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We are now on the second day of the private beta, and the rate of new questions seems to have dropped off a lot since yesterday. I, for one, feel that I have asked most of what I wonder at the moment. In order to ensure that the site is well populated with questions before it goes to public beta, should we perhaps start asking questions that are not directly relevant to ourselves at the moment?

For instance, I could ask about things I would wonder about if I were building a garage, even though I am not building a garage and don't plan to anytime soon. Or someone could look at other websites in order to get ideas for plausible questions.

What do you think—is this a good idea, or is it better to stick to “real” questions so that they don't sound fake and so that we can know that we're actually helping someone when we answer a question? Are there relevant experiences from any of the sister sites?

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If you have a question and you are interested in the answer, ask it. Curiosity is a perfectly legitimate reason to ask a question.

But I wouldn't suggest straying too much into the hypothetical (i.e. don't start thinking up random questions just for the sake of asking questions). It will look very forced and insincere.

You can read more about my thoughts on that here: Asking the First Questions.

  • I think you're right. Do you have a sense from the stats whether we're doing ok at avoiding the empty restaurant syndrome? Compared to webapps after two days in private beta, we have about half as many users and half as many questions. – Vebjorn Ljosa Jul 23 '10 at 22:13
  • @Vebjorn, I don't think the webapp site is a reasonable comparison. I see enough traffic on this site to keep me coming back, and I've already found a lot of interesting information here even in one day. It seems to be working pretty well. This weekend will probably stir up several more questions as I putter around the house. – Rob Napier Jul 24 '10 at 3:10
  • From the private betas I've been in, this one seems to be about the same in terms of liveliness. It's the power users that skew the stats. Cooking has about the same amount of active users really, but it has about 16 or so power users now. I think after the expected weekend lull, the site will be back in full swing come monday. – Mike Sherov Jul 24 '10 at 15:24
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I've been asking questions to problems that I've already solved, or have moved houses since I had them. Whether or not you actually have a use for the answers doesn't matter - just as long as you know how to spot the right one for your situation, past or present.

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If the question didn't really pertain to you, how would we know. ;-) I'm not advocating lying or asking a bunch of junk questions, but it is important to get a good base of questions in.

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