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Several questions currently on the home pages are terrible. They have down votes and are "on hold"/closed with little hope of getting something of value there.

Yet, there are answers. Most are generic platitudes, answer part of the question, or are just plain bad in and of themselves. Clearly, we should be downvoting those too if we think they are bad. However, the down vote has a cost associated with it few are willing to pay. And a single upvote negates any few downvotes.

We are not a busy site so more content could be said to be welcome. However, rubbish content is arguably worst than no content.

Several other sites I am a member of would have removed said answers.

What should be our policy?

  • I'm tempted to ask for examples of bad questions with bad answers, but I'm a bit worried that I'd find my name. :-D – Sean Duggan Jul 6 '18 at 17:38
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    @SeanDuggan I shall not name anything because then this will decent in a defence/offence on those examples. – Sardathrion Jul 9 '18 at 6:33
  • None of the questions look all that bad to me. I think it is unfair to hold a martial arts question to the same standards to which you might hold say a Linux terminal command question. The subject is much more nuanced. In any case most of the 'bad' questions are by non native speakers of english. I think with some help they could be improved. – Huw Evans Jul 10 '18 at 17:38
  • Also if questions with unambiguously 'correct' and 'incorrect' answers are our goal we would have more questions like this one martialarts.stackexchange.com/questions/7114/… and less like martialarts.stackexchange.com/questions/6739/… – Huw Evans Jul 10 '18 at 18:17
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This is a good question worthy of some discussion.

Before we start, I revisited some parts of the network that many people on this site might be unfamiliar with to find the rules that govern auto deletion on the site.

This answer details the criteria the Community User ("the system") follows to determine whether to auto delete a question. The FAQ article The Community user deleted my question! What gives? formalizes those criteria.

At this moment in time there are 1438 questions on this site, and 132 of them are closed. But the simple fact of a question being closed - even for a long time and with down votes - still doesn't automatically qualify a question for deletion. On the Stack Exchange network content is king, and it is entirely possible for a question with a reasonable number of down votes to still have good quality answers. Ultimately it is up to the community to either outright delete a bad contribution or get that contribution into a state where it is eligible for auto deletion.

What should be our policy?

Our policy should be to get active with flagging and voting. The Stack Exchange network has some very well designed processes that have been exhaustively refined over a number of years - but they depend on people participating. When members get involved then sub optimal content gets filtered out quite efficiently. Spending a few minutes every few days or once a week will lead to a noticeably cleaner site.

General guidelines to being a good site janitor

  • first of all ask yourself: is there really a problem? Are there loads of low quality questions or answers that need to be remediated or obliterated? Or is it just me? Or is it just a momentary blip in the site?

  • before you go nuclear on a question or answer, consider whether it can be saved. There are various shiny badges available for successfully saving poor contributions. Or you could write an awesome answer and earn yourself a nice gold Reversal badge.

  • if you determine that there are indeed questions and answers to be cleaned up, then get cleaning! That's one of the purposes of the review queues - when you perform a house keeping action other users on the site will receive notification via the review queue and they can join the fun.

  • if you need community assistance for a larger group of questions then work out a query and post it in Meta.

  • remember that you may absolutely despise a question (for whatever reason) but it is up to the community to determine what happens to that question. The community won't always think the same way as you.

  • don't flag a question for ♦ moderator intervention just because a community driven process is not happening at a pace you desire. The basic rule of thumb is that moderators are exception handlers; they can also review questions and perform clean up actions but due to their moderator status they need to be circumspect about the actions they carry out (i.e. moderator delete votes are instant and final, a question deleted by a moderator cannot be undeleted by the community).

  • bite the bullet and invest that one reputation point in down voting a sub optimal answer (questions cost zero points to down vote). Remember that it is the votes that count, not the net reputation change. If a contribution is down voted by 4 out of five people it will still be at -3 at best, and the delete vote button starts showing at -2 (for those with enough rep to cast delete votes). Once an answer is deleted you will get that 1 rep back.

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    My main concern is that we may not have sufficient people active to make this possible. There's probably a listing of people who visit at least once a day, but my impression is that there aren't many of us, with the balance visiting maybe once every few days, and we have a lot of "drive-bys". – Sean Duggan Jul 6 '18 at 19:20
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I think our primary problem is simply that we don't have enough active users. Not having a huge amount of reputation or moderator status, I can't provide figures, but my impression of the site is that we have a handful of people who post or check the site regularly. Out of that group, most of us are specialized in one direction or another whether we come from a TKD background, MMA, Capoeira, or others, so not all of us are going to feel qualified to answer, comment, or flag all questions.

As to what can be done... probably bring more people in. Encourage the people who are here to be bold about voting, and to try to visit the review queue when they log in. And just take comfort in the fact that bad questions tend to at least get cycled out, if not closed entirely.

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Bad answers are not a problem

This is not a serious issue. StackExchange sites by design are supposed to promote good content and eliminate the tedious reading of long threads to find a few precious gems of information. Even if no one down votes, positive votes will still create a separation of good content over poor content.

If an answer is bad, this deserves a downvote but not a deletion. The criteria for answer deletion listed in help are:

  • commentary on the question or other answers
  • asking another, different question
  • “thanks!” or “me too!” responses
  • exact duplicates of other answers
  • barely more than a link to an external site
  • not even a partial answer to the actual question

A partial answer clearly does not meet the deletion criteria based on the last point. Neither does a bad (which is subjective) answer meet any of these criteria.

Participation over purity

Personally, I do not bother to vote down every question or answer I only partially disagree with. This is needlessly antagonizing at the threshold of platitudes or partial answers. I also tend to cut newer users additional slack; I think it is more important that more people participate than the site's content be pristine.

Perspective

Finally, Randall Munroe has a brilliant xkcd comic related to arguing on the Internet.

  • The problem here is that no one is down voting… – Sardathrion Jul 9 '18 at 6:34

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