content. Before we were removed from HNQ, there were some instances where posts would blow up on HNQ, and the community was having trouble keeping up with the constant flow of harmful content.

Our core community is small. Controlling the quality of content on a stack is not just about flagging and voting to close/delete. Yes, there are some instances when the best course of action is to flag for a mod and then disengage. However, most of the time, flags and votes should be accompanied by comments guiding newer users so that they will not only continue to contribute, but will improve their contributions. This takes a lot of work. If we're going to be able to keep up with the community moderation demands that HNQ will bring, we need to grow the core user base first.

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2

I have to say that your "numbers" and their interpretation seem rather accurate. Does that mean that, what we lose in quantity, we also lose it in quality? Not that sure, but it's only a feeling, and completely and only my opinion. It's not what I intend to be the truth or what I wish this community would have to enforce, but (yup, another analogy ^^) rather than a huge field, with thousands of trees, with millions of fruits, some of them fallen on the ground, some of them in baskets, waiting, with some rotting, with bees flying around, I'd just love a nice basket, with very few nice, gorgeous and appetizing fruits. Then, pick one, and squeeze the fruit to get only the best of the juice, concentrated, tasty, and "recycle" the pulp and the bark.

What does that mean? Well, from ages ago, all big empires have fallen. Alexander the Great. Rome. Egypt. Darius & Xerxes. Napoleon. Britannia. USSR. And so on... As our History shows, all great "empires", at one point, or, as end point, collapse. They fell because they grew too quickly and/or too much, and were unable to control their conflicting cultures or point of view.

We have to separate the wheat from the chaff. And that won't be possible if we have too much of an harvest, and not enough trained people to handle it.

  • Do we need more traffic? According to SE policy about beta, graduation, life & death of new stacks, yes.

  • Do we need (all) that comes with it? no. We need the new users, the new Q/A, the new POV, the new content. We don't need the problems delivered with them. So, as we know what we'll be facing, we have to take care of the problems before they arise. We'd better!

If we go back to HNQ now, are we ready to handle what will happen? Or will we end up like some stacks I know (and left, or just visit once in a while now, but no name calling!), those who have not enough Q/A because they don't attract peoople, one-liners, on/off answers, harsh wording/ideas, can't find a mod, and/or who left question such as "Should I do X? Or should I wait? Or what do you think of Z?" quickly get 5 or 6 answers, war over good/bad comments, VTC and so on. With, sometimes, the same people answering and VTC'ing at the same time. really? Is that what we want?

At this time, we walk. Slowly. This allows us to quickly take care of the chores. And it's not really a mess here. Will we have the same quality of house cleaning with a big increased number of newcomers and the impact of inflation on membership? If we start running, will we have enough time to help them, not with the "rules of respect", but with the "rules of quality"?

Lil' note on the side: personally, I even have time to clean AND answer sometimes :) and this was not the case with the HNQ traffic.


I believe that our top priority should be setting our common boundaries, build a fence, and write the welcome & warning signs. NEW ones. Re-phrased. Cleaner. Why? I've asked some people who know nothing about SE to come over here and tell me how it works. "far too complicated" they said... Either you skip many guidelines and write the wrong Q/A, or you lose yourself in an ocean of guidelines. They found it at best, boring. And discouraging. They gave up and were gone...

So, before we start running (again?), let's talk about quality first, the quality of our steps, and the quality of our "moonwalk". Will we need to be back to HNQ? YES. But don't we try to imitate or impersonate any other stack. Let's find/mark out our path first.

Inops, potentem dum uult imitari, perit. (1)


(1) if I make no mistake, this is part of Phaedra (Racine), a tragedy written in late 17th century (167?), and could be roughly translated to [ The "peasant" (weak), wanting to imitate the "landlord" (powerful), loses himself. ]

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