I recently scrolled through Chemistry SE and found $6/15$ ($40$%) of the questions on the front page had net negative votes. The questions themselves were obviously low-quality (many were on hold) because they were void of effort or any attempt by the asker to solve the problem. I'm wondering why there's a higher proportion of these low-quality questions (relative to other sites on SE, at least) and if there's anything we can do about it (increase awareness of what a good question is)?


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    $\begingroup$ That is part of the reason for the homework policy. Unfortunately this is the general trend, which built up over the last years, most science sure have this problem. The only thing that helps is to consistently put them on hold and down vote them. But even with this sort of discouragement the influx won't stop. $\endgroup$ Jul 6, 2019 at 9:37
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    $\begingroup$ I would also note that the site where you have the most experience (math.se) has a very very relaxed environment in having to show effort by the OP, as compared to our site. In many cases, you can post a question on math.se with no effort at all and get a complete answer in minutes. This is partly because the number of users is quite high on math.se. However, that also leads to a lot of poor questions not getting roomba-ed and thus staying on the site. imo, it is better to have such questions downvoted/closed and gone from the site. $\endgroup$ Jul 6, 2019 at 14:02
  • $\begingroup$ Personally I'm hoping that as the site grows, it appeals to higher-level academics (professors and researchers.) I feel like lower question quality tends to be from those with a fairly poor understanding of chemistry. While I love well-written questions from those wanting to learn chemistry, I see many more high-quality questions from researchers. I think it's more of a question of "how can we market to academics?" $\endgroup$ Sep 9, 2019 at 1:25

1 Answer 1


Question quality is never really as high as I would like it to be. There will always be subpar questions, which is one consequence of having a low bar to asking questions (you don't even need an account here). In the medium- to long-term, it would be nice to see an increase in question quality, but I am not entirely sure how to do this (we have tried before, albeit not entirely with success).

In the short term, though, I'd put forth the following counterintuitive suggestion (and I make no apology for abusing MathJax):

$$\Large\textbf{Downvote bad questions more!}$$

At a score of −4 they get hidden from the front page. This is the easiest way of cleaning up the front page. Far too often, what happens is something gets closed, collects 1 or 2 downvotes, but hangs around on the front page for people like you and I to see.

I'm not sure how much there is to be gained by making comparisons to other SE sites, but if we do, then we need to have some hard statistics. Please don't get me wrong; I'm not saying that you're making stuff up, it's just that it's tough to identify a course of action if we don't clearly identify the problem and possible reason(s) behind it.


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