An interesting thing is happening over at Stack Overflow. They’ve been doing an analysis of their “niceness” to people. Like all growing online communities there comes a point where you’ve gotten so big that it feels like you’re stuck in Eternal September.
When you start to get real popular on the internet there’s usually a a shift or transition when the early adopters either move on, or attempt to resolve the situation, or any one of the number of things that can happen to a site. Since Stack Overflow, SO, is many times larger than Ask Ubuntu but the same kind of site, I think we can look at how they’re solving their “big city” problems and apply it to make AU better.
I’m not surprised that SO used a very scientific method of figuring out how nice they were to people. They gathered up all the comments, shoved them into Mechanical Turk, and then published the results. Stack Overflow is nice, nyah-nyah, science. And the debate continues.
I’d like to think we do a decent job of keeping the snark down on Ask Ubuntu. If someone asks “How do I adjust my clock?” and someone else responds with “Have you googled?” you can be pretty sure that kind of response gets removed in a timely manner. Every day we have users submitting fixes to answers and questions, and about 140,000 visits every day, so we know the content is getting better and more importantly, staying up to date.
The site does have a pretty strict element to it. If your question is a bug report, it gets closed and you’re sent to Launchpad. If you want to run a poll or have a chit chat about Ubuntu it’s closed and you’re sent to the forums, and so on. It’s my strong opinion that this level of focus is a good thing, do one thing and do it well. But on the other hand I can see why some people might think we’re sending them up the creek with no paddle, and after reading some of the bad comments posted on Stack Overflow it reminds me that we should be vigilant to ensure that we’re learning how to continue to grow without letting the quality slip.
So what’s your opinion on Ask Ubuntu? Do you feel like the site is friendly and welcoming to new users and contributors? Have you had a bad or good experience with the site?