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Incubator (takes all questions that aren't ontopic anywhere else) community
This discussion where a user would like to ask a question and sees the availability of questions as main driver of new growth, made me thinking: could there be something to it? For quite some time now no new community has been created here and some existing ones struggle really heard. Therefore more people are needed, but where should they come from?
Maybe they would be attracted by questions? Let's test this hypothesis! It doesn't cost much. Let's create a site where everything is on-topic that isn't on-topic somewhere else. That is a very simple and clear definition. Everyone could ask there about sociology, gaming, history, medicine, finance ... all the topics we haven't yet covered. Maybe one even gets an answer. I would call it Incubator community, unless we find a better name for it.
And if at some point sufficient questions and people are together, we can right away form a new community out of the Incubator.
Maybe we restrict the scope to some or all the topics that ever came up in site proposals. And the focus would be more on collecting good questions than on answering every question.
We could do it. It would be something different and may fail. We may also want to continue with following the more traditional ways instead.
It's very similar to the community for general questions proposed a year ago (which I discovered just now) maybe with the difference, that the scope here would be limited to only things that aren't on-topic somewhere else and the focus on questions, not answers, which might be a bit less general, but the idea of Peter to organically create communities is definitely only rediscovered here.
I'm speaking only for myself (not the team) and with insufficient caffeine. I might refine this idea later. :-) We k …
I like the idea of a catch-all site. However there is a risk of the site gathering low-quality questions. The site shoul …
I disagree for the following specific reason: Quality of site content is ultimately what drives domain experts into u …
I fully agree that all other communities on CD should be focused in scope and concentrate on gathering a group of expert …
I am in favor of such a site. Although, yes, when launching a new community, we should "Ensure that there is high qua …
I'm speaking only for myself (not the team) and with insufficient caffeine. I might refine this idea later. :-)
We know we need to improve our community-proposal process, particularly in the area of scope and sample questions. Sometimes the only way to show a topic or type of question is to actually write the question. (Somewhere Else, this process is limited to something like 200 characters, so you only get question titles. As a participant on several betas including private betas, I found that I could almost never actually develop the Area 51 questions -- too vague.)
We also need a better way to identify and engage the people who want to help build a new community. People who said "yes I'd participate" on a proposal might have drifted away by the time there appears to be enough momentum to launch it -- and then the new community struggles for lack of people. An incubator would give people a place to start building the people side of the community while exploring proposed scope.
We also need a better way for people to discuss proposals. Answers and comments on a single proposal post here on Meta is too limiting. People need to be able to ask meta questions about a proposal like "is such-and-such on topic?" and use answers and discussion like on per-community metas.
Putting all that together...
How about creating a quasi-community, perhaps
proposals.codidact.com, to address these issues? It could have the following categories:
- Proposals (default category): move Site Proposals from Meta
- Incubator: Q&A on a broad range of topics (more about this below)
- Meta: the usual discussions about "is this answerable", "should these proposals be merged", "where is the boundary between A and B", etc.
To support using this as a community incubator and not just "misc", we would use "topic tags" (which have special styling) to indicate candidate communities. For example, an incubator question about immunology might have topic tags for "biology" and "medicine", corresponding to those proposals. It would be ok to create topic tags for proposals that don't exist yet, using incubator Q&A to explore whether there's enough to support a particular proposal. A proposal would link to its tag to have an easy way to find those questions. The idea here is to be able to say, for each question in the incubator, what hypothetical future community (or communities) this question might belong in.
Because the incubator isn't a community in the usual sense, I think we would want to change some configuration. I'd propose that there be no reputation and that the ability thresholds be dialed way down -- make it easy for almost anybody to edit, in particular. The goal of an incubator is to -- together -- build up new communities, so let's make that as easy as we can. (There would still need to be moderators, for all the usual reasons plus managing the topic tags.)
When a new community is launched from the incubator, those questions would be moved to the new community, where the reputation and abilities would be as for any other community, not the special incubator setup.
Part of the process of refining a proposal into a new community would be addressing these overlaps. ↩︎
2 comment threads
I like the idea of a catch-all site. However there is a risk of the site gathering low-quality questions. The site should be a catch-all for topics, not a catch-all for quality.
However without a specific topic, it's hard to create clear quality guidelines. But especially with an open-topic site I thing strong quality guidelines are very important, more important than elsewhere.
For example, imagine someone asking “Does anyone have a good idea for a birthday present for my sister?” I think most people would agree that this shouldn't be OK even on an incubator site. But unlike on specific sites, we cannot simply close it as off-topic, as by definition nothing is off-topic on the Incubator site.
Thus I only would support this site after an appropriate set of quality guidelines has been worked out.
1 comment thread
I disagree for the following specific reason:
Quality of site content is ultimately what drives domain experts into using a certain site - they are drawn to each other, so the more experts a site got, the more will join. And then the big majority of users who aren't experts will follow, because who doesn't want their question answered by a recognized expert rather than some random student?
This in turn means that upon starting a site, we need to ensure that we have a certain number of dedicated users who knows the site topic well. They don't necessarily need to be experts, as long as they are enthusiastic and active. These users form the core of the site and are suitable for tasks like moderation and setting site scope.
I addressed this in my answer here:
Ensure that there is high quality, unique content upon launch
Upon launching a new community, we should already have prepared detailed and high quality Q&A to "seed the site" with - not only to serve as examples of what kind of questions to expect, but to be interesting enough in itself to draw people there.
This means at the very least some 10-20 prepared Q&A posts that should be added to the community within the first week after launch. Give it a flying start. If there isn't enough such content prepared, this in turn suggests that there may not be enough enthusiast users to get the community up and running. If you have some 10-20 enthusiasts users and everyone tries to ask a single high quality question, post a quality answer or post a self-answered Q&A within the first week(s) after launch, then that might do a big difference.
Now on a site where everything is on scope, who would these people be? There are no experts of "everything" and I doubt you'll find many people enthusiastic about "everything" either. So there is just no way you can ensure quality of content.
I believe such a site will at best end up as Reddit 2 and I personally don't think Codidact should strive to become something like that either.
0 comment threads
I fully agree that all other communities on CD should be focused in scope and concentrate on gathering a group of experts, but for me this one here should be the exception, because:
- Serves as showcase for questions for other potential communities. And where else to showcase questions than in the real environment? You can directly test out how everything would work including potential answers. And you can better gauge real interest, than simply by posting and saying "I'm interested". If you are really interested, show it to us (in the Incubator community).
- We will be able to learn something about Q&A. Is Lundin right in saying that experts in focused communities will attract askers or is JohnDoea right in saying that more question will also attract more experts or are they both right to some extent? A good community needs people with answers as well as people with questions. With all the existing communities here, which follow the experts-attract-questions model and this new site that would work the other way around, we would have covered all possibilities and could learn something about how Q&A communities evolve, at virtually no additional costs because the Incubator would not take anything away from anyone else (by definition). But we have to make the experiment in order to find out, otherwise it's "just" an educated guess.
- There is really no downside except maybe for a bit of additional moderating effort (which if nobody else wants to do it, I can do). And if the experiment should fail after say 6-8 months, I'd be more than happy to see the Incubator gone again. No problem at all.
1 comment thread
I am in favor of such a site.
Although, yes, when launching a new community, we should "Ensure that there is high quality, unique content upon launch", this incubator would serve as the place to collect that content in the first place. Once we see that hey, this topic is often asked about, with a couple of regular "experts", we can establish a new community and move those questions over.
The idea is not to be a free-standing community, in which case having experts in the community's topic would make sense, but as a way to gauge the level of interest and number of experts in the first place. Even just a couple users regularly asking and answering quality questions would show a vested interest.
You could argue that such seeding questions should be done in the proposal-post in Site Proposals, but I find it much too awkward, not to mention unnatural, to do it there. Further, there are often many people who are interested in asking and answering when a site, but then after 9 months of no activity on the proposal, leave without coming back when the site is finally launched (because they already left Codidact and didn't even realize that their community was launched).
1 comment thread