0
$\begingroup$

This question already has an answer here:

EDITED after the question was marked as a possible duplicate: I don't think that all items noted in the comments were part of answers before, not fully developed and explained, and which could be argued. I don't disagree with many of the comments, but find some to be not helpful. Still, this site is a meta site and opinions can be valid answers. I'd like to see some reasoned answers posted, if possible, but, it's been about 8 months since I posted it, it does not matter much at this point. I was just questioning, not creating a controversy, I thought. BB

I am a little bewildered by what seems to me the few questions posted by participants with medium and higher reputations. I have not compiled statistics, and if I am wrong then so be it. But it seems to me most of the questions are by participants who are relatively new to the site, or otherwise have not posted as much as others. The opposite is true on answers. Now, this is of course relative and one has to be careful, since the population of participants probably has an average or mean in the lower reputation and participation persons. Still, it seems to be a little that way.

I don't mind, and in fact would encourage even more questions by anyone, including lower reputation and participation questions. It is important to have the new blood and ideas. But I'd also like to see more complex or well thought out questions by people who may have more; we may see an increase of quality in the question (well, you never know, but more from a population that could contribute interesting questions).

EDITED, added from here on:

So, my question is not why it happens. there were previous questions eg,

Question self-destruction: why don't experts ask more questions?

that asked that, and the answers were truthful, in my opinion, and elucidated the reasons. My question is whether there might be a way to get those to increase. Some were mentioned in the answers in that url, but if we'd like to increase quality perhaps there are also other ways also. Those mentioned a couple years back didn't seem to take hold

Perhaps:

1 Increase the number of points for positive votes for questions 2 increase more the number of points for positive votes on questions and say more than 3K reputation (I know, sounds like favoritism, propose an alternate) 3 create a few more tags for eg, for news exploration, paper reviews or comments -- where the question/answer explains the relevance of some new findings, or describes a paper and asks a question on it 4 others I can't think of.

The question is are there other good ideas for this?

$\endgroup$

marked as duplicate by Kyle Kanos, heather, Qmechanic Feb 11 '17 at 14:08

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

  • 5
    $\begingroup$ Related here: meta.physics.stackexchange.com/q/4571 and on the mother meta: meta.stackexchange.com/q/13611 meta.stackexchange.com/q/144780 $\endgroup$ – dmckee Jun 26 '16 at 21:16
  • 6
    $\begingroup$ Dude, it's just because the higher rep users 1) Are more able and willing to solve their own questions, and 2) Are less likely to post a poorly formed question. $\endgroup$ – DanielSank Jun 26 '16 at 21:40
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ I'm sure we all have questions we'd like some feedback on. It's like conversing. and I'm not Dude, I have a name. $\endgroup$ – Bob Bee Jun 26 '16 at 21:49
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Not even discussing the detrimental effects your proposals would have, none of them does anything to alleviate the reasons why high-rep users rarely ask questions. Also, you don't actually ask anything different from the question you link, which asks: "Can we/should we/how can we encourage them/help them to ask more?" - and at least some of the answers there also address that. $\endgroup$ – ACuriousMind Jun 26 '16 at 21:56
  • $\begingroup$ Ok, well, delete my question. $\endgroup$ – Bob Bee Jun 26 '16 at 23:44
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Clearly the answers back then did not make any difference. Could somebody new since two years ago have better answers? I understand you don't think there is any. $\endgroup$ – Bob Bee Jun 27 '16 at 0:26
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Many very high rep users have a 'knowledge threshold' that's too high for the site; anything that confuses them would only be answerable by a handful of active users, which they could just ask directly. They also tend to be researchers, not students, so confusions while learning a new subject are mostly out. $\endgroup$ – knzhou Jun 27 '16 at 2:55
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Seriously, take the answers in the linked questions to heart. Past a certain point, asking good questions is hard, and if we had more of them we'd ask them. (Want an example? see which badge I'm tracking.) We don't ask questions (or stop asking them) based on rep and other fake internet memorabilia - the question is its own reward, really. We just set a high bar for that reward, which is why we only post when we can clear that bar. $\endgroup$ – Emilio Pisanty Jun 28 '16 at 0:00
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Emilio Pisanty that is completely valid and I know is true. I respect that. That is the best answer to my question. So a question for you, not mean to be tricky, really two. 1) when one teaches at college or graduate level one likes asking interesting questions, and is able to come up with some. Can we not ask questions like those? Partly educational, partly tutorial, partly they might explore some issues one might still wonder about, but hasn't really written on? 2) AnyThing wrong for a perfectionist or really a real expert to ask less perfect questions, sort of wondering, smartly, out loud? $\endgroup$ – Bob Bee Jun 28 '16 at 0:17
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Re (1): You can try. But asking educational questions is people's job, for which they get paid, in money and not in fake internet points. Unless you can top that, I don't think you have much of a chance. Re (2), as I told you, yes. That's how many of us work, and if you don't like that then sorry. (Actually, no: if you don't like that, then it's unapologetically on you. These are the experts you want to approach, and it is you that needs to adapt to do it.) $\endgroup$ – Emilio Pisanty Jun 28 '16 at 1:08
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Well, there I can see a closed mind. Let's leave it at that. One answer we could agree on, that's as good as it gets. And you don't know me, so you are totally out of line on personal statements. You don't know if I am more of an expert than you, and I don't know you. So, forget I asked you. $\endgroup$ – Bob Bee Jun 28 '16 at 1:22
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Here's the thing, regardless how you incentivize it, asking questions will be hard. If we knew what would make good questions, we'd ask them. Most of the time, the questions we ask would not get an answer here and we know it. Sometimes, we ask questions that are easy to answer and we know where to get the answers. I and others try to encourage posting those question/answer combos but it's hard to remember to do that. But we can't try to think of good questions. When we do, the questions end up being too simplistic and nobody cares $\endgroup$ – Jim Jun 29 '16 at 14:48
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ As for researchers and graduate students, they are supposed to ask new questions about physics to come up with topics to research and write papers about. That is a very hard thing to do. I can read papers all day and not come up with a good question to focus research on and now you want me to also try to think of good, answerable questions for the site. In addition, most of the good questions that do come to my mind are already answered here. No, the best questions come from those who don't already know the answer $\endgroup$ – Jim Jun 29 '16 at 14:52
  • $\begingroup$ It all sounds like a good reason not to bother with such educated people. The wisest man Socrates knew that he didn't know a lot. The rest is arrogance. I have a PHD, years of being involved in things many people, including many researchers and graduate students don't know any the answers for, and amazingly still have lots of questions. Good luck with your inquisiteness. Of course, people who don't know answers should ask, but having some knowledge should not hinder that. This site is for students,, researchers and academics, but I guess some prefer not to ask. To each his own. $\endgroup$ – Bob Bee Jun 29 '16 at 22:52
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ @Bob Bee : when the more knowledgeable poster asks a question here, it tends to be the sort of question that "expert" posters can't answer. Then instead of simply saying so, some react with hostility. Some even vote-to-delete the question. IMHO this tends to discourage questions from the more knowledgeable posters. $\endgroup$ – John Duffield Jun 30 '16 at 7:15
0
$\begingroup$

Unless this were a puzzle site, where questions are intended to challenge or entertain, I don't think there is any purpose in posting questions just for the sake of it.

The most interesting questions have open-ended answers which would be a matter of opinion or conjecture - in other words, off-topic. This applies also to your suggestion of discussing recent research papers.

Average question quality is low because anyone can post a question. The majority who do are relatively new to physics, and don't know what makes a good physics question, nor what is off-topic.

I think the most obvious way of increasing the proportion (but not number) of good questions is to restrict the privilege of asking questions to (i) those with a minimum rep of say 3K, or (ii) those with a minimum education in physics, eg undergraduate. The 1st is self-checking, the 2nd would probably require an active check of credentials. This would also solve the problem of getting far too many off-topic questions.

Your suggestion of increasing the number of points for questions which get more than say 5 votes (net) seems reasonable to me. Perhaps also increasing the penalty for down-votes for a question. However, I don't think many of us ask or answer questions just for the rep. The incentive will have little effect except encouraging those who are chasing rep to post good questions which they have found on other sites, or even on this site but with sufficient change of wording and tags to avoid obvious detection as a duplicate. The penalty will be more effective.

Unless the number of low-rep questions is drastically reduced, I think even a several-fold increase in high-rep questions will not make a noticeable difference to the site. Moreover, the increase in high-rep questions will not encourage an increase in the quality of low-rep questions. Low-rep users are unlikely to read and learn from high-rep questions, because they are mostly only concerned to get answers to their own questions, and unable to understand the level of physics which high-rep users ask about.


The problem is not a new one. See :What can be done about the (current) ongoing flood of homework and very basic questions overwhelming our site?

In that Meta Question, posted 3 years ago, which currently has 28 up-votes, Dilaton writes :

The About of Physics SE still says

Physics is a question and answer site for active researchers, academics and students of physics and astronomy.

So : What can be done to counteract the overtaking of Physics SE by homework, very basic, and laypeople questions to make it a better and more attractive place for active researchers, academics, and students of the site topic again?

... If the targeted audience should still be the one described in the About, something has to be done.

$\endgroup$
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ I strongly disagree with this answer. Restricting asking questions to people with a minimum of reputation inhibits the influx of questions regardless of quality. For example, I would never have come here if I had had to answer a load of questions before asking one. Reputation is a measure of how much you have done on the site, not of what the level of your contributions is (you might argue it should be otherwise, but that is how it is). Checking credentials also is contrary to how this site is supposed to work; there's no reason people without them cannot ask good and well-formed questions $\endgroup$ – ACuriousMind Jul 1 '16 at 22:46
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ Furthermore, there was a time when questions gave as much reputation as answers, cf. this blog post, and this was changed precisely because it was too easy to gain reputation by just asking questions and never answering them (being a "help vampire"). The problem are not questions by low-rep users, the problem are garbage questions that get upvoted although they are bad questions. The reputation of the asker might be correlated with bad questions, but there are good questions by low-rep users and we need those. $\endgroup$ – ACuriousMind Jul 1 '16 at 22:50
  • 5
    $\begingroup$ Finally, you seem to see a far stronger correlation between reputation level and actual "level" of the user than there is. There are high-rep users here who are "not even physicists" (like JohnRennie). Would you forbid John from asking questions because he has no formal education in physics specifically? Would you forbid Qmechanic from asking questions because he remains anonymous and might never even have gone to university as far as we know? The solution to low-quality questions is downvoting low-quality questions, not imposing elitist restrictions. $\endgroup$ – ACuriousMind Jul 1 '16 at 22:54
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @ACuriousMind : Who are the users asking 'garbage questions'? High rep users like John Rennie, or low rep users? That is the correlation which I see. Down-voting low-quality questions cannot deter new users who are not yet familiar with the standards and policies of the site. I am not being elitist, I am pointing out that low quality is a natural consequence of allowing anyone to post questions on PSE. I am pointing out that the site should be clear about its purpose and who it is for. Is it for "active researchers, academics and students of P&A"? Or everyone regardless of background? $\endgroup$ – sammy gerbil Jul 2 '16 at 12:22

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .