Ask OpenStack passes 10,000 questions

Recently, our Q&A site, Ask OpenStack passed an important milestone – more than 10,000 questions. Since it was launched by community manager Stefano Maffulli with the help of our tame AskBot developer Evgeny Fadeev early last year, we’ve had great support from our entire community – users and vendor support staff alike getting on there and helping each other out.

At points like this one, it is wise to reflect on whether the endeavour has been successful. Anecdotally, we hear good things, and there seems to be a reasonably self-sustaining community around the site.

We have pulled the data to compare the proportion of questions that were asked to those that were answered, and compared it to other forums to gauge where we stand. Although there were some fluctuations that occurred during some periods, the volunteer team was able to diagnose the problem and move forward.

During some months of this year – luckily unseen by most – we suffered from a serious spam problem. This is an example of something that can seriously turn members away, though the moderation tools and volunteer team was able to keep it in check. A potential problem as serious as a spam infestation is if user’s questions don’t get answered. So we did some quick math and googling to try and quantify how we’re doing.

There are about 1,700 unanswered questions out of over 10,000 in total. Based on the rough conclusions for similar sized/typed communities – we’re essentially in a best-of-field position. Now, let’s look at if we’re keeping it there.

This time series has been tracking our unanswered questions for 494 days. We started with 150 unanswered questions, and on average over this period we add 3.12 questions per day. This is already good, because it means that if we can push just 25 people to answer an extra question every week we’ll start going in the other direction.

Now, to look at whether the trend is going up. Dividing the space into two 247 day segments, we can calculate the relative average over these two chunks of time (basically 2/3rds of a year each). In the first chunk, from Jul 2013 to Mar 2014 the average is 2.6 new unanswered questions per day. In the second chunk it’s an average of 3.5 new unanswered questions per day.

So, the trend is increasing by about 23% over this 2/3rd of a year chunk. If it increases to 4/day, which will take about a year at the current rate of increase, that means that rather than getting 25 new people involved, we’d need to have 30+. Still not so bad.

Of course, this analysis doesn’t take into account that some of the unanswered questions are just unanswerable – but in theory the moderation team should be weeding those out.


Question posted Screen Shot 2014-12-02 at 11.55.17 AM

Final idea – which might put us firmly in the “best practice” bucket. What about a global 24 hour Ask OpenStack Question Answering day? Do you think such a thing would work? Everybody can give answers: read how to give answers and head out to answer questions on Ask OpenStack.


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