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I've noticed that despite the number of users we have on this site, many other sites completely out-strip us in participation. For example, a question on a site like Workplace can attract 2000 views and 50 votes 10,000 views and 100 votes (same question I looked at this morning and got that first statistic, has now grown exponentially) in a day, despite the fact that they have roughly 1/2 the amount of users as we do, and are still in beta! By contrast, we have four year old questions that are just reaching 30,000 views and not even 50 votes, despite how much hard work a lot of our community puts into it.

What makes the difference? Seeing numbers like that astounds me. Is it even possible to compare our sites based on these statistics, or is it just comparing oranges to another fruit that looks exactly like an orange but is really a vicious man-eating alien egg?

  • I would be interested to see a comparison of votes to answers on various sites. On SP.SE I often see more answers than votes on a question, while on programmers or SO it can be dozens or hundreds of votes per answer. – Derek Gusoff Jan 17 '14 at 21:46
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    Ha ha, I just checked and it seems I have more answers than votes. So I guess I'm part of the problem. – Derek Gusoff Jan 17 '14 at 21:48
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    I just wanted to note that I was looking at the main page tonight and nearly every question had a vote. Very different from usual. I really think that for this SE, if it's worth answering, it's worth an upvote. Let's keep it up! – Robert Kaucher Feb 23 '14 at 5:58
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There are many factors involved in comparing different stacks in the network, but here's my two cents:

I think a big part of the problem is that the user count on here does not necessarily equate to active users. For some reason a lot (I might even say the majority) of people who come to SP-SE are fly-by-night members. They come here to ask one question, get their answer, don't acknowledge whether or not it's helped them, don't accept the answer, and don't return. Unless of course 6 months later they have another question.

You can tell that a lot of the questions asked on this site are by end users or "site admins" or something to that effect who know little to nothing about SharePoint and find it easier to ask a question here than to do a small amount of research to find the answers themselves.

Workplace, in comparison, does reach to a wider audience because everyone can relate to the subject matter, and so the questions there can turn into a broader discussion with many different opinions being offered up as answers. On SP-SE, however, what you'll find is that the questions are a lot more specific to an individual set up or a very direct problem. They really are just different beasts and so I feel that it is an apples to oranges comparison to juxtapose the two sites.

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Another thing is many users (like myself) aren't in a position to say whether some answer is a "good answer" or not because I don't know the specifics of this chunk of code provided as an answer.

There's so many variables involved, it feels like the only answer that is a "good answer" is the one that fixes the OP's problem.

  • Also a good point. Seems it really is comparing two different monsters. It piqued my curiosity initially because SE sites are to some extent meant to be formatted the same way, with the same badges and generally the same rules of conduct, so the stark difference in participation was what got me wondering. Now that I think about it though, those similarities are fairly trivial in the grand scheme of SE. – thanby Jan 22 '14 at 14:16
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    Totally agree! Usually SP questions are quite specific, and it is one chance in a hundred, even for experts in the field, that they faced this very problem already. I notice that in many cases I earn upvotes only when my answer contains screenshots proving that the problem is solved. Otherwise people just can't tell whether the answer is brilliant or totally incorrect. – Andrey Markeev Jan 29 '14 at 11:05
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I'd say everyone can associate with "The Workplace". SharePoint is such a specialized field, that if you ask all the companies in the world, maybe 70% have heard of SharePoint, 40% have them implemented, and 20% know what SP.SE is. I think, it's not a matter of attractiveness, it has to do with being applicable to the StackExchange site.

  • Should that not be reflected by the user count? – thanby Jan 16 '14 at 19:37
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    Its a newer subsite, it will grow. SharePoint is specialized and has had users come and go, and most stay. Most have a specific question in mind when they come to SP.SE. They get the answer they need here and there, but the Workplace is more opinion-based than factual, so a discussion is more displayed. – Mike Jan 16 '14 at 19:49
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    I agree with Mike, The questions here are very diversed and in many cases extremely specific and specialized. This means that only so many members can answer each question. The fact that a lot of the question also seem to only have one valid answer, with no big room for discussions where people upvote the standpoint they share (at least I do not see this kind of discussions here often), also lowers the number of votes thrown per question. – Robert Lindgren Jan 16 '14 at 20:05
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    Ah that makes sense. That's a good point, SP.SE isn't built so much for opinionated discussions. – thanby Jan 16 '14 at 21:55
  • But we would all like to get more upvotes I guess ;) See here: meta.sharepoint.stackexchange.com/questions/853/… @thanby – Robert Lindgren Jan 17 '14 at 9:56
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I can only speak from my own personal experience. I was with Stack Overflow before there was a SharePoint site, and it was wonderful to go to one site and deal with all my topics of interest. Some questions were SQL Server issues, some C#/ASP.NET, and some SharePoint. All were on the same site.

Fast-forward to today when we have a separate SharePoint site. SO has a much larger user base than SPSE, and gets more visibility. So people go there and ask questions. If someone has an issue that mentions SharePoint, they are told they're in the wrong place and the question is closed and eventually migrated over here. This can be disorienting.

Now a person with thousands of reputation on SO comes to SPSE where they have very little reputation. This is a much smaller community, and sometimes the question is answered, sometimes not. It feels like there are more tumbleweeds here.

Then when a user does have a SharePoint question and comes to this site and posts it, the question is closed without a second thought because there was a third-party tag on the question, like Nintex. Nevermind that there might be an existing user that can answer the question - we must close it because it would broaden the scope too much. You are not allowed to get your question answered.

I'm sure there are very good reasons to break off SP-SE from SO, and I'm sure there are good reasons to keep third-party tools off this site entirely. The problem is that these factors contribute to this site being less useful than it should be. I know that the number of users who get frustrated by these policies and don't actively look to come here when they have downtime is not zero.

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