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I just checked, we have over 170 unanswered questions here (including 5 out my 6), is this of concern? The unanswered questions are up to 16 up votes.

I think I am going to stop asking questions and answer some where I can.

  • Short answer: yes – Josh Jul 12 '13 at 13:18
  • @JoshGitlin glad I am not the only one - so my plan on tackling some unanswered questions (when and if I can) is a good plan (I really don't mind answering questions, as it means I get to learn something too). – user3180 Jul 12 '13 at 13:23
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Good question.

The statistics displayed on the Area 51 page for the site give you a sense of the goals for the site.

Answer rate: The answer rate at time of posting is 82%. The recommended target is 90%. It would be great if we get the answer rate up a little higher. So if you or anyone else wants to go through some of the unanswered questions and provide some answers, I think that would be great. In general, the answer rate has hovered between 80 and 84% for most of the site's life. I think this can be attributed to the complexity of many of the questions and the general standard of evidence expected. But hopefully as we get a broader sphere of involved experts, the answer rate will start to increase.

Questions per day: However, feel free to keep asking questions. The other statistic that is arguably the most worrying is our questions per day. It currently sits at 2.9 per day, although it is improving. This is the only statistics that is "in the red". I look forward to when it gets up to 5 per day assuming that the quality can stay reasonable and the answer rate doesn't drop too much.

Users & Visits: Keeping the questions coming increases the content and the users. Both of these stats have been growing reasonably well over the last few months.

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    Ah yes, I see, essentially do both - ask my questions and provide answers where I can. I am a veritable eclectic chatterbox ;) – user3180 Jul 12 '13 at 13:34
  • Sounds good. I think the site needs a good flow of questions from users who know about the cognitive sciences, in order to balance out the many questions we get from curious laypeople. – Jeromy Anglim Jul 12 '13 at 13:38
  • very true, even though 6 of my degrees are in geology and physics, the other 3 are education related (including Special Education) and I have 14 years as a teacher to bring to the table. – user3180 Jul 12 '13 at 13:42
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    Yeah, I was wondering how the "phd student in atmospheric physics" related to cognitive sciences. :-) – Jeromy Anglim Jul 12 '13 at 13:46
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    I seem to be collecting 'Revival' badges... 5 so far – user3180 Jul 22 '13 at 10:01
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Bear in mind that the stat 'goals' on Area 51 are an aggregate rough approximation of where sites in general should be, based on our experience. Each site is going to strike it's own level, they all vary.

Having some unanswered questions, especially questions that are on the more difficult to answer side of the spectrum can be a very good thing. If an expert shows up and there's nothing to answer, you lose an opportunity. I've committed to proposals in the past where I arrived to find that everything I could have answered had been answered, and I didn't have many questions to ask.

The hallmark of a good Q&A site is an answer rate somewhere near 90%, but that's just one metric. The time it takes to get an answer is also very interesting, folks ideally get at least one up voted answer the same day that they ask their question, if not sooner.

On sites where only a few new questions come in each day, folks aren't typically hovering over the new question list. As the community grows and people begin expecting at least a few new questions every hour, they'll tend to check more often, thus questions get answered sooner and stand much less of a chance of going by without a lot of notice.

It's great to check the unanswered question list from time to time, but don't do it with the goal of getting a statistic to move. Answer the ones you know you can answer well, and don't worry if some are left for new experts to find and dive into. This is, after all, something that will naturally adjust itself as new questions are asked in higher frequency.

  • Good advice! I have been looking over all questions with the view of looking at what can I answer with a meaningful answer. – user3180 Jul 25 '13 at 10:23
  • It just occurred to me that I probably should slow down and stop answering questions for a little while, let other people at them. – user3180 Jul 27 '13 at 20:40
  • @Damien You can / probably should answer the questions that you can, just don't feel obligated to answer all of them. My point is, a few unanswered questions isn't a bad thing - while a 100% answer rate says "you'll get answers here", it's nice to have a little room for folks to dive in :) – Tim Post Jul 28 '13 at 2:12
  • Well, after my last answer, I don't think I can even do that well at all. – user3180 Jul 28 '13 at 2:14
  • @Damien hehehe then don't worry too much about it. My only point was a few unanswered questions isn't horrible to have around :) – Tim Post Jul 28 '13 at 4:23

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