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Welcome to Codidact Meta!

Codidact Meta is the meta-discussion site for the Codidact community network and the Codidact software. Whether you have bug reports or feature requests, support questions or rule discussions that touch the whole network – this is the site for you.

How can we make Codidact more friendly for askers?

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Most of the sites are struggling to get questions and while it seems to me at least that more effort has been put into optimizing for the answerers than for the askers.

To put it another way, there are lots and lots of sites on the internet where one could get their question answered, why should they ask it here?

Recently for me, it has not so much been that I don't have questions but more that the cost of writing questions is has not been worth the benefit.

What can we do to encourage people to ask questions here?

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8 answers

You are accessing this answer with a direct link, so it's being shown above all other answers regardless of its score. You can return to the normal view.

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I think we must commence the Accounting, Economics, Finance forthwith to take advantage of the current bull U.S. stock markets! As you may have seen on the news, many amateurs are piling into investing and cryptocurrency now, and stock market indices are breaking record highs. The Sub Reddits for these topics are skyrocketing as much as meme stocks!

Communities for Accounting, Economics, Finance can attract these investors. Perhaps Codidact staff can message the moderators of r/economics, r/economy, r/finance, r/investing, r/stocks, r/stockmarket, r/personalfinance, r/options, and ask if they can advertise our communities there?

I know they're getting more questions than their moderators can handle. They will be happy to divert some of the traffic to us!

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General comments (5 comments)
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Chicken, meet egg.

In many cases, the askers are much less expert than the answerers. The experts are the ones creating this site - not exclusively, but in many cases, and not necessarily academic or professional experts but sometimes just by virtue of having hung out SomeplaceElse for years and gaining experience. These askers don't seek us out. They Google to find some answers to their questions. If they don't find their specific question (and answers to it), they go to the sites that list other similar questions and answers and ask on those sites. Until we have lots of quality content, we are not one of those sites. We'll get there, but it takes time. On the other hand, the answerers who are already here don't have so many questions to ask, so we don't get questions from them either.

In short, we need content to get askers, but we need askers to get content. We tried, largely unsuccessfully, to build that initial content by copying from StackExchange, as permitted by the content licenses. However, that did not have the hoped for effects, for various reasons largely beyond our control. Every existing Q&A site (and almost any site actually, except if created by/for a major bricks & mortar company) goes through this process. The big question is: How can we can accelerate the process to get to "big enough to be seen by the askers"?

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General comments (3 comments)
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This is very half-baked and just brainstorming at the moment, but it'd be good if askers received some sort of feedback that people were working on responding to them. Right now, some questions sit at zero answers for some time, and it can be hard to know if it's because the question is really hard, or because somebody is mullin over and maybe doing some research in their spare time but haven't put together a real "answer" yet, or if it's that there are so few answerers in a community that they're not likely to ever see a response. Upvotes mitigate this somewhat, but I know I upvote questions where "This is interesting and well-written and I'd like to see a response too" but I don't plan on answering myself.

Some of this may not be technological features that are needed, but expectations around what's needed to start posting an answer, if pointers to a few resources (some kind of "partial answer") is acceptable to people, or if just there should be an expectation of certain comments of "This is really interesting and I'm trying to dig into this in my spare time to try to help but don't know if I'll get to writing up an answer anytime soon" is something that should be encouraged? And maybe some community efforts to try to find questions that are sitting around unanswered for too long (which the cross-community "ads" may be the start of but there might be more we can do)?

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General comments (3 comments)
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Elaborating on the thoughts of @PeterCooperJr.‭, it might be sensible to provide some meta statistics on each site on the main and / or "Ask Question" page.

For example, it might be viable to display the usual average response time to a given question. Maybe be even more detailed with how long it takes until it's answered by any person and how long it takes until it's answered by a domain expert. Another interesting statistics might be how many answers are to be expected. Some questions / topics don't have objective correct answers but a lot of correct subjective ones (think about cutting vegetables during cooking - many ways and nearly all of them are feasible in a way).

More statistics could be:

  • Average online users
  • Users online in the last 24 hours / 3 days / 7 days
  • General ratio of questions asked and answers provided
  • Number of domain experts
  • Number of non-domain experts but high-rep users (if it's to be distinguished somehow)
  • Time until the first interaction happens (casting votes, editing, answering etc.)
  • Total number of questions (factually already exists on the top of each site)
  • Total number of answers

All these numbers might encourage someone to ask a question here (numbers displaying a highly active community), however, they might also discourage someone to ask a question (numbers displaying an inactive community).

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General comments (1 comment)
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A lot of Codidact's distinctives, as Manasseh notes in comments on another answer, are about how the Codidact team and the community interact -- that communities here have much more control, that the team is accountable to the communities not to shareholders, much better responsiveness to requests and bug reports than Somewhere Else, and that we are all working together to build something better.

People with questions, who aren't part of communities, don't care about that stuff, yet. We hope that if they come here and have a good experience, they'll become part of our community and then care about these things, but when they're at the "I have a question and I will ask Google" phase, they just want answers.

How do we help them (a) find us and (b) have a good experience when they get here? These are related but separate questions. (a) is about search-engine optimization and having enough good content here already to register. That will take time and some tuning (and us learning, or attracting the attention of someone who knows, more about SEO).

But that other part, (b)? That's more under our control. As communities, let's try to help newcomers when they stumble -- ask questions if a post is unclear, be constructive, help out with an edit if we can. Be friendly native guides, so to speak. And let's try to keep an eye out for new questions and try to get them answered; if somebody asks a question and gets no help, that person probably won't return.

Our communities are largely founded by people who can answer, but we need questions for them to answer. Let's try to also ask questions. Even if you don't have an immediate problem to solve, are you curious about something? If you are, probably others are too -- go ahead and ask.

We need to solve the problem of people finding us, which will take time and isn't entirely under our control, but alongside that, maybe even before that, we need to have content already here that will attract visitors and help turn visitors into participants, and a lot of that is under our collective control.

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Don't shoot the messenger. What about assimilating Codidact's website design — just this, nothing else, definitely not their policies — to Stack Exchange's?

I sugegst this because I asked some friends to use Codidact. They said they will try us, but they prefer S.E.'s design because it's neater and cleaner. Let's compare them side by side.

alt text

They said they

  1. prefer how S.E. makes question titles bigger.

  2. found Codidact too cluttered. Like the "Featured" and "Hot Posts" rectangle on the right. On S.E. they turn off Hot Network Questions.

  3. S.E. keeps "Questions, Tags, Users" together. Why does Codidact put "Users" up at the top, separate from "Posts", "Tags"?

  4. are irked by the community description, which is taking up valuable space. Isn't it obvious that "Mathematics" is about "General Q&A about all branches of theoretical and applied mathematics etc..."? They don't need to see it every time they come to the site.

  5. are irked by the "Subscribe" button.

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General comments (7 comments)
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How can we make Codidact more friendly for askers?

That's the wrong question. We aren't unfriendly to askers. The real question is:

What can we do to encourage people to ask questions here?

There are two necessary conditions to have a site that gets a good volume of questions:

  1. Good answers need to be forthcoming quickly.
  2. People need to know about the site to ask in the first place.

Our sites were started by the small active core on existing Q&A sites elsewhere. We generally do OK at #1.

We suck at #2.

The core group of each site needs to do some work to get the word out. Some ways individuals can do this:

  1. Stop answering Elsewhere where you were recognized as one of the experts, and put a note on your profile pointing to here. Some followers will notice you aren't answering anymore, and check your profile. Others will bump into some good answers of yours, and might be curious who this person is that wrote all those good answers.
  2. Personally invite people you know that are experts in the subject matter to come here, and then do #1 above, like you did.
  3. Whenever you interact with others in the subject domain of a site, mention Codidact when possible and not inappropriate. This is harder with Covid, but tradeshows and other subject domain gatherings are a good place to do this.

    This is an area where the Codidact organization should help once it is up and running enough to accept donations and actually have a little money to spend. Printing up "business cards" for each site would be useful. These would then be distributed to the few top rep people on each site, who then hand them out in situations as mentioned above. Others could get them too when requested, like before heading off to a tradeshow or teaching a class.

    Basically, some marketing money should be allocated to each site. I wouldn't make it a requirement, but the core group of each site should at least be asked to contribute once the mechanisms are in place.

However, probably by far the most significant way the inquisitive masses find out about us is when we pop up as a hit to a question posed to a search engine. One thing significantly holding us back here is all the duplicate content we scraped from SE. Recent tests have shown that this duplicate content is seriously hurting us. It has effectively black-listed the Writing, Outdoors, and Scientific Speculation sites, and seems to be having some negative impact on all the sites. Until this is fixed, any other effort to get more users on those sites is pretty much pointless.

Then there is the simple issue of critical mass. It takes lots of good answers to attract more questions. We have to realize this is a slow process initially.

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General comments (2 comments)
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I'll try not to repeat what's already written here.

  1. Codidact just feels too cluttered compared to S.E. — see https://meta.codidact.com/posts/280464. I think Codidact can gain from appearing more S.E. Then people won't have to get used to two different layouts.

  2. Codidact doesn't offer communities for subjects that the average layman cares about. Just look at S.E. and Reddit's most popular communities. We got no politics, economics, finance, medicine, DIY or home improvement!

Most ones here are too esoteric — Scientific Speculation, Electrical Engineering, Software Development, Code Golf. No offense to Christianity and Judaism — but many English speakers aren't Christians or Jews.

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