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There are lots of metrics we can use to "measure" a site, and we do, but none of them matter as much as having a healthy and happy site full of interesting questions and expert answers.

So, let's talk about site health. Specifically, your site's health.

Below you'll find ten questions randomly selected from Philosophy.SE. Review them and take a look around the Internet as if you were trying to find answers to them. Are they interesting questions? Are the answers we have better than what Google has to offer? Are they easily found?

Upvote the corresponding post in this "thread" when our answer is better. Downvote when Google wins. If we're kinda on par with Google, just use common sense and your expertise to guide your vote. :)

Comment to let us know your thoughts... and if you need help, use our handy dandy guide.

Note: This evaluation will close on 11 May 2012!

4
  • Interesting initiative! :) (Hope that makes sense in English) – Alenanno May 3 '12 at 12:02
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    Is it terrible that I consistently misread the emphasis in the question line as "How YOU doin'"? – Joseph Weissman May 4 '12 at 19:34
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    Nope! I keep doing that, too. /Joey – Aarthi May 4 '12 at 19:45
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    Thanks for all of your help, everyone! I'll post results and feedback later on. :) – Aarthi May 14 '12 at 19:59

10 Answers 10

6

To what extent can the invention of zero in India as a number be tied to Buddhist philosophy, if at all?

Better than, worse than, or similar to other sites out there?

2
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    This is a great question, moving beyond simply a dry reference request to something that requires some rigorous analysis and specific knowledge of the topic domain. It doesn't have nearly enough upvotes. Correlated with that, we also fare pretty well in searches. Even with rather generic search terms, we're in the top 5 to 8 hits. If you get more specific, we do even better. The answers are targeted, correct, and helpful. In an ideal world, I'd like to see a little more extensive analysis of the problem in an answer, but what we have is nothing to sneeze at. This, too, seems like a win. – Cody Gray May 3 '12 at 4:22
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    Most of the top hits assume a relationship, but don't analyse it. We have good Google placement and answers that seem (to me) both correct and informative. P.SE wins. – Jon Ericson May 3 '12 at 17:41
5

What are some good books about computational ethics?

Better than, worse than, or similar to other sites out there?

2
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    A two word title? Bleh! Fortunately, it only gets better from there. The question looks good, and the answer is even better. The question is specific and even provides some background explanation, linking to the paper that motivated the question in the first place. And the question asks specifically for philosophical references, which encourages good, on-topic answers. It's no coincidence that's exactly what it received: a specific reference recommendation, with a brief summary of its applicability and some caveats. Win all the way around (except that title...which doesn't go very far to SEO). – Cody Gray May 3 '12 at 4:19
  • Almost downvoted for the title, but otherwise this is good, if specific -- an interesting question and the answer is great. Slight reframing might improve searchability – Joseph Weissman May 4 '12 at 2:30
5

What is the difference between patriarchial right and the paternal right?

Better than, worse than, or similar to other sites out there?

3
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    Pegs the top of the Google results for any reasonable search terms I can think of, and it's a pretty dang good question to boot. It's specific, on-topic, and answerable, without being too localized. This is one of the real winners as far as Philosophy.SE questions go. Unfortunately, it's a bit light on answers. Not to take away from Michael's answer, which is technically correct and useful, this question could really use a bit more thorough engagement. In particular, I'd like to see answers that quote specifically from Hobbes's works and analyze those quotations to tease out the difference. – Cody Gray May 3 '12 at 4:06
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    @Cody Gray: Oddly, when I search for "rights" instead of "right", the question drops out of the first page of Google results. But I agree with your analysis. – Jon Ericson May 3 '12 at 19:32
  • @CodyGray: No offense taken-- I am far from an expert on Hobbes, and I still hope that someone with more knowledge will chime in with a better answer. – Michael Dorfman May 7 '12 at 19:34
3

Personhood and aims

Better than, worse than, or similar to other sites out there?

1
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    The question looks like "ID this philosopher" to me, which isn't really a good fit for our site. Additionally, the way it's written makes it very difficult to search for. I can't imagine what search terms to use other than the title (and that's cheating). However, the answer the question has received is outstanding and much better than what you'd find elsewhere on the Internet. – Cody Gray May 3 '12 at 4:02
3

What is the difference between the old problem of induction and Goodman's new problem of induction?

Better than, worse than, or similar to other sites out there?

2
  • A very good question, but quite poorly written. Even as good as the title is, our Google-ability is still shot. If we make it on the front page, we're still way down the list. The question needs to be edited and (re-)written. The answer is very, very good. It concisely discusses the misunderstanding evinced by the question, summarizes Goodman's thoughts on the issue, and provides some useful examples. I'm surprised there aren't more answers, though. We do want to encourage quality over quantity, but I think there are still some aspects of this left uncovered. – Cody Gray May 3 '12 at 4:16
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    I agree the answer is well written and makes some good points, but as @Cody says, there lot's more detail to be covered. The SEP does a better job and quite a bit of the answer is lifted from there. Wikipedia, the top result I get searching for this question, has a succinct section that covers the question well. Google wins hands down. – Jon Ericson May 3 '12 at 17:30
2

Can partial suppression of freedom be justified for the sake of efficient and/or superior performance?

Better than, worse than, or similar to other sites out there?

1
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    The question itself is way too broad, but the answers are good. Google turns up any number of articles on the topic and this question turns up once in a while. But a better focused question would have likely produced better answers. It's a wash. – Jon Ericson May 3 '12 at 18:27
2

Influential Philosophers during the Middle Ages?

Better than, worse than, or similar to other sites out there?

1
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    This question is borderline at best, as far as the scope of our site—it should probably be/have been closed as "not constructive", as we don't do "Big List"-style questions. That said, it has received at least one pretty good answer, that provides a great background introduction for 4 specific philosophers. It's not complete, but that's less a problem with the answer and more a problem with this type of question. Doesn't fare spectacularly well on Google, but that's because the question title is vague and the question itself is in very well-trodden territory. Lots of other sites do lists. – Cody Gray May 3 '12 at 4:00
1

Does there necessarily have to be a beginning to time?

Better than, worse than, or similar to other sites out there?

2
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    I think worse. The question is poorly phrased, but it is specifically asking for literature that relates to the question. Both answers provide thought experiments that seem to disprove the asker's argument, but neither grapple with the philosophical literature. The comments do a better job, but none of them are incorporated into any answer. I appreciate both answers, but they both seem too dismissive of the question. – Jon Ericson May 3 '12 at 18:18
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    I would say at worst this is par, but personally I think it's better. Even just "necessarily beginning time" returns us at #1, and the other sites listed are just people ranting and insulting each other, rather than engaging in thoughtful discourse. – stoicfury May 3 '12 at 20:45
0

https://philosophy.stackexchange.com/questions/2375/consequentialist-libertarians-and-third-party-insurance

Better than, worse than, or similar to other sites out there?

1
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    This question is problematic on many levels. Some of those problems are discussed in the comment to the question, and other issues haven't been expressed at all. I'm not sure the question is beyond repair, but it's definitely not a shining example of what we want to see on our site. The answer is solid and accurate enough, but notably hampered by the question itself. It also bothers me that it doesn't refer to any particular...philosophy. We fare reasonably well on Google, though, probably primarily because of the specificity of the term "consequentialist libertarian(s)". – Cody Gray May 3 '12 at 4:10
-2

Identifying a specific fallacy in the "Primitive Amazon" meme

Better than, worse than, or similar to other sites out there?

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    I don't see why people are voting this down, the question is not that great and yet it still had our highest rep users (4) giving thorough responses to it... – stoicfury May 3 '12 at 19:21
  • @stoicfury: It's almost impossible that anyone seeing the picture that sparked the question could find the site since the picture is in Spanish and the question translates (not very accurately) into English. Google shows the question started out on English.SE (bizarrely) and the asker is more interested in a word to label their problem with the original picture. The answers are great, but the connection between this internet meme and philosophy is too tenuous. – Jon Ericson May 3 '12 at 19:28
  • So how does that make our responses to the OP's question worse than google or other sites have provided? – stoicfury May 3 '12 at 19:30
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    @stoicfury: Because (according the the guide) not having any way for the answers to be found via search is "worse". The OP got a good answer and anyone who reads the site regularly got a good answer, but it's lost to the rest of the internet. – Jon Ericson May 3 '12 at 19:36
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    Yes, for the reasons you listed above the question is almost unsearchable, unless you use the exact wording of the translation above. In which case, it falls under the category of "good position but only with oddly specific search terms", and we certainly have several "good" answers, if not stellar answers, so it's at worst par. With a question like this (based on an image, foreign language translation) it's expected. – stoicfury May 3 '12 at 20:34
  • I downvoted this as "worse" because while we have a good answer, the searchability here is next to nil – Joseph Weissman May 4 '12 at 2:24
  • @JosephWeissman According to the diagram then, it should be par! :) – stoicfury May 4 '12 at 15:34
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    @stoicfury on my reading, good answer + no position = worse? – Joseph Weissman May 4 '12 at 16:37
  • Technically, it's NULL because "good position" is undefined, but it falls under "good position but with oddly specific search results" b/c if you search for the translation exactly the question will be the first result in Google. So it's certainly not "no position", in fact it's (very) "high position" for the translation, which is the only searchable thing really. And since the answers are at least "good", it makes "par" the worst possible interpretation; "better" being the best interpretation, if you happen weigh search position more than you weigh "odd specificness" of the search itself. – stoicfury May 4 '12 at 20:48
  • @stoicfury: I used Shog9's suggestion on a different evaluation: "For each question, search the internet for the question as if you were the asker!" Even when I translated the picture and search turned up nothing. I found a copy of the picture, but not our question since the translation was "unusual". – Jon Ericson May 4 '12 at 21:23
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    @jon So, this search doesn't return the question in the top 5 for you (if not the first 1 or 2)? In all cases, the underlying point is: do the answers make the internet better place? I can't see how you could say the many thought-out answers for this one "degrade" the internet in any way... – stoicfury May 5 '12 at 0:00
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    @stoicfury: I did the search I would have done given the image. I'm not saying our answers can't be found, but rather that I wouldn't have found them. The answers are great, but someone ought to have edited the question (as you and I have done) with an eye for searchablity. It doesn't "degrade" the internet, but it does represent a lost opportunity. (But honestly, I think this sample shows that P.SE producing good quality overall. An unsearchable question here or there isn't the end of the world (or the site).) – Jon Ericson May 5 '12 at 0:23
  • Yes, agreed with @JonEricson. Part of the point of this exercise is to help teach us something by forcing us to look critically at a random sampling of questions from the site. One thing I've learned is that we definitely need to keep on the ball with editing questions. In particular, we need good titles with an eye towards searchability! – Cody Gray May 5 '12 at 8:09
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    @Cody At any rate, I agree we could edit questions to improve searchability in many cases; I suppose editing to that end fell by the wayside as our primary efforts I feel have been to make questions at the very least acceptable for the site (SEO the secondary concern). :) – stoicfury May 5 '12 at 16:29

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