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How can we revitalize our community?

+7
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We've had low activity on our community for a while. Low activity means people visit less often, which means lower activity because they're not here asking and answering... iterate. We have ads active Somewhere Else, but without activity, people who follow them are unlikely to stick around.

We set up this community in a hurry early on, making the best decisions we could at the time. We've learned things since then. If we were starting today, I would argue against bulk data import and instead focus on new work and selective import of high-quality posts we're attached to from over there. I don't know if our large amount of imported content is part of the problem or orthogonal.

We had a great community elsewhere, and then the corporate shenanigans broke it and many people left, but we didn't succeed in picking up here where we left off.

What can we do to increase participation here and make our community more attractive to visitors? Should we reset -- delete most of the imported content (if it hasn't been edited), do some targeted recruiting, and try to start fresh? Or does our community, once broken, not recover?

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5 answers

+9
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This suggestion grew out of a comment discussion on another answer. I'm posting it separately so it can be voted on.

As discussed in other answers, straight copies of content from Somewhere Else are almost certainly hurting SEO and, in volume, can give a negative impression -- we look like a copy of another site, and the new content here gets lost in that. On the other hand, some people have improved imported content, and we wouldn't want to throw that out.

I propose that we delete imported content that hasn't been touched here. Specifically:

  • Posts that were imported, not claimed, and not edited: delete. For a question, these properties need to apply to the answers too.

  • Posts that were imported, claimed, and not edited: compile a list, give authors time to improve if they want, and otherwise delete. (We can ask authors to go ahead and delete things they don't think are valuable enough to keep here.)

  • Posts that were imported, claimed, not edited, but have at least 5 upvotes (I don't know if we have any of these): the votes indicate that the community found value in them, so compile a list for public review. (Update: there are eight of these. We'll keep those; the community here obviously values them and they're a drop in the bucket.)

This review should leave us with a higher concentration of local, valuable content, and many fewer backlinks. After the dust settles, we can evaluate what remains in a second pass. And remember, anybody is welcome to re-ask and self-answer questions here -- just make sure you don't cut corners in the question. Alternatively, we could add articles in some form to our community if people prefer that approach -- resources, wiki, blog, or something else. These are all ideas that are being explored on some other Codidact communities.


Update 2021-02-05: We have just completed the first phase of deletions. Specifically, we deleted 16,644 answers that were imported, were not claimed, were not edited, and had no upvotes. This represents approximately half the answers. In a later pass we will look at imported questions; the queries would have been too complicated to do these together.

Update 2021-03-29: We have additionally deleted 2228 questions that were imported, unclaimed, unvoted, and had no claimed or native answers.

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General comments (2 comments)
+4
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The imported content may be a problem in that Google will see it as duplicate content, and Google does not like duplicate content. I'm not sure if the whole site gets actively penalized for the duplicate content, but I'm pretty sure that searches that match that content don't go here but to the other place. Someone with more knowledge of SEO that I possess should weigh in on that, but conceivably removing the duplicate content might make Google look more kindly on this site.

And after that, I think we have to face the fact that most traffic to any site comes through search and that the other place is likely to rank above this place for a long time to come. So, making sure that the place is doing all the SEO right has to be a large part of the answer, if not the whole of it.

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+3
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Just a bystander here, but imported content is very off-putting. It basically says to visitors:

  • There is so little traffic that they have to copy stuff from elsewhere so you don't notice there're only crickets chirping here.
  • You're in the wrong place. The real content is Over There.
  • Answering an imported question is a waste of time since the asker isn't here and they'll never see it.
  • If you happened to bump into this place, you should definitely check out Over There, since that's where the content you're seeing came from in the first place.

Look around and see that the three sites that imported content are doing very poorly (Scientific Speculation, Writing, and Outdoors). They are in the bottom four ranked by recent activity.

the ability to import the content was one of the inducements for people (like me) who had created a lot of content at the other place

I faced the same issue moving to here from elsewhere. To get the new Electrical Engineering site going, I started with a few of my more popular answers at the other place. However, instead of just copying them, I used the opportunity to clean them up a bit, make the question more to the point, fix awkward wording, etc.

I also only did that to my own content. That way I didn't need to include any attribution. Attributions add clutter here, and invite people to go elsewhere.

When I started with one of my answers to someone else's question, I rewrote the question in my own words from the concept. That's useful anyway. Unlike the original questioner, I know what the answer is, and can ask the question better to be more generic, but also to target it better to the answer I want to write.

Here are some examples:

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General comments (3 comments)
+2
−2

Unless people here want to reask and reanswer questions previously ask on the Other Site (I wouldn't), I would say the data import is orthogonal.

Something else is there really is no way other than manually checking or following the feeds in the Discord site to see when a site has new activity. I know on the old smaller sites the HNQ drove a lot of the activity I don't understand why people would strive to get more viewers from Google than sister sites.

I feel like lots of people are only going to show up for contests or other highly interesting questions and to get this site going something like the HNQ should be considered.

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+2
−3

I wonder if segregating content that was imported and not further improved would help. Create a new category, maybe called "Archive", and move there any post that hasn't had any modifications post-import. This means those of us who want to preserve our bodies of work can, but people visiting the Q&A category (the default) will see locally-active content only.

Posts in the archive can be improved; they wouldn't be locked. I'm proposing this as a way to separate content, not lock anything down. We could then move improved posts back to Q&A. The idea is that Q&A would represent "stuff that happened here", and imported posts would remain available. Longer-term we can then discuss whether we should do any pruning of the imports.

Would this help?

Followup: alternative suggestion, based on comments here.

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General comments (10 comments)

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