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Please see these newest C.SE questions, and go on to select page one and compare with page 196.

On page 1 the votes on questions range from -4 to +5, whilst on page 196 the range is +13 to +56.

It appears to me that questions are no longer well received as they used to be. Perhaps those who have been here for sometime can shed some light on this.

It appears odd that a question might have a total negative vote yet have a few answers with positive votes.

What could be contributing to this and how could the trend be reversed?

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    I'm absolutely not referring to you here, but... It would help a lot if experienced members would quit answering off-topic questions, and just vote to close them instead. I've seen several questions that should have been closed outright that have answers with positive scores. Not only are they bucking the site's guidelines, they're getting rewarded for doing so. Sticks in my craw, that does... – David Stratton Oct 9 '14 at 0:10
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    You should a) link to some specific questions and b) be more precise about "well received." At this moment, the 3 newest questions have no answers and are rightly closed and downvoted. Actually, a better idea might be to focus on your second issue, e.g. : Why do some questions with net -ive votes get answers with +ive votes? Are those good questions? – Ward - Reinstate Monica Oct 9 '14 at 0:39
  • Thank you both. You welcome to edit my question in a manner that may encourage the discussion. Please allow me some time to digest and incorporate your good comments. – user13992 Oct 9 '14 at 2:29
  • I took a quick look at all the newest from Oct 8 (today) to Oct 3. All the closed ones look justifiably so and it's probably about 25% of the total. Doesn't seem too bad to me. – 3961 Oct 9 '14 at 4:18
  • In the first two pages there are only two open questions with negative scores, and they're -1 or -2. So I don't see any big kind of trend happening. – curiousdannii Oct 9 '14 at 4:56
  • I don't get it... This is your question, and you say "I am hoping for a discussion and..." and "may encourage the discussion." so you should figure out what it is you want to discuss, or to clarify what you think the problem is. – Ward - Reinstate Monica Oct 9 '14 at 5:01
  • Question has been amended. – user13992 Oct 9 '14 at 5:30
  • Comparing the vote ranges with a 'random' page of questions that just happens to have one of the "all star" questions that show up on the first page of the questions sorted by votes list is hardly fair. The questions on that list are some of the first most new visitors poking around end up seeing and they collect votes for the mere fact that they already have them. When doing statistical analysis you have to throw out the outlying anomaly numbers or you won't actually end up with meaningful patterns. – Caleb Oct 9 '14 at 8:28
  • @Caleb I sorted by 'newest'. My understanding is that that sorts from most recent to the first ever posted. Is the not what 'newest' sorting does? – user13992 Oct 9 '14 at 8:53
  • @FMS I didn't say anything about how you sorted. I said you picked a page (196 in your case) that just happens to have one of the top questions sorted by votes. That makes it a poor choice for a statistical comparison (in addition to the issues mentioned in my answer). It's not like 56 is a normal vote range for questions from that era. – Caleb Oct 9 '14 at 11:10
  • @Caleb picked the newest and the first page ... the youngest and the oldest ... – user13992 Oct 9 '14 at 19:27
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On page 1 the vote on question ranges from -4 to +5, whilst on page 196 the range is +13 to +56.

This is a common pattern across every single SE site I participate on - early questions get lots of answers and votes, then as time goes on the number of answers and votes goes down.

There are a few reasons:

  • When a site is new, the "easy" questions can be asked, later on, an easy question is likely to be closed as a duplicate and it's harder to come up with good questions.
  • People are more excited and active in the early days of a site
    • The drop in participation of early joiners typically causes a big change in the dynamic of the site - the early participants are typically more intensely involved and put a lot of work into asking, answering and other activities.
  • As an SE site grows and shows up in more Google searches, people come and ask questions without really understanding the site - what's a good question, what's on topic, etc. So those questions get fewer votes, or more downvotes, and are more likely to get closed.

I don't pay as much attention to the voting patterns here as I do on ServerFault, but on SF the amount of voting is ridiculously, pathetically small. Lack of voting changes a site in a big way:

  • Good questions don't get as much recognition and people who join later don't rise as quickly in rep
  • Bad questions don't get voted out of the way
    • I don't think this one is a big factor here: some really bad questions show up, but they often get a few downvotes and generally get closed.

I think (of course I would!) that the single biggest thing people can do about this is vote more. Votes are meant to be a crowd-sourced sorting mechnism: good stuff goes up (overall) and bad stuff goes down.

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    And my understanding is that this site in particular had some major changes in what was considered on-topic along the way. Some questions that are downvoted and closed now may have been legitimately upvoted and left open a couple years ago. – curiousdannii Oct 9 '14 at 5:53
  • @Ward You have captured it well! Thank you! – user13992 Oct 9 '14 at 6:03
  • @curiousdannii Good comment. Crossed my mind as well. – user13992 Oct 9 '14 at 7:13
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The comparison in your question is like concluding that a Christmas tree farm must have bad dirt because the tree growth is so under-developed compared to an old-growth forest. The factors Ward mentions are true as far as they go (and I wholly agree that more voting participation is always better) but the "new site syndrome" is only part of what you are seeing. The other issue is, I believe, that you are forgetting to factor time into your perspective.

  • It takes time for voting patterns to emerge.

    There is no way a front page question is ever going to have large scale voting the way an older question might. By definition those are new questions that just got posted. Only a few people will have even seen them yet. On the other hand a page nnn question is going to have been seen and evaluated by a lot more eyeballs, especially if it was a good one and gets some Google juice.

    Whats more old questions keep collecting votes over time so they will keep going up. New questions are, in a sense, late to the party and will always tend to be behind the curve.

  • Questions have a life cycle in which poor ones are improved.

    This is not a discussion forum in which all chatter survives to clutter up things for future readers. Instead we are assembling a collaborative mini-encyclopedia like resource that has been curated to be as useful as possible for future readers. Questions aren't just for the person asking them to get an answer and then leave it to rot. This is why we insist on well formed questions and edit so much. Even if the OP got what they want the posts get massaged to be of maximum usefulness in the future.

  • Questions have a life cycle in which bad ones are removed.

    Question deletion doesn't usually happen right away. The first pages of questions are going to be littered with duds that have been closed and/or downvoted for various reasons. However that doesn't mean they hang around forever. Eventually if these are not improved and fixed they will get deleted. You're page nnn example is naturally not going to show all the bad questions from the same era as many of the closed ones will have been deleted by then.

Combined these factors may make it look like the past was a prettier place than the present but that is not necessarily the case. Those of us that have longer memories (or are the ones always taking out the garbage) know that the effect is just the result of the ongoing housecleaning that is part of the SE system. This is how high signal-to-noise levels are achieved.

In order to make the comparison you want to make you would need a snapshot of the first page of questions on some day in the past. That is information you don't have and comparing the current front-page to a set of older questions is an apples-to-oranges comparison.

  • See your logic. Thank you! – user13992 Oct 9 '14 at 7:03
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I fully understand and appreciate the need for high level, well thought out, supported ideas, interpretations and theology. Without these the site becomes simply any old forum of people's opinions. However, I see way too many questions closed or voted as off topic or not from a specific viewpoint. At the least downvotes should be required to include specific suggestions how to reword the question. My favorite rewording is "from a Biblical perspective".

Sometimes it seems the primary purpose of closure is to avoid controversy. Jesus was highly controversial. This is the temporal reason why He was killed. The tendency to insist a question comes from a specific denomination or tradition is highly overemphasized.

If we are all mature or maturing Christians, ultimately there is one answer. I have visited or attended many different denominations- Roman Catholic, multiple Baptist flavors, Church of Christ, Episcopal, Assemblies of God, charismatic, full gospel, Wesleyan, Methodist and Presbyterian. Among the great churches I have found far more in common than differences. A church of Christ minister once told he agreed with a neighboring Baptist pastor on 99% of issues or theology. It seems overemphasis on denomination hinders the site.

If we are all mature or maturing Christians, ultimately we will come to agreement on the substantive issues. "God is not the author of confusion."

"In Christ, we [Christians] are all one" "that day there were added about three thousand souls. ... They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles' teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; ... And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common; Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, http://biblehub.com/acts/2.htm Three thousand souls added one day and the next couple verses suggest unity several times.

and

Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. ... Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?` " http://biblehub.com/1_corinthians/1.htm

Certainly, discussions do need to be focused. Given the open nature of the internet, it is possible to swing the other direction and enable useless controversy by being too open.

There is one right answer to most questions. I have visited or attended many different denominations- Lutheran, Wesleyan, Presbyterian, Roman Catholic, multiple Baptist flavors, Church of Christ, Episcopal, Assemblies of God, charismatic, full gospel, Methodist and others. Among the quality churches I have found far more in common across denomination than differences. A church of Christ minister once told he agreed with a neighboring Baptist pastor on 99% of issues or theology. I guess it boils down to maturing in Christ.

It is still entirely possible on this site to ask "What is the Biblical basis for x?" Isn't it? Of course x needs to be a specific question and not a general area. If this is no longer a valid question format, then given the emphasis on specific denomination, the site should be renamed to denominationalChristianity or academicChristianity or something similar.

Arrghh, I wish I had time to edit this with summaries, highlight my point, etc. Hopefully, I can back another time to clean this up, simplify it, even shorten it. Feel free to do so if the substance stays the same.

  • Wow! What a perspective and approach! – user13992 Oct 23 '14 at 19:15
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    "A church of Christ minister once told he agreed with a neighboring Baptist pastor on 99% of issues or theology." That doesn't mean anything, those two denominations are almost identical. Ask them how much they agree with the Catholic church or with Mormons and you'll see a lot more differences. – curiousdannii Oct 24 '14 at 0:07
  • There are more questions types that are within community guidelines that you do not mention. Types of questions that are within community guidelines I don't know if you have seen that yet, but new users often find it helpful and there has been little in the way of correcting the analysis, so I think it is a pretty accurate description of the community attitude toward certain questions. – 3961 Oct 24 '14 at 6:52

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