Lately, there has been a splurge of not-so-positive posts on Meta -- some of it justified, some of it unjustified. Either way, they happened. And as always, the focus shouldn't be placed on what went wrong, but instead on what we can do to fix it.

This thread is intended to be a place where anyone can suggest methods or ideas to improve the community, and everyone can upvote/downvote on which ideas should be adopted or omitted.

The format I had in mind is every new idea/suggestion in its own answer, then the idea can be discussed in comments (or even in a new answer if you need to be more verbose).

If I'm way off about how much verbosity is needed for each idea, then maybe we abandon this thread and make each new suggestion its own Question. But lets start simple.

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    This is really the wrong format for meta. You are basically railroading your suggestions each as answers and not allowing the community to repspond except in comments. Instead, each of your suggestions should be an individual meta post so you and anyone can provide answers representing multiple view points the community can respond vote on.
    – YLearn
    May 17 '16 at 16:02
  • @YLearn Yea, you're probably right -- (although, I'm not sure what you mean by railroading my suggestions). Was hoping this format would encourage others to post suggestions as well. Either way, at this point, what do you recommend? Abandon and start over, or let it ride?
    – Eddie
    May 17 '16 at 16:21
  • What I meant was that you have presented your suggestions in such a way as to preclude others from providing alternative ideas or dissenting viewpoints. I didn't mean to imply any sort of maliciousness or deception. As to best handle this, I would probably delete the answers that should be their own posts, create a new post and provide your own answer to those posts. This would then allow others to provide their own viewpoints and the community to vote up/down those viewpoints that they agree/disagree with.
    – YLearn
    May 17 '16 at 17:55
  • @Ylearn it will have to wait until I get another block of time to dedicate to this. But I'll at least link back to whatever discussion makes their way here.
    – Eddie
    May 17 '16 at 19:14
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    Thanks for bringing up this topic Eddie. NE SE has such a wealth of information and is a wonderful resource that I wish I knew about sooner, but it can be hard to get your foot in the door so to speak. I learn more both by asking questions AND answering some! Jun 7 '16 at 21:27

Suggestion: Make it rain with the votes

There are anywhere between 10-50 regular users on the site. I think it is safe to say that 100% of every thread / question / answer has been read by at least five people in the top 10-50 regular users on this site.

If we can convince these users to be incredibly generous with their voting, that would mean every question would have at least five votes (which would be a huge improvement from where we are now).

  • If a question is something you never thought of, up vote it
  • If a question is something you at one point in your career were curious about, up vote it
  • If a question is something you think would help others in their career/journey, up vote it
  • If a question shows effort and attention to formatting, up vote it

But it should also apply to answers to...

  • If an answer adequately answers the original question(s), up vote it
  • If an answer is well articulated and formatted and relavent, up vote it
  • If an answer creatively answers the question from an angle you hadn't though of, up vote it
  • If an answer adds anything positive to the discussion, up vote it

Related Meta Question

Remember, votes are like money you can give to other users. But this 'money' has no value if kept to yourself. It adds nothing to hold back your votes, and creates value when you do vote.

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    I agree with the concept that we could do with more voting, but that is clearly up to individuals, and it can turn some people off to pressure them to vote. Hovering over the UP/DOWN arrows will give you the reasons to vote that way: Question UP = "This question shows research effort; it is useful and clear;" Question DOWN = "This question does not show any research effort; it is unclear or not useful;" Answer UP = "This answer is useful;" Answer DOWN = "This answer is not useful." You may vote for other reasons, but the above reasons are what the authors will get as the reasons.
    – Ron Maupin Mod
    May 17 '16 at 22:39
  • I, personally, vote often (>1000 up votes, <10 down votes since I would rather encourage changes to a question or answer than vote down on it). If anyone cares about badges, there are a few for voting: Civic Duty - Vote 300 or more times (27 awarded), Electorate - Vote on 600 questions and 25% or more of total votes are on questions (6 awarded), Sportsmanship - Up vote 100 answers on questions where an answer of yours has a positive score (1 awarded), Suffrage - Use 30 votes in a day (41 awarded), and Vox Populi - Use the maximum 40 votes in a day (32 awarded).
    – Ron Maupin Mod
    May 18 '16 at 15:35

Suggestion: Only close Homework questions as a last resort. This is a suggestion wrapped around loosening the restrictions on homework questions.

  • If the question shows good effort, answer it
  • if the question is a request for clarification on a homework question, answer it
  • If the question is conceptual, or something that could help many people coming here from search engines, answer it
  • If the question is possibly homework, but not explicitly or obviously homework, answer it

  • If the question is obviously a "do my work for me", then close and don't answer it.
  • did you, perhaps, accidentaly post this almost identical answer twice? May 17 '16 at 15:35
  • @CraigConstantine One was about homework questions, the other was about home networking questions. But if you think those both fall under the same underlying suggestion, then I'm open to combining them into one. Let me know.
    – Eddie
    May 17 '16 at 15:38
  • oh, duh, sorry. Reading too fast :p May 17 '16 at 15:38
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    HOMEWORK: Yes, this is an area where I think NE would do well to relax a little. For example, we have a superlative address/netmask QandA that we use when closing that same Q over and over. So if we answered, "well thought out, well asked" homework-ish Qs, that would lead to us having more such great QandAs that we can share ("close as duplicate...") with beginners. May 17 '16 at 15:40
  • This keeps coming up, but it is always rejected: this, this, and one which you answered. I once made a suggestion that someone can start a Network Learning SE site, but it will require going through the whole process, and it will be heavily seasonal.
    – Ron Maupin Mod
    May 17 '16 at 16:43
  • One real problem with answering homework/education questions is that we can give real answers and explain how things work, but this doesn't always meet what is being taught in the particular curriculum, and the answers we give may not be acceptable to the instructor. We have seen many questions where there was a typo or incorrect information, and the correct answer would be incorrect for the class context. The person asking could get a wrong answer based on correct information given here. That is a big responsibility.
    – Ron Maupin Mod
    May 18 '16 at 16:01
  • But it isn't really "our" responsibility to account for typos, or poor teaching, or incorrect teaching. If the student turns in a NESE answer word for word and gets it wrong, that is on the student.
    – Eddie
    Jun 24 '16 at 23:07

Suggestion: Start every comment with a Hi or Hello.

This is just a general courtesy which costs very, very little, and goes a long way in creating a warmer community.

In particular, any time you comment on an answer/question and the original poster has less than 100 rep. We need to encourage the users to hopefully become regular users.

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    My suggestion is this ONLY be done when interacting with the newest people (eg your sub-100 rep is perfect). This would make NE feel friendly, without making this a general thing -- I generally think adding "Hi" or "Hello" is a waste. But doing it for those sub-100-rep first touches... that's a nice touch. May 17 '16 at 15:33
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    I already do something along these lines. For new users, I generally preface my comments with "Welcome to NE, we hope you will both contribute to and learn from this community."
    – YLearn
    May 17 '16 at 17:53
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    Something like @CraigConstantine suggests may be OK, but this is something that SE actively discourages (the questions and answers form an archive), and meta.stackechange.com is full of questions about this with answers discouraging this practice, e.g. meta.stackexchange.com/questions/2950/…
    – Ron Maupin Mod
    May 17 '16 at 18:06

Suggestion: Every answer is a teaching opportunity

In my opnion, and compared to what I see in other Stack Exchanges, the quality of answers in NESE is inferior to some of the answers in the other Stack Exchanges.

The experienced engineers among us need to start viewing the questions being posed here not as simple "answer and move on", but as requests for a deeper understanding.

We need to start answering questions with more context, and more clarification, and looking at the bigger picture.

It is very rare for a question to have just a simple answer. Even in those cases, I think adding background explanation of "why" would go a long way.

  • If your answer is one or two sentences long, really think about adding additional context
  • If your answer is mostly quoting another reference, really consider rephrasing it in your own words in addition to the quoting. Users are often confused by the wording in official documentation, so simply quoting it does not really help
  • If you can't see through the immediate question and into the specific lapse in knowledge that is inspiring the question than don't answer the question. This is a bit of a pet peeve, I've come across great questions with such low quality answers. Often the new user asking the question doesn't know any better, so simply accepts the first (more terse) answer and doesn't come back because in that interaction, NESE hasn't set itself apart from the plethora of other forums/help sites.

There is a measurable benefit to answering a question first. But if your answer isn't going to 'wow' the original asker, then don't answer it. If the question goes a few weeks without an answer, then feel free to add a terse answer. But every new, unanswered question should be regarded as a teaching opportunity.

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    "But if your answer isn't going to 'wow' the original asker, then don't answer it. If the question goes a few weeks without an answer, then feel free to add a terse answer." A lot of people just want an answer, and they want it now. I would certainly be miffed if no one answered my question for a few weeks, waiting for a "Wow!" answer. The most important thing is to get an answer. Other answers can come in due course, and the person asking is free to change the accepted answer at any time. There is nothing wrong with teaching, too, but, above all, the person asking wants an answer.
    – Ron Maupin Mod
    May 19 '16 at 15:09

Suggestion: Significantly loosen the restrictions on home networking questions.

There have been many questions on this site that are good network engineering questions, but have included the word "home network" or "at home" or something similar.

Often I see these questions voted to close or comments suggesting a needless reword. This doesn't add value to the community, and is a useless obstacle we're make new users go through to get a question answered.

  • If a question is a good network engineering question, but mentions an application of a home network, then answer it
  • If a question has potential application in an enterprise network, but is asked from the perspective of a home network, then answer it
  • If a question shows good effort in figuring out a home networking issue, then answer it

  • If a question lacks effort, or is clearly a non-network engineer or computer technician asking a somewhat unreasonable request, then close (politely) don't answer it.
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    HOME NETWORKING: here, I downvoted because I feel there's a horde at the gates that must keep out if we're to keep the professional networking peeps on this site. If the noise level of home networking Qs goes up, the professionals will wander away. ( <= all my personal opinion of course) May 17 '16 at 15:42
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    I agree with @CraigConstantine. I know several people who use this site for research, and the feedback is it is great not to need to wade through home networking questions. it's more about what the Tour says, "Network Engineering Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for network engineers," and what the Help Center says, "Network Engineering Stack Exchange is for asking questions about professionally managed networks in a business environment." If we open the floodgates, we need to start making subjective decisions on what to allow. Super User does a good job for home networking.
    – Ron Maupin Mod
    May 17 '16 at 16:37

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