This is just killing me and drastically limiting the value of the community.

Let's say SOME people want really targeted questions with targeted answers. Let's also say SOME OTHER people want to discuss the question and explore many angles. The latter group will be exploring subjective questions and subjective answers, HAPPILY. We love the user interface AS IS and think there is no better place on the web to do this.

Now, if the question police close all of the questions for the latter group, they are eliminating half of the use cases and VALUE of the community. There is NOTHING lost by having the latter group's questions. There is, however, much lost by eliminating the latter group and pushing them away.

If people want to participate in a question and love the service, why are we pushing them away and closing the question? Why can't people in the first group just move on?

Look at this question about Google Instant. 6000+ views, 44 upvotes (5th overall) and TOTALLY SUBJECTIVE. Plus it had wonderful content that helped everyone involved. It would have been a major loss to the community to eliminate the discussion.

Now look at this question asking nearly an identical question:

UX Review: Google Plus [closed]

In your expert opinions, please comment on Google Plus.

You don't have to answer everything, but these are some sub-questions:

  1. Is it better than Facebook?
  2. What do you think of the UI? Drag/Drop into circles?
  3. Are circles a cool innovation or complex architecture?
  4. Will it be loved or hated?
  5. What is your most/least favorite part of it?

To those who don't like these kinds of questions: Just move on. Questions like "Is Google Instant good or bad UX?" got 6k views and a ton of positive comments/knowledge/communication about UX. Some of us LOVE discussion topics like this and find this is the perfect place for it. Don't be annoying, if you don't like it move on.

If you need an invite to Google Plus, just let me know, I have tons of them.

No real difference to my eye. Yet, it was closed and even questions were being deleted by the question police.

It makes no sense to me. The question is about User Experience. The community is about user experience. People would bring valuable answers to the table. Can we make the question police go on vacation?

Jeff Atwood, this problem is not going away. It's making us in the latter group miserable.

Possible solution: Have a way to declare a question "subjective" and have a way to filter out "subjective questions". That way the former group wouldn't see them and the latter group would be happy. We don't want some other interface. We love THIS interface. We just want the questions to be left open.

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Glen, I realize you feel strongly about the subject, but please let's try to refrain from the nazi references. Many people find it very offensive and inappropriate. –  Vitaly Mijiritsky Jul 11 '11 at 6:34
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3 Answers 3

Well, I think there are some pretty big differences between the questions you cited:

Is Google Instant good or bad UX? [open]

vs.

UX Review: Google Plus [closed]

Most importantly, the former is much more specific -- it's discussing the usability of, one, and exactly one feature: instantly updating the UI as the user types, versus requiring them to press enter or click submit. (To be fair, it also has a massively unfair advantage in that someone from Google who helped build the feature answered the question.)

In contrast, the latter is absurdly broad, a call for reviewing an entire website on multiple levels:

You don't have to answer everything, but these are some sub-questions:

  1. Is [Google Plus] better than Facebook?
  2. What do you think of the UI? Drag/Drop into circles?
  3. Are circles a cool innovation or complex architecture?
  4. Will it be loved or hated?
  5. What is your most/least favorite part of it?

(that is not the only problem here but it is the most severe, IMO).

You could potentially break some of your sub-questions down into valid, on-topic questions, but even then they would need serious work per the faq; if we consider

Is Google Plus better than Facebook?

I assume you mean "better from a usability standpoint", but even this single sub-question is enormously broad:

  • What does "better" mean?
  • What part of the website are you referring to?
  • Which aspect of usability are you referring to?

Facebook and Google Plus are ENORMOUS websites with thousands of features. So you'd have to be far, far more specific for even your sub-questions to work, again per the faq:

If your motivation for asking the question is “I would like to participate in a discussion about ______”, then you should not be asking here. (You are more than welcome to have such discussions in our real time web chat.) However, if your motivation is “I would like others to explain ______ to me”, then you are probably OK.

I think you'll have to narrow it down dramatically, or if you want to keep it at the broad "how does this website make you feel?" level, chat is an option.

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User Experience isnt usability or user interface. It really is the whole package. Narrowing it down eliminates the ability to discuss the user experience, which is holistic, not specific. I think you are missing that point. The real time web chat is (sorry) a terrible replacement. The UI for questions is perfect. We love it and want to use it. It's only because of POLICY that we can't. The chat just doesn't work at all. I have no idea why this isn't plain to see. If possible, could you address the issue I brought up of the two different groups and the slanted experience? –  Glen Lipka Jul 11 '11 at 4:21
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I understand and appreciate that, Glen, but by any yardstick you'd care to name your question was absurdly broad. If you can narrow it down substantially -- discuss some specific aspect of Google Plus that you find of interest and can be generally useful to other people working on UX -- then it'd have a better chance of surviving. As presented, your question is almost the very definition of why we don't allow that; see faq –  Jeff Atwood Jul 11 '11 at 4:32
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@Glen I hated the real time chat until it dawned on me that it's not real time, unless you want it to be. Most of the time I end up using it more like a discussion board: Post a carefully crafted message, then go off and do something else, not expecting an immediate reply. –  Patrick McElhaney Jul 11 '11 at 12:58
    
It's still a horrible substitute. The UI for questions AS-IS is perfect. The chat is NOT perfect. Reputation, score, favorites. These are GOOD for the kinds of questions we are asking for. –  Glen Lipka Jul 11 '11 at 16:24
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The UI for chat is not a substitute. The UI for questions is perfect AS-IS. Repuation, up votes, down votes, etc are NEEDED for these kinds of questions. It's not a threaded discussion or chat. It's a real question. –  Glen Lipka Jul 11 '11 at 16:26
    
@Glen - who is this "we" you mention? I only see you out here wanting this. If the demand for this really was here, shouldn't there be more than one person saying anything about it, and shouldn't the answers by Jeff and Shog9 have downvotes? –  Charles Boyung Jul 11 '11 at 16:57
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@glen just because it is a "real question" doesn't mean it belongs here. You might consider taking such a broad, speculative question to Quora. –  Jeff Atwood Jul 11 '11 at 17:21
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@Jeff: Quora's interface is horrible compared to SE. They don't have reputation or any of the things I mentioned. Plus the experience overall is wildly different. If you are interested, I'd be happy to treat you to lunch in Berkeley and explain much better what I am describing. Text just isn't working. –  Glen Lipka Jul 11 '11 at 19:10
    
Quora has up- and downvotes, favorites, moderation and most other systems in place at SE. Just not reputation as they prefer implicit reputation systems to explicit ones. I'd also recommend trying your question there as you'll likely be asking a much larger overall community (if you use the right tags) than the current UX user base. –  Rahul Jul 11 '11 at 19:17
    
@glen free lunch! Sure! The next few weeks are not great for me, but shoot an email to team@stackexchange.com –  Jeff Atwood Jul 11 '11 at 19:40
    
Just as an additional point of interest: ux.stackexchange.com/questions/8896/… There is a clear statement that the Google Instant question should have been closed. Jeff you said it should be open. Meanwhile THAT question got closed as well. Should it have? –  Glen Lipka Jul 12 '11 at 2:58
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OK, here is the question. ux.stackexchange.com/questions/8908/… Should it be closed? It is totally ON TOPIC, and would probably drive massive traffic to the site, educate a ton of people, get wonderful answers and participation. It is REALLY like the Google Instant question. Why would we shut down a question like that? –  Glen Lipka Jul 12 '11 at 3:13
    
@Jeff: Maybe the question selected was not the best example. Still he's right on the frustration part. ---- I know you wanted to build a "one question - one answer" tool. You did that so well people want to use it for open questions, too. Where's the problem with a "subjective" tag? –  peterchen Jul 14 '11 at 9:58
    
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@peter we've seen what happens when we allow the totally subjective "whatever goes" things, and it is not pretty -- read blog.stackoverflow.com/2010/09/good-subjective-bad-subjective closely –  Jeff Atwood Jul 14 '11 at 21:52
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Jeff's done a great job of explaining why your new question was problematic in a way the previous question wasn't. He also made some good suggestions for improvement... you should consider them.

But I'd like to address your other persistent question...

Let's say SOME people want really targeted questions with targeted answers. Let's also say SOME OTHER people want to discuss the question and explore many angles.

Ok.

If people want to participate in a question and love the service, why are we pushing them away and closing the question?

In this case, you got two good explanations for this, right off the bat:

From the system:

It's difficult to tell what is being asked here. This question is ambiguous, vague, incomplete, overly broad, or rhetorical and cannot be reasonably answered in its current form.

And more specifically, from the moderator who closed it:

Glen, I understand you like to ask these questions but unfortunately the site just isn't meant for that (see the faq: "Chatty, open-ended questions diminish the usefulness of our site and push other questions off the front page", http://ux.stackexchange.com/faq#dontask). For discussions with other members of the community, we have the chat. Since you reach out often for discussions like these, why not try to get more members to visit the chat and create a place where such conversations can be had without fear of being closed?

You ignored both of these explanations, and rather than editing and refining your question into something specific, chose to call the moderator names and plead with him to look the other way. That's... a really bad way to handle the situation. A moderator who doesn't moderate is like a watchdog who doesn't bark - what's the point? The mods here walk a fine line between too little enforcement and too much, and I'm sure they'd much rather you took a hint and put some effort into asking at least moderately targeted questions rather than trying to carve out a forum for yourself within the larger site... So intentionally alienating them just makes both of your lives more difficult than it has to be.

People would bring valuable answers to the table.

Valuable in regard to what? You asked five separate questions, at least one of which is completely unanswerable short of divination or access to a time machine. Suppose someone wrote up a really fantastic answer regarding the accessibility of drag and drop UIs - now it's hidden behind a nondescript title and buried under a pile of folks' favorite features and tea-leaf readings. You've essentially put out a hat with a sign asking for donations and trash. Why would you do that?

Have a way to declare a question "subjective" and have a way to filter out "subjective questions".

So you want to split the site into two sections: one where the rules we've painstakingly crafted to maximize quality apply, and one where anything goes. A little cardboard divider in the middle of your hat: valuables go on one side, valuables and trash on the other. Because, presumably, some folks won't care to fish out the gum wrappers when digging coins out of their pockets...

That second section is why we have chat. It's not a bad system, really... You can set up a room for whatever topic you care to talk about, link to it, and folks can come and go as they please, weighing in when they have time. Yes, it does real-time, but messages persist - you can stop in and read them later if you don't want to sit lurking in the channel. And folks that aren't interested in the "anything goes" nature of chat can and do simply ignore it - exactly what you're asking for.

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I read your answers multiple times. Maybe if this was a lunch, and I could explain in person you might understand what I am saying. As a user, (one with plenty of reputation for answering questions very well), the moderation of questions as "too vague" on a site about user experience is just ruining the experience for me. The policy (from Jeff Atwood) on down is designed for questions that have specific factual answers. This means there is little room for the craft and art of user experience. There is little room for questions that explore an idea. I disagree with the way the policy is for UX.stackexchange.com, but I don't own the house, I am only renting.

Chat is not an acceptable substitute system. It doesn't include required elements for the kind of question I am describing. It needs up-votes, down-votes, favorites, flagging, tagging, reputation, moderation (for OFF-TOPIC issues), inline comments and everything else questions have. Maybe one day, the policy or the functionality will change.

OK, here is the question. Is Google Plus good or bad UX? Should it be closed? It is totally ON TOPIC, and would probably drive massive traffic to the site, educate a ton of people, get wonderful answers and participation. It is REALLY like the Google Instant question. Why would we shut down a question like that?

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I think this question finally hits it on the head as an "acceptable" question. Nice work! :) –  Matt Rockwell Jul 12 '11 at 12:10
    
@Matt - not sure how you can say that. It is still an open ended discussion question. –  Charles Boyung Jul 12 '11 at 14:30
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@Charles - I mean I guess we could ask questions about each individual feature and ask if they are good or bad and why, but that would surely clog up the front page of the site, so why not have it all in one question? –  Matt Rockwell Jul 12 '11 at 15:44
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@Matt - because that is not what StackExchange is for. Both Joel and Jeff have stated that explicitly time and time again. If you want that sort of thing, that's what discussion forums are for. –  Charles Boyung Jul 12 '11 at 19:48
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