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 Post subject: IF Answers
PostPosted: Mon Oct 26, 2015 2:20 pm 
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The IF Answers site is... not really taking off the way I'd hoped.

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Many posts seem to be duplicated either here on at the textadventures forums, and most of the traffic to it comes from these two forums as well.

It doesn't look like it's becoming the go-to place for questions and answers about interactive fiction. It seems more like a place where questions about Quest and Inform go to be ignored for a few days before they get reposted somewhere else. Most questions only get one answer and people aren't really voting on anything.

The aim of IF Answers was to be a Stack Exchange-style site for interactive fiction. It's certainly not succeeding by SE standards:

- Questions per day: "10 questions per day on average is a healthy beta, 5 questions or fewer per day needs some work. A healthy site generates lots of good content to make sure users keep coming back." IF Answers is getting about 20 questions per month.
- Answers: "90% answered is a healthy beta, 80% answered needs some work." Looking at http://ifanswers.com/questions we're hitting about 80% for the most recent questions.
- Avid users: "Every site needs a solid group of core users to assist in moderating the site. We recommend: 150 users with 200+ rep, 10 users with 2,000+ rep, 5 users with 3,000+ rep". We are nowhere near this: http://ifanswers.com/users. We have 7 users with 200+ rep, and none at the higher levels.
- Answer ratio: "2.5 answers per question is good, only 1 answer per question needs some work. On a healthy site, questions receive multiple answers and the best answer is voted to the top." Pretty much one answer per question at the most.
- Visits/day: "1,500 visits per day is good, 500 visits per day needs some work. A great site benefits people outside the community. Eventually, 90% of a site's traffic should come from search engines.". We're getting about 30 visits per day. 25% of that is from search engines.

It seems to me like the IF Answers isn't really doing anything - everything that's on there might as well just be here or at the textadventures forums instead.

So, I'm minded to shut down the site. Gracefully of course - a read-only period, and then making an archive of the content available so nothing gets lost.

But just before I do that, I wanted to see if there's anything preventing you from making more use of the site? Is there anything simple and obvious that we're missing that might make the site more likely to take off properly?


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 Post subject: Re: IF Answers
PostPosted: Mon Oct 26, 2015 7:01 pm 
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If it doesn't work out for IFAnswers to be a separate site, what do people think of the idea of setting up something like that as part of intfiction.org? (Is that even possible?) Just for technical questions. Even if not a lot of voting goes on, I still see an advantage for technical questions in that it's a lot easier to search past questions and find the answers you are looking for without reading through several pages of a thread to see if any of it is relevant.


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 Post subject: Re: IF Answers
PostPosted: Mon Oct 26, 2015 10:43 pm 
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@Alex, maybe it needs more promotion? I check out the various IF sites from time to time (Choice of Games, textadventures, here, Twinery, reddit, etc.) and I haven't heard much about the site anywhere.


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 Post subject: Re: IF Answers
PostPosted: Mon Oct 26, 2015 11:43 pm 
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Most of the activity is on the forum. Right now you can barely get out "How do I-" before someone with a cape leaps in and solves your problem. This won't always be the case.

Perhaps IFAnswers should be a repository to archive questions and answers that come from here for people to search and peruse, rather than a place to ask open-ended questions? Kind of like a collaborative Recipe Book. Instead of having people ask questions on IFAnswers, people can transcribe really good Q&A solutions over there.

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 Post subject: Re: IF Answers
PostPosted: Tue Oct 27, 2015 5:03 am 
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Most people won't want to use IF Answers until enough other people are using it that they can expect to get their questions answered. It's a circular problem: the more users you have, the more want to use it; the less users you have, the less want to use it. I'm not sure what the answer is - more promotion?

One suggestion: when you launched IF Answers, I (as someone who only uses Stack Exchange as a Google result) wasn't clear from your posts what the advantages were over the forum. Maybe clarifying that would help attract some users.

I'm also not sure that this forum is big enough to have some of the problems that Stack Exchange is supposed to solve. For instance, most programming question threads don't run past a single page of posts. Glancing over the Inform forum quickly, most topics have around 5-7 posts. It's not hard to find the information you need in a thread that length. I don't think many questions are answered more than once here, either - the extra posts are often the original poster asking for additional clarification.

That said, I don't think you should give up on IF Answers yet. This forum was set up in 2006, but it took several years before it reached anything like critical mass. rec.arts.int-fiction was still receiving a non-trivial number of posts as late as 2011.

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 Post subject: Re: IF Answers
PostPosted: Tue Oct 27, 2015 5:15 am 
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Whenever I have an IF-related question, I just post it here and it usually gets an answer within a few minutes or a few hours on a slow day. So while I think it's nice to have a site like IF Answers around, it's not going to get a lot of use in comparison with a forum like this.


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 Post subject: Re: IF Answers
PostPosted: Tue Oct 27, 2015 6:36 am 
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I love this idea:

HanonO wrote:
Perhaps IFAnswers should be a repository to archive questions and answers that come from here for people to search and peruse, rather than a place to ask open-ended questions? Kind of like a collaborative Recipe Book. Instead of having people ask questions on IFAnswers, people can transcribe really good Q&A solutions over there.


Once the question is answered, having an easy-to-use archive (where you know all questions presented indeed have an answer) would be so helpful.


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 Post subject: Re: IF Answers
PostPosted: Tue Oct 27, 2015 7:54 am 
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Quote:
I'm also not sure that this forum is big enough to have some of the problems that Stack Exchange is supposed to solve. For instance, most programming question threads don't run past a single page of posts. Glancing over the Inform forum quickly, most topics have around 5-7 posts. It's not hard to find the information you need in a thread that length. I don't think many questions are answered more than once here, either - the extra posts are often the original poster asking for additional clarification.
My feeling was that there were lots of repeated questions, but now that I think about it, I don't have any concrete examples.

If I was someone who was more regularly answering Inform 7 questions here I'd get frustrated pretty quick I think, which is why I was supporting the IF Answers site. But I guess if people are happy here to just keep going as they have been, the IF Answers site won't be very useful. Maybe it's better to phase it out.


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 Post subject: Re: IF Answers
PostPosted: Tue Oct 27, 2015 8:28 am 
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I find it annoying to search for answers on this forum, fwiw, for various reasons: lots of times the search feature will tell me that my search term is too common, you can't necessarily tell from the subject line what the exact question is (it may just give the general topic), you can't search by tag, and adjacent questions tend to get asked in the same threads with the original question, so answers to the question you're looking for may be buried. (Yes, I am guilty of this.) Clarifications and corrections tend to occur in subsequent posts, instead of editing the original question or the original answer for clarity, so you can't necessarily be sure you've gotten the whole picture without reading most of the thread.

Here's an example of a recent question that had been answered before, but was buried in the original thread:

viewtopic.php?f=7&t=18882&p=99652#p99604

viewtopic.php?f=7&t=18054#p94158

Another nice thing about IFA is that when you are in the process of submitting a question, it automatically shows you similar questions, so you can see pretty easily if it's already been answered.


Last edited by bg on Tue Oct 27, 2015 8:45 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: IF Answers
PostPosted: Tue Oct 27, 2015 8:44 am 
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I find the search here confusing but generally if I Google a question, it directs me to the relevant post on this forum anyway.


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