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The title says it all. I have been with this site for over two years now. I remember clearly in the beginning there was a much higher standard as far as questions were concerned. Of late all kinds of questions are seeping through. I flag questions or answers for poor quality and I do not get much support from the community. The very same questions( and in some cases answers) would have been closed couple of years ago. We were a much tighter community back then and it seems like the site has now become sort of passe. Anything goes to increase the number of questions. If it is true statistically that the number of poor questions have increased why have the number of close votes gone down in the same period ?

Through this post I am also repeating what Peter Jansson wrote in the site's inception - vote early and vote often. It seems that the people with the authority especially those with high rankings must vote more often in order to ensure quality of posts. In fact voting must be made compulsory for those with high rankings especially those above 5000 points. They should do the job of reviewers in scientific journals.

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  • $\begingroup$ When I first enter the site I generally go to the review section prior to the question section to see if there are any questions or answers that need to be reviewed. Sometimes a post, whether good or bad, is not in my field of experience so I tend to skip voting on such posts $\endgroup$ – Fred Apr 1 '17 at 12:52
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    $\begingroup$ @Fred as long as you vote in your field of experience we should be doing fine. I do the same by the way. I only vote on topics of interest. $\endgroup$ – gansub Apr 1 '17 at 14:20
  • $\begingroup$ @Fred There were some software related questions this past month that to me went way over the top and that is why wanted to ask here where do we draw the line $\endgroup$ – gansub Apr 1 '17 at 14:21
  • $\begingroup$ I agree with you about the software questions. Some of them seem esoteric. For those, I deferred judgement hoping we had enough members who had enough knowledge about the software & the topic to decide. The main reason for your concern/frustration being raised may be due to the site not having enough members qualified to make an informed decision on such esoteric questions. $\endgroup$ – Fred Apr 2 '17 at 3:05
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    $\begingroup$ The only software questions that we should be answering here are the esoteric. Otherwise they ought to be on superuser ;-) $\endgroup$ – Semidiurnal Simon Apr 27 '17 at 21:26
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Have the question standards for Earth Science Stack Exchange reduced since inception?

To some extent, yes, they have. That appears to be the natural progression on the SE network. SE sites appear to start their life with random questions, then progress to questions that are good and beyond, but then stagnate. All of the good questions that don't require a book-long answer have been asked at the more mature elements of the network. Look to stackoverflow.com. At least in the areas where I have expertise, almost all of the questions there are duplicates, are "do my homework, please" type questions, or are otherwise of rather low quality. Physics SE appears to starting to suffer a similar decline.

This site however has many years left before it gets to that sad point. While we do get far too many "identify this rock!" type questions, and occasionally even nonsense questions from flat earthers / other crackpots, the questions here are generally of fairly high quality. A reduction in quality is something about which we should remain vigilant, but I don't see a problem yet.

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    $\begingroup$ when I was active on SE I saw a lot of questions being downvoted for lack of effort. Here we seem to allow questions without any effort at all recently. $\endgroup$ – gansub Apr 10 '17 at 5:55
  • $\begingroup$ The earth is flat, it does not curve 8 inches per mile squared. Flatearthers are real people who have researched the subject, and have realized the lies. The theory of evolution and round earth theory are interconnected. $\endgroup$ – bmende Apr 13 '17 at 0:15
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    $\begingroup$ @bmende by "research" you mean they spent years of their life pursuing a PhD in flat earth? Oh, they didn't. So no, they didn't do research. Nor did you. $\endgroup$ – Gimelist Apr 23 '17 at 12:20
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    $\begingroup$ Moderators, please do not delete the trollish comment that precedes the comment by @Michael. That preceding comment shows what we are up against in this new age of willful ignorance based on alternative facts. $\endgroup$ – David Hammen Apr 23 '17 at 12:39
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Certainly, we do not have any lower standard for questions or answers than in the beginning of the site. If the quality of posts now is lower than at the beginning, that would be due to a change in enforcement rather than a change in policy.

Quality goes before quantity. It is more important that we have good quality questions than that we have many questions. If we have too many poor questions, good people will leave the site and ultimately the site will be doomed.

Therefore, the following requests:

  • To all users with >15 rep: Please, vote early, vote often! That applied at the beginning and still applies! But don't vote for the sake of voting: vote when you are confident that a question or answer is good.
  • To all users with >15 rep: If you see a poor quality answer that should be a comment: Please raise a flag! That's what flags are for!
  • To all users with >15, but <500 rep: You cannot vote to close, but you can flag. When you see a question that you think does not belong on the site, please flag it! The pro-tem moderators follow the site closely but do not see everything. We don't want to have old, bad questions hanging around either, because they serve as broken windows with ultimately degrade the site.
  • To all (current 112) users with >500 rep: Please use your vote to close privileges when needed! With privileges comes responsibility. Although not mandatory, I would like to strongly encourage you to cast close votes on poor questions.

Now, I have not answered your question. Has the number of poor questions increased? I'm not sure. In an absolute sense, probably, since we have more questions overall. But we should also have more users than in the past, so as a community, we should be able to deal with it!

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Stack exchange is not a particularly good forum for asking highly specialized questions that experts can either research on their own or that don't have clear consensus answers. The very simple questions will have been answered after a while or can be easily answered with a web search. That leaves a nebulous middle ground of high quality questions that can be practically answered.

IMO earth science education is an important part of this forum. That means good explanations for non-technical people who are not subject matter experts. These people often do not have the experience or skill to articulate their questions. My tendency is to leave questions open unless there is a compelling reason to do otherwise. However, I would be happy to develop guidelines on non-science based theories as long as we can continue to address questions that genuinely seek to understand the science.

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    $\begingroup$ Absolutely agree. I wasn't around here years ago, but maybe the "quality of questions" has come down because it perhaps shifted from a few passionate scientists in specific earth science disciplines... to over time more "ordinary" folks wandering in and asking their questions. Even sites like Math and Physics SE still have some mix of erudite and novice questions. Indeed there's a few annoying questions, but I find most questions here good, and believe most often the "simple questions" are topics many folks are confused on and find it hard to an answer free of excessive difficult terminology $\endgroup$ – JeopardyTempest Jun 12 '17 at 4:57

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