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The results have been announced for Let's get critical: Jun 2013 Site Self-Evaluation. So what can be deduced from those raw numbers? Is it good, bad? Or those numbers are actually not meant to be analyzed?

  • Hi Aziz, I picked one question and gave a write up on it based on what I see in the search results. There are of course other things we can do to fix these posts and make the site appear more attractive. Please feel free to self-answer if you have a specific question in mind where you see opportunities to improve. Thanks for posting this! :) – jmort253 Jun 27 '13 at 3:48
  • Hi @jmort253, I won't commit :) but I'll try to add a good analysis of a question just like you did below. However a more high level question, was this exercise done to bring out individual posts which can be improved or was is performed to find an overall rating of site's health/quality? – Aziz Shaikh Jun 27 '13 at 8:24
  • Hi Aziz, the self-evals are mostly for us (the community) so we can learn what areas, in general, to focus on in order to make our site be the best it can be. I'm sure the community management team looks at them as well, but we'll get the most benefit from this exercise when we come up with more action items to help us move forward. Hope this helps! :) – jmort253 Jun 28 '13 at 2:40
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I'll shed some light on how I look at these, as you can get some useful information out of them. I'm not going to dive into each question individually. The exercise isn't one to find content that needs to be fixed (though you can fix things you spot), it's more to determine how the overall quality of the site seems when compared to similar sites.

First , a bit about the evaluation itself - Google the heck out of some questions that were asked and see how we stack up to sites that serve the same topic, then rate it on a scale. It's a rather subjective undertaking and I've found ratings (across more than a few sites) to be more overly critical or accurate than not critical enough. That is to say, I've seen some pretty good content a few folks thought could use improving. The old adage you're your own worst critic and all, so keep that in mind as you interpret the results.

Here, in no specific order (or maybe, a secretly specific order, I won't tell!) are the things I look at when these evaluations close:

Turnout

Out of sixty three people that earned badges for regularly using the site, four participated in the self-evaluation. Evaluations are a big 'ask' of folks, so let's say that only 20% of regular participants would be interested in the activity (roughly 11 people). That gives us around a 37% turnout. It would have been nice if 3 - 5 more folks participated to get a broader sampling. The turnout wasn't horrible, but it could have been better.

Take away: Set a goal to boost meta participation a bit more. Open and feature some more interesting discussions as opportunities present themselves. If you have a half baked idea and think 'that could be neat' - go ahead and toss it out.

Evaluation - First Glance

My first pass doesn't involve any clicking, I just look at titles to see if they adequately describe what's behind the link. These are how people find you through searching, so it's important to make them descriptive.

You did really well here, the only ambiguous title I saw was:

Catch up scheduling

Take away: Keep manicuring and curating your content like you have been doing - you're doing a great job in that department

Evaluation - Deeper Pass

This is where I do exactly what you did, and I get really nerdy serious about it. I fire up a virtual machine which is basically a new computer and I start searching question titles to see what I come up with. 'Personalized' search results really do get in the way of these, so I highly recommend incognito or private browsing mode when you do them.

Overall, I felt that the content here exceeds or at least matches the quality of information I was turning up on the blogs, forums and (occasional) productivity software sites that I found. I thought a few were a little more toward excellent than satisfactory, but those that participated gave it a very honest go.

Take away: Besides the turnout, the result of the evaluation was overwhelmingly good. Fix whatever you've identified, and just keep doing a good job when it comes to curating.

That's really all there is to it - just a periodic check to make sure you're producing better or at least comparable quality as similar sites. You are. We can say yes, it's meant for analysis, but don't read too much into it.

  • Hi Tim, thanks for helping answer this question and provide us with a few more goals to shoot for. We really appreciate you taking the time to provide this guidance! :) – jmort253 Jun 28 '13 at 2:46
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    Thanks Tim, that was really helpful. Good to know that PMSE is doing good on the content quality front (partly due to the tireless efforts from PMSE mods). We definitely need to increase traffic and participation on both Main and Meta sites. Also +1 for recommending incognito or private browsing mode for searches to do self-evaluation. – Aziz Shaikh Jun 28 '13 at 6:19
  • Thanks for the context and analysis. – Mark Phillips Jul 9 '13 at 19:45
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The "Balancing Software Development" Question

Question: How to allow developers to get enough quality development time while keeping to support & maintenance obligations

If you Google "balancing software development and software maintenance", there are resources on this subject. On page two of the search results is Jeff Atwood's post on the subject, The Noble Art of Maintenance Programming.

Jeff's article is great, but it doesn't quite answer the question as directly as our post does. Jeff does an excellent job explaining from a high level overview that maintenance and new features should be treated as one in the same, our posts actually explains how one might achieve that goal using project management and agile methods.

The problem is that ours is buried so deep that I don't even see it on page 5, and while searching "how to balance software maintenance with new development" I get similar results, except Jeff's post is on page 3 instead.

Fortunately, this particular problem is very fixable. If you have edit privileges, ask what edits we can make to increase the posts' visibility on the search engines. 90% of a heathy site's traffic comes from search engines, so by making content such as this easier to find, we increase our visibility.

Also, we should consider whether it would be better to post the asker's "update" as a community wiki answer, since it makes the actual question look really really long.

I went ahead and posted the updates in a CW, but in the future, we should catch askers who do this and ask them to post their updates as individual comments on the applicable answers. Each paragraph in his update is basically a comment on a specific answer.

If you all think it looks silly to have the updates in an answer like that, let me know and we can revert it back.

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