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The low hanging fruit is rapidly being picked. What do people think a typical bicycling question will look like in 3 months? In 6 months?

Bicycling and bicycles face the issue that this is not a rapidly evolving subject and not highly complicated. The major questions will soon be asked and answered. In order to promote sustainability, what can be done in terms of the types of questions, focus, and content?

Possible areas of consideration:

  1. Localization/regionalization - A hard-nosed insistence on universal questions will sharply limit the user base. Many legitimate, answerable localized questions are entirely possible.
  2. Advocacy and bicycling promotion - I am fortunate to live in a highly progressive bicycling city. Others are not so fortunate, but with help, their communities could become much more bike friendly and safer. Is this type of thing a possibility for the site going forward?

These are just 2 off the top of my head and I'm sure there are other areas worthy of consideration. The user, Unsliced, has also raised similar, or the same issues; so I'm thinking that a discussion is merited to enhance the viability of the site.

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I don't have trouble with some regional questions. I think that if we get more focussed than state/province level they won't be applicable to enough people in the community. Would a question like "Good places to ride in BC" be a valid question or is that too regional? Sure we'd be naming cities but it's entirely possible that people will travel to BC and ride then the information would be useful.

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    I think it's valid but you want to pick the big areas first that have the most chance of getting reasonably answered. Like if you ran a poker site, "best poker tables in Vegas?" is a lot more viable than "best poker tables in Springfield, Virginia?" – Jeff Atwood Oct 22 '10 at 3:23
  • The regional thing is new ground on SE, at least for me. @Jeff, are there any guidelines on how to handle regional questions, or are we in the wild west here? – Goodbye Stack Exchange Oct 22 '10 at 4:15
  • So how do we decide if a region is big enough? Vancouver BC is big so might qualify but my town is small and probably wouldn't. – curtismchale Oct 22 '10 at 4:55
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    I think it comes down to the number of cyclists that are in (or likely to visit) the region, rather than the area or number of people in the region. A good test is how many answers the question gets from people that have personal experience of the region. – Ian Oct 27 '10 at 11:59
  • ...I read that as "good places to ride before christ" ... too many sci-fi books lately. – Criggie Apr 16 '17 at 21:53
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Yeh. Excellent. I haven't been back to this site for a while because all the whinging and whining in the comments about whether a question was a correct question or not seemed rather petty. I think there are too many moderators/commenters for too few questions. And the moderators are too strict. As there aren't enough questions to attempt to answer, the moderators/visitors moan and pick instead about the few questions that have been asked, oh and then they even close some of them so there are even less.

This is a huge turn off, especially to newcomers who arrive here and innocently ask a question without realizing how big the torrent of criticism is that's about to be unleashed in their direction. Shame on them for not asking in the right way!

So, my suggestion is. Stop closing any questions and remove the ability to do so. If you don't like a question, down vote it (or better yet, do absolutely nothing) and move on.

If something a bit radical like this doesn't happen and the community doesn't show a bit more positivity instead of whinging all the time this site is quickly going to turn into a ghost town.

Apologies if that sounded like a whinge itself! But, I was really optimistic when this site started that it might be somewhere I could return every day and enjoy contributing and reading. It hasn't worked out so far, and it doesn't look like it's going to unless the moderators lead by example and loosen up a lot! I know the moderators are trying to do a good job and I respect that they always remain polite, but maybe they're just trying a bit too hard, and as a result, this site feels overly policed and oppressive.

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  • Exactly! "If something a bit radical like this doesn't happen and the community doesn't show a bit more positivity instead of whinging all the time this site is quickly going to turn into a ghost town." – user313 Dec 2 '10 at 6:47
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    Initially I tried to be positive on this site. However, at every turn, Neilfein and Friehart slapped me down. – user313 Dec 2 '10 at 6:51
  • Whatever. The moderators can comment. – user313 Dec 2 '10 at 6:52
  • I really, really like your last paragraph... – user313 Dec 2 '10 at 6:55
  • "Apologies if that sounded like a whinge itself! But, I was really optimistic when this site started that it might be somewhere I could return every day and enjoy contributing and reading. It hasn't worked out so far, and it doesn't look like it's going to unless the moderators lead by example and loosen up a lot" – user313 Dec 2 '10 at 6:56
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    Good moderation is crazy hard. That said, I felt that I was attacked, as well, and have stayed away. Hopefully things have calmed down, but contributing isn't really worth getting embroiled in all the drama & debate. – Kara Marfia Jan 5 '11 at 4:40
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These are both good ideas -- regional and advocacy.

Regional questions: We've already allowed some types of regional questions. We'll need to come up with some guidelines on how to handle that so it's within the SE guidelines. Even if the local mods (ahem) were in agreement on this, we really need to work on some sort of framework for these so the SE mods don't close them down. Does anyone know -- specifically -- why it was decided and for what reasons -- regional questions were disallowed? I can't find anything on meta so, and I suspect this decision may have been made before meta so was created.

Bicycling Advocacy: I'm not sure what this site would bring to advocacy. Questions about how to get signatures for a bike lane in Wichita? How to get people to commute to work? Increasing driver awareness in Paris? This has the potential to be both incredibly subjective and hyper-local.

If we do this, we should compliment and coordinate with work that local organizations are doing. In fact, identifying such organizations and their agendas would have to be the first order of business. How is it that StackExchange works for this?

(Edit: We have some questions about advocacy already, and I just added one.)

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One possibility is to ask the questions which you wish someone else had asked.

For example, today I asked a policeman how much stop he wanted to see in a bicycle at a stop sign, and he told me in a dozen sentences ... and I thought it was a good answer. So, I could:

  • Post a question, "How much should I stop at stop signs?"
  • Post my own answer, quoting him (before or after waiting for other people to answer too)
  • Optionally comment on the various answers

This lets you treat the site as a kind of collaborative blog.

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    You could also post about this on the site blog; it sounds like an interesting conversation. – Goodbye Stack Exchange Jul 21 '11 at 4:38

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