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We all love Network Engineering Stack Exchange, but there is a whole world of people out there who need answers to their questions and don't even know that this site exists. When they arrive from Google, what will their first impression be? Let's try to look at this site through the eyes of someone who's never seen it before, and see how we stack up against the rest of the 'Net.

The Site Self-Evaluation review queue is open and populated with 10 questions that were asked and answered in the last quarter. Run a few Google searches to see how easy they are to find and compare the answers we have with the information available on other sites.

Rating the questions is only a part of the puzzle, though. Do you see a pattern of questions that should have been closed but are not? Questions or answers that could use an edit? Anything that's going really well? Post an answer below to share your thoughts and discuss these questions and the site's health with your fellow users!

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Final Results

Net Score: 4 (Excellent: 4, Satisfactory: 3, Needs Improvement: 0)


Net Score: 3 (Excellent: 4, Satisfactory: 2, Needs Improvement: 1)


Net Score: 3 (Excellent: 3, Satisfactory: 4, Needs Improvement: 0)


Net Score: 3 (Excellent: 3, Satisfactory: 4, Needs Improvement: 0)


Net Score: 2 (Excellent: 4, Satisfactory: 2, Needs Improvement: 2)


Net Score: 2 (Excellent: 2, Satisfactory: 5, Needs Improvement: 0)


Net Score: -1 (Excellent: 1, Satisfactory: 4, Needs Improvement: 2)


Net Score: -4 (Excellent: 0, Satisfactory: 2, Needs Improvement: 4)


Net Score: -5 (Excellent: 0, Satisfactory: 1, Needs Improvement: 5)


Net Score: -7 (Excellent: 0, Satisfactory: 0, Needs Improvement: 7)


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I think we need to be careful with both questions and answers in "best practices" Q&As.

(There are a lot of these -- here's an ad hoc list).

In some cases, there are published best practices (see IETF BCPs, for example). In other cases, it might be helpful to cite a source (a Cisco design guide, or Doyle/Carroll, etc.).

If the answers are of the form "well, I do this in my network: ...." then it is possible or perhaps likely that we are not talking about an authoritative or consensus-based best practice, OR, the question needs to be worded more precisely, so that a particular or individual solution (i.e., not a consensus "best practice") is the correct way to answer. In that case, the wording of the question (or answer) might be inexact -- with a throw-away usage of "best practices" used to obscure imprecision.

From some discussion, see Best-Practices versus Subjective .

With regard to the site review, this is fundamentally about precision and helpfulness in answers (and asking and/or editing questions so they are conducive to good answers). I think stackexchange sites work best when they encourage both good questions and good answers -- otherwise, they contribute to noise instead of providing clarity.

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    Re: best practice questions... I agree, this is the same concern I have. – Mike Pennington Feb 15 '14 at 1:58
  • Aha. Yes, good points. Mixing the stackexchange (game) model with a good community model takes some practice (and possibly badgering from moderators). – belacqua Feb 16 '14 at 21:47

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