25

"15 questions per day on average is a healthy beta." We're at 16.1 and, in my guess, falling.

One important factor to Stack Exchanges staying alive, IMO, is the evolution of its underlying topic, bringing in fresh questions each day.

Either the subject evolves...

It's easy to see in, for example, Stack Overflow: the continuous evolution of technology (programming languages, paradigms, platforms, applications) gives it a never-ending supply of new questions without having to microscope into the fractal details of the subject to find new things to ask about. This of course applies to Super User as well. And Stack Overflow itself continuously evolves! Hence a never-ending stream of questions at Meta. Office culture—no, more broadly, working culture evolves, from 9-5ers to freelancers, from startups to corporations, giving Workplace its lifeblood, and laws too—changing laws are also a big component to the evolution which supports Personal Finance and Money. One last interesting example is English Language & Usage, where both language and its more rapidly changing context give rise to new questions like "Is there a non-sexual phrase for sleeping with someone?".

...or the subject is huge (whether in breadth or depth)

On the other hand, there are sites whose underlying subjects don't necessarily evolve (or at least not very fast), e.g. History. But the sheer size and/or intricacy of the subject lends it sustained opportunities for exploration—delving in to find genuinely new and interesting questions. Though sites like Mathematica are bound to a (mostly) set language, from the (at least, seemingly) unlimited power of the language arises a huge domain of applications that users are continuously exploring, still surprised by the discovery of new challenges, new workarounds, and new techniques.

So I ask,

What kinds of questions will keep Beer.SE alive?

I have a preliminary opinion in mind, but one I don't feel qualified to develop into a full-fledged answer.

It just doesn't feel to me that Beer has as rich a history as, well, History itself, nor does it appear to lend itself to "new applications" and "ways." Once we exhaust general questions about classifications of beer, bottling and distribution, temperature and skunking, and such, it seems fathomable we might even get through the histories of most classes of beers, techniques for tasting and pairing beers... and then what? All these subjects are ones which neither evolve nor introduce any great breadth or depth to be explored. So what part of Beer does have these qualities, for generating new questions?

To me (and others too, maybe), it seems one of the only evolving aspects of beer we can latch onto, is specific beers and breweries. And putting such in the context of regions, too, would greatly expand what can be asked, and the specificity (and usefulness) of answers.

I think the usual culture against brand-specific questions and answers on SE, is understandable regarding, say, technology, where products and websites are often ephemeral, and more general answers would help direct future visitors toward the specific answers they need. And I think the usual culture against regional questions is understandable too, in that most communities don't want to end up with a hundred questions about the same thing, only differing in a seemingly arbitrary detail (location).

But, I don't know if those cultures have to carry over to Beer.SE for Beer.SE to be an equally interesting and useful community. Our very subject is embedded in its products, whereas for technology, the subject is often an abstraction away from the products. And, our "problems" regarding beer are sometimes going to be regional—finding beers to taste and exploring breweries seem like important activities for beer enthusiasts—activities necessarily tied to location.

What are your thoughts?

  • 6
    That's certainly falling. But most sites that have graduated recently have done so with q/day around 5. 15 isn't realistic for most sites, 5 is. – wax eagle Jan 31 '14 at 19:47
  • 3
    Hear hear! Agreed! – Ryan Kinal Jan 31 '14 at 19:51
  • 3
    Solid argument. – Fishtoaster Jan 31 '14 at 19:58
  • @waxeagle, setting aside graduation specifically, I think 5 questions a day makes long term growth hard. Not impossible, and some topics may only have that many, but questions drive pretty much all other possible actions, and at 5 day, most people won't find much to do on a site if they come daily. There's no right answer, but I think below 10 makes it a lot harder to get new people involved and to keep existing folks engaged. – Jaydles Feb 4 '14 at 16:56
23

Relax the rules and see what happens.

I vote that we just declare "regional and brewery/brand-specific questions are fair game, but no opinion-based ones" and see what people come up with. If it works, good. If not, we try something else.

Some ideas of what might be asked:

  • Brewery drama like "Why isn't X shipping to the east coast anymore?" "What caused the shortage of Y", etc.
  • Ingredient questions like "What ingredient produces X flavor in Brand Style Y"
  • Availability questions like "Where can I get X near Y"

I'm not sure which of these we want to allow, but I vote we see what people actually ask.

  • 4
    I'm thinking "where do I find X" should have a reasonable limit on level of distribution. For instance, "where can I find Blue Moon in Tennessee" is a bad question (every grocery store in the state), but "where can I find Pliny the Elder in Place X" is a good question as it's sufficiently rare/limited distribution etc – wax eagle Jan 31 '14 at 20:08
  • +1, the very first question I asked here, (now deleted) was a question about distribution radius for a very small brewery. It got downvoted pretty quickly - (though not closed, which is odd, IMO). – LessPop_MoreFizz Jan 31 '14 at 21:57
  • @LessPop_MoreFizz - Sounds like something I'd have voted up. I guess in the beginning of betas, meta votes are gonna be rather volatile in nature as there are few established ideas about what the community should be and most people will jump to conclusions about "the disastrous consequences of foo" based on preconceived notions of what's good and what's bad (especially based on other sites). And who can blame them—it's hard to see what a site needs or the way a site tends without just... trying it and watching it. IOW, your question might have gotten +10 if you asked now. – Andrew Cheong Jan 31 '14 at 22:07
  • @Fishtoaster - I like your answer (well, obviously), and I myself would like to find out where I can find Pliny the Elder in NYC (in San Diego, I know a place that gets a shipment every Wednesday morning and sells out by mid-afternoon), but—What if stores goes out of business? What if stores stop supplying that beer? How do we keep that information up to date? (Feel free to discuss in chat; I'll find it and get back to you there later.) – Andrew Cheong Jan 31 '14 at 22:10
  • 1
    Well, I suppose that's the same problem Stack Overflow has: a question about RSpec or Struts or Visual Studio goes out of date in a year or two. That's just why we need a community to keep asking. :) – Fishtoaster Jan 31 '14 at 22:21
  • 2
    I agree with relaxing for some of the examples. Yes for the "brewery drama" and "ingredient" examples. I'm not sure about the availability question. For common beer, I agree with wax eagle, but for uncommon or rare beers, the answer will be exceedingly temporal and of insufficient lasting value. At worst, you may find Beer.SE take on a beer trading aspect. – object88 Jan 31 '14 at 23:04
  • 1
    information that goes out of date should be maintained via editing – wax eagle Feb 3 '14 at 20:40
3

Stack Overflow was the start of this entire exchange. The reason that multiple exchanges even arose is because Stack Overflow was lenient in some ways which were eventually deemed to be problematic. Hence the split into the main three sites.

The main thing to keep in mind when moderating such a small exchange in my opinion is to think back to what made Stack Overflow popular to begin with. It was very open, and questions such as what is your favorite book excelled.

Will there be 50 questions for each state and 2000 questions for each country? If that begins to occur, then I think the questions could be closed under one canonical answer as a community wiki (as happens on Stack Overflow now).

But until then, I think it should be a little lenient with regards to closing or discouraging questions, especially so that new users do not feel alienated from the community.

If an answer is incorrect by all means point it out, but questions are going to be what builds the community here. Plenty of new exchanges have come and gone, and I think one of the keys is to strike a tolerant balance.

Plenty of old questions were eventually closed or are no longer appropriate, but not until they reached tens if not hundreds of thousands of views.

Such as (all of these are from 2008)

SQLite vs MySQL [closed]
SQL Client for Mac OS X that works with MS SQL Server [closed]
What is a better file copy alternative than the Windows default? [closed]
Make XAMPP/Apache serve file outside of htdocs [closed]
How do you debug PHP scripts? [closed]
The definitive guide to form based website authentication (canonical)

Some took 5 years to be closed. My point is to just let the content build and worry about prevention once too much content actually becomes a problem. Go with the flow :)

  • I disagree here. This post isn't about loosening the rules in the way you're discussing, that's not really up for debate. Intriguingly this question is arguing for permitting very specific questions where you're examples are all highly general. – wax eagle Feb 5 '14 at 13:21
  • @waxeagle - This post is about not allowing brand or regional questions and it is dressed up in a bunch of fluff. The OP states they are unsure if the culture of avoiding these types of questions should be here. And I am saying no, it should not, at this point. I think Jaydles made a great point on your related post that you should also keep in mind. Don't get into prevention when there is nothing to point to as an example. Both general and specific questions should be allowed here, even if they are regional or brand related, because this exchange is new and needs the content. – Travis J Feb 5 '14 at 16:29

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .