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Part of what I have come to love about Parenting.SE is the rules that help to make being on the site a quality experience. At the same time, I just had a question closed on one of the other sites when the moderator said it was too easy for others to think it was a health question when I was clearly stating I wanted ideas about how to add more fats into the cooking I already do. Four people had even answered the question (three with great ideas). The question was closed. Again, I understand it is part of how that community defines what it is for, but for someone new to the community, I can see how this would be very off-putting.

I think we need to choose quality over quantity personally but since I've been one of the people reviewing things and catching some of these "lower quality" first posts, I've been thinking a lot about how to be welcoming while still introducing new-comers in a nice way to the site's standards.

Is there a way to look at how have other sites handled this one to maintain a welcoming face and their standards? Do any of the other sites have a unique way of welcoming new visitors? Let me be clear. Things are probably fine as they are, just thought it might be worth considering and brainstorming ideas. Sometimes a little discussion brings up things that make things even better.

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    I remember the moderators on Mi Yodeya posted a "welcome" comment to each new user, but that was while they were still in beta. Still, I remember them as being a particularly friendly and helpful community, so they may be a great starting place. – user420 Dec 5 '12 at 13:18
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I love that you are participating so actively, not just with your answers but also with meta issues!

One way to get an idea how other sites do this would be to have the moderators ask other sites' moderators. There are regular (but voluntary) virtual moderator meetings where all kinds of moderator-y things are discussed, and your question fits right in -- perhaps we could even convince SE to make it a headline topic for one of the meetings. We could carry this into that meeting and summarize the responses here.

We might want to wait until January though. I for one don't have much time to spare this month :-)

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I moderate two other sites - some quick thoughts from me:

Security

We have a very focused community, but are reasonably mature now, so we have simple activities, focused on quality first:

  • New users who post something wrong/poorly worded/bad style/ off topic get a comment pointing them at the faq and outlining recommendations for improvement. This is often the first connection a new user has with the site, so we try to be polite and helpful here!
  • A senior community member may help by editing if we can figure out what the question is trying to ask
  • Repeated low quality posts will get flagged to a mod, and we'll target an improvement suggestion, after which repeated low quality will result in a short suspension

Productivity

We have quite low traffic still, and haven't grown the core of keen users we need to graduate, so we try and be very forgiving, while still commenting to help posters improve quality. The top aim here is to encourage growth.


Back in beta on Security.SE we accepted a lot of dross, and tried to make slight improvements through editing - which meant we had to have a cleanup after we graduated! Productivity is like this, and Parenting, while ahead of activity compared to Productivity, still feels like we should have growth as our top priority, and plan for clean-up behind the scenes or after graduation.

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I saw this discussion and wanted to contribute. I just flagged a post on the main page that is clearly off-topic, so off-topic to where I flagged it, and so off-topic to where, as a moderator, I would be completely comfortable being the single closer on the post:

https://parenting.stackexchange.com/questions/7126/i-have-a-weak-memory-how-to-sharpen-it

I see my flag is marked as helpful, yet the post is still open.

So how does this apply to this conversation, you ask? Balanced Mama brings up the point that we should emphasize quality over quantity, and this is clearly a case that serves as almost a great example.

  • The community posted nice, welcoming comments on the post, letting the poster know she was posting off-topic content.
  • The community suggested an alternate site.
  • The post is downvoted, so the SE engine will keep it from being highlighted inappropriately.

However, it's still open. This is the only area where we've failed. I'm new here, so if this isn't the norm, then we'll maybe pass it off as football weekend, and we'll assume people are doing other things like waiting to see if the Seahawks can beat the Redskins. ;) But if not, if this is a pattern, then maybe we should emphasize dealing with these blatantly off-topic posts by making sure they are closed as off-topic.

  • @balancedmama - Sorry, I don't mean to say it's a total failure. Overall, the toughest challenge is to get people to be nice in comments. This site seems very welcoming! :) With that said, no one should be offended that an off topic post is cleaned up via editing and possibly moved to a new site, or closed. What makes SE so great is the quality. Another thing worth mentioning is that 'closed' is a temporary state that's actually designed to give the original poster time to fix the problems, before it gets answers and changing it would invalidate answers... – jmort253 Jan 7 '13 at 5:32
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    Yes. Even comments that are given with kind intentions are easily taken the wrong way which means thoughtfulness is especially crucial. I'd say most comments I've seen are along these lines. And, one of the moderators will pick it up and fully close it soon if it doesn't happen naturally closing the loop. – balanced mama Jan 7 '13 at 5:34
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At the moment I'm feeling like people that want to be a great addition to the community and adjust etc. (The kind we want) are the people that will take a little feed back given politely well and do their best to make changes as needed.

It makes it critical then, that those of us who are not moderators try to take these kinds of actions. Comment and do our best to direct the questioner or Answerer in a polite way that will help and then vote to close. This will give the OP time to make the appropriate changes if moderators don't respond right away and give them that time. I'm not sure if the moderators can vote to close without actually closing, but if there are enough of us to check things out and vote to close, there is a built in time for the poster to make the changes without needing to have us all vote to re-open.

I just don't know that there are enough of us that are active daily (or at least weekly) to do that yet and it requires the moderators remember these kinds of "flagged" questions, and answers since there doesn't seem to be a way for them to "bookmark" such a thing for later. Torben has often closed with a comment that says something like "I will hide this for now" that seems like it gives the message that the content isn't truly deleted. This may be a good option until community participation in reviews is higher.

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To answer your question: Quality of responses should always come first.

Being new to Parenting.SE it feels like there are many great responses about individual experiences. People share what worked for them as a parent. While I find this great, it also has a drawback. Too many similar answers are posted which do not distinguish themselves from each other, because everybody is telling his or her personal story.

I would strongly opt to discourage answers which do not provide a general view on a question, use sources properly and expand beyond the experience with one's own child.

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