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As I write this post, 12 of the 30 questions on the first two pages of "Questions" are [on hold]. I'm a newbie here, but that seems high.

As I understand it from reading other meta posts, this site is fairly new and trying to grow. Is there a good reason for being so obsessed about whether a question might be homework or could have been phrased better? Some of those questions [on hold] looked interesting.

Shouldn't this place be inviting people in, rather then showing them the door? I admit I've just been here 3 days but in that time only 40 questions have been asked, 13 of which are on hold. Once traffic picks up, sure, measures need to be in place and enforced. But till then, perhaps some slack could be an idea, also in the guidelines.

Just a thought.

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    $\begingroup$ Thanks everyone for your answers and comments. I cannot say I've been convinced by them, but it seems clear that I have the minority opinion. Though we disagree on whether a question is worthy of an answer, I think we agree that attracting more worthy Answerers is a priority. Thanks again. $\endgroup$ – Jens Sep 6 '16 at 21:19
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No.

Bad questions are a problem for the site. They are not a good thing. We do not want bad questions. We do not want to cut some slack for bad questions.

Keeping bad questions open, as you suggest, would kill the site.

We've had a recent plague of new questions in one or two tags that follow a very specific recipe for asking, and for user names. It's probably either a poorly-designed social-science experiment, a clumsy bot, or a misguided teacher. Whatever it is, these contributions detract from the site.

We don't delete bad questions on sight, if they're salvageable. You're seeing these questions, because they've all been put on hold. We haven't rejected them: we've put them on hold, to give the questioners time to get the question into a suitable state, before people try to answer it. That way, we protect our answerers, and we protect the site.

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  • $\begingroup$ What, in your opinion, is a "bad" question? How many "on hold" questions are ever "salvaged"? How does putting a question "on hold" protect the answerers and the site? $\endgroup$ – Jens Aug 31 '16 at 20:38
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    $\begingroup$ @Jens Your questions are certainly legitimate but it should be noted that they are by no means novel. There is an awful lot of prior work regarding these issues, e.g. on MSE and the blog, which we sometimes are not keen to rehash. That is not your fault, but it is worth recognizing to give some context to reactions that you might feel too easily dismiss your concerns. $\endgroup$ – Air Aug 31 '16 at 23:41
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    $\begingroup$ @Air: I was about to write an answer but saw this comment. I hadn't seen that blog post. Fantastically written. I was even going to write "What we want aren't questions. What we want are answers", but that post says it better. (Seriously, pearls vs. sand is an amazing metaphor) $\endgroup$ – Wasabi Sep 1 '16 at 1:21
  • $\begingroup$ @Air I understand that sites, such as this one, want good answers. I could even agree to some extent that "questions are the sand, answers are the pearls". But this site does not have questions like sand. It's got about 13 questions a day since I got here, a third of which are put on hold. So even if someone had a "pearl" of an answer to these bits of "sand", they couldn't give it. And why not? Because someone decided the "sand" wasn't good enough, thus leaving everyone bereft of the "pearl". Why does sieving the "sand" matter when there is so little sand? $\endgroup$ – Jens Sep 1 '16 at 20:40
  • $\begingroup$ @Jens what do you think the long game is, here? $\endgroup$ – 410 gone Sep 1 '16 at 20:42
  • $\begingroup$ @EnergyNumbers - To provide whatever it says in the mission statement. Hope you'll have a chance to answer my questions in the first comment. $\endgroup$ – Jens Sep 1 '16 at 20:47
  • $\begingroup$ @Jens try searching for the answers on meta.stackexchange.com $\endgroup$ – 410 gone Sep 1 '16 at 21:01
  • $\begingroup$ @EnergyNumbers Why? You made the assertions. Please back them up. $\endgroup$ – Jens Sep 1 '16 at 21:04
  • $\begingroup$ @Jens I just did. Whether you want to make the effort to read them is entirely up to you. $\endgroup$ – 410 gone Sep 1 '16 at 21:08
  • $\begingroup$ @EnergyNumbers You provided a link to a long list of questions asked on Meta. You didn't provide answers to my simple questions regarding your assertions. It should be a simple matter for you to back up what you asserted. $\endgroup$ – Jens Sep 1 '16 at 21:12
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    $\begingroup$ @Jens indeed. And it's a simple matter for you to search on the mother meta. Only by doing the latter will you truly start to learn why things are the way they are. I'm teaching you to fish, not giving you a fish. $\endgroup$ – 410 gone Sep 3 '16 at 13:36
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12 of the 30 questions on the first two pages of "Questions" are [on hold]. ... that seems high.

The number is not that unusual, especially for late August/early September. A significant subset of our audience around this time of year is entering school after a break, encountering new subjects and, for many, a first experience with higher education. Some users in this particular demographic ask very well thought-out, thoroughly researched questions that relate directly to engineering principles and practice. Most do not.

Is there a good reason for being so obsessed about whether a question might be homework or could have been phrased better? Some of those questions [on hold] looked interesting.

Whether a question is interesting or not is orthogonal to whether it belongs here. What's important is whether it can be reasonably answered in a way that helps future readers solve engineering problems. The metrics we use to make this judgment are breadth, topicality and clarity.

Homework questions are not verboten, despite any claims to the contrary. They just tend to not meet our standards of breadth and/or clarity because relatively few students are prepared to meet those standards without some additional guidance and effort. Graduate students tend to do a little better but they are a minority. You might be interested in this lengthy discussion about closing homework questions.

Once traffic picks up, sure, measures need to be in place and enforced. But till then, perhaps some slack could be an idea, also in the guidelines.

Quality comes first. We have been growing steadily since the site entered public beta. There is no pressure on us to grow more quickly or meet any sort of launch deadline. We have no reason to relax our standards. SE is not a discussion forum; SE is not a networking site; SE is a Q&A platform and the main thing that differentiates it from other such platforms is that we have fairly high standards.

We do recognize this is inconvenient for people who want to have interesting discussions, engage in social or professional networking, crowdsource their homework assignments, and so on. Fortunately, there are many large, popular, successful sites on the greater internet for doing all of those things.

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12 of the 30 questions ... are [on hold]... that seems high.

Maybe, but that's not a relevant metric. A far more important metric is the quality of questions.

The instantaneous question rate is a very narrow way to look at the site. Ultimately we want a long term good question rate. The only way that can happen is if the site is known to provide good answers. The only way that can happen is if the experts providing the good answers feel comfortable here. The only way that can happen is to keep the question quality high. Nothing diffuses experts that have many other things they can be doing like being barraged by a stream of bad questions.

So you have a choice, 30 questions with a bunch of bad ones, or 18 good questions? The clear and obvious answer is 18 good questions is always better than any number of lesser quality questions.

It's really quite straight forward when you think it all the way thru.

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