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I visit this site often and notice (1) the same old questions churning and (2) very little questions posted by anyone with a reputation over 1.

A vast majority of the activity is by 1 or 2% of the users.

Compared to many other Stack Exchange sites, this site sees little activity.

Why is this?

  • I didn't add it to my answer, but for the record I did want to point out that there are exactly 4 people in the top 2% of the users (for this year): myself, Ricky, Mike and Ron Trunk. There are far more users I see regularly active here that those 4. – YLearn Aug 21 '15 at 4:10
  • Please flag comments for moderators to look into, rather than trying to make them pertinent to this discussion. The reactions of members of this community to you personally are not representative of the site as a whole. I personally believe that you have improved your participation as part of this community, but you fostered a large amount of negativity initially toward yourself that will take time to overcome. – YLearn Aug 31 '15 at 5:56
  • To me it looks like that serverfault accepts network engineering related questions and their user base will answer them. To those users, why look anywhere else? Also there are loads of questions posted there daily that should come here and vice versa – Gareth Hastings Sep 4 '15 at 15:18
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    @GarethHastings, Server Fault existed before NE and did include networking (and still does). However most network professionals I know did not spend much time there as the percentage of actual network questions (i.e. not including host network configuration) was very low. Users are free to ask in either location. They may get a faster response on Server Fault because of the larger and more established community, but I believe the quality of answers to network questions here will in general be better than those provided there due to the nature of the users who make up this community. – YLearn Sep 4 '15 at 16:17
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(1) the same old questions churning

Any question without an accepted answer is periodically "updated" by the system to bring it back up to the top. This happens on all sites, but yes it is more noticeable on lower traffic sites. Please remember to accept answers on your questions to help avoid this effect.

You also get questions that resurface when someone new comes along to add an answer or edit an existing answer/question. Or when someone is doing something like trying to clean up tags (remove incorrect tags, add correct tags, etc).

(2) very little questions posted by anyone with a reputation over 1

In part because many questions are asked by unregistered users (which always start with 1 reputation) but also because many users don't find the site until they have a question to ask. However this is also true of many SE sites.

For example, I just checked the top 10 questions on SuperUser and 6 of them were from users with 1 rep when the question was posted. I don't know if this is normal, high or low for that site, but it is just serves as an illustration.

A vast majority of the activity is by 1 or 2% of the users

Assuming you are disregarding point #2 above, this is typically true on other sites as well when it comes to answers, flags, edits, voting, etc. It's a fact of life that a very small percentage of users will make the largest contribution to any online community.

Compared to many other Stack Exchange sites, this site sees little activity.

Why is this?

Primarily because "network professionals" is a fairly limited audience. Compare the number of network professionals to say the number of people doing home improvement (see Home Improvement). We clearly have a much smaller potential audience to start with than that community.

Further, not everyone who is a network professional visits this site. Maybe they aren't aware of it? Maybe they don't like SE for personal reasons? Maybe because they are happy with the resources they are using currently? But more do find it all the time and as we grow we will be found in search engines more often.

I will say that based on nearly all the statistics (visits, new visits, page views, votes, etc), we continue to trend upward. On a few of them, it looks like we had a burst around when the site was launched and a bit of a drop off shorty after, but we are still up over the numbers we had 12 months ago.

Could we grow the site/community faster? Sure, we could easily do so by lowering standards and allowing home/consumer networking questions, education/certification questions, etc. But that would dilute the audience this site was launched to attract and ultimately hurt this community in the long run.

As one of the closer parallels to the community we are trying to grow here, I suggest interested parties should spend some time reading at ServerFault Meta. They have dealt with many of the same issues trying to maintain a site targeted at professionals and problems they have had when standards were not maintained.

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    Good answer, thanks for taking the time to write that out. – Eddie Aug 20 '15 at 16:42
  • "Further, not everyone who is a network professional visits this site. Maybe they aren't aware of it?" - Pretty much this. I'm a network professional and I've been on SuperUser and ServerFault a while now, but never heard of NetworkEngineering.SE till today. I've only ever seen it mentioned on other SE sites once - and that's when I found it. Most questions suitable for here I often see getting punted to SF instead. – Dog Aug 26 '15 at 12:35
  • Plus, many network professionals know their craft; as such, they rarely need to ask questions, and know how to research their problems to find their own answers. (and then don't bother to ask+answer it here as a reference to others.) – Ricky Beam Sep 16 '15 at 20:05
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I too have "felt" a decline lately in the content. Although, I've also spent less time on Stack Exchange lately as well, so take that with a grain of salt.

What if we allowed ourselves to be slightly less strict on questions that would cause for a really good answer?

That would be an easy way to increase our Google traffic. I've seen other questions on other SE sites that had loads of views/votes which spawned from a not-so-great question, but a user took time to make an amazing answer out of it. The question is marked closed, but had some verbiage around "left open, despite it not being a good example of a good Q&A for this site". Or something along the lines. (I just now tried to find an example, but I couldn't remember what I was looking for when I came across them).

All it would really take is for our Mods to not be -so- quick with the closing of questions. Or at least the types of questions which could make for a really solid answers.

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    Many of those questions however, belong on other sites on the network. A rock-star answer to a home-networking question, should still be over on SuperUser for example. Why fluff our stats with questions that are not on-topic? – Brett Lykins Aug 21 '15 at 0:58
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    Its less about stats than it is about driving traffic. If we move questions, sure, that is fine. But not every question we close that might get a great answer ends up getting re-asked on another site. Besides, whats to keep us from moving the question after it has received an answer? – Eddie Aug 21 '15 at 1:57
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    @Eddie, I want to respond to the "Mods to not be -so- quick with the closing of questions" statement. We aren't actually that quick to close questions. Keep in mind that with the higher privilege levels post-graduation, we now only have 10 non-mod users with close vote privileges. Users without the close vote privilege can still raise flags recommending closure. So while a post may appear to only have a single mod close vote, there may be one or more recommended closure flags as well. I seldom close questions before someone else has either cast a close vote or flagged it. – YLearn Aug 21 '15 at 18:41
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    Further, of those 10 close voters, two of them aren't active on the site (one logged in most recently last February, the other hasn't logged in since 2013). Since closing a post takes 5 close votes, even though the other 8 are fairly active, it can take days before a vote gets closed without a mod vote. As moderators, we have a responsibility to the community to help maintain the community and as such we should be taking action. – YLearn Aug 21 '15 at 18:47
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    I can only second what YLearn is saying here. I often skip votes when I'm in doubt if the question is really off topic and wait until at least a few more votes have been cast, especially because I'm aware of the weight of my vote. – Teun Vink Aug 22 '15 at 15:49
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    Ah, that explains the lower number of close votes. – Ricky Beam Sep 16 '15 at 20:08
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For me, the reason is closing questions. My only question here has been closed as offtopic, despite the help page "What topics can I ask about here?" explicitly listing these subjects as on-topic. Naturally, I'm now inclined to ask network engineering questions on other stackexchange sites.

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    I personally wouldn't have closed that one as off topic, although it is somewhat in the grey area as a host/server configuration issue. However for me, you are asking the wrong question there as I indicated in my comment (to which you did not reply). This is not an IPv6 problem and IPv6 is working correctly as designed. Your problem there (upon which the question should be based) is about the two all zero MAC addresses and what you should do about them. Ask about that and you will most likely get a better answer. – YLearn Aug 28 '15 at 18:36

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