5

During the last ~10 days, I was walking the list of unanswered questions multiple times (due to ordering issues I wanted to make sure nothing escaped me). While doing this, I stumbled on many questions where the OP obviously just visited once (to ask), and never returned. Sometimes there were comments asking for clarification (mostly unanswered, of course), sometimes not even that.

While things are quite clear if a question is unequivocally off-topic, too localized, etc., some seem quite conforming to the FAQ -- but though very unlikely to be answered, and (IMHO) only of minor interest; maybe not "minor enough" to be flagged for too localized.

So my question here is: what shall be done to those? Sure I could flag everything which is not answered fast enough (<-- exaggerating!), but I don't want to annoy anybody without some backing :)

Or should I rather "relax and wait until some automatism takes care", as suggested here?

Another possibility is to collect them here at Meta to bring them up, as e.g. done here.

Another close question on Meta is Android-SE Unanswered Questions Cleanup.

And yes, while walking through the list I tried to answer as much as I could (earned 11 Revival badges this way ;) and upvoted the one or other answer to get the list shortened. Still I feel some of the remaining could be "moved out". Ideally we had a separate "Grace tab" for those: questions going in there could stay for a fixed amount of time (say, 4 weeks), and if not answered/voted/... otherwise, would automatically be removed at the end of this "grace time".

Any ideas/recommendations?

4

Android Stack Exchange gets more than its fair share of "drive by" posters. I don't know that that will ever change.

As for what to do, I think you've been doing the right thing. But I'll reiterate:

  • Answer the ones you can answer
  • Downvote the crappy or uninteresting ones
  • Vote to close the really bad ones, especially if the problem described was fixed by a long-ago update

Remember: The Questions and their Answers aren't just for the person asking the question, but for future readers as well. A question with good answers is a good thing to have, even if the original asker will never return. On the other hand, questions that no one cares about, not even to answer or vote up, aren't useful to anyone. That's why they're automatically deleted after some time. Six months, if memory serves; four weeks is too short a time.

  • First thank you for your answer -- I guess I was a bit unclear in one point: Some question are really interesting ones -- but in order to answer them, they'd need just a piece of feedback from the OP, which is impossible because of his absence-without-return. So those questions cannot be answered -- but still are neither off-topic nor ambiguous or whatever-reason-to-close. The only thing I could think of here is to flag them for "moderator attention", which I don't want to abuse. – Izzy Aug 13 '12 at 13:24
  • If the question can't be answered without some other piece of information from the OP, that information has been asked for, and a reasonable amount of time has passed for the OP to provide it, then vote-to-close/flag it as "Not a Real Question". "This question is ambiguous, vague, incomplete, overly broad, or rhetorical and cannot be reasonably answered in its current form." – ale Aug 13 '12 at 13:26
  • Thanks -- that's a word. I already left the question for missing information on some of them (which not already had it). Remains the question to define the "reasonable amount of time": 2 weeks? 3..4 weeks? – Izzy Aug 13 '12 at 13:34
  • Use your best judgment. I say two weeks is more than enough time for the OP to provide more information. I regularly trawl the questions with close votes and open flags lists. If someone doesn't agree with your vote-to-close they'll just ignore it. – ale Aug 13 '12 at 13:43
  • OK, thanks again -- I'll go with that. Though I'm afraid most people might "ignore" those old ones, and thus my "vote-to-close" would die of loneliness. So should they be flagged additionally -- or would that rather look "offending"? – Izzy Aug 13 '12 at 13:50
  • I won't speak for the Moderators (because I'm not one any more) but in general you should only flag things that require a Moderator's attention. (Moderators are a site's Exception Handlers.) Since you have enough rep to vote-to-close you should do that. Don't worry about your votes "aging away"; that'll only happen if a bunch of people who can also cast close votes see the question and don't vote themselves. On the other hand, you could go ahead and flag all you want; there's no requirement that a Mod has to act on your flag. If they disagree with too many though you'll lose the ability. – ale Aug 13 '12 at 13:55
  • OK -- got it. Btw: Is there any way to explicitly check for questions having close-/reopen-votes? As this could help to bring things to attention (you said you "regularly trawl the questions with close votes", so I take it there is a way to do so I did not yet find). – Izzy Aug 13 '12 at 14:17
  • It's part of the 10K+ tools. – ale Aug 13 '12 at 14:40
  • OK, coming :) Tnx! – Izzy Aug 13 '12 at 14:41
3

Personally, I care less for the OP presence or concern with its own question. I always view questions on a large perspective, and for a Q&A site, one user asks a question, but millions may benefit from the answers.

It all comes down to the question itself, and its contents:

If the question concerns a problem regarding the OS, a device or the configuration of something, the question and provided answers will most definitely help future visitors.

On the other hand, if the question concerns a specific application, will be useful on its current timeline, future users will be using a newer version of said app, thus not benefiting from the old question and its answers.

Examples:

  • A question about the app Android System Info, concerning an issue with version 1.17.1, if it's not answered, I don't believe anyone will benefit from an answer today, since the current version is 1.22.0.

  • A question about the Android OS, whatever version it is, will always benefit future visitors. Since certain devices can't go beyond a specific version and even today users have devices working with earlier versions of Android.

  • Understood -- and that is how I try to evaluate it: the former I vote to close (or flag them), the latter I try to answer or see whether to upvote an existing answer. So far it's clear. But if it's not clear, and a little more information could help -- but as said, the OP does (and will) never provide it? And I'm not speaking about "ambiguous" questions, which again would be a "clear" case. – Izzy Aug 13 '12 at 13:18
  • It's not necessarily true that no one will benefit from questions about older versions of apps. Some of those self-same people stuck on older versions of the OS may not be able to upgrade to the newer version of the app. It is a vanishingly small number, though. – ale Aug 13 '12 at 13:28
  • @Izzy If the question doesn't contain enough information to allow users answer it, and OP isn't seen for months or years, one can check if it's active on another SE site, since it will get a notification for comments on its question. If not, well, there's nothing one can do... – Zuul Aug 13 '12 at 13:34
  • @AlEverett True, but if an application was developed to a earlier version of Android, one expects that future upgrades will continue to support that version. This is a generic concept, may not apply of course. – Zuul Aug 13 '12 at 13:35

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