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We've often discussed the lack of friendliness in chem.SE whether it's just something a few of us notice and specifically call out, or unfriendliness is something a new user laments about.

While it's great to have well-written questions with a lot of forethought, details, pretty pictures, big words, and the citing of resources that warms even the most anthracitic, hardened, publish-or-perish-borne, tenure-track blackness deep with an academic's bosom, this site isn't very inviting.

What are some actionable things that can be done to make this site more inviting for users while maintaining our desire for quality?

I'm inspired by, "Conversion atom to another" for how the community seemed to show up and get down to the intricacies of the question without shutting someone down. Honestly, it's so cool that he took his question which has quite a few flaws and he created an account here and committed to finding out the answer. How can we have more of that?

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    $\begingroup$ I really don't know, maybe I'm blissfully ignorant about that whole subject; I usually see good, collegial responses to week ahead questions. I see engagement to improve mediocre posts. Obviously there are efforts to keep low quality at bay. More often than not you'll just hear the loud voices though. From my personal point of view, I wouldn't know where to start to be more inviting. Someone needs to point me to these instances where I'm not and I'm willing to work on that. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 13 at 12:34
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    $\begingroup$ I'm rather worried that this "conversion" question wasn't fully fixed after 10 years. $\endgroup$
    – Mithoron
    Commented Apr 14 at 22:10
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    $\begingroup$ And now I'm tempted to go for a duplicate hunt... wouldn't be surprised if it was one even back then. $\endgroup$
    – Mithoron
    Commented Apr 14 at 22:12
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    $\begingroup$ @Mithoron I partially rolled back that question. The meaning had been twisted to suggest the OP thought ionization was equivalent to transmutation. $\endgroup$
    – Buck Thorn Mod
    Commented Apr 15 at 7:38

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I agree with the spirit of the post. We want to encourage good questions.

I'm going to go out on a limb and claim one problem is that downvotes have an effect on participation that is beyond our control as a community. Some effects are "hard-wired" by the site design (action of a bot in the background). Automated participation bans are there to discourage spamming with unwanted content but are perhaps imposed too readily which results in unhappy participants. That explains the outcome of at least one example. The user was provided feedback by a mod arguing that the questions were repetitive and therefore of declining interest to the community at large. Ultimately a question ban was imposed due to the negative reception, perhaps a "draconian" response due to automated mechanisms.

As regards the first complaint, I previously provided an opinion. Regarding the positive example there is little fault to find beyond it being potentially off-topic (nuclear chemistry is chemistry but physics SE could claim to be the question's rightful place). I agree that we should attempt to provide a positive reception, but note that editing etc is a lot of work, not many have time for this!

I reiterate below how the site works. Providing a harmonious response uniformly agreeable to all is difficult to impossible. Questions queue in randomly from a global audience differing in background and awareness of the site's operation*. Questions and resulting answers are engaged by independent volunteers through up/down votes, comments, votes to put on hold, close as duplicate or migrate, flags, and editorial powers. These tools have a simple function: to encourage accurate quality answers to questions of interest to the community. The site operates nominally as a meritocratic democracy**: participants gain privileges due to reputation but anyone can participate. Those filtering content can have different privileges and quality standards and may select different responses.

The site has stipulated rules of engagement for all users, including being nice (not engaging using offensive language or behavior). The site is "self-policing". Mods intervene as necessary. I engage as a regular user using votes and comments. I rarely use other tools unilaterally except when I see little room for error. Comments or flags are welcome if you find I have acted in error.

*participants should respect the documented rules.

** A point of contention.

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I shall add to Buck's answer up here -

I'm going to go out on a limb and claim one problem is that downvotes have an effect on participation that is beyond our control as a community. Some effects are "hard-wired" by the site design (action of a bot in the background). Automated participation bans are there to discourage spamming with unwanted content but are perhaps imposed too readily which results in unhappy participants. That explains the outcome of at least one example. The user was provided feedback by a mod arguing that the questions were repetitive and therefore of declining interest to the community at large. Ultimately a question ban was imposed due to the negative reception, perhaps a "draconian" response due to automated mechanisms.

I am somebody who is under a question ban for the past 4 months (and believe me, as a JEE aspirant great websites like these which help us delve deeper into our concepts are rare), which is... kind of a dampener.

However, I've managed to cross 500 rep, giving me more privileges which kinda outweighs my ban, by just answering, editing and moderating within ChemSE.

Initially, as a new user, I have always felt that ChemSE is more welcoming than any of the other communities.

Improvements for the question-asking form in ChemSE

This question was posted in ChemSE and PhySE.

ChemSE responded in a welcoming, kind manner.

PhySE was more arrogant and unwelcoming.

Here's the link below -

https://physics.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/14575/our-downvoting-policy-needs-a-major-rejig

So while ChemSE is still hell due to Roomba's idiotic actions (like banning users who have asked sensible questions (though redundant) just for the sin of getting downvotes under the pretext of 'preventing spam'), it's heaven compared to any other SE.

Believe me.

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    $\begingroup$ Hello Hari. I just now noticed your answer. See, every community works differently. They have their own culture, own mindset and somewhat customized rules (but the core SE rules are still followed). So, you really can't compare one community to other just like you did with chem.SE vs phy.se. And one more point here. Beware on the language and words used here. Calling a community "arrogant" may land you in trouble. Otherwise, I agree with your sentiment. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 24 at 15:15
  • $\begingroup$ @NilayGhosh I do get your sentiment. The thing is, while in Physics SE there is a policy which allows HW questions (you can put up HW but you must show your work kind), in practice every question that even smells like HW is closed and deleted. Cut-cut. While in ChemSE, we don't allow HW questions but if the user has demonstrated understanding and given proper attributions, we take that as a good question and let it stay in the community. There are even questions in PhySE Meta, about my point. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 24 at 16:00
  • $\begingroup$ My experience so far as a reviewer has allowed me to see and know what exactly is a HW question that still stands by the standards of ChemSE. It has helped me open my eyes towards the policy that we are practicing right now. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 24 at 16:03

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