Related to Are we aiming to be an expert site? & Level of the questions so far

There is a category of questions that I, and I think some others, feel would be appropriate on a mature site, but aren't great in private beta because they are too basic (see the two linked questions for discussion of this).

What should we do with these questions? One answer is to close them, but closing as off-topic seems harsh when they are not necessarily off-topic so much as badly timed. Another is simply to ignore them and upvote better questions. What advice do people have?

NB This question is not for discussing whether such questions are welcome; we have at least 2-3 questions on meta for that already. More for the practicalities of the action to take. I'm seeing a number of questions in the close queue marked as off-topic that... well, aren't off-topic, just basic.

  • $\begingroup$ Solving by upvotes only is a bad idea. This would causes question mark inflation and thus problems for the proper question ranking. $\endgroup$
    – BHF
    Apr 20, 2014 at 20:51
  • $\begingroup$ While I'd prefer to leave it to voting, there's also the problem that a lot of basic questions are getting a lot of upvotes (probably about 1/2 to 2/3 of the top-voted questions are somewhat basic). Maybe that's ok though - that's a pattern that's similar on most full sites that I've checked. $\endgroup$
    – naught101
    Apr 22, 2014 at 23:23

1 Answer 1


I applaud your willingness to balance the interests of various groups of people on the site, and the site itself. For this reason, I would like to work with you to craft a solution that will lead to a "win-win" situation for everyone involved.

What I propose is that instead of having only two categories of questions, open and closed, that we create a third category, deferred. The third category would consist of "basic" questions that are fundamentally suitable for the site, but are not optimal for a site in private beta. That is, they would be "hidden" during private beta, and released upon the launch of public beta.

The reason I propose this is because of the nature of "commitment" (to private beta). I'm speaking as someone who has six fulfilled commitments to private beta on Stack Exchange. That is, someone who signed up for private beta is expected to make at least ten posts (questions and/or answers), during private beta (with a "grace" period for some days after the beta goes public). There is a meaningful penalty elsewhere on SE sites for NOT fulfilling commitments, which is why I'm being "sticky" about this matter. Perhaps you (and others) didn't realize this, but there is something of a "publish or perish" dynamic here.

A site typically signs up 200 committed members of which normally about one-quarter, or fifty actually fulfill their commitments for ten posts, thereby generating at least 500 posts, lets say 200 questions and 300 answers in the first 30 days of the site. Put another way, I have received a loud and clear message that one would be doing the SE site a major disservice by not fulfilling the commitment, one that would be offset by posting only egregiously bad (not merely mediocre) content.

Bottom line, I am willing to work with you and others on an arrangement that benefits the Earth Sciences site, as long as my own interests (and ultimately Stack Exchange's interests) in fulfilling my commitment are protected. Specifically, I am willing to have my weaker posts "deferred" until public beta, in the interests of a providing a higher quality private beta, as long as I get credit for my posts' fulfilling my commitment upon the launch of public beta.

  • $\begingroup$ I'm kinda confused. What are you proposing? $\endgroup$
    – hichris123 Mod
    Apr 20, 2014 at 17:35
  • $\begingroup$ @hichris123: That instead of leaving them open or closed, we "hide" some of my weaker questions during private beta, to protect the private beta, then "release" them when the beta goes public, so that I get credit toward fulfilling my commitment. $\endgroup$
    – Tom Au
    Apr 20, 2014 at 17:37
  • $\begingroup$ Interesting idea, but I'm not aware of any functionality to do this - so it would be a feature request to Stack Exchange, which would take a while. $\endgroup$ Apr 20, 2014 at 22:51
  • $\begingroup$ It's possible that this won't occur in time for Earth Science's private beta, but will help some FUTURE one. And likewise, my insistence on meeting my commitment is for future betas. $\endgroup$
    – Tom Au
    Apr 20, 2014 at 22:54
  • $\begingroup$ I'm slightly confused, actually, as to what the commitment of SE "Commitment" is. meta.stackexchange.com/a/103295/238761 suggests that the 10 questions/answers requirement is for the duration of public beta. It makes no sense, from the site's point of view, to encourage people to churn through questions in private beta just to try to get their numbers up, or "protect their own interests". $\endgroup$ Apr 21, 2014 at 13:18
  • $\begingroup$ @SimonW: That's not quite the case. The requirement is for 10 questions and answers during the private AND public beta. So if you didn't fulfill your quota during private beta, you have a "grace period" (public beta) to do so. The penalties are onerous but less so than I thought. Basically, you can commit to only three sites at a time, so if I have an unfulfilled commitment on Earth Sciences, I can commit to two more, but not a fourth site. The "fine print" does say that this requirement (effectively) expires after six months, so by October 2014, I get back all my commitment privileges. $\endgroup$
    – Tom Au
    Apr 21, 2014 at 13:49
  • $\begingroup$ @SimonW: The link also said that if you were "active" in private beta, the "quota" might be less than 10. So my plan is to stop, or at least "slow down," and make the case that I was "active." I admit, I got in over my head, and hopefully they'll accept the case that I was "active" to the best of my ability and leave it at that. $\endgroup$
    – Tom Au
    Apr 21, 2014 at 13:59

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