Perhaps this is just subjective nonsense. But after browsing through the site today, I somehow feel as though the average of quality of questions has gone down since when I first started using this site. It seems that questions can be split into distinct categories of "very advanced with a lot of good quality work shown" and "very simple, with almost no effort given" (with, shockingly users that aren't brand new). Has anyone else felt the same way?

Perhaps this could be objectively looked at by charting the average up/downvotes over the past years, and the average number of closed questions/total questions per day.

What could be the reason behind this?

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    $\begingroup$ If you browse some questions on meta tagged (statistics), you might find some relevant statistics. One of such posts is here, you might be able to find other related posts. However, I do not think that lower average score necessarily means lower quality. It might be simply the large number of questions, which leads to less people seeing (and voting on) each particular post. Problems related to the large volume of posts were also discussed in this post (among other things). $\endgroup$ Jan 10 '16 at 6:24
  • $\begingroup$ For example, already in 2012 it was observed that the average score per answer have decreased. The explanation suggested in comments it that this has to do with the increasing number of questions. (Which, in 2012, was much smaller than today.) $\endgroup$ Jan 10 '16 at 6:33
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    $\begingroup$ I would blame decrease in average score per answer on exponential increase in number of questions and the increase in demand for speed in attending each question: many at times choose to just downvote/discourage posts (I am partial to new users) instead of taking a moment to tell the user the need to post their attempt/knowledge in concerning topic (which is as simple as copy-pasting comment from templates meta post.) And I have noticed many users (often with 3500+ rep) who post poor quality post, and they probably are the only posts I downvote. $\endgroup$ Jan 10 '16 at 11:18
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    $\begingroup$ See Ages of Man. $\endgroup$
    – Lucian
    Jan 11 '16 at 6:45
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    $\begingroup$ I was actually thinking the same thing today, before running into this post on the suggested questions. I think the user pool of math.SE has become less advanced, and so has the quality of the questions-- independent of the average up/down votes. I find that questions I would ask here, sometimes now I have to go to math overflow to ask. $\endgroup$
    – Alex
    Jan 15 '16 at 16:49
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    $\begingroup$ You could just substitute any SE for "Math.SE" in this question, really. $\endgroup$
    – shoover
    Jan 15 '16 at 17:27
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    $\begingroup$ As the time between the present and when I earned my B.S. in mathematics lengthens, my skills decrease (I don't work in a math related field), possibly at the same rate that the quality of questions here is declining (which isn't to say quality is declining, just supposing for the sake of discussion), which could be a reason why I personally do not perceive a decline in question quality. Most questions are over my head, just like always. $\endgroup$ Jan 19 '16 at 15:29
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    $\begingroup$ @ToddWilcox my BS was earned in 1979, which is a long gap, but still I try to keep up with the big problems, though I have trouble with lack of formal graduate level study. I am obsessed with Collatz problem...so I'm probably a big reason for the decline ... $\endgroup$
    – frogfanitw
    Jan 20 '16 at 14:51
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    $\begingroup$ I can't speak for a change in quality (haven't been around for long enough) , but can say that the average quality is disappointingly low. If I watch the new question feed populate and browse them, I find myself getting irritated and miserable pretty quickly - exploring well-received questions from weeks or months ago is much more rewarding for me. It's just a shame there's so much rubble to get through to find the great answers. $\endgroup$
    – miradulo
    Jan 20 '16 at 15:24

I believe the true answer is: It's true and perhaps a little sad, but in the long run, not hugely important.

As long as there is a steady flow of high-quality questions, even if it's slowed, we're doing all right. And also very importantly, as long as the quality of the answers is good.

There is a piece of the Area 51 FAQ that is pertinent here:

To attract experts, you need a site where people are asking very interesting and challenging questions, not the basic questions found on every other Q&A site. Your goal is to make it clear that this is a professional site.


Remember, pro sites WILL attract the enthusiasts, but not the other way around!

Now that this site is well established (over half a million questions!) we have certainly attracted the enthusiasts, not only the professionals. (The excerpted text above is discussing what sort of questions your site must have to establish itself.)

The way to keep the site high-quality and keep it home for real professionals is, of course:

  • Ask excellent questions
  • Write excellent answers
  • Vote on questions and answers you found helpful
  • Vote on questions and answers you found unhelpful
  • Vote to close/delete any off topic, duplicate, low quality, etc. posts
  • Help new users learn to follow the guidelines of the community
  • Etc.

In essence, just be a good, contributing member of the community, and help to forward the purposes and guidelines of the site. That way the community stays alive and flourishing, and we all win.

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    $\begingroup$ Enthusiasts are fine. The posts by non-enthusiasts, on the other hand... $\endgroup$
    – user147263
    Feb 12 '16 at 16:39

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