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It's been a few of years since we did an automated self-evaluation and it seemed like a good time to look critically at this site again. In particular, a moderator noticed an unseasonal drop in visitors this September and wondered if there was something going on in the content. (For those with 5k, see this report.) We aren't doing automated evaluations anymore, but we still think introspection is a good idea.

Below, I've listed 5 questions chosen at random from the last quarter that have received at least some anonymous feedback. I also included two scores*:

  1. How helpful the page seemed to regular users.
  2. How helpful the page seemed to anonymous visitors.

The range is from 0 to 100% where bigger numbers mean more helpful than small numbers. The final number is the number of total views the question had received at the time of sampling.

If you'd like to participate, please copy the question list into an answer for evaluation. Exactly how you evaluate the questions and answers is up to you, but it would be useful to:

  • Find better answers on the internet (if they exist).

    Exactly what "better" means is up to you, but the criteria might include:

    • correctness,
    • understandability,
    • authoritative (e.g. citing official sources),
    • clean formatting, or
    • easier to find with a search.
  • Figure out why regular users and anonymous visitors have different opinions of the usefulness of the page.

    The most common reason for low visitor scores is low views, which limits the number of anonymous users who provide feedback. It's not a problem if some questions are so niche that nobody outside of the community reads them. But chance visitors who find answers via search are the best source of new contributors.

    More interesting: sometimes visitors disagree with the site's community about the usefulness of a question and its answers. Obviously we can't know why people who can't leave comments might differ from current users, but we can make an educated guess.

  • Fix any problems you notice and describe your changes.

    After doing the above analysis, you will be in good shape to edit titles and tags to help Google direct searchers to the question, clean up formatting and grammar problems, and link to authoritative sources. There's no need to wait; go edit.

The goal is to use the sample to reflect on how the site is progressing in terms of "making the internet a better place for people to get answers to their pets questions". If this site already does a good job, that's wonderful. If there are some things that need fixing, please talk about that. In either case, this evaluation mostly stands to improve this community's understanding of itself.


Key: link (registered voters; anonymous voters; views)
  1. Cat in a electronics hobbyist house (90%; 74%; 2,604)
  2. Why is my rabbit / bunny angry? (89%; 59%; 3,833)
  3. How best to discipline a kitten? (91%; 70%; 4,912)
  4. How to keep my cat stress free during periods of constant 90dB+ sound? (95%; 73%; 7,391)
  5. How is a dog's health affected if he's (almost) never bathed? (92%; 83%; 5,259)

Footnote:

* The scores are actually the lower bound of Wilson score confidence interval for a Bernoulli parameter, which is a measure of how likely a given set of upvotes and downvotes is overall positive. For the first score, I used the sum of all votes on the question and all answers. For the second score, I used anonymous feedback. Please see the query I used for implementation details.

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  1. Cat in a electronics hobbyist house (90%; 74%; 2,604)

This is a great real-world question where Pets.SE is a great place to ask in my opinion. Zaralynda's answer provides practical, transferable advice from their own experience and is well formatted and the recommendations are supported with helpful links. It certainly kicks the crap out of my answer on there!

  1. Why is my rabbit / bunny angry? (89%; 59%; 3,833)

While the question itself is not one that directly interested me as I don't keep rabbits I found the accepted answer from James Jenkins to be well formulated and incredibly informative. It not only answered the question as asked but also serves as a wider guide about rabbit behavior. Honestly I'm surprised the score for anonymous viewers was so low.

  1. How best to discipline a kitten? (91%; 70%; 4,912)

While the situation in the question is quite specific the general issue of disciplining cats/kittens is one that pretty much everyone new to indentured cat servitude faces at some point. While there is some great information around the specific issue of litter box issues there's some good stuff in there around general discipline advice which can be applied to other undesirable behaviors as well. Obviously I'm somewhat biased towards the highest voted answer being a good one (since I wrote it!) but if I'm being critical I do think it would benefit from editing in some of the adhoc info that came about in the comment thread. I'll have a look at doing that when I've got some spare time.

  1. How to keep my cat stress free during periods of constant 90dB+ sound? (95%; 73%; 7,391)

While it's not a bad question exactly I do feel that it could be made more general without losing it's intent - and this would in turn make the question more appealing for others seeking similar advice. Again I can't really quibble about the answer as it's another of mine - I tried to keep the advice on the general side to make it as helpful to as many different people as I could and hopefully it worked!

  1. How is a dog's health affected if he's (almost) never bathed? (92%; 83%; 5,259)

I'm going to go against the grain of the scores here and say that while I think the core question is a good one as it currently stands I find it very hard going, the conversational style and background information doesn't add anything relevant and makes it harder to get to the real meat of it. The answers do a good job of addressing the matter at hand but I feel that for many visitors reading the question itself would be quite off-putting.

1

1. Cat in a electronics hobbyist house (90%; 74%; 2,604)

Availability

This is a great question and there are several really good answers on it. There's a lot of information around on the internet that specifies dangers for cats but nothing that's easily available that points to specifically electronics. There are elements of this question as trond hansen points out in the comments, this is also applicable to other animals that may be able to roam free around the house. Interestingly, this question isn't that easy to find through Google. The word 'hobbyist' seems to be key. This question was a Hot Network Question (HNQ) so gained quite a lot of views.

Figure

This was HNQ so a lot of users turned up to upvote it. Due to the high specificity of the search terms, it's probably unlikely that a lot of anonymous users found it.

Fix

Added the 'containment' tag


2. Why is my rabbit / bunny angry? (89%; 59%; 3,833)

Availability

There actually seems to be a bunch of information generally regarding aggression in rabbits. From a quick google, I managed to turn up quite a few reasonable results:

Some of those also provide similar advise to the highly upvoted answer on that question but it's much more verbose. There is a lot more reading required to extrapolate the information.

Figure

Due to the fact that the information is more available on the internet, this probably explains why there are less engaged anonymous users. There are a bunch of views but this also looks like it was a Hot Network Question.

Fix

  • Removed a comment

3. How best to discipline a kitten? (91%; 70%; 4,912)

Availability

There are some other sources of information about this but mainly they seem to consist of a forum style thread which makes it much harder to read.

Figure

There's a lot of answers here and the question itself is actually quite verbose. Whilst there is a bit of difference in the approval of the regular users and the anonymous users, I could believe that this might be due to the wordiness of the question. It takes quite a bit of reading for what is ultimately a simple question. If it could be divided into the actual question and 'additional information' it might stop people having to read so much. Some of the answers are full of information (almost to the extreme) and others are very brief. The top voted answer is great at summarising the key points without requiring too much reading effort. Whilst the information we have on this specific problem is of a good standard, there are alternative sources of information around.

Fix

There's a bunch of comments that could be cleaned up and potentially we should work on trying to improve some of the lower scoring answers. I'll wait to see what others make of this question specifically before making any changes.


4. How to keep my cat stress free during periods of constant 90dB+ sound? (95%; 73%; 7,391)

Availability

As you can imagine, there's a bunch of information on the internet about how to keep all animals calm during periods of loud noise (generally fireworks). A lot of charities, retailers, news outlets and hobbyist forums have issued suggestions on how best to deal with this problem:

Figure

The high approval rate from known users and the reasonable approval of anonymous users is encouraging because there's a lot of other information out there which provides answers to this question but this is still highly rated. It may also have played a part that this question was posted before a bunch of Firework events around the world so may have drawn more attention. There's a couple of great answers here which are clear and easy to read. They provide the facts without complicating the matter.

Fix

If I really tried to find a criticism it might be that it's quite specific to cats. A lot of animals will have similar issues and it seems a shame to silo this information with only the tag. (Again, this is only if I'm being really picky...)


5. How is a dog's health affected if he's (almost) never bathed? (92%; 83%; 5,259)

Availability

As above - there seems to be a lot of information on this. A frequently asked question which has a bunch of answers from retailers, charities etc.

Figure

The highest upvoted answer explains most of what the sources above explain but in an anecdotal way which keeps the reader's attention. With 83% anonymous approval, this question is the favourite of our 5 selections. A basic guide to what has already worked with longer haired breeds provides a good basis for information. Supplemented with 2 other anecdotal answers, this question has a relatively confident answer to this question.

Fix

The lowest scoring answer makes a claim about there being nothing to confirm this either way which I'm not sure is 100% accurate.

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