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We need more questions

It's been pointed out by numerous people on many occasions that we need more questions. The graph of questions per week over time has remained almost flat, but despite that, our answers per day keeps going up. I attribute that mainly to the many users who answer 10 or more questions and have asked only 1 or 2, as you can see on Area51:

Area51 list of users by reputation

Because of this, it's clear to me that we're already are doing a good job with this site, but this should help us do a great job by increasing the number of questions we get and hopefully attracting new users. I've spent many late nights worrying about how we can get our amazing, intelligent, experienced users who are teachers at every level of Computer Science Education to ask more questions.

Here is the solution I've come up with:

Question Competitions

In order to get our knowledgeable users to ask more high-quality questions, I'd like to begin having periodic competitions, each with a specific theme. These competitions will then challenge you, our users, to ask specific questions on that theme.

My goal is to motivate our talented users to ask more questions and to improve the quality and focus of questions asked.

Why are focused questions so important? I'm glad you asked! It's vital that the questions stay focused because otherwise it would be unfair to other competitors. One question could cover the entire topic, making impossible for people to ask other questions on the topic which are not duplicates. We will be holding questions on each topic to a higher standard for focus for that reason, which means that we will close questions more freely. Here is the structure of the competition:

  1. We will collect topic ideas on meta1.
  2. We will choose a topic, and ask a meta question challenging users to ask and answer questions about that topic.
  3. Users answer that meta question with questions they nominate as the best question and answer they nominate as the best answer.
  4. Once the period is over, we announce the winners (probably 1 question and 1 answer) and lock the meta post for posterity.
  5. The winners are contacted, and they may, if they choose, have a free Stack Exchange t-shirt mailed to them at an address they will submit privately2.

The rules of each competition will be announced with the competition itself, but questions will be scored according to the following guidelines:

  1. How many votes has the question or answer received?
  2. Is the question about a specific issue that could actually be encountered in a CS classroom?
  3. How tight is the focus? The more focused a question is, the better it will do. General questions may also be disqualified at the judges' discretion.
  4. How good of a model is the question for the tags it uses?

All of the judging will be done by your very own CSEd Community Moderators.

If you have any complaints, questions, concerns, judgments, screams, axes, votes, emoji, and so on, feel free to share them with us here, as answers. This idea obviously can't become a reality without your full support, and so if you all don't like it, it won't happen.


1 After the first contest. We already have an idea for the first contest.

2 When we send your t-shirt to you, we will have to know your address. The only people who will ever see your address will be the community moderators (who have all signed the moderator agreement) and stack exchange employees, which ensures that your information will be kept private.

This post was inspired by this Meta Stack Exchange post

Previous challenges:

  1. Topic Challenge #01: the Review Spew
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  • $\begingroup$ My mom used to call this "Too many Chiefs and not enough Indians." Or we could say, "Too many Chefs and not enough soups." Or, Too many people who have not watched The Future of Programming by Bret Victor. $\endgroup$ – user737 Jul 10 '17 at 19:19
  • $\begingroup$ I'm all for this. Great idea! $\endgroup$ – heather Jul 10 '17 at 20:07
  • $\begingroup$ worth checking out: graphicdesign.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/3136/… $\endgroup$ – ItamarG3 Jul 28 '17 at 18:22
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A proposal:

In the interest of fairness, I ask that a 24 hour grace period be given after revealing the topic challenge. During this grace period, there shouldn't be any question\answer posted as part of the challenge.

I ask this because such a grace period allows everyone (around the world) a chance to look at the challenge and such, before the challenge begins.

This grace period also allows people to prepare their questions, and edit and edit again.


space buffer


Second proposal, linked to the first and less important:1

A second proposal is that if someone does prepare a question during the grace period, then they ought not to talk about it in the Guidance office. This is just my view on this. The grace period is meant to allow people to learn how to write great questions on their own. Also, I doubt anyone wants to share their question before the grace period is over, except if they have another great question and they don't mind helping out. But the first idea is the main point of my answer.


1 the small text in the middle of the answer reads "space buffer".

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Second suggestion, for challenges to come:

After winners are announced, we should wait for one (1) Thursday, and then reveal the next topic challenge on the Thursday after that one. (We wait a week and until Thursday).

Challenges would always be revealed on Thursdays. I think it's a fancy suggestion.

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