Standing in the street trying to hear yourself think

Steven Danna sdanna7 at
Fri Jul 3 17:56:54 UTC 2009

> For the latter, we should have a review group to:
> * look at the questions/answers, and 
> * verify correctness,
> * edit if needed (clarifying the question and answer), and
> * classify the question following a (given) taxonomy.
> Following from here:
> * once a question/answer has been reviewed and approved, it could be
> locked against changes, and clearly marked reviewed ("seal of
> approval");
> * an action "this answer is wrong" should be provided, with a text entry
> for explanations. This action should be available for *every* Q/A,
> irrespective of status;
> * the taxomony should be widely published, and adhered to everywhere
> (*including* Mallone). This would provide us with consistency.  The
> Wikipaedia classification [1] would probably be useful to us, at least
> as a starting point. Other examples are the ACM classification [2], the
> AMS one [3], etc, etc.


I do quite a bit of work on Answers and I think that some of your
suggestions are good.  But many just wouldn't work very well for the
type of questions that mostly up on

Most users are not very good at articulating a problem.  Hence in many
questions you will see a back and forth between the question asker and
answer contributors.  Many of the early answers will be "wrong" because
it is often very difficult to determine the /actual/ problem the user is
experiencing.  This situation is made worse by the fact that because
there are not many answer contacts in languages other than English, most
people are posting questions in their non-native language.

What I do think needs to happen, is that we need to make greater use of
the FAQ functionality within Answers and there should be a way for
somebody other than the question asker to mark a question as correct,
since they often just mark whatever the last message in the conversation
was or the don't mark any answer.  

Personally, I feel that the first step is not technological.  Many of
new answer contributors produce low quality answers.  Further, because
there is no strong community built around Answers, those who are
contributing at high levels, aren't really communicating.

There are currently two teams in launchpad that have attempting to
create an community for those contributing to Answers [1][2].  I've
attempted to get in contact with both of these teams to see if they can
be merged and have made some progress (I am now the owner of one of the
teams).  Once we get the community of contributors in one place, I think
it would be a very good idea to create a few resources for new answer
contributors (a wiki page of suggestions and best practices).  I started
a first draft of such a page [3] but have put that on hold until I am
able to get the two groups merged.

I apologize in advance for any typos or grammatical errors.  I am
currently on vacation and I do not plan on proof-reading this response.
Feel free to email me if you are interested in getting a community
around Answers going.  


Steven Danna


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