I was excited about chinese.stackexchange.com when I first learned of it. I admit that I have since become less excited by it. It seems to me that many knowledgeable, expert users we have attracted have been chased away by users whose questions and answers are plagued by pedanticism, ineptitude, and laziness. Unfortunately, it will be difficult to attract higher quality contributors when a new visitor's first impression is of amateurishness and imprecision. (Take a look at the current front page and ask yourself whether such material really represents what we'd like this site to become.)

Our beta was doing fairly well when it first began; now it appears to be flagging (in terms of daily questions asked, daily visits, and user participation). Publicity efforts can only be so effective when the quality of our current content is low.

I believe that we need to think seriously about how we can use moderation policies to encourage better questions and answers. I know that one of our moderators has been encouraging community members to "vote to close" more regularly. I think that this is a good step, but it might also be useful to adopt stricter guidelines for questions in the first place.

What do you think? Do you think we need to be more aggressive about closing bad questions (and downvoting bad answers)? I see the argument that we should encourage participation as much as possible, but I also find it frustrating when the participation we do encourage is markedly deficient (as is sometimes the case now, I believe).

Perhaps I'm interested in this site becoming something that it's not. But I also am committed to seeing it be as good and as useful as it can be.

  • Interesting topic, Jon. Perhaps you could make the tone a bit more positive by linking to some examples of the types of question you'd like to encourage on the site.
    – Don Kirkby
    Commented Feb 25, 2012 at 6:48

3 Answers 3


Thanks for posting Jon. I have some things to say:

  1. I'm a bit surprised someone posted a meta question about this. And I shouldn't be. But the Meta participation on this site is very low. I asked a question about proposing names for our chat room and only one posted (a moderator) and no-one voted. This is not a good sign.

  2. Yes we must close and down-vote where necessary but we don't need to turn into dictators. For example, if new user makes a mistake, then we can just tell that user to fix the problem and not down-vote, because that would scare him/her away. The more reputation someone has, the less understandable are their mistakes, although I ask everyone to use your common sense. You don't want to down-vote an answer for a typo just because the author is a 3k user.

  3. Share. This is one of the things we must take care of. Share the site link wherever you think it might attract other people, share questions on your social network accounts. People will come, trust me.

If you want to make our guidelines stricter, please propose (consider opening a meta question for a single topic, or closely related topics, so we don't mix stuff). I already edited our FAQ so feel free to direct people there when you down-vote or vote to close.

One last thing, whate were you referring to when you said "...have been chased away by users whose questions and answers are plagued by pedanticism, ineptitude, and laziness."?

I think I addressed everything, if I missed something, let me know.


I realize that my original post was perhaps overly focused on reducing negative content rather than on fostering good content. Here's another option I've begun to use; I share it here in the hopes that other users can give their feedback and, perhaps, implement it themselves.

In addition to commenting when downvoting a question or answer, I've begun to comment when I upvote as well to indicate to the poster precisely what part of their post was good or useful. It's a common practice on other SE sites, but I haven't seen it here much. I think this would give new users a useful guide to improving their own contributions.

An example of this practice can be found here. I don't think that it's a great answer, but I upvoted and commented on the reason for that upvote to encourage a specific practice I found useful, namely, giving different versions of sentences that the poster found problematic.

I hope that this will encourage both stronger content and a positive sense of improvement among the user base.

  • That is a good thing! :) I think I've done it in the past but not regularly or that much. I'll try to remember that more in the future. :)
    – Alenanno
    Commented Mar 8, 2012 at 23:04

I have seen this on other communities and I think the best answer is:

How to improve existing questions

  • If you have the necessary rep vote to close
  • If the question is really low quality or you don't think it belongs on the site then ask a question similar to "Does the question 'x' belong on this site". This brings extra attention to it.
  • If the question is good in spirit and could attract better answers if it was written a better way then go ahead and edit it. Don't complain about something that can be improved by yourself, anyone and everyone has the privilege to edit.
  • Vote the question down. You will not be penalized for a downvote on a question, this sends a strong message to the asker. I suggest you also leave a comment suggesting why you decided to downvote.

How to improve the site as a whole

  • Ask good quality questions yourself. Even if you know the answer to the question, if you think it is a top quality question ask it again. It is even OK to answer your own questions. Alternatively create a second user to ask beginner type questions if you are think it is embarrassing to have easier questions linked to your account.
  • Review older questions to edit / improve / close etc. You can improve layout, title, grammar etc. this is also a big help.
  • Promote the site to others. The more traffic we get the better. Help improve the site by bringing more good users here.
  • Good quality new questions brings more and better users to the site. When we ask more questions we get an immediate spike in traffic.

Building a community is hard work and luckily the SE network provides the tools to empower users to build the community themselves. Moderators are not all-seeing / all-powerful. We only have slightly elevated privileges than a regular user and these are mainly used to settle disputes. Although we are passionate about the community we have the same time limitations and also the same capabilities as a regular user.

If all we are getting is low quality questions we can't just go and close everything on the home page; we need to work with what we've got.

So get out there and start building!

  • Maybe it's not the case to create a second user. No question is embarrassing if it's a good one, no matter if simple. @users: Remember that if you vote for "yourself" using a second user, that is very frowned upon. Sock puppet vote is something you must absolutely avoid, as you could get suspended for that.
    – Alenanno
    Commented Feb 27, 2012 at 10:40

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