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I'm seeing a current trend towards many questions only receiving a single answer, and according the the Area 51 stats, we ought to have an average closer to 2.5. Granted that some questions are really only in need of a single (obvious) answer, I think we're missing something here.

I've seen a few questions with 'answers in the comments', which is understandable if a user wants to make a drive-by quick tip, but we should really be encouraging them to try and come back later to get the points due to them.

Are users put off by an expectation that a wrong answer might lose them rep? Or by an overly high (assumed) expectation for making an answer?

What can we do to raise ApQ, without dropping answer quality significantly?

Some thoughts from IoT meta on why more answers are good.

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Well done for bringing this up. I was looking at those numbers too.

Referring to this post, almost all of the stats are improving (albeit) slowly, except for one, the ApQ

Are users put off by an expectation that a wrong answer might lose them rep?

It seems that way. Without wishing to provide a link to the actual comment, I noticed a comment the other day that suggested as much, and a nicely detailed comment was left instead.

To be fair, I feel that way sometimes, and often hesitate (maybe rightly so to save myself from spamming the site) in posting questions on SE.Meta, as there are a number of drive-by downvoters there1. Unless you have a definite bug that you are able to document clearly or have a well rounded proposal that can be implemented easily, then your question may end up downvoted. This is probably rightly so, TBH, in most cases, but nevertheless it can be discouraging.

If you don't have much hard-earned rep then you may be less willing to risk it by posting a informative answer, that only answers half the question. Is that a bad thing? Well, it is a double edged sword. It is a good thing, because that promotes good solid answers, but with the downside that you point out (a lack of multiple answers per question).

What can we do? Probably, not much other than creating a small community by promoting a friendly environment and communicating more clearly... Inviting people to chat in the chatroom, being more welcoming (with Hi and welcome), actually helping people without the old "Did you google this?" immediately. All of these things help a lot. And which we seem to have developed of late. So we seem to be getting there.

I know that a number of members have already been adding answers to single answer questions as well as tackling the unanswered queue too. The more people that help the better...


1 Don't get me wrong, I looove (justified) downvotes, but I would like to know why.

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    $\begingroup$ You miss that posting a bad answer, getting 3 downvotes and deleting the answer will earn you a badge, at no overall cost - I think there is scope for educating people a bit better about the mechanics of the site, as well as talking about 'downvote because', 'downvote removed after edits' which I've seen in other places. $\endgroup$ – Sean Houlihane Aug 16 '18 at 8:51
  • $\begingroup$ @SeanHoulihane - good point. If a question is so poor that it has been closed and no number of edits will bring it up positive then any negative answers should be self deleted for the Peer Pressure badge. After all, the question will get auto-deleted (anyway, see SE.Meta - here) as there are no upvotes on answer nor question, and the opportunity to earn the badge is lost. $\endgroup$ – Greenonline Aug 19 '18 at 9:49
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    $\begingroup$ Also agree with the 'downvote removed after edits' but it is hard to keep track of these as there isn't a notification mechanism to show that there has been an edit made to a post that you downvoted. Therefore it is necessary to constantly recheck manually, which is a right pain... $\endgroup$ – Greenonline Aug 19 '18 at 9:49
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    $\begingroup$ @Greenonline That is exactly what is needed: a system that notifies you if an answer or question is changed after you downvoted. Manual re-checking is indeed a pain and many times simply forgotten... $\endgroup$ – 0scar Aug 31 '18 at 19:32
  • $\begingroup$ @0scar - I read (a few years ago) a proposal for notifications of edits, on SE.Meta, but it was denied. I've just had a look and there are lot of similar questions, but this one seems to fit the bill (but wasn't the one I read): Allow an edit to notify downvoters: “I think I've fixed the issue now - please check” $\endgroup$ – Greenonline Aug 31 '18 at 20:29
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It seems, that there are roughly four categories of questions here:

  1. Questions that are too broad for which we have expertise. Example: How to build the cheapest but safest laser engraver. For these questions, we generally know how to respond properly, but the questions are so ill-defined, that the whole thread becomes a mess.
  2. Questions that are too broad for which we do not have expertise. Example: Am I allowed to publish a 3d scan of a [Buddha] statue?. These questions are formulated properly, but we lack the expertise, and so everybody chimes in with "half knowledge".
  3. Questions that are narrowly defined. Example: What voltage does the Creality Ender-3 run at?. These questions can be solved with one answer.
  4. Questions that are well-defined, but have multiple solutions. Example: Noise Reduction. These are some sort of "medium size" questions, neither too broad so as to invite opinions, but not too narrow so they can be completed with one answer.

I think, to raise both the quality and the quantity of threads here, we should reduce questions of type 1 and 2, and promote questions of type 3 and 4.

In my opinion, posters of type 1 questions should be politely asked to narrow down their questions or, if not possible, marked as off-topic, closed, too broad or whatever designation exists. Type 2 questions should be moved to another Stack Exchange site.

As for answers per questions: Clearly, type 4 questions are the ones, that will raise the answers-questions-ratio (without sacrificing quality). But: Type 1 questions, if properly narrowed, can easily become type 4 questions and, therefore, help in raising the answers-questions-ratio.

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    $\begingroup$ Totally agree on all these points, and well put... except type 2 should just be closed as well and once they are closed then the OP is requested to ask their question on another site, which could be suggested (or we let them find their own home). TBH, while migrating questions is certainly possible, (and I was a great advocate of migrating, until I became a moderator), it is usually much easier for the misplaced question to be closed and the OP ask elsewhere, rather than mods getting in touch with other SE site's mods and requesting migration, as such requests are often refused anyway. $\endgroup$ – Greenonline Aug 15 '18 at 22:04
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    $\begingroup$ I think potentially 1 should be closed, and 2 is ok - but that is a wider debate. $\endgroup$ – Sean Houlihane Aug 16 '18 at 8:48
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Something to realize is, ApQ is one of the least dependent factors for graduation. I don't think this site lends to having a huge amount of ApQ's, because usually there is only going to really be one answer which will work. I think the ApQ category was based more towards the programming/tech sites. I mean, when programming, there's almost ALWAYS going to be more than one way to answer a question.Then when you look at other sites where there is advice given, like Travel.SE or Law.SE, you could possibly see a plethora of answers for each of their questions. Then you take WorldBuilding.SE and it's a whole new level.

IIRC, when Mechanics.SE graduated, we had sub 2.0 ApQ. I don't think 3D's is out of line with that and it isn't going to hurt the site for graduation.

While multi-ApQ is not a bad thing, it only works if the question deserves it. If the question isn't answered correctly or if there might be something else which could be the answer, then multi-ApQ is an awesome thing. To make answers for answer sake, just to boost the ApQ, that can be ugly. A much better idea is (IMHO), to upvote good Q/A's and downvote bad ones.

I completely agree with moving the site forward, but my suggestion is to move it forward in the right direction by putting energy where energy is needed.

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