Keeping the TeX-sx site working well is a balancing act. We want good quality content, and that means there is housekeeping to do: voting, editing questions and answers, looking for duplicates and adding comments. At the same time, it’s important that users are not put off by being told for example that their question has been asked before. On the main StackOverflow blog, there’s a post about how they’ve approached this: it’s raised quite a lot of comment. Each StackExchange site has its own approach to these issues, and so I thought I’d look at what the TeX-sx approach seems to be.
A key aim is to make the site accessible to new users, whether they are new TeX users or not. That means giving people some leeway when they ask questions or post answers: very rapidly closing is not normally the best plan. Many TeX questions are focussed on single documents, and teasing out the required detail is something that the questioner often needs some guidance with (they are often under pressure to get things done!). Of course, there is still a need to keep on top of material which needs improving. That’s one of the reasons for the Answer the Unanswered sessions: it lets us keep on top of questions where improvements were needed and did not happen.
It’s a similar story with voting: in general, we’ve tried to avoid downvotes. Voting on TeX-sx is hopefully about being positive: good questions and answers get upvotes, and less good ones don’t. Some really poor material might deserve a score of minus one, but beyond that there’s no value in downvoting.
Editing material is something that needs a bit of care: every question and answer has someone’s name on it, even if it’s been edited. Again, the feeling has been to keep a balance between the needs of readers (to have well presented material) and of original authors (to have their efforts respected). That’s led to some questions, but in the round I think we’ve not done badly.
So what’s the message? Remember that there are many different site users, with many different requirements. We want good content, but we also want a welcoming site where new users feel they can contribute.