Given the low answer rate on CV (62% based on current information) and discussions thereof, would it be possible to build a easy system to categorize questions, such that it becomes clear why they may not be answered and to make it worthwhile to answer them?

I realize there is a system to flag questions in the form of closing/migrating questions as duplicate/low quality/other site, etc., but there is no option to flag a question as unlikely to be answered because it is a huge amount of time and effort and hardly worth it.

Where questions are classified as difficult or specialized, there should be an inherent bounty to encourage people to answer hard questions that are likely to garner only a handful of votes.

i.e. it would be nice if it was worth people's time to answer questions that are likely to have low traffic (and therefore up votes) due to specialization or difficulty.

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    $\begingroup$ If there are questions you think merit a bounty (because they'd require substantial effort to answer, or indeed for any other reason), feel free to mention them here or on chat. Even if StackExchange is unlikely to add additional incentive for those questions, that doesn't stop CV users from considering placing bounties on questions. If pointing to such questions becomes a very regular activity over a period of time it would be a simple matter to set up a chat room devoted to it. I realize it would only make a small dent, but it's one way to make some difference. $\endgroup$ – Glen_b Nov 28 '15 at 22:18
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    $\begingroup$ (a) may not be answered and (b) possibly worth a good answer are not necessarily contradictory, but they are not identical either. I think commenting, voting to close and down-voting provide the mechanisms we need to send signals.The root problem remains the large number of casual/beginning users of statistics who (understandably enough) ask too many questions geared to a dataset we can't see, or want to be told the correct method, etc., etc. It's really hard to ask a good new question here. $\endgroup$ – Nick Cox Nov 29 '15 at 9:40
  • $\begingroup$ It sounds as if you think ("worthwhile", "worth people's time", "bounty") insufficient scope for gains in reputation is key here. People must speak for themselves, and it's possible to be altruistic and also be pleased at any reputation gain, but my impression that people motivated by reputation alone would get frustrated here fairly quickly. Tinkering with the system would not change that. $\endgroup$ – Nick Cox Nov 29 '15 at 12:28
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    $\begingroup$ @NickCox I agree with both of your comments. However, I read the previous discussion where it was stated that some users felt that it might not be worth their time providing an answer that would require substantial effort when there might only be 0 or 1 votes for it. I don't think reputation motivates most people entirely, but I do think it can and does motivate a bit. In my limited experience, a single checkmark is hardly as satisfying as high page views and 100s of rep; that may be a result of my having a very low rep though. Proof that rep does motivate is that bounties work. $\endgroup$ – Minnow Nov 29 '15 at 14:50
  • $\begingroup$ That people are different I take as axiomatic. I see the most active users here helping out often when there's no prospect of much by way of votes. I think it's a little strong to talk of proof of the effectiveness of bounties. Some people are indifferent to bounties. If I didn't have anything to say first time round, a bounty won't change that. $\endgroup$ – Nick Cox Nov 29 '15 at 23:59
  • $\begingroup$ @NickCox I certainly won't dispute that people are different :) At the end of the day, I guess it all boils down to the same thing: statistics questions are often more demanding to write and answer than many other exchange areas (e.g. overflow). I'll take the zero vote count as affirmation that nobody supports the idea of auto-bounties or adding other tools. Thanks for the discussion. $\endgroup$ – Minnow Nov 30 '15 at 14:23
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    $\begingroup$ My guess is the zero vote reflects a judgement on practicality, and does not at all connote lack of sympathy for your views. The essence is outlined by @gung in his answer, namely that changes like this would need to be SE-wide. In addition, as no one person could decide on difficulty or degree of specialization, this would be one more level to decide on collectively (and to discuss where there are disagreements). My own stance is at once more optimistic and more pessimistic than yours (I don't see good posters as needing these inducements, but also I don't know alternative good solutions.) $\endgroup$ – Nick Cox Nov 30 '15 at 14:28

This is out of our control: it would have to be implemented SE-wide by the developers. In addition, it is intrinsic to the SE system. The tenacious and unsung hero badges exist in part to incentivize / reward users who answer lower visibility questions.

As far as creating a scheme to categorize threads and identify threads that are on less popular / more esoteric topics, the tag system is intended to do that (although I certainly believe it requires constant maintenance to serve that role well).

If there is a particular thread that you believe will be of value, but will be more difficult to answer, and may not be sufficiently rewarded, you can place a bounty. (An alternative, given that you may not have enough reputation right now to place a lot of bounties, is to mention it in chat.)


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