I know my proposal is extreme! Please read it as objectively as you can and imagine the community that would be created instead of dismissing it purely for being extreme. Additionally I wrote the post in a bit of a roundabout way exactly for this reason, if it's too long to read, just jump to the proposal below.
So, I was just thinking about the quality problem this site has, and wanted to post an answer to How do we improve the quality of content produced on Puzzling.SE?, but my thoughts started to deviate so far away from the original question that I decided to post it as a separate post so that it wouldn't clutter that one.
My thought process
My thought process went a bit like this:
- How can one objectively draw a line between good questions and bad questions?
- Oh wait, this is only an issue with puzzles, everybody agrees questions about making puzzles are great.
- Either way, drawing an objective line seems impossible
- What if we would ban all those questions then... and change them into questions about making puzzles
So, the proposal
Any current puzzle question can actually be quite easily be reworded and reworked into questions focused on the puzzle solving and puzzle making process rather than the answer to the puzzle. In other words, it would become somewhat of a puzzle review Q&A site instead of just the puzzle solving forum/chatbox it is now. Now, as everybody loves the puzzle solving element I definitely wouldn't propose taking it out, I would just propose that instead of stating
The answer is this and this
questions would be reworded to get answers like
I believe this and this in your puzzle implies this (the answer the answerer believes was intended), however this might confuse puzzle solvers and give answers like
- Exotic answer 1
- Exotic answer 2
Personally I would advice rewording the puzzle as such:
The great thing about this is that this allows drawing a hard objective line between what a good and a bad question is. The entire rule change can be reflected with a one liner like "All questions should be either about the puzzle making or puzzle solving process".
Example list of on topic (NOT necessarily good) questions
- In this password puzzle I made, how can I determine whether there is just one unique solution?
- I made this mathematical puzzle, however I am unhappy with the transparency of the math parts. How can I hide the mathematics better?
- I wrote this lateral thinking puzzle, however I wish to word it in such a way that "this and this answer" will be given over "this and this answer". (e.g. top two answers on https://puzzling.stackexchange.com/questions/3911/a-man-pushes-his-car)
- I came across this Sudoku puzzle, however I am stuck at this and this point. I tried this and this, but I am not getting anywhere. How to approach solving this puzzle.
- I found this this word puzzle including this unexplained solution. How can I translate this puzzle into a mathematical set of solvable equations.
The problems this solves
- Answer quality Answer quality necessarily goes up
- Too localized Questions stop being 'too localized', fitting the SE mentality where a question is not only valuable for the person asking the question, but also for future readers.
- Unique puzzling.SE would find an unique place in the internet puzzling community (a lot of users have been complaining that it now is nothing more than another Yahoo Answer sub section).
- Question quality Questions about making puzzles would become more popular again, as that aspect would be highlighted more.
- SE network It would make the site fit well within the mentality of the SE network. Whether this has advantages for the site is hard to figure out, but at the very least it decreases the chances of the site being shut down and increases the chances of the site graduating.
How to achieve this
Now, I am far from sure that people would be actually in favor of this proposal, but just in case people will object that it's not realistic let me outline how this could be achieved
- (one time) First of all all unpopular questions would be outright deleted
- (one time) Salvageable questions would be edited
- (only during beta) Questions that are bad get deleted
- (after beta) Questions that are bad get downvoted (by that time the community has hopefully figured out the new model)
Additionally it has been done before. Check the programmers.SE history for example.
Now, I don't think I am perfect and this question is just the bare base on which a lot more work would need to be done, however I do think that I would definitely love being part of the kind of community this would create. Yes, a lot of users would be lost, but all experts would probably stay and a substantial group of the current users might just make the jump to the 'expert level'.
Oh and, do feel more than free to edit this question. Removing ambiguities, improving the language and improving the sample questions would be all much appreciated.