I'm relatively new as an active user here, so I'm still in the honeymoon phase where tackling 20,000 unanswered questions looks like fun.
So, I thought I'd get together some ideas/tips/motivation to take this on.
Obviously it's not going to be realistic to get that down to 0, but I thought we could do our best and see how far we can really get.
I've posted a community-wiki answer below with a template for tracking our progress, which anyone is welcome to edit.
Anyone else keen to jump on board?
A suggested approach
Then take one or more of the following actions (at least one of these should be possible on any question):
- Answer interesting questions. Sometimes the answer is hidden in a comment - ask the commenter to move the answer to a real answer. Make a note of the question (perhaps by favouriting it). After two or three weeks, come back and either vote up the real answer or – if nothing happened – "steal" the answer and post it yourself. Example. Also, don't be afraid to post partial answers - something is better than nothing, as long as its an attempt to answer the question!
- Comment on questions to ask for an update. This will ping the asker who might come back to let us know how they've gone. Maybe they solved the problem and could post the solution, or maybe it's still an issue but they have more insight into it.
- Vote for good questions. Push them up the list for others to answer.
- Vote for correct answers. If a good answer is already on a question and has 0 votes, upvote it! This will take it off the unanswered list (don't do this if you don't understand the question & answer though). Don't be afraid to do this for partial answers either, providing they're correct/good.
- Edit or downvote bad questions that are still on-topic. Editing will bump them and make them easier to understand and answer; downvoting will eventually cause the garbage collector to delete the questions.
- Close or flag off-topic questions. Depending on what your rep allows you to do.
Some of these steps have been inspired by an earlier meta post by toscho.
A low commitment approach
Haven't got time to go through the unanswered lists?
Whenever you see a post on the home page that was last modified by the Community user, load it up. This is an unanswered post that has been bumped. Then, just follow the suggestions above for this post only - every one will count!
What's in it for the community? (i.e. why do we want to do this?)
- People get helped and the resource here grows! People might come back and become regulars, more people might come here through Googling, etc. All the usual benefits.
- Our community floats up the StackExchange network 'percent answered' list (we're behind Joomla; we currently beat Drupal, but only by a couple of percent!)
What's in it for you? (i.e. why do you want to do this?)
- The satisfaction of seeing these stats change and knowing you were a part of it
- You'll probably get rep (although to avoid disappointment please don't do it just for this, particularly given some of the unanswered's are old, you're less likely to get accepts)
- You might get badges! Revival and Necromancer in particular deal with old questions, and of course there's all the usual stuff too (like tag badges and the other answer badges, voting badges, editing badges, etc.)
- All of the usual benefits of answering, eg. you'll learn quite a bit yourself!
- It's a great way to find questions worth answering, rather than getting disappointed wading through low quality incoming questions looking for something to answer
What do you think?