Over the past year and a half, Writers.SE has built up many, many questions and answers - and a small, dedicated community. The other mods and I have been discussing what we can do to take us up to the next level - turning Writers.SE into a thriving, active, popular site. We’ve concluded that our top priority right now is raising the quality of questions.

What do we mean by “question quality”?

Our minimal requirements for a question are that:

  • It be clear, detailed, and focused enough to be answerable;
  • It should fit well within the site’s Q&A format - it shouldn’t be a poll or a discussion; a single good answer should be a sufficient and worthwhile response.

In addition, some questions not only meet these minimal requirements, but also add extra value to the entire site. Particularly:

  • Questions requiring highly specific (and sometimes, highly uncommon) expertise
  • Questions which are useful to many, but which are difficult to find existing answers for using commonly available resources. These are the questions that other resources don’t handle, or can’t answer clearly and distinctly. We can - or, at least, that’s the goal.

Why is question quality so important?

StackExchange sites are designed to succeed where others fail by cutting out unhelpful noise. The voting mechanisms help good content rise to the top and poor content slip out of sight; the explicit Q&A format cuts out all unnecessary cruft between the reader and the final, bottom-line information he’s looking for.

This is what makes the site such a helpful resource for users of every level. This is why even an expert in the field can come in, ask a question, and have confidence in the answers he receives - without needing to wade through discussions, arguments, and inaccuracies. And once a community has some pros in residence, that site becomes more capable of answering harder questions and of dealing with uncommon topics - making it an even better resource, and attracting more members, novices and experts alike. The Area 51 FAQ sums it up nicely:

The questions on your site say a lot about the community. To attract experts, you need a site where people are asking very interesting and challenging questions, not the basic questions found on every other Q&A site. Your goal is to make it clear that this is a professional site.

How has Writers.SE been doing on on question quality so far?

So-so. On the one hand, we’ve got an active community who cares about the site, and a strong core of high-rep users who know how to use the privileges they’ve earned. On the other hand, actual question quality seems pretty low. There are plenty of reasons for this. Among them:

  • Writers.SE’s subject matter is inherently subjective, and it’s harder to judge questions as being “good” or “bad.”
  • With few questions coming in, it’s no trouble to be helpful even to the questions that aren’t too great.
  • Our high-rep users (many of which do actively write, and/or do other work in the publishing industry) don’t ask many questions; instead, questions often come from new writers and random visitors.

In practice, we find ourselves fielding a lot of questions whose overall quality is quite low; our better questions are generally in the same ballpark as existing books and blogs on writing; we have very few exceptional questions of a higher level than that. While this balance is quite understandable, it’s not good enough to launch off the exceptional, professional StackExchange site we want to be.

How will this renewed focus actually affect the site?

What you’ll be seeing most immediately is an increase in moderator involvement. We’re going to be more critical of new, incoming questions then we’ve been in the past. In essence, closing will become our first resort - not our last.

Quick closing may come across as discouraging or harsh. However, it’s a vital part of bringing a StackExchange site up to snuff - partially by speedily eliminating low-quality content; partly by encouraging the community to form questions clearly and appropriately, rather than settling for “close enough.” Of course, our goal is improvement, not discouragement - we’ll always explain why a question is being closed.

We'll be focusing primarily on new questions, but we may also address older questions - particularly ones that resurface on the main page due to new activity.

The other part of this initiative is that we’ll be stirring up a lot of new discussions here on Meta. We’ve got a lot of questions to be resolved, and now that we’ve got some Beta experience, it’s time to see where we stand - and which direction we want to go from here.

What can I do?

Closed Questions Are A Part of StackExchange. Closing questions isn’t fun. It can be discouraging, but it’s necessary - so first and foremost, we need the community’s support and cooperation for this effort. Remember that if you disagree with a particular closing, you have several options. Best is if you can edit the question to address the problem; that’s usually enough to get the question reopened, and you’ve improved our content. Alternatively, you can cast votes to reopen (if you have sufficient rep). You can also argue your opinion with the mods (and the rest of the community) - in the question comments, on meta, or on chat.

Here's an excellent post on all the details of close voting. It goes into the rationale behind StackExchange moderation conventions, and explains in detail how to vote to close or reopen a question, and how the entire process works.

Mutual Critique. What every one of us can do is give some thought to every question you encounter. Grill ‘em - is this question clear? Is it answerable? Does it present a specific problem, or a broad difficulty? Does it encourage people to answer in cliches and generalizations, or does it require specific experience and understanding? Don’t be afraid to be negative. Comment, downvote, vote to close. We are writers - facing rejection is our bread and butter; constructive criticism is a scar we bear proudly! We are editors, revisers, and reviewers - we bring bad tidings for the author’s own good! The key idea here is that we’ll be spending the next few months picking this site apart and figuring out what question are new, valuable contributions, and which need to be closed even if they’re phrased as a question. You want to be part of that, don’t you? Sure you do!

Meta Discussion. Our Meta’s been a kinda lonely place recently - but we’ve got a lot of questions to be resolved, and now’s when we’re stirring things up. Meta will be seeing a lot of new topics, to help us understand where this site can go and how to take it there. If that’s a conversation you want to be a part of (and of course you do! You’re reading it right now, aren’t you?) then be sure to check in here. The topics we’ll be discussing will be crucial to the future of Writers.SE; every member who likes the site and wants to see it succeed should have plenty to read and plenty to add.


In some senses, these changes mean that Writers.SE is going to become a less-welcoming place - particularly for newcomers. More questions will be closed; more criticism will be heard; rep will be harder to get and to keep.

But what’s really going on is that we’re making the learning curve steeper - because we want to travel higher. We’re still the same friendly, constructive community we’ve always been. And StackExchange is still a format that allows fixing up questions, reverting closes, discussing policies - so if you feel us mods are making calls you disagree with, then bring it up and we’ll talk about it! That’s what the system’s there for.

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Please also leave feedback on these two meta questions: What poor/annoying practices can we identify for creative writing posts? and What good practices can we identify for creative writing posts?. The mods need your help! –  Neil Fein Mar 3 '12 at 18:27
    
And for people who want to chime in on what they consider a good question, here's a start on the issue! –  Neil Fein Mar 3 '12 at 23:34
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5 Answers 5

I'm fairly new to SE, and had a little skirmish early on with one of the mods over at BoardGames.SE over a closed question, since I (and many others) didn't really understand the mission statement. It didn't scare me away, and now that I understand the mission of the site, my contributions across the network have improved.

But the source of my confusion was that it seems like board games are, overall, a poor topic for only objective questions. There are still FAQ-esque rules questions, or specific things related to game design, but things like recommendations and many strategy discussions become off-topic - the very things that most people would expect from a website about board games. As a result, I don't know that BoardGames.SE will necessarily grow much bigger than the subset of SO users who like board games. (If it wasn't for SO, I might have gone back to BoardGameGeek exclusively myself, where I can ask everything on-topic at BoardGames.SE plus a whole lot more.)

You say the goal here is to make Writers.SE "a thriving, active, popular site". Question quality may be a problem, but the real question is: what does Writers.SE offer that would make people want to spend time here?

For writers in particular, any time spent on the Internet is time taken directly away from writing. I've seen several answers advising people to get off the Internet and write more, and that's generally a good answer - perhaps good for the asker, but not exactly good for the site :) For Writers.SE to add value to writers, it needs to offer something. Maybe that's a strong repository of information - but what kind of questions are you looking for, exactly? When I subscribed to Writers.SE upon signing up, I was expecting to see questions about the tech side of writing (software, etc.) because of the association with SO, and writers' group-style discussions about how to handle specific situations. It seems like this new initiative would squash what little I've seen of the latter around here, and there are only so many things you can post about the former.

I think before embarking on this initiative, you should spend some time more explicitly defining specifically what you're looking for. You're saying that we need to get rid of the bad questions, but not really offering much in terms of how to write good questions, other than the generic definition of question quality, which doesn't help me in the slightest in terms of knowing what kind of questions you do want asked here. Without that, or at least some examples on the site currently of great questions, I think the bad questions might go away, but that doesn't guarantee you'll have good questions to replace them.

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I agree very strongly with this sentiment - Writers.SE is very much still "in testing," and figuring out what we want to do is even more important than figuring out what we don't want to do. The two aren't mutually exclusive - in fact, they compliment each other, since staying farther away from the "bad" forces more attention to what's left. More to the point, though, we are absolutely devoting attention to figuring out what "good" questions are like. The trouble is that we haven't yet succeeded at this (even after a lot of time in Beta). –  Standback Feb 28 '12 at 20:01
    
(cont.) You'll be seeing appropriate discussions on Meta quite soon, and they're no less part of this initiative than the moderation is. :) –  Standback Feb 28 '12 at 20:01
    
You're absolutely correct, there's no clear direction on how to ask a good Writers.SE question. This site is made up of mostly subjective questions, and we expect that to continue. This is Writers, not Stack Overflow. For now, we're probably going to concentrate on pruning away the worst offenders: chatty questions that would work better in a forum, and questions that can't possibly be definitively answered. We may be wrong in a few cases, and we'll own up to that when we are. But we'll need help to do this right, and I hope we can get many dialogs like this going in meta. –  Neil Fein Feb 28 '12 at 20:20
    
You can count on seeing more about these issues in meta and in chat soon. –  Neil Fein Feb 28 '12 at 20:21
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@Standback I look forward to those discussions. I wish I could be more constructive in terms of offering concrete suggestions, but I haven't thought of any yet; I'll be sure to pop in and share them in the appropriate meta should I come up with any. –  VolcanoLotus Feb 28 '12 at 20:42
    
I have the very strong opinion that we need to make it easy and fun to post stories and excerpts from our bodies of words, (civilians call them stories or books), because all writers need feedback and without that there is a gaping hole in the functionality of the site. –  Nathan C. Tresch Apr 29 '12 at 14:09
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Disclaimer: I know how hard it is to be a moderator, I've done it on forums before. It's a thankless task, and one that I don't actively seek out. I applaud anyone willing to tackle the job. So, don't think I'm singling out people, or trying to attack moderators for trying to do the best they can.

In essence, closing will become our first resort - not our last.

I cannot disagree more with this approach. I'm actually glad this has come up, because I was planning on formulating a topic regarding this. The idea that a question should be closed at the whim of a single moderator is, frankly, ludicrous. Why have down-voting or have "vote to close" at all, then?

I'd like to use two examples. One was the question I asked What word limit is a good starting point for writing a short story? and the other was How can I find short-story spinoffs for my fantasy epic?.

As I tried to explain in the comments of my question, the answer I was looking for was to be based on facts, rather than just someone to impose their arbitrary limit. There have been other, similar questions before, for example:

At any rate, the topic was shut down by a single moderator, with no-one else voting (as far as I could see) to have it closed. Despite trying to argue my case and clarify my answer, no luck.

My question has four up-votes, the same as the short-story spin-off question, and generated two answers, and that's despite receiving at least one down vote. To me, it was clear that the community did not want the question closed. Although the answers weren't what I was specifically looking for, they were pretty good answers in their own right.

As for the short-story spin-off question, the comments reveal that the moderator felt "This is difficult to answer without knowing more about the specific work and its structure; it's kind of a more specific version of "where do I get ideas?"" If that was the case, this question should have been closed, but he went on to add, "But it's already generated an interesting answer." Hence, it stayed open.

In my mind, the second approach is far, far more conducive to getting active participation. The users of the site clearly liked the spin-off question, and had voted it up, and it had generated a useful answer.

Now, I agree that shutting down questions that are clearly not on-topic is necessary, or if there are duplicates, but there are plenty of grey areas where it should be left for the community to decide, not a single moderator. You mention that you can work to get the question re-opened, but the truth is that if the effort to get a question re-opened is far greater than just not bothering and moving on somewhere else, then I think the number of people who try get their questions re-opened is going to be very, very small indeed.

I cannot help but feel that the approach being suggested is going to reduce quality, not increase it, because it's not encouraging participation. It is far too negative, discouraging and seems to fly in the face of what a community-driven site is all about.

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Craig, I appreciate your point of view. But you seem to be assuming that encouraging participation will increase quality, when this is not the case at all. The Stack Overflow model is, in some ways, meant to discourage participation from people who post questions of poor quality. This question is illuminating in this regard, and this answer in particular. –  Neil Fein Feb 28 '12 at 19:52
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Actually, note the proviso in the first sentence, which demonstrates my point: "But the situation is potentially very different on the other Stack Exchange sites, particularly the SE 2.0 sites, that aren't absolutely overflowing with users and questions." This supports exactly what I'm trying to say; Writers.SE is no StackOverflow. –  Craig Sefton Feb 28 '12 at 20:01
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As that answer acknowledges, sometimes it's better to try and improve the people who are already here than simply trying to get them to stop participating and hoping others will replace them. I agree that more participation != higher quality (necessarily), but fewer bad questions also != more good questions. It doesn't sound like the concern is that the good questions are drowning in a sea of subjectivity, but that the good questions simply aren't here. A site for writers seems an especially appropriate place for trying to get people to improve their question writing. –  VolcanoLotus Feb 28 '12 at 20:04
    
We would love it if the existing users were on-board with this; that's a best-case scenario. That's why the mods are posting this here rather than just start closing bad questions en masse, in the hopes of users agreeing with us - which many of them do, this question has five upvotes. –  Neil Fein Feb 28 '12 at 20:07
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You can't assume an upvote is an endorsement of the position taken in the question. I modded it up not because I agreed with it, but because it's a good topic to discuss. If you're taking it as an endorsement, I'll be happy to remove the upvote. –  Craig Sefton Feb 28 '12 at 20:09
    
(Oh well, I would remove it if it weren't locked, LOL.) –  Craig Sefton Feb 28 '12 at 20:10
    
Craig, I'm glad you're writing this, because I'm sure many people feel this way (to some extent or other - heck, I sympathize with almost all of this myself). But personally, I take your examples in precisely the other direction: "natural" community reaction indeed did not differentiate between the two questions. However, the responses to the questions demonstrated that one question was plainly answerable (addressing specifics of how one makes the switch from epic sagas to short stories) while the other was less so (prompting responses which explicitly sidestepped the actual question). –  Standback Feb 28 '12 at 20:45
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(cont.) I'd be happy to go into more detail on my opinions on both those questions - including how yours could be improved, and mod responses to your comments. This isn't the place, but I'd be glad to discuss this more (on another meta question and/or in chat). My central point is that I agree that there's a gray area, but my goal is to minimize it. We're not well served by leaving questions in the gray area; that makes it very difficult to tell what the site's actually about. We want to take them out of the gray area and make them good. –  Standback Feb 28 '12 at 20:46
    
(cont.)Regardless, I understand your frustration. We will be making every effort to keep moderation friendly, constructive, and aimed at improving questions where possible. I hope the result won't be too exasperating for your tastes :) –  Standback Feb 28 '12 at 20:46
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@NeilFein Craig's obviously right about the vote count. And I'm glad even the people who don't like the direction appreciate our effort :D (I thought about posting a "Yaaaaaay! Just what we need!" dummy answer, but I'm not sure I'd like the votecount :P ) –  Standback Feb 28 '12 at 20:56
    
I'm sure this will be fine-tuned (or grossly-tuned) as we go along. –  Neil Fein Feb 28 '12 at 21:18
    
@CraigSefton - You're quite correct, voting in meta is a pretty fuzzy thing, and I shouldn't take it as agreement. But I appreciate the point that this is important to discuss. –  Neil Fein Feb 28 '12 at 21:18
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Craig is right about upvotes; I haven't upvoted this topic precisely because I don't think hammer-closing questions is a good idea. I think the poster should be given at least 24 hours and some suggestions before closing a "bad" question. –  Lauren Ipsum Feb 29 '12 at 11:19
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Thanks for the comments from Standback (and Neil). I appreciate the points you're making regarding the grey area, and the types of answers that were generated. However, just so that the basic point doesn't get lost in discussions about why my particular question was rejected, the overall issue for me is really that Writers.SE is not at a level of participation where a "close as first resort" policy is really necessary, and it may well be counter-productive. The cart seems to be getting put before the horse, IMO. At any rate, thanks again, will chat when I have some free time. –  Craig Sefton Feb 29 '12 at 16:05
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a single good answer should be a sufficient and worthwhile response

I disagree on that one.

I am also unsure if insisting on better questions will help in this stage of Writers.SE. Yes, I'm in favor of closing, downvoting and quality assurance, but let's face it: most people hate to be downvoted.

Now you have to ways of arguing:

  1. We do not need these complaining users. They are not helpful anyway. Let us sort them out soon.

  2. Let us attract as many users as possible, let them learn how the site works and weed them out later.

I do not know if the first option will be successful. It's a risky path, but maybe successful. We all know, that you have to take risks if you want to be successful.

But that does not mean you should do utterly stupid things. Well, I don't think this approach is stupid, but keep in mind, that looking how SE works in general could give you a wrong perception here.

Like SE is working today, it wasn't when Stack Overflow started. Yes, downvoting was there from the beginning. And from the beginning many people did not like it. Even today I guess, there is only a minority who dowvote often.

Closing reasons evolved over time also. It wasn't as harsh as it is today. Look also at voting. You have to gain a certain amount of rep to vote. How could a site ever gain enough people to vote with this rule being stated from the beginning? Well, it can't. In the first days there was no voting limit at all. Stack Overflow grew to a successful site with totally different preconditions than any other existing SE site.

Nonetheless, I'm with you if you want to raise the quality standard. I guess we will dispel many users, but this wouldn't be the first stupidity in my life - and hopefully not the last one ;)

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re: single good answer - I hear you. Maybe a better phrasing is "a single answer should be a worthwhile response, and a small number of answers (which may disagree with each other) should be capable of covering the topic well." For the purpose of this announcement I'm summarizing to the best of my ability, but we definitely want to give attention to "What should questions look like? What should they try to accomplish?" considerations. Meta threads soon. –  Standback Feb 28 '12 at 10:35
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As for the larger issue, well, that really what this post is all about. I think so far we've been taking path #2, and it certainly has its place. We feel it's time to devote some attention to path #1. Beta is when the community forms and finds direction; even if we did popularize the site, but were satisfied with a poor, low-quality direction for it - we wouldn't be doing too well. So, at least for a while, we're explicitly and deliberately prioritizing path #1. –  Standback Feb 28 '12 at 10:39
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As a fairly new user of Stack Exchange, I feel like a lot of the statements made in these answers really ring true with me. The whole concept of a "non-forum" question and answer site is a bit foreign. Seeing what I think are good questions being closed or downvoted seems somewhat discouraging. However, after observing the system, I believe it is generally a wise idea. On sites like SiFi.SE, Gaming.SE, or UX.SE, having endless discussion on "unanswerable questions" is a waste of time. Arguing the merits of one opinion over another does not generally help those sites. Although I still feel the rapid closing of questions is somewhat handled poorly. Users should be encouraged to make their questions better, and get involved in the community more. In truth, "one-posters" can be a drain on a community, and potential solutions to that situation are double edged.

Let's bring this to Writers.SE. We honestly have an amazing community here so far. We are small, but I really have enjoyed reading your questions and answers. One thing I have gathered from personal feeling and from the answers to this question, is that Writers is an unconventional SE. Perhaps moreso than any other SE, except possibly Christianity and Judaism (due to the personal nature of religion), writing is a largely subjective matter. Writing is... an art, not a science. There are scientific sides to writing, but that is not the focus of the art. Things that are anathema on other SE's, are almost vital to a community of writers. Idea discussion, personal methods, preferences, recommendations, inspiration, and yes, questions with no one real answer are part of our lives. I am by no means recommending Writers become a circle sharing time. However, I do honestly believe that for Writers, having discussion is not a bad thing. In a discussion, there can be a best answer, there can be stuff useful to future readers who did not participate. Even lengthy comment sessions can be and are useful.

In conclusion, I think as we sit down as a community in meta, we should try to reflect the nature of our art, be open, and decide just how subjective we can be and still be a Stack Exchange format site. Writers.SE can become a thriving, growing, useful community. We just have to nurture it and allow it to.

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It's the subjective unanswerable art questions that push me away, actually. I'm not looking for a critique group. I was hoping there'd be more technical writers here; tech-writing questions (I suspect) tend to be more objective and a better fit for SE. Since the tech writers don't seem to be here (or are mostly quiet, like me), I wonder what questions we can draw out from the existing community that are a little more Q&A and a little less forum. –  Monica Cellio Feb 29 '12 at 15:31
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Gabe, I completely agree that this site will be subjective. That's not up for debate. However, I think that we need to communicate more clearly the concept of why some questions can't be answered in the Q&A format. –  Neil Fein Feb 29 '12 at 19:42
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@MonicaCellio - Whether critiques fit in the Q&A format is something that even we moderators don't agree on. We'll probably post about it on meta soon, but please feel free to get the discussion started on your own if you like. Also, attracting more questions here about technical writing would be an excellent thing. If you have any thoughts on how to do that, please do share! However, I suspect that non-fiction writers feel the site is not particularly friendly towards them. It's fairly old, but this meta thread may be of interest. –  Neil Fein Feb 29 '12 at 19:46
    
@MonicaCellio well honestly, we do need both. Technical writing is vital to most if not all SE users. Yet, creative writing is also well under the domain of Writers.SE. We have to be a community that supports both areas. Like Neil said, a lot of our work should be in the area of educating our users on the how and why of questions on Writers. Defining those ideas will need to be a part of this Red Ink Initiative, as we discuss things on Meta. –  Gabe Willard Feb 29 '12 at 20:16
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@GabeWillard, I wasn't trying to diss creative writing; I agree we need both. Creative writing seems to more-easily lend itself to the kinds of questions that don't work so well on SE, hence the struggle. I found the recent collaboration questions to be well above-average, but haven't figured out what happened there beyond that they were more "process" and less "phrasing/style". I don't think it's just that, but that may be a factor. I'm still figuring this site out too. –  Monica Cellio Feb 29 '12 at 21:04
    
@MonicaCellio I agree that tech writing questions would be more objective, but still probably will be subjective and ultimately at the whim of the company's style and practices. I'm working in a tech writing department, and we've had all the "data is" vs. "data are" showdowns and such. The ultimate answer seems to generally be "whatever the style guide says" or, in absence of a sufficient entry, "whatever the manager says". That's why I haven't asked any tech writing questions here; it doesn't really matter if I'm "correct" or not, which is sad, but also understandable for consistency. –  VolcanoLotus Mar 1 '12 at 17:13
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@VolcanoLotus, as you note, style-guide questions aren't particularly interesting. Questions about indexing schemes, organizing complex information with circular references, presentation of examples, fitting into doc/product suites, etc. are probably more fertile question-hunting grounds. –  Monica Cellio Mar 1 '12 at 20:01
    
@MonicaCellio Interesting; I wouldn't even think to ask most of those at Writers.SE and would instead go to SO for that (and have, actually). I'm not saying it's a bad idea - I think it's probably a good one - but it might be an uphill marketing battle to get people to realize those are on-topic. –  VolcanoLotus Mar 1 '12 at 20:07
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@MonicaCellio : Oooooh. So how do I get you from that last comment into "Challenge Accepted" mode? –  Standback Mar 1 '12 at 20:11
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@Standback, ok, here's #1: writers.stackexchange.com/q/5136/1993 . –  Monica Cellio Mar 1 '12 at 21:40
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@Standback, and another: writers.stackexchange.com/q/5139/1993 . Now to see if either of these get any traction. –  Monica Cellio Mar 2 '12 at 3:23
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The effect this has on my search for answers is to make Writers.SE my option of last-resort. I joined not long after it was created, tried it, and got so discouraged that I just stopped using it till today. And today I find that, if anything, it got worse, and my first resort remains google. I may browse this site on the off-change, and may even put up an answer to a question like I did today, but it will have to be dire before I dare to ask a question again.

Moderators are policing this site to death; they should respond to users' votes and not to their own inclinations.

Anyway, good luck with your endeavor.

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We haven't noticed any overall drop in the number of questions and answers here, at least not since this initiative was started. But thanks for participating in the discussion, and for your good wishes. I hope that, over time, as the quality of the questions and answers here improves (we think they have already), we might be able to change your mind. –  Neil Fein Mar 23 '12 at 20:35
    
@NeilFein: Not while excessive verbosity is considered an indication of a "good answer"; not if useful questions regarding on-line tools are considered "polls"; not if beginner-questions are considered "low-quality"; not when up-voted questions get closed ... This should be a site where writers as well as prospective writers can feel free to ask their questions without fear of being tainted 'stupid' (this is the effect that closing a question has) - think on it. –  slashmais Mar 24 '12 at 8:14
    
I think you're under the impression that this is a discussion forum, but Stack Exchange is not a discussion forum. Asking a good question is not supposed to be easy. Questions that are looking to start a discussion or get multiple answers that are all equally valid are closed on most Stack Exchange sites, as per the FAQ. We're not seeking "excessive verbosity", as you put it; we simply don't want short answers of limited use. Beginner questions are not low quality, but overly broad answers often are. –  Neil Fein Mar 24 '12 at 8:27
    
slashmais, specific examples would help make your points clearer. Almost every close - and every criticism - have been explained and discussed; I'm not sure if you disagree with specific close reasons, or the general "exclusive"/moderated nature of the site. I'd be happy to hear precisely what you think is being done incorrectly; however, as Neil says above, if your basic thrust is that you don't really want this to be a StackExchange site, then that's a type of criticism that kind of misses the primary goal here. Please feel free to explain and expand :) –  Standback Mar 25 '12 at 9:05
    
@Standback: give me some time to collect my thoughts and I'll update my answer above ... (my response to NF's initial comment should give some indication, though the first line of his second response is rather unsubstantiated and uncalled for, and indicates a somewhat high-handed attitude that left me quite disinterested in entering / continuing a discussion with him) –  slashmais Mar 25 '12 at 13:58
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