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It's always nice to start the year with a nice cleaning excercise. And we have collected a lot of things to clean up over the years. Currently we have 31'216 questions in stock. That is an amazing figure compared to other StackExchange sites. Among those questions, there are 9'909 which either don't have an answer, or have answer which has answers without upvotes. That's more than 3 of 10 questions.

Some of it depend on out poor voting statistic on the site (some of the questions actually has accepted answers, but no upvotes). Some depend on the fact that the answer given didn't solve the problem.

5'291 questions of the total, doesn't have answers at all. That's almost 17 percent of the total no of questions. So we got things to do, but this shouldn't be solved today, this week or this month. This is a long term project we need to deal with.

Statistics

In the StackExchange Sites Page, everyone can see the overall statistics if clicking a site. We are low on answered questions, compared to other sites StackOverflow (77%), ServerFault (82%), Web Applications (80%) and User Experience (99%).

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What can I do?

  • Answer Questions! You can lookup a tag you know you have the knowledge in, and follow the unanswered questions down the list, and try to answer some of them. There are reps lying around for those who put in the extra effort.

  • Upvote Accepted Answers! If the accepted answer is good enough for an upvote. If not, write a better answer, or edit the accepted answer to make it better.

  • Vote to close! if there is a close reason for the current question.

  • Flag Questions! If you find questions that are Off Topic, is out-dated or you find anything else that needs to be taken care of.

Finding Questions

Go to the tags page, and find the tag you would like to work on. When you click on the tag, you end up on another page where you select the unanswered tab on the local navigation menu.

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No effort is to small to perform. Already we have a few users doing a very good job in our tag wiki. Every little bit of work counts.

  • 2
    I love the dedication for cleaning house, Benny! – Mike Jan 8 '14 at 19:25
  • So what is the criteria for closing an old unanswered question? I'm assuming when the OP has been absent for 3+ months? – Mike Jan 14 '14 at 17:49
  • @Mike i think it's a reasonable approach - but making it possible for the OP to ask for it to be reopened again. Problem is what to close for? Off topic? Too broad? – Benny Skogberg Jan 14 '14 at 18:00
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    It would need to be flagged, I'm guessing. Can mods add a new reason for closure or have it ambiguous/generalized? – Mike Jan 14 '14 at 18:02
  • We have there custom reasons on this site, where one of those could be modified. @Mike Maybe migrate to Serverfault could be changed to "Post abandoned by user" or something??? – Benny Skogberg Jan 14 '14 at 18:10
  • let's finish this in chat... – Mike Jan 14 '14 at 18:11
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I'd say 9 times out of 10, the post has been abandoned. I can give several links to either questions that have follow-ups, but no response from the original poster, or resolutions that deem the post answered or otherwise solved, and no accepted answer. Are these posts candidates to be closed?

Also, some I feel there is a feature request here somewhere. Many first-time users are able to ask a question, and most never come back to the site after it has been answered, or they figure it out. I'd be curious to see if there is a feature that can be implemented that will figure out if the original poster is new, then offer a bounty system (by votes) for a certain schedule, let's say 3 months (suggestion). If the question does not have an accepted answer by the time the 3 months is up, the highest answer gets the accepted answer, and can be completely overruled by the OP, given explanation on why an answer was accepted due to inactivity, yada yada.

Also, sorry if this is off-topic (its a discussion about unanswered questions right?), what if we email the users that are first time, that there is a question that they asked that doesn't have an accepted answer, to try to get them to come back and follow-up? Maybe even require an email address for registration.

  • If you see abandoned posts, I think you should upvote the best answer (if good enough). It'll show the new visitor what the best answer is. If there are no answers, and OP is gone, I think we should cast a close vote to get it off the charts. I'm not sure this is the way to do it, but I'll ask at Mod HQ. The auto bounty award is a good idea, but it requires change of software, so it'll take time to implement. E-mail first time users is a nice idea, either to get user back or leave all together. Let us think about that. Thanks for your support Mike! Appreciate it. – Benny Skogberg Jan 8 '14 at 19:55
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    You're welcome Benny! I am thinking that the questions with NO answers should be closed, as they cannot be useful, and they provide a restraint to being a duplicate, which is hard to dig up the grave of old posts. Maybe the criteria should be if the user has not been seen in X amount of months. – Mike Jan 8 '14 at 20:08
  • The big problem here as I see it is that even we moderators can not mark a "Correct answer" on a post, and probably should not be able to. But it leads to a lot of question hanging around, with good answers that has not been accepted, or an answer written in an edit or comment on the main post. I find it hard to close this questions since there is really no good close reason except for the user not fully understanding how SP.SE works. How should we handle this? Ping: @BennySkogberg – Robert Lindgren Jan 9 '14 at 7:24
  • I think we should start cleaning up the questions that have no answers. Since this is a post about cleaning house, let's start there. Moving forward, I would say those questions with good answers should be left, because, let's face it, it's not about the answer that will work, but about the answer that works for the OP. There may be plenty of good answers, but the accepted answer is the key to their problem. So I don't even look for the accepted answer first, I just keep in mind that it only worked for the OP. – Mike Jan 9 '14 at 15:08
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    I agree @Mike, I always look for the highest voted answer first, it is likely to be more relevant and helpful to more people than the accepted answer. – Russell Jan 9 '14 at 21:57

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