Today alone I've flagged - at a guess - more than 5 but less than 10 answers, where the answer has been of quite severely low quality; for example "this is my pet theory" or general commenting. In other words, treating the site as a discussion forum rather than a Q&A site.
In all cases these had the following in common:
- A new member with typically 1 rep (i.e new to the SE network overall, not just this site).
- An actual registered member rather than a generic "user#####" account.
- The person had no badges indicating that they hadn't even read the Tour.
On any given day there seems to be at least 2 to 3 of these that I personally become aware of, and item 3 above (which I think I picked up from either Richard or Meat Trademark, so credit where it's due) is particularly common.
By my count we had 15 such members today, but only 3 awards of the Informed badge in the same time period - 2 of which are on > 100 rep and so are likely already members of SE sites and therefore know how they are meant to work. That's not a good hit rate.
The purpose of the Tour is quite explicit and it's very obviously intended for exactly this kind of member:
- It explains what the site is.
- It explains what it's not.
- It explains how to use the site.
- It provides useful links for further information.
But yet (and I guess in much the same way as a file called "readme" is the most secure place to store your passwords) an incredibly high proportion of new members are not reading it (with only 505 Informed badge awards an incredibly high proportion of old members aren't either.....)
This is, I believe, a problem that's quite specific to SF&F (and maybe one or two others) - you're not going to get "here's my pet theory" answers to a programming question, for example. It's also a problem that seems to be generating an inordinately high amount of low-quality content on this site.
What's the solution? Can we set a requirement that a new member cannot post an answer until they earn the Informed badge? Would this be discouraging to new members? Is there any way of at least automatically dropping a hint that they should read the Tour page before participating? Or is the current setup viewed as OK?