@Dom remarks in Please upvote the questions you answer

The bigger problem I'd say is we only generate 4 votes per answer and 6 votes per question and our question rate is pretty low only about 51 questions were asked last week.

I'm really interested in what can be done to create more engagement on the site.

  • 1
    It would seem that the two issues are related... Also, the whole 'are we being mean' topic. But, I also wonder if there is some leeway in the types of questions that can be asked on this stack in particular... I realize there is a music fans stack, but considering the music experience is so subjective in nature, I wonder if moderation should be more lenient with certain (not all) questions of this type Nov 29, 2019 at 13:13
  • I'm reading through the meta posts about the recent moderator drama (all new to me as I just started visiting the stack exchanges regularly again after a couple years this past October.) I wonder if all of the is related depending on the 'newness' of this issue. If it has nothing to do with that, I also wonder if this is a question of sustainability... while there are potentially infinite questions to ask, there is likely a point at which the questions that most often need answering are already asked, and answered Nov 29, 2019 at 14:46
  • So, a problem with no answers? Moderators, what do you think?
    – empty
    Dec 2, 2019 at 18:40

4 Answers 4


I will give one example. I am not sure whether one can generalize from such an incomplete data but anyway. I have recently asked a question which, then turned out to be a "hot" one with a lot of comments (and btw unproportionally low amount of upvotes, whereas it had already quite a few answers). I was answering the comments, spending more time on this site, simultaneously upvoting some other topics and eventually answering a couple of questions. Those upvotes and answers of mine would not have happened, if not for the feedback I got for my previous question.

The morale behind it: that this is a reflexive process. The more feedback you get, the more feedback (answers, upvotes, downvotes) you give. The system with upvotes is a way to gamify the process. If the gamification does not occur, people get a bit frustrated.

As a solution I would propose reading and upvoting 10 good questions (and answers) a day. I mean every one has her/his favourite tags. One can search with a specific tag and read the interesting questions, maybe comment on them.


Some aspects of how things suck in my opinion. I don't have solutions for them.

  • Dancing about architecture. Explaining music-related things verbally is awkward and not well suited to the job. There is a reason why musical notation has been developed, and even that isn't supported by the site. In this day and age, the minimum level of support I would expect from a modern site is something like MuseScore and Guitar Pro, but in a javascript-based editor that works directly in the site. And MIDI grid editors for those who don't speak score or tab. The question and answer posters should be offered a way to show what they mean, instead of verbally explaining. Like the guideline for movie makers goes: don't tell them, show them. And to hear what it sounds like. It's music, you know.
  • Dancing about architecture, when you don't know anything about architecture and cannot dance. There are a lot of beginner questions, where the OP cannot even explain what they mean, and/or the terminology is all over the place.
  • StackExchange sites are supposed to be searchable, so that people stumble upon existing answers without having to ask. Right? But how do you search a database of dancing about architecture? Particularly if you can't even write a proper question? Searching assumes that you're able to either specify the question in a formal way that's directly suited to a search index, or the search engine can somehow morphologically normalize the words and concepts to find equivalent expressions for the same thing. This obviously cannot be done, if it takes several rounds of comments to understand what the OP is talking about to start with.
  • "Give me stuff easily and immediately, I want to spend zero effort". I want a plonk button that makes these aggravating posts disappear.
  • Many common subjects are banned, like for example gear recommendations, opinions and transcriptions. But those are actual relevant things for music. I'd say, almost essential things. For the most part, music is subjective, and knowing different tastes, opinions, experiences and the people behind them is the essence of the whole thing. This person chose this amp for this task, for these reasons ... what might my tasks and reasons be? Music is not a natural science or an engineering discipline, and most of the people coming here are not professionals trying to solve things related to their daily work, as on the original StackOverflow site.

I'm not sure the whole idea of a text-only question-and-answer format being suited to music. StackOverflow was designed to be a better Experts-Exchange, and that's what it is, de facto. Experts, professionals. But this music thing ... experts and professionals, exchange between equal peers?

  • I'm a frequently performing musician and the closest way I can explain the disconnect is the way that university music programs teach almost exclusively bebop jazz and classical when folks listen almost exclusively to electronica, hiphop, soul, blues, rock and folk. Why? Because jazz and classical are easier to teach. We need less Schenker and more Tagg around here IMHO.
    – empty
    Dec 8, 2019 at 21:15
  • I think theory is valuable but only as far as it extends my practice of music. And recommendations of products, books and other resources are an important part of that. As are summaries of principles of types of music I'm unfamiliar with.
    – empty
    Dec 8, 2019 at 21:25
  • 1
    @pro LOL the teaching what can be taught in an institution... it's like the old joke about the murder investigators who were searching for the murder weapon, one cop was looking under a street light ... "but it can't be there, that's not where the murderer threw it!?" said the other cop, "yes I know, but the light is better here!!" Dec 8, 2019 at 21:48
  • I think a lot can be done with text, diagrams and YouTube video excerpts (including ones we do on our own). But I wish the tools were better.
    – empty
    Dec 8, 2019 at 23:13
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    I agree that having some sort of built-in music notation editor would be great (if it were possible -- just some sort of thing that can display the results of a Lilypond snippet would be great). And just to respond to @pro: I don't think people teach jazz and classical because they are easier to teach. They teach them because there are more ready-made tools for teaching them. It's a heck of a lot easier to teach students how to write a pop song in many standard contemporary styles than to write a Mozart sonata movement that is stylistically accurate.
    – Athanasius
    Dec 11, 2019 at 18:37
  • @Athanasius I would disagree but we can agree to disagree. The Germans have two different words for musicianship: one translates as "musicianship" and the other translates as "musicality". Musicianship can easily be taught. Musiciality is ineffable. "Pop music" is a loaded term IMHO which is used by Euroclassical musicians to look down on music that is not Euroclassical.
    – empty
    Dec 11, 2019 at 22:23
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    @pro: I meant no offense, nor did I even use the term "pop music." What I said was "write a pop song," by which I meant specifically in one of the "pop" idioms, which are not as musically interesting as some of the other genres you mention like rock, blues, soul, etc. Yet I'd still argue that it's easier to teach someone to write a moderately competent song in one of those latter styles than to write a Mozart sonata. And I mean no quality judgment, nor that Mozart is more "sophisticated" or something: merely that there are more compositional constraints to learn in the classical idiom.
    – Athanasius
    Dec 12, 2019 at 0:37
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    @pro: Also, I don't know how much that last sentence of your comment was directed at me, but you'll find that while I am very knowledgeable about "Euroclassical" music, I find the emphasis on it in college curricula, etc. to be outdated if not outright deplorable. It would be one thing if colleges actually taught decent models for understanding classical music, but even the theory taught is not generally very good at helping students really get at the "musicality" of the classical idiom... but I digress.
    – Athanasius
    Dec 12, 2019 at 0:43
  • @athanasius I agree with you completely.
    – empty
    Dec 12, 2019 at 3:16

Possible reasons for low question rate

This is just trying to limn the problem. No judgment or conclusion is intended, I am just outlining possibilities.

Most of the possible on-topic questions that can be asked have been asked

Off-topic questions:

  • Requests for recommendations
  • Questions on complex topics are too broad
  • Questions that elicit opinion-based answers
  • Identifying a style/genre, instrument/equipment, technique, chord progression
  • Questions with too many possible answers or that would require an extremely long answer

It may be that the bulk of questions musicians have relate to off-topic questions. Questions that are on-topic may be difficult to craft for new users and most possible on-topic questions have been asked so the question rate is low. I'm not suggesting we change the policy, I'm simply making an observation. We may just be stuck with that.

This SE isn't well-represented in searches

This might be because searches for particular questions don't match our questions for some reason. Or it might be because our questions don't have enough links from other sites.

This SE isn't viewed as welcoming

This is a hot button, I know, but I just have to put it out there. If this is the case then it might be for a number of reasons, many of which were outlined in https://stackoverflow.blog/2018/04/26/stack-overflow-isnt-very-welcoming-its-time-for-that-to-change

The thing we don't see yet

Maybe StackExchange Data Explorer (SEDE) can tell us something. Or you?

  • 1
    And the downvote is because...?
    – empty
    Dec 4, 2019 at 22:13
  • 1
    i totally think this is a good observation. I had exactly the same thoughts after reading the question first time. Saved me a lot of time I don't have to write it down and I have only one thing to add, that is to long for a comment so I add another answer and risk some down-votes too :-)
    – nath
    Dec 5, 2019 at 17:49

Like in the answer of @pro I do not want to say that the things I point out are easy to change or have to change this way, because it is a rather a big social matter, that I just want to add as a possible way to look at the sides of tone and spirit.

I sometimes did not find the tone on SE very inviting. This is far better on music and the worst on StackOverflow as far as I experienced. But I think that musicians tend to look for spaces with a collaborative spirit and I think that on here it raises and falls with the topic.

I have been able to have this experience in a very good way with LilyPond questions, but also experienced quite an annoying fault-finding mentality on questions like Piano and Music Theory. I know that these kind of Question and Answer boards kind of work this way to point out faults, hoping for the truth (if there is one) to stay on top. But in Germany we have this saying the music is made by the tone and I think this is the direction, especially for comments to get a spirit growing that is rather like:

"I know something, you know something, lets put it together and it will grow!"

rather then:

"I know it better then you, the votes are going to show who the real master is"

I'm really happy for those SE communities, especially as a questioner and I think there is much more headroom for development in the terms I was trying to point out.


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