27

As you might have noticed, this site graduated about a year ago. This might be the right time to look back at the previous year, or even the whole site lifetime, and see how we are doing. This is a follow up to all the previous questions of this kind, just this time asking us instead of SE (though, avid SE employees are of course encouraged to share some input, too) and the cancelled community self-evaluations, just broader and more subjective.

So please share all your thoughts about this site's and its community's current situation, its history and its prospects, be they positive or negative, situational or developmental, be they just statements or even proposals for what we could change or improve (from which individual meta discussions could then be spawned). Really any kind of laudatio or constructive criticism is welcome, just tell us what you think about the site and maybe where you'd like to see it go.

  • What are we doing great?
  • What could we do better?
  • What improved since public beta?
  • Has anything gotten worse last year?
  • What could we do differently?
  • Is there any trend you're dissatisfied with?
  • ...

In addition to the new design, this site also held democratic moderator elections nearly a year ago. So in addition to the site and its community itself, also feel free to adress any constructive criticism towards the current moderator team. What could we do better? Where is room for improvement? In which aspects of the site would you like to see more (or even less) moderator involvement?

25

I'm going to come right out and say it. As someone who has been an active member for almost precisely a year (I got my 2nd Yearling badge yesterday), this site feels like it's still in a Beta stage. There's some good, but there's also some bad and some downright ugly that we need to have a hard think about.

The Good

  • The overall volume of questions is increasing. If nothing else, that suggests that even if we ignore everything below this sentence and do nothing at all (always a serious, but oft overlooked option), we can probably grow our way out of trouble if we just wait.

enter image description here

  • The general quality of answers feels reasonably high, especially from power users like Walt. I very rarely need to use comments point out the inadequacies in people's answers, nor do I go away from the site shaking my head and wondering what people were smoking when they started typing.

  • Spam and abusive questions are dealt with quickly and efficiently (yay us, yay moderators)

  • Duplicates seem to be dealt with very efficiently where they occur (again, yay us).

The Bad

  • So. Very. Many. Ident. Questions.
    Don't get me wrong, I like ident questions. I do. Really I do. But there's just so bloody many of them and they're almost all really really crappy and vague. On top of that, the titles are almost uniformly bad. Updating the close script has made me more comfortable about flagging them for closure and I do my personal best to edit as many as I can to try to make them workable, but it feels like trying to bale out the hoover dam.

  • Moderation team
    One of the site's moderators seems to be AWOL. That's all I'm saying on the issue. Discuss.

  • The Walt show.
    I like Walt. I like his answers. I like that his answers are prompt and well-referenced. I don't even mind that he keeps beating me to answers. That being said, there's a hard-core of prolific answerers (headed up by Walt) that are everywhere. I've noticed that when they answer, other people don't. I've investigated this same effect on another stack and the conclusion I drew was that when one of the site's high-rep users come along and answer questions, it heavily deters anyone else from doing so, especially lower rep users. This then potentially detracts from new users interacting on the site if they can't have easy wins. Note that this isn't their fault and they absolutely shouldn't stop. It's just something we need to think about as a community.

The ugly

  • Did I already mention ident questions?

  • Lack of community involvement in Meta
    The number of meta answers (and votes) seems worryingly low to me. Even issues like close-reasons (which should be hotly contested) only get a few votes either way. You can't build a concensus when there's a hard-core of users expressing their views, largely as a bloc

  • Lack of site voting and praise, especially for new users
    This one is a toughie, but since day one I've been complaining that we (as a community) simply don't do enough to reward older answers with upvotes and praise. A few encouraging comments and an upvote go a very very long way.

  • Site look/feel
    This is purely a personal gripe, but the site is downright ugly to look at. The red banners give me eyestrain and the white on white borders are painful to view for any amount of time. If this site was a child, it would need to tie a piece of steak around its neck to get the dog to play with it. And yes, I know that I could load scripts to make it look less unpleasant but that's hardly something that a new visitor would necessarily want to do if they didn't like it.

  • 4
    Very insightful answers (and I'm especially suprised about the second point) and I can share many of your points and concerns apart from the last one, the site design is friggin' awesome! (and I'm honestly struggling with voting this up just because of that point, especially since it implies that new users generally think so, too, when it's nothing but an entirely subjective assessment). ;-P – Napoleon Wilson Jan 29 '16 at 23:38
  • 8
    I see your point on some of these. I don't agree with you on the point about Walt. I don't think it is fair to single him out for providing great answers. That is like punishing him for being a valued member of the community. Are you saying that Walt himself is a "Monopoly"? He was a new user once and had to learn how to navigate this site like all new users. You know that I have your back on most things, just not on this particular point :) – steelersquirrel Jan 30 '16 at 14:32
  • 6
    +1, despite a few points of contention (namely the ones mentioned in the comments). Couple of notes: 1. You shouldn't have started with the graph, I kept getting distracted by the question, "What the hell happened in mid-May?!" ;) 2. I really hope no one thinks my A's are the final word about any Q (even ID ones, where I'm sometimes wrong); I sure don't. But just to make it official: They aren't, not even remotely. I may have been around too much (I'm trying to cut down), but like steelerfan said, we can't really fault people for over-contributing. I'll never fault you for it. – Walt Jan 30 '16 at 16:21
  • 2
    [text & colors] Hmm, I guess it never bothered me. Are you sure this issue is exclusive to M&TV, or is it more of a general SE issue? – Walt Jan 30 '16 at 17:00
  • 4
    I'm not sure I would consider "That being said, there's a hard-core of prolific answerers (headed up by Walt) that are everywhere." as necessarily bad per-se. One could argue that you, Thaddeus, and DVK made up exactly such a set of prolific answerers on SF&F and all it seemed to do was encourage other users to try and match you. I think the real question is, why isn't that happening here? – KutuluMike Jan 30 '16 at 19:21
  • 3
    Yeah, but what does it matter if Walt chooses to answer all of the questions posted in a day? Shouldn't that be his choice? I can somewhat understand if he was taking a bullying stance, for lack of a better term, but he welcomes other answers and his quality of answers only challenge other users to rise to a level of excellence. Next thing you know, users are going to start getting participation "trophies" for simply being on the team with no valid contributions whatsoever ;) – steelersquirrel Jan 31 '16 at 1:08
  • 3
    I see your point, but Walt is one of the instigators for that. He is always encouraging another answer along with his. Granted, it's done in chat, but users should strive for excellence from his answers rather than not participate at all. Again, Walt should not be faulted for setting a high standard. I mean, if we're talking about "fair", it's not fair to single Walt out for setting a standard of excellence. – steelersquirrel Jan 31 '16 at 1:23
  • 4
    I get that, I do. But, users need to take it upon themselves to navigate through the site and see what's available. I spent a lot of time reading highly voted Q and A's along with asking questions in chat. Nobody told me to do that, I took it upon myself to do that because I was interested in the site and I wanted to learn about it. There is a tutorial available for new users. While established users should encourage new users, it's up to the new user to take the next step. – steelersquirrel Jan 31 '16 at 1:40
  • 4
    I don't think, particularly recently, that Walt is answering all of the answers... for the last two months, he's averaged only 3 or so answers per day... and when he was answering more questions, they were largely ID questions, which I'm personally not disappointed that he's handling... someone should (if we're going to allow them)... and a lot of users don't like them, or ignore them outright. Walt also gives back a lot to the community, regularly giving bounties to worthy answers he sees... – Catija Jan 31 '16 at 3:05
  • 3
    Hi @O.M.Y. and thanks for the input (and welcome to M&TV!). It's actually Richard who wrote that, not Napoleon, but as for the suggestion: I don't think it would be fair to deny people answers just to test a theory that I think is incorrect (and that we can't even gauge in any way). And as I explained on chat the other day, I'd be a pretty bad example for this effect anyway. I mostly answer ID Qs, where one correct answer is all that's needed, and plenty of the non-ID Qs I answered had other good answers, sometimes ranking higher than mine. So I don't see the point in this. – Walt Feb 1 '16 at 23:49
  • 5
    I don't know, people either take Richard's remark about Walt way too seriously or he meant it really way more serious than it actually is. As Walt said himself, while he also writes great non-ID answers now and then, he's by far not the only one to do that and singling him out that way seems way out of proportion. I don't know how one actually gets such an impression, other than by really only reading ID questions, where he's indeed the king, but where multiple answers are often rather useless anyway (and which would mostly go rather unanswered without his contributions anyway). – Napoleon Wilson Feb 2 '16 at 2:14
  • 2
    @Walt: I'd have serious issues if you imposed a self-inflicted timeout over something like this. Just... no. – Andrew Martin Feb 3 '16 at 15:58
  • 1
    @iandotkelly - That being said, I've seen it said that having a single mod doing more than 75% of the modding isn't healthy. I can only speak from experience that you find yourself ploughing a very lonely furrow when the other site mods can't be counted on to make more than a token appearance. – user7812 Feb 4 '16 at 7:11
  • 2
    One of the mods on Seasoned Advice has been AWOL since May... they have an election now but I don't think the infrequent visits of one out of three mods is detrimental. There's not a huge amount of bad content that needs to be dealt with, from my POV... But it's not as if Napoleon's the only mod. Ankit's usually quite active, he's simply been on vacation recently... and, honestly, Napoleon goes above and beyond, in my opinion... not complaining, but he does more than most mods on any of the sites I visit. – Catija Feb 4 '16 at 15:37
  • 2
    I have a large issue with the moderator statement and believe it could be why you were removed (or asked to step down) as a moderator from SF&F, Richard. The theory of moderation for SE is actually for the moderator to do as little as possible. The bulk of the moderation should be done by the average Joe user, not by the mods themselves. Realistically if the moderation work was not getting done, you might have an argument ... but that doesn't seem so. It appears to me this site is well looked after, not only by its moderation team, but mo-betta by the constituency of users as it should be. – Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 Feb 22 '16 at 23:45
17

I'm going to throw in an answer to this, even though I haven't answered or questioned on the site for many months now. I still visit this site on a daily basis. I'm not usually logged in, so it doesn’t appear that way, but I still find time in work to look at this site and the Sci Fi site multiple times a day.

I think @Richard has captured many of my feelings and thoughts on the site perfectly and I'm going to refer to some of his points throughout my own answer.

Firstly, the growth in questions is great for he metrics of the site and the quality of answers is generally very good. I also believe the site is lucky to have moderators like @Napoleon (even if one of the moderators is a little awol).

However, the biggest gripe for me is the questions. I very much used to be a power user here. I'm still the fourth highest rated user by user score. But the sheer volume of questions really put me off. Walt is incredible at answering them and I've no gripes about him whatsoever. But there were (and still are) just too many of them! When I blocked them from my feed, the number of questions on a daily basis shot down. On top of that, I never quite got beyond the fact that this site is for helping current users and building a repository of information for future users - and I've never been convinced that most of the questions actually help future users, as opposed to being answered once and then forgotten about.

On the Sci Fi site, there are also ident questions, but they seem complementary to the other questions being asked. Here, it feels very much like there are two question groups - ident and "other". I know a while back I ran some queries on the Stack DB to see the volumes of each, and certainly in the last couple of years the increase in ident questions was, to me, alarming for the long term health of the site.

Ultimately, the amount of ident questions definitely contributed to me stepping away for a while (although I do hope to return soon) and I'll be honest and say a big part of me would like to see them split off to another site. I don't know if that drives away people who could potentially be power users, but don't like the high ratio of identify questions, but I’d suggest it’s a possibility.

The other point @Richard makes that I would like to echo is that for a site out of Beta, it still feels a little Beta-ish. The site is growing, but there's a very small group of "core" users. Meta participation is still limited to that small group of core users. I certainly expected there to be more core users by now. I know back when I was involved in Meta quite heavily, the key issues were definitely debated by maybe ten people, and that was it. We didn’t do a good enough job of bringing more users into that space. Given that we’re asking questions about movies, the majority of plot explanation questions are a few google searches away and answering can be a fastest gun in the west problem (which I myself fully contributed to). Quite how we overcome this, encourage new users to stay and become a part of the core community is an on-going issue that needs discussed.

On one final note, @Richard is of course wrong and the red style of the site is perfect :)

  • 2
    Great to see you around, Andrew. I largely agree with your and Richard's points about ID and understand your frustration; their sheer volume and rate is starting to tire even me. But it's a chicken and egg thing: The matter will never be resolved without higher participation, whether on Meta or by answering non-ID Q's and cultivating them, like you often did so well. So when we lose people like you, things are bound to get worse. (No pressure, though. I might have done the same if I were you. This is just how I feel.) – Walt Jan 30 '16 at 17:05
  • 2
    @Walt: Thank you for your kind comments. I hope to be around more from now on and I do hope to try and drive up some plot related questions. I supposed what drove me away was that I spent a year doing it and it felt like it made little difference. Still, it's something we can all brainstorm as a community in the weeks and months to come. – Andrew Martin Jan 30 '16 at 18:38
  • 2
    Looking at the current front page, with "identify" questions being in my "ignore" filter, I'm really starting to wonder whether "identify" questions shouldn't just get their own SE. Which of course would fail massively, since I cannot imagine anyone spending significant time there. – BCdotWEB Jan 31 '16 at 9:22
  • @BCdotWEB - The problem is that without 'identify-this' questions, Movies:SE wouldn't come close to the sorts of question numbers that justify it being a full site. – user7812 Jan 31 '16 at 13:11
  • 1
    @Richard Being a full site is not about mere question numbers alone and I doubt SE would downgrade us just for abandoning ID and getting down to 5 Q/d again. – Napoleon Wilson Jan 31 '16 at 14:17
  • 1
    @NapoleonWilson - No, but why tempt fate? – user7812 Jan 31 '16 at 14:26
  • 1
    @Richard Um, what? Eschew from trying to save the site because of supposedly "not tempting fate?". I don't really understand that attitude at all. (Besides that I know at least one SE staff member who would highly embrace that change anyway. And I've never seen a side being downgraded.) – Napoleon Wilson Jan 31 '16 at 14:35
  • @NapoleonWilson - I think that removing ID questions entirely is a really really (really) bad idea, nor do I think doing so would "save the site". Also, save it from what, precisely? – user7812 Jan 31 '16 at 14:41
  • @Richard Sure you think that and I wasn't proposing that with this comment. However, eschewing from a major change because of supposedly "tempting fate" still seems a questionable attitude in general. (And saving from its demise, of course.) – Napoleon Wilson Jan 31 '16 at 14:42
  • @NapoleonWilson - I think we need to avoid falling into the trap of thinking that because something needs to be done, that that thing needs to be as dramatic or drastic as removing them entirely. – user7812 Jan 31 '16 at 14:43
  • Also, per my point #9, I don't think we've anything like enough involvement on Meta to be able to make wise choices. If we ask the question, all we'll get is an echo chamber. – user7812 Jan 31 '16 at 14:45
  • @Richard I'm not sure I agree with that attitude either, especially since ignoring the problem has made it waaay worse. Those questions have nothing to give to this site. But I know that not everyone might agree with this, neither might not everyone have the bigger future of the site and its wellbeing as much in mind as I do. But spare that for the respective discussion anyway. – Napoleon Wilson Jan 31 '16 at 14:45
  • @NapoleonWilson - Indeed. One for another day. – user7812 Jan 31 '16 at 14:46
  • 2
    @NapoleonWilson: It's a real conundrum. I don't believe they offer anything to the site, and I feel a lot of users come by, ask a single question and then leave. But I'm not sure what we have to do to drive up plot explanation and other types of questions. All I do know is the current approach just doesn't seem to be working. – Andrew Martin Jan 31 '16 at 16:03
  • 1
    @user568458: Agreed, but there doesn't have to be a single solution. We can improve non-ID questions, but why would people come here to ask and share in these questions when they are bombarded with poor quality ident questions? Instead, they take their expertise/interest elsewhere and we lose out. – Andrew Martin Feb 22 '16 at 15:10
14

Edit: Have added some graphs at bottom of post.

Health warning - massively long answer here. There is a Conclusion/TLDR at the bottom, although I'd advise reading the key findings first, then the conclusion/TLDR.

I’m posting here with some information for people to digest and reflect on now that we’re a year out of Beta. I’ve chosen to post a new answer as opposed to amending my existing answer, as I’ve a lot to write here. For a lot of this answer and the metrics it provides, I’ve used Data Stack Exchange which can be used to query any Stack site and unearth metrics on the questions, users and all sorts of other things.

First, I ran the following query:

Select count(1)
FROM posts
WHERE posttypeid = 1

This shows that a total of 10,348 questions have been asked in the entire history of this site.

By amending this query slightly, I can determine the amount of questions that have been tagged as “identify-this”, and the amount of questions that have not been tagged “identify this”:

Select count(*)
FROM posts
WHERE posttypeid = 1 and tags LIKE '%identify%'

This shows the following metrics:

Total identify questions: 3,061 questions (30% of questions ever asked)
Total non-identify questions: 7,287 questions (70% of questions ever asked)

However, using the following query we can break these figures down a little more by studying the trend year by year:

Select count(*)
FROM posts
WHERE posttypeid = 1 AND creationDate betWEEN '20100101' and '20111231' and tags LIKE '%identify%'

In all the queries I’ve run, I’ve simply edited the creationDate field to change the date the question was asked from 2011, to 2012, to 2013, to 2014, to 2015 and finally to 2016. These are the results:

2011: Total questions: 196
Total “identify” questions: 15 (8%)
Total “non-identify” questions: 181 (92%)

2012: Total questions: 1421
Total “identify”: 188 (13%)
Total “non-identify” questions: 1233 (87%)

2013: Total questions: 2015
Total “identify” questions: 471 (23%)
Total “non-identify” questions: 1544 (77%)

2014: Total questions: 2585
Total “identify” questions: 888 (34%)
Total “non-identify” questions: 1697 (66%)

2015: Total questions: 3591
Total “identify” questions: 1249 (35%)
Total “non-identify” questions: 2343 (65%)

2016:
Total questions: 497
Total “identify” questions: 242 (49%)
Total “non-identify” questions: 255 (51%)

Now, whilst 2016’s figures may look alarming, the reality is I haven’t broken down when different categories of questions are asked. In other words, it may well be the case that plot explanation questions are more popular later in the year, when summer blockbusters, or Oscar season, comes around. Regardless, the 2011 – 2015 figures show a noticeable trend, and if we take 2015, as the last complete year, as an indicator, questions comprise ~ 35% of total questions being asked on the site currently.

Now, at this point, I'm going to step away from the questions for a moment, and look at all the non-identify questions.

By editing the previous query slightly, we can reveal all the non-identify queries that have been asked in the history of the site that have been upvoted by users. In other words, all the non identify questions that have a vote score of 1 or more:

Select count(*)
FROM posts
WHERE posttypeid = 1 and tags NOT LIKE '%identify%' AND score > 0

Total non-identify questions: 7,287 questions
Total non-identify questions with a vote score of 1 or more: 6,737 (92%)

This is a great ratio. However, again I'm going to break it down by year, by amending the above query using the CreationDate field described previously. The results are as follows:

2011:
Total non-identify questions: 181
Total with upvote count > 0: 181 (100%)

2012:
Total non-identify questions: 1233
Total with upvote count > 0: 1219 (99%)

2013:
Total non-identify questions: 1544
Total with upvote count > 0: 1492 (97%)

2014:
Total non-identify questions: 1697
Total with upvote count > 0: 1570 (93%)

2015:
Total non-identify questions: 2343
Total with upvote count > 0: 2053 (88%)

2016:
Total non-identify questions: 255
Total with upvote count > 0: 190 (75%)

Again, we could arguably disregard 2016 given how early in the year it is, but we can clear see that in the “non-identify” questions, the upvotes on the questions are going down.

This could be due to lower user participation, it could be due to higher standards on the site. I’m simply indicating a trend here and people can read into it what they believe (or use more sophisticated queries than I’m capable of to produce more information on the subject).

All in all, it suggests to me that for the last few years, the trend has been that the total percent of “identify-this” questions has increased, whilst the total number of non-identify-this questions deemed worthy of upvoting by the community has decreased. Whether these two things are interlinked is not clear.

At this point, I'll return to considering identify this versus non-identify this questions and I'll look at the actual people posting these questions. The following query shows a join between the users table and the posts table:

Select count(*)
FROM posts inner join users on posts.owneruserid = users.id
WHERE posttypeid = 1

It returns a result of 10,204. The "users" table contains all the users active registered on the site. What this therefore means, is that out of the 10,348 questions ever asked by users, 10,204 of the questions have users who still have accounts on the site (99%).

I can then add a field to the query to determine how many users have more than 1 reputation point and how many have more than 124 reputation points:

Select count(*)
FROM posts inner join users on posts.owneruserid = users.id
WHERE posttypeid = 1
AND users.reputation > 1

By running the above query, and a slightly adjusted query with a different reputation score, I get the following results:

Total questions on the site: 10,348
Total questions asked with users remaining on the site: 10,204
Of the 10,204 questions asked by these users, # of askers with at least 1 reputation point: 9988 users (98%)
Of the 10,204 questions asked by these users, # of askers with at least 125 reputation points: 6854 users (67%)

I chose the score 124, because at 125 users can vote in elections, so I thought it might be a useful figure to determine community participation. Obviously it is a completely subjective figure and is not meant to indicate anyone with a lower score than that is not welcome in the community or is not part of the community. I am choosing to use it here to determine long-term participation in the site. Any user reading this with a score of < 125 - you are truly very welcome here.

By running a similar set of queries and specifically looking at “identify-this” and “non-identify this” questions, we can see the following:

Total identify questions ever asked: 3,061
Total identify questions ever asked by users remaining on the site: 3,042 (99%)
Of the 3,042 questions asked by these users, # of askers with at least 1 reputation point: 2887 (95%)
Of the 3,042 questions asked by these users, # of askers with at least 125 reputation points: 959 users (32%)

Total non-identify questions ever asked: 7,287
Total non-identify questions ever asked by users remaining on the site: 7162
Of the 7,162 questions asked by these users, # of askers with at least 1 reputation point: 7101 (99%)
Of the 7,162 questions asked by these users, # of askers with at least 125 reputation points: 5895 users (82%)

As you can see, participation in terms of reputation points is vastly inferior for askers of “identify this” questions compared to askers of “non-identify” questions.

More concerning to me, if we adjust the queries slightly and track this trend year-on-year, we get the following:

2011:
Total identify questions asked: 15
Total identify questions asked by users remaining on the site: 15 (100%)
Of the 15 questions asked by these users, # of askers with at least 1 reputation point: 15 (100%)
Of the 15 questions asked by these users, # of askers with at least 124 reputation points: 15 (100%)

Total non-identify questions asked: 181
Total non-identify questions asked by users remaining on the site: 180 (99%)
Of the 180 questions asked by these users, # of askers with at least 1 reputation point: 180 (99%)
Of the 180 questions asked by these users, # of askers with at least 124 reputation points: 180 (99%)

2012:
Total identify questions asked: 188
Total identify questions asked by users remaining on the site: 186 (99%)
Of the 186 questions asked by these users, # of askers with at least 1 reputation point: 186 (99%)
Of the 186 questions asked by these users, # of askers with at least 124 reputation points: 147 (79%)

Total non-identify questions asked: 1233
Total non-identify questions asked by users remaining on the site: 1218 (99%)
Of the 1,218 questions asked by these users, # of askers with at least 1 reputation point: 1218 (99%)
Of the 1,218 questions asked by these users, # of askers with at least 124 reputation points: 1170 (96%)

2013:
Total identify questions asked: 471
Total identify questions asked by users remaining on the site: 469 (~100%)
Of the 469 questions asked by these users, # of askers with at least 1 reputation point: 461 (98%)
Of the 469 questions asked by these users, # of askers with at least 124 reputation points: 197 (42%)

Total non-identify questions asked: 1544
Total non-identify questions asked by users remaining on the site: 1489 (96%)
Of the 1,489 questions asked by these users, # of askers with at least 1 reputation point: 1487 (~100%)
Of the 1,489 questions asked by these users, # of askers with at least 124 reputation points: 1325 (89%)

2014:
Total identify questions asked: 888
Total identify questions asked by users remaining on the site: 880 (99%)
Of the 880 questions asked by these users, # of askers with at least 1 reputation point: 833 (95%)
Of the 880 questions asked by these users, # of askers with at least 124 reputation points: 248 (28%)

Total non-identify questions asked: 1697
Total non-identify questions asked by users remaining on the site: 1674 (99%)
Of the 1,674 questions asked by these users, # of askers with at least 1 reputation point: 1668 (~100%)
Of the 1,674 questions asked by these users, # of askers with at least 124 reputation points: 1339 (80%)

2015:
Total identify questions asked: 1249
Total identify questions asked by users remaining on the site: 1243 (~100%)
Of the 1,243 questions asked by these users, # of askers with at least 1 reputation point: 1192 (96%)
Of the 1,243 questions asked by these users, # of askers with at least 124 reputation points: 312 (25%)

Total non-identify questions asked: 2343
Total non-identify questions asked by users remaining on the site: 2311 (99%)
Of the 2,311 questions asked by these users, # of askers with at least 1 reputation point: 2281 (99%)
Of the 2,311 questions asked by these users, # of askers with at least 124 reputation points: 1686 (73%)

2016:
Total identify questions asked: 242
Total identify questions asked by users remaining on the site: 242 (100%)
Of the 242 questions asked by these users, # of askers with at least 1 reputation point: 193 (80%)
Of the 242 questions asked by these users, # of askers with at least 124 reputation points: 40 (17%)

Total non-identify questions asked: 255
Total non-identify questions asked by users remaining on the site: 255 (100%)
Of the 255 questions asked by these users, # of askers with at least 1 reputation point: 232 (91%)
Of the 255 questions asked by these users, # of askers with at least 124 reputation points: 166 (65%)

Now, there is A LOT to take in in what I've written above. To summarise some key salient findings:

  1. As the years have progressed, the askers of the majority of identify-this questions have kept their accounts active. However, they have increasingly become less involved in the site. 79% of the askers of identify-this questions in 2012 have 125 reputation points or more. Just 25% of askers of identity-this questions in 2015 have 125 reputation points or more.

  2. Participation among "non-identify this" question askers appears to be contracting. 96% of the askers of non-identify this questions in 2012 have 125 reputation points or more. Just 73% of the askers of non-identify this questions in 2015 have 125 reputation points or more.

Now, I fully admit people from 2015 haven't had as long to accumulate 125 reputation points as those from 2012. However, 125 reputation points isn't that much, any even light users of the site can gain that amount through even semi-regular usage quite quickly.

Summary of key findings:

In my eyes, there is a few clear trends on the site:

Firstly, identify-this questions, whilst comprising 30% of overall questions ever asked, are becoming more numerous year on year in comparison to non-identify this questions.

Secondly, the quality of non-identify this questions is arguably dropping, based on the amount of upvotes given to them (although this is subjective and could simply be due to an increased volume of questions leading to people not having time to upvote as many questions). I believe it is the former, but acknowledge that this is subjective and others may argue differently.

Thirdly, the number of askers of identify-this questions who are active users of the site (with 125 reputation points or more) has decreased year on year, from 79% in 2012, to 25% in 2015.

Fourth, the number of askers of non-identify-this questions who are active users of the site (with 125 reputation points or more) has decreased year on year, from 96% in 2012 to 73% in 2015.

Conclusion / TLDR:

I love this site, even though I have been away from it for quite some time. However, I am concerned about the direction it is heading in. We don't appear to have a plan on how we want to drive the site forward, or the types of questions we want to see. More and more there appears to be a divide between "identify-this" and "other". I'm not sure what the solution to this is, or if anyone/everyone will agree with the many metrics I've provided here, but to me it suggests we need a site-wide decision on what sort of community we want to be, because it appears a large number of core users are unhappy about identify-this, but the metrics show the unhappiness people have towards these questions is not slowing the number of these questions being posted (rather it is increasing them).

  • Do we simply ban them all?
  • Do we ban all unless they provide certain key information (e.g. a year, a country, a genre, an actor description etc, even if people know the answers based without this key information)?
  • Do we allow them all and accept the site may well become the web's premier haven for identify-this questions, leading to either a spin off movie stack site or a much smaller plot-explanation core on this site?

I don't know what the answer is, but I think we need to address it as the current approach doesn't appear to be working.

Even shorter TL:DR

Identify-this bad.
Other good.
beats chest

Edit:

I wanted to add some graphs for good measure. Here is the breakdown of identify this v other questions over the history of the site, with trendlines:

enter image description here

Here is a broken down version, showing JUST 2015 (and the first month of 2016):

enter image description here

As stated before, the trend isn't great, and banning them would be hard work, and would remove ~30% of the questions on the site (although I would still favour this approach).

  • Um, by the way, have you actually noticed this thing already? In fact this might actually make a good answer on that question, too. – Napoleon Wilson Jan 31 '16 at 22:43
  • @NapoleonWilson: Nope, hadn't seen that at all! I'll add my answer there, too. – Andrew Martin Jan 31 '16 at 22:49
  • This one might also interest you. – Napoleon Wilson Jan 31 '16 at 22:52
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    I'm really not sure you can generalise about the likely stats for 2016 from a single (incomplete) month. – user7812 Feb 1 '16 at 19:38
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    @Richard: Agreed, and I indicated that. – Andrew Martin Feb 1 '16 at 20:15
  • Ooh graphs. Who doesn't love a graph. – user7812 Feb 3 '16 at 23:11
  • @Richard: They make the whole world a little better :) – Andrew Martin Feb 3 '16 at 23:17
  • You missed a real opportunity to use a 3D graph though. Also, you forgot to click the button marked "hide filters tab", Excel-boy. – user7812 Feb 3 '16 at 23:17
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    @Richard: I... no... I didn't forget. That was a deliberate design choice. For reasons. – Andrew Martin Feb 3 '16 at 23:25
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    I learned how to use Pivot Tables a few weeks ago. Now I just need to wait another twenty years for a second opportunity to use them... – user7812 Feb 3 '16 at 23:29

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