11

On a Stack Exchange site I moderate, there are many experienced users who write excellent answers. I can count on them to give high-quality answers to most questions. Their efforts substantially help the quality of the content on the site, and the site itself.

Unfortunately, many of the people who ask the questions are not these same users. Many are new, or don't know a lot about the subjects they ask about. They don't necessarily ask bad questions, but they generally don't ask expert questions.

There isn't a high question rate on the site, and I would like to increase this by getting the experienced users to ask higher-level questions, instead of simply answering them. This would improve both the quality and quantity of questions on the site.

How can I motivate these users to do so?

  • 1
    Did you consider the fact that your experienced users probably know everything they want to know? What have you done so far? Have feedback to your possible actions been reported? – Zerotime Jun 22 '15 at 8:24
  • I have considered the first point - and it could be true - but the users have asked questions in the past; they simply aren't asking much anymore. I haven't done anything yet because I'm honestly stymied as to what to do, or if I should even do anything. – HDE 226868 Jun 22 '15 at 14:39
4

As others have noted, experts may feel they have fewer questions to ask. They don't necessarily actually have fewer questions, but they may feel the audience for some of their questions is too small. So for the subset of those questions where they can wait for an answer, you're looking for ways to get them to ask them anyway. Sometimes, from what I've seen, just reminding them that questions aren't only for the current community is enough. I've seen people ask questions that hang around for months or even years and then get a good answer. So long as the asking user has remained involved with the community (so he's still around to care), he benefits from this. The best tools to use in doing this on Stack Exchange are meta and chat.

That's for the questions they don't already know the answers to, but there's another category worth exploring. On a community like Stack Exchange in particular, people can use your site not only to get their questions answered but to anticipate others' questions and share their knowledge. This is where the self-answer comes in. (Here's one example of mine.) Encourage your experts to write good questions that they can answer and then write those answers. They get to share some knowledge, your site gets a good question and at least one answer, and the next person who has that problem can find that answer already present on your site. (And, if extrinsic motivation is important to them, they can get upvotes for both the question and the answer, if they're deserving.)

There is a caveat here: when you already know the answer it's easy to fall into the trap of writing a question that's too terse. The question needs to stand alone as a question; it must not depend on its answer. If writing self-answered questions is new for your community (or for some of your users), pay extra attention to the questions. If your users are invested enough in your community to go down this path at all, they're probably open to making edits in response to comments requesting clarification. But they might need help from other community members to know where they've unintentionally cut corners on the question.

3

Why do you feel you need your experienced users to ask more questions?

It's generally acknowledged that the more experienced users have fewer questions to ask because they've already been through the learning experience and are often better able to find the answers they need before they need to ask. However, when they do have a question, it's usually in an area where few people have been before.

So, if you can encourage them to answer the existing questions even if other experienced users have already answered them then when they do have a question they'll feel confident that they'll get an answer from the other experts on the site.

2

Incentivizing the task will yield higher results. I will make one suggestion that could get your expert users to ask more questions. As you know, competition can breed great results (and not so great ones too) so take that warning at the forefront of my answer.

Experts in a field have typically reached a level where most questions can be answered quite easily. Experience and knowledge have merged and have created a confident and competent user. However, there are still things that we must learn at those higher levels that other experts can help with.

I would encourage you to create a contest where experts ask questions aimed at other experts and record the time that it takes for an answer to be supplied. In other words, award the expert whose question took the longest time to answer with some kind of prize or recognition. You'll have to watch for and expect a certain level of quality in the answers but overall, coming from experts, the'll be able to judge that as well.

This will get your experts' minds activated and engaged while providing some solid questions for the site and other members to enjoy and benefit from.

0

Experienced users probably have fewer questions than newbies. I suspect you could analyze the data of usage and see a trend.

I wonder if you allowed the ability to start a discussion if experts would do so. Perhaps one has to reach a certain ranking in order to get that feature. The expert could present a finding, and folks here could ask more questions about it and learn more.

  • 2
    While this idea has some merit, pure discussions are generally frowned upon within Stack Exchange - if only because they don't fit into the question and answer model. – ChrisF Jun 23 '15 at 22:10

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.