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6 answers


The model on SE was moderation, not curation. Nothing was ever removed. Duplicates, were marked, but never resolved. The only way any kind of curation occurred at all was through voting, and voting was not based on the expertise of the voter. Bad advice was supposed to sink to the bottom of the page, and good advice to rise to the top, through voting. But this assumed that the mass of voters were reliable arbiters of quality and accuracy.

It did not always work. Votes often went to the first answer posted, while the question was fresh and attracting eyeballs. A much better answer posted a week later would have very little chance of ever rising to the top because the question would just not get as many views a week after it was posted, and many would not read all the way down to the new answer if they were satisfied with the inferior but highly rated answer at the top. This effect tended to be worse for writing than for more technical stacks, because most of the answers are not provable mechanically in the way programming answers are, for instance.

No model is perfect, of course. But I think that the questions you raise about handling the old content really come down to this distinction between curation and moderation. Moderators deal with behavior. Curators deal with content. Anything we do with the imported content is curation.

No method of managing content is perfect. Community curation through voting is an interesting model, and clearly performs well in some cases. But it also clearly leads to the accumulation of an immense amount of duplication and cruft. And to start the process over again for a body of content as large as this will clearly mean that it will be months, and perhaps years, before the curation effect of voting really kicks in.

So if you really want to do anything with the current content, what you are really talking about is curation. And maybe that is not such a bad thing. Vast numbers of poor answers, silly questions, and duplicate questions and answers could be removed with little controversy by a reasonable curator or team of curators.

That curation effort would yield a site that is far easier to navigate, and thus far more useful and more likely to attract traffic. Fixing up question titles so that they actually reflected the question asked -- making them actually be questions -- would, by itself, make a huge difference.

And maybe it is worth thinking about whether active curation, alone or in combination with voting, should be a permanent feature of the new site. After all, if you want to draw traffic to this site, despite it having fewer numbers of active users, making it easier to use would be a good draw.

But if we go that route, it seems to me that curators and moderators should be two distinct roles. Moderators should be focussed on behavior and the topics that are active right now. Curators should probably not get involved until the questions have cooled a little, and they should deal strictly with the content.

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I am talking about curation, yes. On Stack Exchange, high-rep users can vote to delete. Here we don't have that; only moderators (I think) can delete, so to implement this type of curation we need moderator action. (By the way, you might be interested to know that Codidact is planning a different answer-ranking system, including giving new answers to older questions initial priority.) Monica Cellio about 1 month ago

Right, but there is potentially far more to curation than simple deletion of the egregiously bad. Consolidation and pruning could make a huge difference to the quality of the information set. On the other hand, they could offend the contributors and make reputation counting more complex. Not easy choices. Mark Baker about 1 month ago

@MonicaCellio, I do like the idea of giving priority to the new, though. It would be useful, as a user, to be able to view the site in "What's new" more or in "What's best" mode, depending on the reason for my visit. Mark Baker about 1 month ago

Yes, agreed -- deletion is part of curation, but so is editing and even writing new (better) answers to old questions. I was trying to address curation in all its forms; sorry for being unclear. Monica Cellio about 1 month ago


One element of curating is which answer got accepted. It relates to what Amadeus says about first answer getting all the votes: the OP presumably sees all answers, and picks the one that helped most. That helps draw attention to that answer, which might not be the first one. I suppose we're going to have the "accept answer" feature here eventually? Then marking which answer to older questions was accepted shouldn't be an issue - we know who did the accepting.

With regards to the volume, I think with better visibility of older questions, they'll curate themselves eventually in the same way new questions get curated. For that, I believe we need some sort of suggestion mechanism, similar to what we had on SE, especially when we start asking a new question. (Such a mechanism is extremely useful for other reasons as well.)

We also need the curating tools: vote to close, vote to reopen, vote to delete. It shouldn't all be on the moderators.

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I'd say if they (Q) were closed before, open them and give them a downvote, and if they get "enough" downvotes (3? 5?) close them. I would like the same for both Q and A. SE had a "review queue", ours would just be downvoted questions.

For answers, I'd say any answer with 2+ downvotes should be hidden (viewable with a click) and available in a review queue; deleted after five downvotes. As a programmer myself, I'd put a counter on the user's account to see how often they get hammered for Q and A on review, at some point they are just here to offend, or work out their psychological aggression, and candidates for expulsion.

I agree with Mark about the structural issues with voting; i.e. the best answers (mine!) are often too late to get the most attention. Things I can think of to address that is to put the highest rated or accepted answer LAST, or leave them in answer order but reversed: The Newest answer is on top, whether it is accepted or the highest score or not. Or use the default SE sort and provide buttons to sort the answers by score or age. (I see this was discussed in the comments on Mark's answer.)

I don't mind moderators making unilateral decisions on OLD Q or A or comments. I wouldn't want to see this site get into the autocratic control mode of SE, but I do agree that we don't need to see spam, insults, racism, homophobia, misogyny, etc (unless it is a legitimate question or answer about racism, etc).

There is a rather fuzzy line to be drawn somewhere!

I like the idea of community moderation and curation, supplemented by more professional eyes at times. The only problem would be self-serving moderation; voting down Q or A as part of the "game" of getting the most points. SE tried to fix that in their gamification by making the downvote cost you two points, but an upvote costs you nothing.

I don't think discouraging downvotes is an intelligent answer though, then you have to sacrifice points to be altruistic and serve as a community moderator. A better answer might be requiring a comment to explain a downvote, instead of just accepting it. Review of the lame excuses a user makes for their downvotes could reveal that self-serving downvotes is the real pattern. So it doesn't cost points to downvote, but takes more of an effort than upvoting, you do have to publicly explain yourself. Which might, when moderating is the true motivator, help educate the poster as to what was wrong with their Q or A.

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Just in case I wasn't clear, with this meta post I'm more focusing on the bootstrapping issue with our large body of imported content. I'm not talking about new content or site policies months from now. Monica Cellio about 1 month ago

@MonicaCellio Still, I'd say just add them with a downvote and leave them open; or stick them in a review queue. SE gets too complicated, it is really just another tab for questions. You could make it just like searching for a tag; questions with negative scores, sorted by how negative. Then we can visit the pages to help out with down/up votes, and you (admin) could close them manually for now by deleting whatever gets to <= -3. Doing the automatic thing can happen later, or never. Amadeus about 1 month ago


To be honest, part of the reason why I asked this question on the Codidact forum was because of how writing.codidact.com (Writing.CO) looks a lot like a clone site.

There's 366-ish pages of questions. There's maybe 360-ish pages of cloned questions and answers. Writing.CO is basically a clone site. There's going to be a difficult decision here: What percentage of cloned material do we want on Writing.CO?

The questions you ask now will set the tone and topic for a long time to come. Try not to "seed" your site too much or the whole thing is going to start to look staid and forced. That will not make for an interesting site.
(Robert Cartaino; see also Your New Site: Asking the First Questions, 2010)

There are non-negligible drawbacks to being a clone site. Yet, there are drawbacks to not cloning (e.g. what if someone asks a duplicate of a Writing.SE question?). I don't see an easy answer to this problem.

Also, while people assert "QPixel is not Codidact", the URL (writing.codidact.com) overrides this. Practically, Codidact is QPixel, and QPixel is a basically a Stack Exchange clone. (Moreover, it's likely that Writing.CO is going to be the make-or-break site for Codidact.)

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I wonder how often people look beyond the first page. If there are 360ish pages but we mostly look at the first one, then the old stuff is there but unnoticed until somebody does a search or looks at something from someone's profile. Maybe that's ok but we should try to improve what we find when we do that? Thinking out loud. Monica Cellio about 1 month ago

I think active participants are certainly going to look; maybe passers-by don't look. It may be possible to consider these posts "inactivated" [activated by voting, or a user arriving], but that would require some careful thought and implementation. becky82 about 1 month ago


I just joined, so I'm a bit late to the party, and to begin with I wasn't exactly a particularly prominent SE user. I'd just like to quietly express interest in the idea of also importing vote information from SE, for the following reasons that I think match up well with the reasons you gave for importing the other content:

  • We do have a lot of good content there, and many people here (myself included) have already done some curation of that content. As far as I can tell, the same voting rules apply here as they did on SE, and hypothetically the same users. Given that the situation is more-or-less identical, I don't see why the votes would be invalidated.

  • I firmly believe that the strong incentive for content transfer applies equally, if not more-so, to votes. People value their "points" on SE a great deal, and it's a decent way to evaluate contributions to a site. Understandably we would want some way to identify old contributions to SE vs. new contributions to codidact, but that could potentially be solved by having two fields for old vs new points. That way people can still enjoy having their points while also feeling encouraged to help bring life to the new site.

  • I think having a front page full of questions is a great idea that helps things feel more alive, but in my opinion it kind of serves the opposite purpose if all of the posts are totally devoid of all votes. It sets a strange precedent for new users, I think, and makes it obvious where content is "lifeless".

Hopefully this feedback isn't totally useless. I really like what you guys are doing here.

P.S. A 'Preview' for creating a post would be really nice :)

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We imported scores but didn't apply them - click the history link under any imported post, and you'll be able to find the score under the "imported from external source" event. ArtOfCode 17 days ago

@ArtOfCode In that case I still think that my arguments apply towards applying them, as well, since hiding them still has the same issues as described, I feel. OnyZ 16 days ago

Thank you for this input (definitely not useless!). One reason we didn't import the votes is that we can't connect them to users; from the data dump we can only tell how many votes (in each direction) a post had, but we can't tell where those votes came from. Rather than having people voting twice (you voted there and then see the question and vote again here), we decided to reset. The vote totals are available, and maybe we should figure out how to make them more visible. Monica Cellio 16 days ago

@MonicaCellio Ahh, if the vote totals can't be assigned to people, that does complicate things... In that case as you say, I guess the best way to alleviate the issues as I see it would be to increase the visibility of these "Archived" votes? OnyZ 14 days ago

It occurs to me that one of the ways in which social proof militates against curation is that any reduction of duplication or elimination of inferior answers involves reducing reputation (unless reputation is separated from individual content items somehow). Mark Baker 13 days ago


I think on the whole, anything that was marked "keeping only for historical value" -- those are probably delete-able. In general, how many of the oldest questions ARE worth keeping as they are? Should any be merged towards a NEWER duplicate instead of the newer ones going to the older ones?

Also, do we plan to handle duplicates the exact same way SE did? I'd love if there were a way to "cluster" them -- instead of saying "this one is a duplicate and thus not needed," say "this appears to be a duplicate of that -- people may have several ways of coming to this question, so we'll CLUSTER it with the core one, but it can stay as its own branch? Something like that.

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1 comment

Duplicates are kept (not deleted) specifically because of what you say -- people ask questions in different ways so don't find the original via search, and the duplicate links help bring them together. The "cluster" idea is interesting; right now we have unidirectional links, and that seems like something to improve. Monica Cellio 7 days ago