Welcome to Stack Exchange Podcast episode number 60, brought to you by The National Pepperjack Cheese Council. Your hosts today are Joel Spolsky, Jay Hanlon, and David Fullerton (aka Fake Producer Abby).
We'll jump right into things with Community Milestones, but we promise to make them quick.
- Puzzling is now in public beta, and it's about puzzles.
- Data Science (DAY-ta, not DAH-ta) is in public beta, and doing better than that topic's previous iterations.
- Craft CMS, yet another CMS site, is now in public beta as well.
- Buddhism is now also in - surprise! - public beta.
- Last one: Hinduism is in public beta as well.
Whew. Time to let Uncle David walk us through about a hundred new features that have launched since our last podcast.
- Curtail Recidivism of Q-Blocked/Suspended Accounts on Deletion. This is exactly what it sounds like (unless it sounds like nonsense). This makes it so that people who are blocked or suspended can no longer delete their accounts and create a new, non-suspended account.
- New badges: Curious, Inquisitive, and Socratic. These badges go to folks with a consistent pattern of asking good questions, which we hope will help encourage our users to ask more questions.
- We redesigned the Stack Exchange homepage... again. (The pendulum swings.) Make it your homepage! (Or don't.)
- We also redesigned the Hiring page. You should come work with us!
- And we redesigned the mobile website, which you can check out by visiting any Stack Exchange site from your mobile device (unless it's a BlackBerry).
- The Community Bulletin got redesigned as well.
- Careers got a new feature, too: City Pages.
And that's everything we've done for the last few months, except for the secret stuff David won't tell us about.
It's time for our Featured Community. This time around it's User Experience!
- Should error messages apologize?
- Should "Yes, delete it" be red, or green?
- How can users be prevented from pouring water into the bean compartment of a coffee machine?
It's time to talk about quality again. Jay is hopeful, because we had a great fight about this last time. Briefly: the perceived quality on Stack Overflow has been in decline for years. And this time, we've got numbers and things. Our current homepage algorithm was actively highlighting unanswered questions. We did this on purpose, but that was a long time ago. The effect of that system is that unanswerable questions stay on the homepage, because the average and good ones get answered almost immediately. So it makes Stack Overflow look like a site full of bad, unanswered questions.
So here's the new recommended tab. It's doing two things:
- Not filtering out unanswered stuff.
- Weighting toward the tags that you're interested in, but now with more randomness.
You see a broader distribution of stuff. It's not perfect, and that's why it's a little hidden for now, but we'll keep working on it!
The other angle we're attacking this from is the low-quality algorithm. Or rather, the quality score algorithm. (The algorithm itself is very high quality.) We did some science and we threw a bunch of data into Vowpal Wabbit(not a typo) and built a predictor of question quality, which has given us lots of interesting information to work with. We can use hard blocks and warnings to teach people asking questions things like "add some code!" or "make sure you explain what your code is doing!". But we don't want to just tell people not to use certain words, because then they're only learning not to say "thanks", not how to write a good question. So the low quality algorithm can flag your question to be sent to a review queue before it can show up on the homepage. Probably. (This is all still up for debate.)
This is primarily a Stack Overflow thing, so Meta Stack Overflow is the best place to discuss it. Have at it!
And finally, we'll discuss the most important meta post of all.
Thanks for listening to Stack Exchange Podcast #60, brought to you by the National Pepperjack Cheese Council! We'll see you next time.