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"Where can I find X?" questions have always bothered me.

  • They tend to be low on criteria, contributing to low-quality answers.
  • They tend to result in an itemized list: Many short answers that together form a list without much context.
  • Voting is screwed up. Given the above you can't really vote on quality, so you end up voting based on whether you recognize the suggestion and like it. It's a popularity contest that is skewed by the subset of the community that sees the question, and newer answers are likely to be buried under older ones when sorted by votes.
  • They greatly resemble shopping questions. There's not much chance to apply your musical expertise in answering these questions, and the user asking doesn't necessarily learn anything long-term. The best answers are educational and not merely informational:

    If I had to summarize our network in a single word, that word is “learning”. People come to our sites to learn about topics they are passionate about. As the old Chinese proverb goes, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” Every question and answer ultimately should be about teaching and learning — yes, even the shopping ones.

I think we should turn questions like https://music.stackexchange.com/q/5204/28 into questions like What are the feelings & emotions behind chords? or, even better, What gives a piece of music its personality and feeling?. That way we can address all of the above issues and create a respository of knowledge on this site. We should leverage the expertise of the community and make this site a great resource, not just pass links around. And on Gaming, we came to the conclusion that we're better off using our judgment regarding when answers should be self-contained and when and how we should link to external sources. I think the same is true here.

Thoughts?

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Having myself run afoul of this prescription, I think you've got the right idea.

With https://music.stackexchange.com/questions/4714/what-tools-should-every-musician-have I didn't have a clear idea of what I was looking for. So the question was vague and very quickly accumulated no-new-content answers.

With Exercises for Tuvan Throat-Singing (Overtone-Singing)? I suspect I was saved by viewers being more likely to think "Wow, that's pretty cool" rather than "Why didn't he google first?"

So perhaps we need a little more emphasis (or coaching) on the "What have you tried before?" aspect. Or in this case, "Where have you looked?"

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