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Should we start "seeding" the site?

+ 12 like - 0 dislike
568 views

Related post on SE blog here.

The primary reason we are still in private beta seems to be the low amount of content (by SE standards). On the other hand, people have noted that the site seems to be slowing down, see for instance Has the site stalled?. It's unlikely that someone could ask more than a couple serious questions every week, and so with only a few dedicated users, it might be a month or more before we can generate enough content (and by that time, I suspect many would lose interest).

Inviting experts is one way to generate more content, and is probably the best method we have at the moment. On the other hand, it's not necessarily easy to do so. I know several people who would participate in a public site, but wouldn't want to participate in a private site for various reasons. Currently a lot of the content is in the form of soft questions, which I fear put people away if they are too frequent.

SE's primary fear is the so-called empty restaurant syndrome, where people are reluctant to participate in a site which doesn't seem well-established. The linked post in question discusses "seeding" the site, i.e. asking questions primarily for the sake of generating content. I can't say I'm a fan of the idea, but it does seem that it would alleviate SE's fears.

Should we begin seeding Theoretical Physics? What I would suggest is asking questions for which you know the answer, but for which the answer may not be well-known in that particular field (definitely if you're seeding, the quality of the question should be high). I don't know if any of the posts already were for that purpose, but I've deliberately held off from doing so until now. Of course, it is necessary that someone else can answer it, but this shouldn't be a terrible problem. In the worst case, one could fudge it by giving the question or answer to another user to post.

I realize what I'm suggesting is deceptive and in the long run counter-productive, but I do think it would help the current situation. I'm not convinced either way yet, though.

This post has been migrated from (A51.SE)
asked Sep 30, 2011 in SE.TP.discussion by Logan Maingi (210 points) [ no revision ]
I do know that the Stack Exchange people have strongly discouraged seeding in the past, on other sites... although maybe they wouldn't mind it so much here if this site has a low level of activity?

This post has been migrated from (A51.SE)

2 Answers

+ 9 like - 0 dislike

In my mind the answer is absolutely yes. The primary goal of questions at the moment is providing examples for future users to emulate and to define more clearly the scope and purpose of the site, and I think we should be doing that more actively. Which does not at all mean flooding the site with low quality or forced questions, just the opposite. On the other hand, maybe one should not wait until they have a burning question keeping them up at night, for which they need the answer right this moment. I don't see the need to do anything deceptive or counter-productive, just ask a few good quality questions which you think are representative of the type of topics you'd like to see here. I am trying not to dominate the site with my own choice of topics, but I honestly don't see the problem in generating a few sample questions (answers is a different story perhaps, but for research questions that will be a generic situation).

This post has been migrated from (A51.SE)
answered Sep 30, 2011 by Moshe (2,375 points) [ no revision ]
I second both views. It's time - given that we seem not to get many questions - to put some "seed" questions [with high-quality responses] to raise interest in the site. -- I suggest three options for this: a) some perusing through MO.math-physics and PSE to find appropriate questions (that haven't been answered thoroughly, or simply reposting* here by [mutual-] members of this site and either / both (other) sites [*for PSE, I suggest reposting the question and deleting from there]); and b) sending out invitations - especially to regular MO.math-physics posters - via the ...

This post has been migrated from (A51.SE)
... "Invite Fellow Experts"; and c) posting a notification to request each member to - atleast - post one question per week to help us maintain the tempo of the site.

This post has been migrated from (A51.SE)
I agree completely. There should be enough high quality answered questions. And I do not see a problem if you answer your own questions a few days later (when nobody else does).

This post has been migrated from (A51.SE)
+ 3 like - 0 dislike

Well, I have mixed feelings. Q&A is much more beneficial when actually one ask sincerely. And, personally, I would be much more motivated if my choir of answering is actually needed.

My stance on the issue is more or less the following (heard somewhere):

A university exam is a sick situation in which a person how knows the answer asks someone who does not.

On contrary, I would suggest to:

  • Find your previous questions, that you were not able no answer (or your time run out). For sure there are many related to your former projects. It may revive them, or you can find the missing piece to get a neat result.
  • Ask question, for which you know the answer but only partially, or you are not completely sure of it. You can benefit from the knowledge of others, who have slightly different background.
  • Try to form a pieces of your current research problems in terms of SE questions. Frankly, I do not believe that there is a one active researcher who do not have at least 3 questions currently in their mind related to his/her current projects). It will take time an effort to write a good question (self-contained, clear, small enough one can answer), but boost to your progress will be a fair award.

But the most importantly: ask. As long as it is research-level do not be afraid of asking sth not clever enough. And use your time to form question. And answers.

This post has been migrated from (A51.SE)
answered Sep 30, 2011 by Piotr Migdal (1,250 points) [ no revision ]

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