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Well, it appears that our visitor stream is gently ticking upward from the early days of the public beta.

I implore everyone to remember that welcoming new users into the community is a critical phase of the development of any Q&A site. Those who are contributing thoughtfully and constructively should, of course, be responded to on the same terms. And perhaps most importantly, remember to upvote their contributions as well! (After all, if you responded to the question, it was useful, right?)

That being said, it concerns me that our question-asking rate is falling fairly quickly.

What are some ways to encourage users to ask great questions here? I am not suggesting posting 'seed' questions, and we still definitely need to be concerned about the scope of allowed topics. However, without a regular influx of new questions, the site will die.

So, what steps can we take to improve our daily question count?

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Well, you can start asking questions yourself.

Yeah, self-service is not cool. And stuff. But if you or me don't have anything to ask - then how are we different from people, who lack critical thinking ? How can we say about ourselves, that we are thinking at all ?

I mean, if we just accept, that all the questions of philosophy have been already answered - then we should close this site, write a book (or wiki) - and let people get the Holy Knowledge from there.

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Some people are interested in philosophy, but they haven't studied philosophy as much as some people here. People with more experience know which questions have been answered by other philosophers and which questions are age-old.

People that are interested want to know what which questions are unanswered, think about the it, and see if they could solve it or help the issue in some way. Some may disagree with answers and want to challenge it. When they do challenge it and are told they're wrong, they want to know why they are wrong or where their errors are.

It would be useful if there was an easy way to see an overview of philosophy like a big flowchart of everything or argument map or mind map. I want to browse philosophy like software in an open source repository with revision control, check it out, compile it to checks for errors and view stack traces, if it has issues, submit a bug, fork it someone disagrees, but still be able to diff it.

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    I don't really understand how this answers the question that is being asked here. The first paragraph is basically a given: different people have different levels of experience, education, and backgrounds. That doesn't tell us much about how to reach people from all of those backgrounds. And I don't understand what the third paragraph has to do with anything. That might be nice, but it certainly won't help our question count! Perhaps you could expand your answer a little bit? – Cody Gray Jul 2 '11 at 13:21
  • Maybe you are thinking of a truth maintenance system, it's a tree of sorts, as what you say. This is a Q&A site, that means that on each page (Q&A) there is one single branch, from a node to another, B to C (as I said in my answer). Your idea is very cool, but this is a different thing, and it can be useful as it is, other sites in stackexchange prove that. (But your idea is very cool and I mean it, I've been thinking about something similar for a while, but I don't have the time to implement it) – Trylks Aug 3 '13 at 21:17
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I think one major problem (at least for me) is that many question can be answered by oneself by doing some research. So instead of asking them, I just spend some more hours on the text-passage in question and hope that that helps me out. Only if I really can't make sense of it, or if I don't know where else to look, I come here to ask a question.

It just feels unfair to ask questions without having tried hard to answer them yourself.

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I don't see a common body of knowledge where to start making questions.

A question arises because there is some body of knowledge and there are open issues in that body of knowledge (for a group of people and not for everybody).

One person in the group for which it is an open issue poses the question and (at least) one person in the group of people for which it is not an open issue anymore answers the question.

To write it shortly, people go from point A (absolute ignorance) to point B (partial ignorance) and want to get to point C (less ignorance) with an specific answer. So the answer takes from B to C.

In the questions I have made I didn't get any answers but comments about how I was wrongly at B. I'm trying to go to the knowledge (C) from (B) and I get pulled to question my questions (towards A).

Bertrand Russell wrote it better in 1912 (The Problems of Philosophy):

Philosophy is to be studied, not for the sake of any definite answers to its questions, since no definite answers can, as a rule, be known to be true, but rather for the sake of the questions themselves; because these questions enlarge our conception of what is possible, enrich our intellectual imagination and diminish the dogmatic assurance which closes the mind against speculation; but above all because, through the greatness of the universe which philosophy contemplates, the mind is also rendered great, and becomes capable of that union with the universe which constitutes its highest good.

I don't think this is an intrinsic problem of philosophy, but I think this is a problem nowadays and specially on the Internet, where people are getting used to science giving all the answers and philosophy giving only some questions, some (most?) of them unsolvable.

Maybe it's my disappointment for the latest down-votes speaking, but without a change of the philosophy in the site, I don't think this can work as a Q&A site.

Maybe it should be changed to a site about questions on the history of philosophy, I can clearly see that working as a Q&A site.

Despite of that I really wish this site works and get answers to my questions, because I have many, and maybe we should consider that some questions (even if they cannot be answered) can be useful as food for thought. BTW: why the down-votes to my questions? If some questions are hard or provoke uncomfortable thoughts maybe those are the questions that are needed most.

Again as Bertrand Russell said:

Philosophy, if it cannot answer so many questions as we could wish, has at least the power of asking questions which increase the interest of the world, and show the strangeness and wonder lying just below the surface even in the commonest things of daily life.

To sum it up, just in case it's hard to see the points in the long text, I see three options (not exhaustive and not exclusive):

  • Change the site from philosophy to history of philosophy (I would NOT like that)
  • Consider questions may be valuable even if there is no answer, this would change the site from Q&A to Q[&A] (Q and maybe A, I'd have written it as A->Q, but that seems more confusing)
  • Don't question the questions [like that]. My (partial and surely biased) experience is that sometimes this is more of a Q&Q(Q) site (questions about the question). It's fine, there are some questions about questions that have to be asked, things to think, etc. But most of the time they don't feel like questions to seek for some knowledge but excuses to avoid seeking for it. That's soul-breaking.

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