Parenting Stack Exchange has tons of untapped potential. Contests can be a fun way to stir up some excitement in the site. From Mother's Day (May 11) to Father's Day (June 15) we'd like to get everyone in the habit of asking your parenting questions on this site.
Each day you ask an upvoted question1 counts as a "good asking day". Everyone who has 7 good asking days from now until June 15, 2014 will get a sticker pack. These are physical stickers featuring some (TBD) Stack Exchange theme. The first 10 people who have 14 good asking days in the contest period will also get a Stack Exchange T-shirt.
When the contest is over, we'll execute this query and contact the winners via the email address we have on file.2 As long as it isn't insanely expensive or difficult to send prizes (sorry Antarctica researchers), we'll mail them directly.
We've noticed that some sites have a difficult time getting enough questions to maintain regular user interest. Parenting seemed like just that sort of site, so we tried an experiment a few weeks ago. Several employees with children tried to ask as many questions as we could for a few weeks. What we hoped is that asking a bunch of new questions would encourage more participation on the site without reducing the average participation per question. The results are clear:
q_type askers questions answers q_edits a_edits q_votes a_votes q_comments a_comments touches_per_post -------- ------ --------- ------- ------- ------- ------- ------- ---------- ---------- ---------------- baseline 32 49 123 44 40 207 410 100 121 21.33 employee 3 28 76 7 9 185 342 36 66 25.75 test 44 50 141 51 35 227 484 86 113 22.74 next 38 47 120 53 30 220 428 114 152 23.77
Three employees asked a total of 28 questions that wouldn't have been asked otherwise. Questions not asked by employees had roughly the same participation rates as the baseline3 period. In other words, the community can handle at least 50% more questions than it normally gets.
Asking questions on a daily basis is hard work. Presumably people who post questions are primarily motivated by getting useful answers. Certainly I appreciate each and every response I got. Even so, we've made posting questions less rewarding than answers. In order to encourage questions on sites other than Stack Overflow, we are looking into a variety of ways to balance things out including asking badges. It's not our intention to replace intrinsic motivation, but we are curious to see what comes from adding a small amount of extrinsic motivation.
To set expectations, our twin goals with the contest are to generate quality questions for Parenting and to find out what doesn't work when it comes to rewarding questioners. It's unlikely that we will repeat the contest. So we want you to let us know anything you discover, good or bad, that happens as a result. Please use the answer space below to give us any feedback that might be useful.
1. Fine print: must be open and undeleted when we award prizes at the end of the contest.
2. You can see the email we have for you by going to your own profile. If you don't have a working email address there, we won't be able to contact you to get an address to send prizes to.
3. I've included statistics for the period following the test ("next") but those exclude three incredibly popular questions:
* Just found out my 13 year old girl is Bi and dating a 17 year old girl in an "open" relationship. Huh? Now what?
* My child is ignoring my timeouts and walking away from them. What are some options for handling this?
* Why does my daughter smile and start to laugh at me when I am noticeably really angry at her?
I tossed them out since they seem to be a result of many outsiders coming to the site via the "Hot Questions" list. But I think these also illustrate that the site could easily handle more activity than it typically does.