First off, I know I said and take the weekend, but it turns out I don't need it, and it does seem like a dick move to let things keep going on as they have, when there's no benefit from doing so. As they say, when there's no new information to be had, it's time to make a decision. In this case, there's no new information that could come about to change my mind, so, same difference.

Second off, Shog, I can't respond to your moderator message until someone responds first. Makes it hard to be communicative when I am actually being preventing from responding. A moot point at this point, but you've got my email if you desire further information on anything. I doubt I can provide you with anything more than what I've said already, but feel free to ask, should you desire.

Finally, before I get into it, my apologies to everyone for the drama/fallout/whatever. Hopefully, this post will do something about cooling that off or preventing further dramatics.


The events of yesterday and today have made it clear to me that I am not suitable to be a moderator for Server Fault, and not unrelatedly, that I do not wish to be one anymore, either. It doesn't matter who's right or who's wrong, the simple fact that my actions have created "friction" indicate that I no longer belong as a moderator, and that I don't belong here at all anymore, either.

I understand everyone's point of view - the members who are insisting it's a good thing to be cleaning up the crap, the Community Managers who see my actions as unilateral or suspicious or detrimental, the members who think there should have been more discussion or oversight, before I took it on full-bore, etc.

The problem is, for me, that there's a question, or concerns at all about me (or even any high-repper/old-timer) re-tagging and/or mod-closing (etc.), is an irreconcilable problem. As I see it, this has all been discussed at such length, with such overwhelming community consensus that I'm sick of hearing it. We've got an indescribably massive pile of content that needs reviewed, the active community is now so small that there aren't enough people to do it, so fine, I'll step up and do it, no possible way that could be a problem for anyone.

Except that it was.

Reviewing literally thousands of low-quality or off-topic or just plain bad questions (and probably easily into the tens of thousands) is enough of a chore without having to talk about doing it too, especially when I've been in that discussion dozens of times. If that's what it takes, I don't want to do it. And to find out that all this effort was for nothing, for less than nothing, seeing that it caused this drama, gave the Community Management team headaches, and didn't even make the site appreciably better as a result... well, damn, I clearly shouldn't have bothered in the first place. In fact, what the hell am I even doing here?

I've been trying to keep the tide from coming in with a toy shovel, and the whole time, I wasn't making anything better, I was just wasting my time and spraying sandy salt water in peoples' faces. The Server Fault that's a community for professional systems administrators to congregate around doesn't exist, and I cannot make it that way, no matter how hard I try.

This is all probably something I should have known 2 years ago, when I took a ~9 month break from the site, or ~9 months later when the only thing that brought me back was the now absent denizens of the Comms Room, or when I decided to run for mod to prove that I wouldn't get elected, or when I actually did get elected, or when the core of the community packed it in and abandoned the Comms Room for pastures unrelated to Server Fault and Stack Exchange, or on any one of countless days when I've had to "quit Sever Fault for the day" because I couldn't bear to see one more piece of crap posing as a question from some inconsiderate jackass moron treating this site and everyone on it as a personal answer machine happy to accept his typed-out diarrhea.

But I didn't.

My bad, and my sincere apologies for the resulting fallout from the last couple days that are ultimately a result of me being too stupid and stubborn to accept what should have been obvious to anyone with half a brain, paying the least little bit of attention.

I am extremely grateful to Server Fault (and to Stack Exchange for making Server Fault possible) for all it's done for me, but the painful truth is that the Server Fault I joined, contributed to, learned from, and met a wonderful group of systems administrators through no longer exists, and trying to make it exist again is no good for anyone. Time for me to move on and make way for what comes next.

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    Thanks for your Canutian efforts. Bon Voyage. – Iain Apr 11 '15 at 7:44
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    For some reason, when I saw the headline Abrupt change in modertator staff I immediately thought of you, not only b/c of your frank candor, but because you are one of very few active mods on the site, dare I say the most active mod on the site, which helped clean the site up. If I don't see you on SF, see you in the new comms. – MDMoore313 Apr 11 '15 at 12:30
  • 8
    You've made a positive contribution to SF, both as a member and as a moderator. I'm saddened to see you leave SF, but I'm happy that I'll still see you around "the comms". – joeqwerty Apr 11 '15 at 19:50
  • 8
    I can tell you're not modding because the close queue is up to 89. UGH! – Katherine Villyard Apr 12 '15 at 14:54
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    youtube.com/watch?v=dGRpMys0QsE -- kidding mate...already missing some moderation. I promise not to enter the review queue for a week in protest, :) – TheCleaner Apr 12 '15 at 22:25
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    Setting aside recent events, and where we've not agreed in the past, one thing is inarguable: Hopeless shared an incredible amount of knowledge here with others who needed it. His posts have been found ~1.6MM times by an SA in need. And many more surely will find them in the future. We're grateful, and he should be proud. – Jaydles Apr 15 '15 at 14:16
  • 1
    Just find that thread. Sorry to hear you quit, you were a truly good contributor & moderator. I'm a moderator on another platform, and there it seem to lack some support from the staff. For a new comer there for me, I seen a lot of animosity and aggressive state from the user, it's strange, kinda rude. A luck good user/mod are around, but again, it's sad to see you quit. – yagmoth555 Apr 21 '15 at 13:40
  • You helped me alot man; I'll miss you being a moderator. – leeand00 May 1 '15 at 14:08
up vote 70 down vote accepted

The biggest problem I see here is that Stack Exchange is showing that they do not trust democratically elected moderators to do what they were elected to do. We, as a community, elected HopelessN00b to be one of our leaders because we knew he would be willing to do the one thing that he got spanked for... cleaning up junk questions that didn't belong on this site.

And the defense of "well, he didn't discuss what he was going to do first" is 100% invalid. We, the members of the Serverfault community, have all been discussing for years how bloody cPanel (and the like) have no place here. To have a stranger walk in and let us know what we have and haven't been talking about is, frankly, insulting to all of us.

I don't know why anyone would want to be a moderator, now.

  • 30
    And this is the problem with giving people the veneer of democracy - either make it a democratic process or make it a mandated one, but pretending that it's democratic when at any point someone from on-high can come in and throw their weight around makes it all very silly. There's nothing wrong with accountability, but this episode hasn't shown SE in a particularly good light in my opinion. – Dan Apr 11 '15 at 18:26
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    "I don't know why anyone would want to be a moderator, now" - well crap...I might as well start getting used to Evan Carroll as moderator. – TheCleaner Apr 12 '15 at 22:37
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    The biggest problem I see here is that Stack Exchange is showing that they do not trust democratically elected moderators to do what they were elected to do -- It's not a question of trust; it's a question of accountability. Your statement seems to imply that there's no need for any, which is demonstrably false. – Robert Harvey Apr 13 '15 at 1:17
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    @RobertHarvey I've read your comments here, but I'm not sure you know the whole story. In fact, I'm convinced you don't, because no one here does, we know n00b's side, and we're currently waiting for Shog's post mortem. That being said, Shog assumed the worst, which is fine if one suspects a hacked account or a rogue mod or whatever, however after dialog w/ n00b confirming this was not the case, n00b was called a liar and Shog "promised" to "get to the bottom of this" – MDMoore313 Apr 13 '15 at 12:49
  • @RobertHarvey When current data shows he already knew about it. So there is no question of accountability, those in the community who were active on this meta were aware and approved of what was going on, and n00b was arguably elected on a clean up campaign. The core community here is in agreement with off topic Q/As and what should be done about them. – MDMoore313 Apr 13 '15 at 12:49
  • @BigHomie: n00b was called a liar and Shog "promised" to "get to the bottom of this" -- That is a bit odd. It suggests that I still don't know the whole story. – Robert Harvey Apr 13 '15 at 14:01
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    The "typed out diarrhea" that n00b describes is something every Stack Exchange site has had to go through, especially Stack Overflow. You guys, however, seem especially good at generating drama over it. – Robert Harvey Apr 13 '15 at 14:07

(this started as a comment on Ryan's post, but it got too long, so now it's an answer)

The way SE staff handled this situation was an absolute nightmare. If one is going to be a Community Manager, they had better have intimate knowledge of the community they're managing. Lacking this, clear, open, and honest conversations with the active community members are essential.

This did not happen.

Instead what happened are a series of ominous conjectures, continual accusations that a trusted mod was lying (without ever explaining what exactly that lie was), complaining about a lack of response to inquiries from Shog9 (when it appears that N00b did respond to every question Shog9 asked), and most of all, making the assumption that HopelessN00b was a "rogue moderator", operating outside the bounds of what the community wanted him to do.

This episode has given me serious pause, to consider whether or not I wish to be associated with SF. I presume many others are in the same place. This grieves me, as it's become my "neighborhood" of sorts, where I can gather with my peers and exchange ideas.

This being Serverfault, and myself being on the lower-end of the high-rep users, I realize my voice does not carry much weight. That said, I would implore SE to spend a non-trivial amount of time de-briefing this situation, how it went down, and how it could have been done better. It's a tragedy how this situation played out, but it would be an even larger tragedy if the Community Managers did not learn something from this and change their policies for how to deal with situations like these.

Thank you, HopelessN00b. You've been done an injustice. Heck, we've all been done an injustice. Your work here was not in vain. Thank you for it.

  • 13
    +1, still in shock. The "rogue behavior" that caused the revocation of N00b's mod status was (to me atleast) a natural continuation of the immense cleanup effort that has been lifted by N00b, and discussed openly and repeatedly on meta over the last 6-8 months - with near-unanimous support from the people who took the time to participate. Disgraceful – Mathias R. Jessen Apr 11 '15 at 19:23
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    I disagree with your evaluation of your impact on this conversation. Regardless of your rep (or mine, or anyone else's), your impact is a reflection of your contribution to this community and yours stands among the top. I'm saddened to see N00b leave and his departure will take something of value away from this community, as will yours if you decide the same. – joeqwerty Apr 11 '15 at 19:32
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    For my part, I don't really have any hard feelings about the way Shog handled this, and I don't believe him handling it "better" would have changed things for me. Less drama, probably, which is always a good thing, but I think that as soon as I stepped back to look at all the effort I was sinking into the cleanup I was doing, I'd have come to the same conclusions I posted in my question above. I think the real problem here is the vast difference between SF and the rest of SE, and the fact that there is no active Community Manager "assigned to" the SF community to help bridge that gap. – HopelessN00b Apr 12 '15 at 1:54
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    "lower end of the high-rep users" - were you high when you wrote that part? – TheCleaner Apr 12 '15 at 22:35
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    ... vast difference between SF and the rest of SE -- Therein lies part of the problem; SE sites that feel they are somehow fundamentally different than the rest of the network. They're not. – Robert Harvey Apr 13 '15 at 1:20
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    @RobertHarvey You're incorrect. There's a single thing that differentiates SF from the rest of the network: the site is for professionals, by professionals. Not hobbyists. Not developers, but people who are charged with maintaining servers, networks, workstations professionally. – EEAA Apr 13 '15 at 1:32
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    @EEAA: I'll overlook the fact that you just called me an amateur. – Robert Harvey Apr 13 '15 at 1:35
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    @RobertHarvey I made no such statement. I was merely explaining the main thing that sets SF apart as a bit different. I have no idea who you are or what your profession is. – EEAA Apr 13 '15 at 1:38
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    I'm one of those hobbyist developers you so eloquently talked about. Despite your protestations, your site is not the special flower you make it out to be, nor does your profession somehow stand head and shoulders above the others. Your site is a QA site, just like the rest. If you want to make this a productive discussion, then suggest ways you can improve moderation. Stack Overflow nearly collapsed under the weight of the kind of questions you're talking about, so please don't try to convince me that your site problems are somehow unique. – Robert Harvey Apr 13 '15 at 1:41
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    @RobertHarvey Cripes, I never once said anything derogatory about anyone here. Have a good evening. – EEAA Apr 13 '15 at 1:56
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    @Robert EEAA has a well-demonstrated track record for putting the smackdown on those do talk down their nose to people, and I was one of the pigheaded newbies who he put in their place. Please find someone who actually fits your preconceptions to grind the axe against. – Andrew B Apr 13 '15 at 5:59
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    @RobertHarvey If you're a 'hobbyist developer', then this site isn't for you, according to 'for professional system administrators'. You either is or you isn't, no? – BlueCompute Apr 14 '15 at 9:57
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    @EEAA Have you found other sites, IRC channel, or similar where you spend your time? I want to contribute to a sysadmin community, but SF isn't a good fit. I want to collaborate with professionals, not provide free technical support. – jlehtinen Apr 15 '15 at 15:28
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    Reddit /r/sysadmin ;) – ewwhite Apr 16 '15 at 2:55
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    @ewwhite Ew, reddit? :/ My experience with that site is that it's a great time-waster but it's not really a useful resource. That's where I'd go if I wanted some gifs/puns about sysadmin... – jlehtinen Apr 16 '15 at 13:33

Makes it hard to be communicative when I am actually being preventing from responding.

You asked to discuss this in public, so I obliged. Once that began, neither one of us could put the genie back in the bottle - going back and replying privately after I'd posted publicly didn't really accomplish much.

I try to avoid handling problems with moderators in public; I don't think it accomplishes much. Folks usually tend to be more receptive to criticism when they're not playing to an audience. That's why the last time I talked to you it was in a private chat room; this time it was a bit more urgent that I get your attention ASAP, but once done we could've conducted it more or less the same way.

That said... Perhaps it's for the best that this was public. As much as I believe your intentions were good, your efforts as a moderator were ultimately doomed: even with all of your energy, single-handedly moderating six years' worth of posts is an impossible task; if you weren't burning out already, you soon would have...

Over the past few months, two moderators here on Server Fault have each individually handled more flags than all of the user-moderators combined. There is no other site on Stack Exchange of comparable size where this is the case. Moderation activity on Server Fault looks healthy at a glance, but remove your activities over the past few months and suddenly it becomes a ghost town: folks posting questions and answers, but mostly not editing, not close-voting, not reviewing. This is deeply unhealthy; Stack Exchange is designed for community moderation:

Remember, the folks with the diamonds next to their names aren't the only people moderating these sites - the entire system is designed to make the bulk of moderation something anyone can do, provided they've put the effort in to earn that privilege. You're there to handle stuff that can't or won't be handled by anyone else.

Without that broad, community-based support - lots and lots of people doing a little bit to help out - this simply does not work. I've watched this play out again and again across the network; moderators playing Atlas - quietly shouldering the bulk of moderation - is a strategy that inevitably backfires, as the moderator tires of becoming the focal point for blame while the site's ability to moderate itself atrophies.

The greatest tragedy here is the lost opportunity to bring together an increasingly fractured and apathetic community, to teach them how to work together to build the site they want to see. You had a vision that could have inspired a legion of followers, working together to accomplish far more than any of you could have or did working alone. But you kept it largely to yourself.

After an exhausting weekend reviewing the full record of your time as a moderator, I truly believe you did the best you could for the site.

I just wish you had asked for help.

  • 13
    If SE wants the community to moderate, it might help if it stopped constantly telling us that we're doing it wrong. It's all very well to wish that poor HN had asked for help, but you seem to forget that at his election he was leading the vanguard of yet another attempt by the community to hold back the sea of rubbish. If SE repeatedly, and sometimes forcibly, prevents the community from imposing its collective will on the site, why on earth act surprised when all it can hear is tumbleweeds? – MadHatter Apr 15 '15 at 5:48
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    I've heard this claim repeatedly, and reject it outright. Unless this is your first time on the Internet, you know well that this isn't a battle to be won; it's an ongoing task, part and parcel of being a part of a public website. There is no holding back this sea; it is bigger than all of us. We can channel it, rise above it... or be crushed by it. – Shog9 Apr 15 '15 at 6:03
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    Which claim(s) do you reject? That the community has been told how to moderate, that HN was at the vanguard of a community pushback, or that if volunteers are overruled they will become disheartened? – MadHatter Apr 15 '15 at 6:06
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    The one I noted. That holding back rubbish is something to be encouraged, that discouraging it is counter-productive to improving the site. If you want to turn this into a battle between Defenders of the Realm and Crap-lovers, then you're blind to what's been happening here. How many people need to beat their brains out on the same stone wall before y'all start walking around it? It doesn't matter how many questions you shut down, how many people you drive away; there are countless more where they came from. You can either learn to handle them efficiently, or waste the last of your energy. – Shog9 Apr 15 '15 at 6:10
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    Shog, please, calm down. You may feel as you write above, and it looks as if you do, and passionately, too. But the community is entitled to have a viewpoint on this (this being the issue of quality of questions, and the desirable disposition of those perceived to be poor), too. I believe it has pretty clearly expressed it, over time. I know the powers that be don't like what the community says, but it's a legitimate viewpoint, and discourse is unlikely to be improved by constant unilateral emotive denial. We desire to handle these things efficiently, we disagree about how. – MadHatter Apr 15 '15 at 6:17
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    @Mad, I've been doing this for a lot of years. I'm not telling you these things because I'm passionate about them; I'm telling you because I've watched the same sad little play a hundred times and it always ends the same way: the old die out from exhaustion and are replaced, their efforts come to naught. If you don't believe it, then ignore me; the evidence is right in front of you whenever you're willing to see it. – Shog9 Apr 15 '15 at 6:21
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    Shog, me too. I don't question your experience, but I do question why the powers that be seem to question everyone else's (and their motivation). All things die. You are right to note that. You may not be right in using that observation to justify your particular theory of why they die. We might have other explanations for why a community is dying (as you claim this one is); observing that a phenomenon is happening does not prove one hypothetical explanation of that phenomenon over another. – MadHatter Apr 15 '15 at 6:22
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    Please understand, @Mad - I'm not trying to win some rhetorical argument here. I've seen which communities function and which ones fail, within the context of this particular system - all I'm suggesting is that this one has been trying the same strategies for as long as I've known it, with the same results; if you're not happy with those results, then perhaps it's time to learn from the examples of the others. Whether this community lives or dies remains to be seen - but there's an awful lot of hand-wringing about it, yet seemingly an unwillingness to try something different. – Shog9 Apr 15 '15 at 6:33
  • 3
    That is a pretty fair point. But we also would like you to try something different - actually honouring the promise that "We don’t run this site. The community does.". It's easy to honour that when all goes well; there is then nothing in contention. It's what you do when things aren't seen as going well that says whether or not it's worth the screen space on which it's written. – MadHatter Apr 15 '15 at 6:40
  • 1
    Let us continue this discussion in chat. – Shog9 Apr 15 '15 at 6:43
  • "That holding back rubbish is something to be encouraged, that discouraging it is counter-productive to improving the site." -- It gets a bit circular unfortunately. Other SE topic matters don't amount to "Q&A's about [x] in a non-rubbish context", which forces more spinning of the gears. Put into context, I think this pretty much boils down to "your subject matter is a poor fit for SE". – Andrew B Apr 15 '15 at 8:52
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    I agree that a single moderator or a small group of moderators taking on the majority of the burden of an SE site is a recipe for disaster in the long run (in that they will likely get burned out and leave as noted), but there seems to be something lacking here. @Shog9, if you do indeed believe that this community is dying, and that for it to thrive it needs more than just moderators to, well, moderate - but the rest of the participants are quite unequivocally raising concern about the quality of the questions - why is it surprising that they get tired of participating? – BE77Y Apr 15 '15 at 11:32
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    (cont.) I find it unlikely that more would find it desirable to seek their place and participate here for any length of time as the problem has not been resolved. I for one am somewhat of an example: long-time user, only recent member and active participant but I've already become quite tired of the tedium that is the average question quality on this site, and I don't think that the blame lies solely with the community members. – BE77Y Apr 15 '15 at 11:34
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    Does it sound like @Shog9 is laying the arguments for ServerFault to not be a site any more to anyone else? – antony.trupe May 12 '15 at 15:22

Your mod-hammering will be missed!

Rambling thoughts:

I think it's a good thing to let this particular incident go. It's pretty clear that most people think most of the stuff you closed deserved it, so what's the worst outcome for you? That SE comes back with smoking gun evidence that your process for closing them wasn't acceptable mod behavior? But even if that's the case, this was way more drama than necessary.

OTOH, if there isn't clear evidence of you eating kittens while gleefully robo-closing innocent questions, then the SE response comes off as totally out of proportion and incredibly dickish.

Looking at the bigger picture... in what you've said above I hear an echo of what MDMarra said during the election drama, which was basically that things change. SF has changed and if it's changed in ways that make many of the people who used to contribute a lot want to cut back or move on, well, that's not necessarily bad, it's just the way things have gone.

I think you're right about trying to hold back the tide - this shows it's a waste of time. I suspect this pretty much spells the end of anyone attempting to deal with the flood of OT/non-professional questions, but maybe there's a way for the site to thrive.

Luckily, this is by no means goodbye since the slack chatroom is still very much a going concern, so see you there!

  • 1
    What's the slack chatroom? I've seen it mentioned but never linked. – Reaces Apr 11 '15 at 8:12
  • @Reaces Drop me a mail to the address in my profile, I'll send you an invite. – Jenny D Apr 11 '15 at 8:19
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    +1 for slack. I also feel like but maybe there's a way for the site to thrive, as naive as it may be, I missed the golden age of SF, and I'd like to see it again. We tried last year, by being doing more Q/As of our day to day operations, and posting questions and answers of our own problems we solved during the day, and I believe it paid off to some extent, I for one have seen a slight increase in SCCM questions on the site, and (among other things) I feel it's because of the effort I (and possibly others) put into adding our own conquerings to the site. – MDMoore313 Apr 11 '15 at 12:12

N00b, we'll miss you. I think that what happened to you wasn't right.

I do get tired of hearing how "ServerFault used to be great, but now it sucks because all of the best people have left." Many fine contributors are still here, and IMO it's not that hard to filter out the junk and find the good Qs and As.

  • 10
    Fewer contributors and less to really contribute to. I'd know... I've probably given the greatest number of answers over the years, and on a day-to-day basis, it's far tougher for me to find any questions worth expending my effort. – ewwhite Apr 12 '15 at 13:12
  • 7
    @ewwhite Can confirm you have the most answers. – Reaces Apr 12 '15 at 16:45
  • 3
    @Reaces Meh. Why have I wasted my life away with that? – ewwhite Apr 15 '15 at 4:10

Please forgive that I haven't read everyone's comments here. However, I may have some valuable insights to all this... While my rep is VERY low, I hope you'll take my comments very seriously as - if you check my profile you'll see - I've been around the block a few times, but this isn't about me...

First, let me say up front, I think this topic should be about process, not about personality or people because the core issues here are really issues about process. And, I for one am all for using automation combined with process to help the site be all it can be. But I also want it understood that, in my view, PEOPLE are the real core value here, their intelligence, skill, knowledge, dedication, willingness to help, etc. So, the best bet is to use compute power to leverage the human intelligence / resource that's available - and it's all about the interaction of the human and the software that are the make-or-break of SF - and the rest of the related sites, for that matter.

There's PLENTY of human resource available. It just needs to be leveraged properly - not always easy to do, but SF is already reasonably mature in doing this; I perceive that the incentive system could use some tweaking to use what capitalists like to call "market forces" to improve the site. Some examples:

  • Give us - plebs, low-rep people, all of us who visit the site - a substantial incentive to edit other people's answers, and not just for the edit that results, but a share in follow-on up votes.

  • Create an easy way for people of low rep to say, "these two questions look about the same, here, I've merged them!", where mods can quickly review, confirm and merge articles before it is actually completed. The primary labor is done by the community at large, they feel good for helping, someone of greater knowledge / skill comes along and confirms things, and everyone shares in the new rep points that come later and people can bask in the perception that they did good. And the site needs a lot less cleanup from people who might burn-out.

Two keys here: grant enough reputation points per action and you'll get the action, but only if the second key, ease of use, is also present.

A main point: tweak the amount of rep points to get the action you want.

If a lot of low value / useless articles exist, make a way for people of low reputation to decrease them by seeking these out and giving them something to do about it. Dis-incentivize the creation of new questions when similar ones seem to be out there. But, rather than dis-incentivizing via taking rep away, instead give a larger chunk of rep for helping people improve similar questions, spurring dialogue. For example, MAYBE - just thinking out loud here - the existing comment system can be tweaked to include a "follow-up question" capability which includes a good reputation bonus for improving the whole question / answer tree on a given subject. I think most of the code is already there.

Bumping up the amount of reputation points given for various actions can give room for more subtle tweaks in the middle, tailoring incentives a bit better, and certainly sharing in up-vote rep points for helping improve someone else's questions and / or answers is desperately needed to keep people focused on existing entries.

It's worth pointing out that not granting the newest of newbies up-vote capability seems very odd to me and disincentivizes participation. It's as if the new person is told "we can't trust you for ANYTHING". I don't understand why you need to earn the ability to do an up-vote.

It can also be annoying when you get a down vote and have zero idea why - turns people off. An anonymous but requisite "reason you got a down-vote" would be a great addition to help people learn, feel connected, that whatever the down vote was was justified, etc. You'll get a lot more help when people feel things are fair and if they don't understand they won't think it's fair. Not only does it help avoid the tumbleweeds, it also helps the quality of each user's interaction while at the same time reducing their angst.

This might be harder to implement but I think it'd be great to use Bayesian logic to help bring questions to people on the site that they might be able to answer, thus lowering the number of unresponded-to questions and improving the quality of existing entries (maybe two lists for someone, those with NO answer, and those with unconfirmed answers). It could work similarly as a spam-filter in reverse, and the positive reinforcements (to teach the software) are the articles people take the time to look at and the tags they use. A key reason I'd like this is to assuage my own feelings of guilt - for every time I come to the site get an answer, I try very hard to leave two new answers, the question is the time I have available. ... I have a LOT of experience (in the real world) that's very valuable and I'm happy to share as thanks for the help I get, so any system that helps me get to the questions I can likely answer would be a win-win for everyone - I'm SURE I'm not alone.

In closing, I admire the effort of most everyone involved with SF - and the rest of the Stack Overflow community. MOST people are very sincere and give of themselves. The WHOLE POINT of my comments here are to say, we don't have to loose the HopelessN00bs of the world, NOBODY has to be burdened with cleanup load if the system is self-cleaning - and I think it can be with the right reputation reward tweaks ... I hope these suggestions are of value.

EDIT:

Barely 10 minutes pass and I get a cowardly down vote with no comment. It's that kind of behavior that drives people away. You want a dieing community? That's how you create it.

You think the post unresponsive to the subject? what? At least have the balls / courtesy to say WHY. Coward. Nobody who posts positively oriented suggestions deserves a down-vote because it's basically pissing on people who are trying to be helpful.

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    I don't see how a post that is mainly concerned with changes to the sites mechanic is relevant in this context, which deals with a very specific incident. Make it a new question, maybe even on Meta Stack Exchange, not here. – Sven Apr 21 '15 at 18:45
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    OK, I see your point. I see it as pertinent because my comments speak to the root causes of that event, but maybe at the meta-level! I can't do that now, but later when I have time. Meanwhile, this whole thread was about the fact that the "system is broken" because of moderation issues, and so rather than see it as a singular event as you do, I see it as systemic - hope you see my point. (Note, for example, the comments of ewwhite in response to Andrew Schulman et al. - systemic!) – Richard T Apr 21 '15 at 18:54
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    For someone who boasts a lot on his profile, you sure did react quite immature to the down-vote. Regardless, I disagree with your statements, mainly because there already is an incentive for editing, it grants rep. You just need your edits approved. And we don't close duplicate articles, we mark them as duplicate. Because we're a site meant to help people find the knowledge they need, and a duplicate with slightly different wording can at some point help one more person. And I think that down-voting anonymously is very important, we don't need to justify every action, we don't get payed here. – Reaces Apr 21 '15 at 19:23
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    Also, a large part of this was due to questions that were once on-topic, and have since become off-topic. This is something that newer members can't judge all that well, if at all. Most of this required the time and effort of higher rep members. That hopeless took it up after becoming a moderator had more to do with his campaign during the moderator elections, than anything else. Honestly, if you have suggestions about how to handle rep, take it up at meta stackexchange. I have in the past, and you'll find a lot of things have already been discussed in the past. – Reaces Apr 21 '15 at 19:27
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    @RichardT: If you were a real regular member of the community, you would know that a downvote on meta simply signals disagreement, so there is no reason at all to become this agressive (there never is, even on main, as anonymous voting is here for a reason and will stay, regardless of the endless whining about this ). Fun fact: I downoted you and even commented why, but you decided to insult me anyway... – Sven Apr 21 '15 at 21:33
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    Whew, -1 from me for the pugilistic edit. Get a grip. – Andrew Schulman Apr 23 '15 at 14:19

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