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We are slated to go into public beta in about 19 hours as I write. Are we ready for it?

I am concerned that the site is full of chestnuts — solutions to classic puzzles that are already all over the web. This makes a significant part of the site rather boring, which doesn't bode well for the site's success, and sets a dangerous precedent that it seems to establish the site as a chestnut repository.

So I think that we should extend the private beta and give us time to solve the puzzle dump problem.

First, we need to decide whether it is a problem. I think it is, but if the community disagrees, so be it. So far, the meta question doesn't have any highly-upvoted answer, showing that we as a community are still pondering the issue.

If we decide that it is a problem, we need to get rid of the puzzle dump questions. Ideally, edit them into something suitable, and edit the answers to match. If a question or an answer can't be made suitable, we should delete it before the site goes public.

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    $\begingroup$ A a point of information, we have delayed the public beta for at least a week. Several of us on the team have similar concerns similar to what you've expressed here (and elsewhere). The first few days have gone very well and we aren't planning on shutting the site down. But we do want to get the scope hammered out before exposing the community to the larger public. $\endgroup$ May 21 '14 at 1:28
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No, we are not ready.

It's not just chestnuts. This is supposed to be a site of experts. It seems quite clear to me that we are not interested in expert answers, let alone expert questions.

Here are my concerns:

  1. Chestnuts, obviously.
    • I won't go into more detail as @JonEricson has already done a much better job than I would.
  2. It is easy to give one answer to one problem. But there seems to be little interest in exploring what makes a puzzle work, or how the logic behind a puzzle works:

    • The Mexican Standoff

      • The highest voted answer is far too long. The same math could be massively condensed. This is an answer designed to be understandable by a beginner, not by an expert.
      • No one has discussed the actual "cleverness" of the question (that the first shooter should shoot into the air)
      • No one has discussed how changing the probabilities could affect the outcome. This is such a classic problem, with an easily Googlable answer. We could be talking about how to jigger the problem to make different outcomes. Consider the question "in what ranges of probabilities is the optimal answer to shoot into the air?"
    • A camel transporting bananas & Hats and Aliens

      • For both of these questions, I tried to provide a generic, high level answer. But the easy answer designed to be read by beginners has many more votes in both cases.
  3. Similar to #2, we are not rewarding the expert level answers, we are rewarding questions that, while well written (that part is worthy of an upvote), are not actually expert level analysis.
  4. We have not actually come up with consensus answers to the most compelling site policy decisions (this is not necessarily a comprehensive list)
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    $\begingroup$ I'm not sure what you mean with #3. The best answers are "the easiest to understand." $\endgroup$
    – Kevin
    May 21 '14 at 14:59
  • $\begingroup$ @Kevin edited in response $\endgroup$
    – durron597
    May 21 '14 at 15:02
  • $\begingroup$ @_@ I accidentally clicked to vote up (I'm mobile, sorry), but I don't really necessarily agree with this answer. I don't want to vote down for no reason, I do think the idea that we aren't ready is correct, but I don't particularly think every question on the site warrants an expert-level analysis. If it did, then we would be getting very few newcomers. It would be near impossible for a new person to come in and feel welcomed if that were the case. Plus, on questions that are "challenges", how do we determine the accepted answer? Is it the "best" answer? Or the first one that is correct? $\endgroup$
    – Ice-9
    May 21 '14 at 16:33
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    $\begingroup$ @Ice-9 I'm not saying every question should get expert analysis. I'm saying, the expert analysis should be rewarded more than basic analysis. $\endgroup$
    – durron597
    May 21 '14 at 16:35
  • $\begingroup$ I'd agree, but it seems to me that you want the expert-level answers to be accepted answers/get the most upvotes. But both the accepted answer and the upvote count have to do with "the most useful" answers. If an expert-level answer is not receiving the accolades it deserves despite being right, then perhaps the problem is not with the way we're rewarding them but with the answer itself. Should we be rewarding an answer purely because it's expert-level? I'd argue that if the answer is expert-level but impossible for a beginner to understand, it shouldn't be rewarded at all. $\endgroup$
    – Ice-9
    May 21 '14 at 17:11
  • $\begingroup$ Although as far as Hats and Aliens is concerned, I think your answer just came too late. I recall my answer being accepted quickly, which lead me to believe that the challenge tag gave the "accepted answer" to the first post with a correct answer. Is this a wrong assumption? $\endgroup$
    – Ice-9
    May 21 '14 at 17:12
  • $\begingroup$ @Ice-9 Is this a wrong assumption? that's what I'm addressing with point 4. We shouldn't be assuming, we should come up with a policy. I don't know if "first clear & correct" is better or "best, most complete" is better. But we need to decide. $\endgroup$
    – durron597
    May 21 '14 at 17:26
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    $\begingroup$ "No one has discussed the actual "cleverness" of the question (that the first shooter should shoot into the air)" Actually my answer was the first posted, and I did address this point. $\endgroup$
    – WendiKidd
    May 21 '14 at 18:47
  • $\begingroup$ @durron597 Actually, we don't have to decide on a consistent policy on what answer to accept (first, best, etc.) If you think an answer is useful, you upvote it. The OP gets to decide which answer was most useful to them, and that's what the checkmark means. That's true across the SE network. I don't always agree with where the checkmark is placed, but it's not my question. I get to decide when it's mine. $\endgroup$
    – WendiKidd
    May 21 '14 at 18:49
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    $\begingroup$ Regarding #2 and to some extent #3, I think the problem is primarily with the questions: we're accepting and even rewarding with upvotes a lot of mediocre “solve this puzzle” questions, where an answer that just rehashes what's been said 1000000 times before works. If the question were more challenging, the answers would be more interesting and more reflecting of expertise. $\endgroup$ May 21 '14 at 20:40
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    $\begingroup$ I disagree with the conclusion. While I agree that some answers are written for beginners, many of the answers here are not, and I think the sample size here misrepresents the actual situation. $\endgroup$
    – user20
    May 22 '14 at 3:55
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Ready or not, we're there now.

We were just moved into public beta less than an hour before I posted this. Any issues that were heavily discussed without resolution in the private beta, especially the puzzle dump/chestnut problem, are now exposed to the public.

Hopefully this helps us solve the problems we've been talking about with more people contributing questions and answers and helping us determine where we want this site to go.

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Yes, we are (now) ready.

No site is without issue when it reaches public beta. We have a couple outstanding issues which have yet to be completely resolved, but that's to be expected.

What we gain from public beta is simple: we can begin to advertise the site, and as a result gain a higher question volume.

The major problems we are currently facing are, honestly, smaller definition ones at this point. I think most people have a good idea of what sort of questions are and are not on-topic, even if there are a few edge cases to work out.

People have, on the whole, stopped self-answering puzzle questions. While the question volume for the site has decreased, I think that's really because people don't run into puzzle problems too often in their daily lives (except maybe those who go and seek them out).

So, in conclusion, I do think we are ready. We have a good community basis, and I feel we are prepared to handle whatever problems the terrifying outside world wishes to throw at us.

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  • $\begingroup$ Have we really solved the puzzle dump problem? The problem is with the questions far more than with the answers (and not related to the answers being self-answers). The chestnuts have slowed down, but does that really mean that we're asking better questions (which would be good), or that we've run out of chestnuts (which doesn't bode well)? $\endgroup$ May 25 '14 at 18:58
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    $\begingroup$ @Gilles To answer that, consider why people might have been gathering chestnuts. People don't run into logic problems too often in their daily lives. Additionally, people like sharing puzzles. I'd agree that chestnuts are running low, but I'd argue that the effect is simply to highlight the good questions, which are of lower volume (we're in private beta), but higher quality. $\endgroup$
    – user20
    May 25 '14 at 19:01
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No

I think this site has failed to show it's self to be viable. That the Gathering chestnuts and related questions exist without solid community excepted answers in meta, is a symptom of the bigger issue.

While a SE site about puzzle seems like a great idea, we have so far failed to show that it has anything to offer that is not already available on the internet.

This site has several issues @durron597 has pointed out a some of them, and the community has responded by voting equally up and down on that answer, showing there is significant lack of cohesion in the community consensus in the direction of the sites development.

The problems left unsolved in meta are the puzzles that need to be solved before any thoughts of moving out of private beta should be considered.

In theory, the missing pieces for the front side could be fixed, but what is missing is the strong community in the back side that keeps the system working. We have gathered a bunch of questions from the internet and re posted them (often without attribution) and failed to generate a community.

The site lacks a sense of warm and welcoming community that is working together towards the same goal.

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    $\begingroup$ "The site lacks a sense of warm and welcoming community that is working together towards the same goal." I mean, I disagree with this, but couldn't cite specific reasons or examples why. My real question, though, is: why does this problem have to be solved completely in private beta? $\endgroup$
    – user20
    May 26 '14 at 15:44

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