Update 18 March 2018: we now round to 85% answered:
Update 26 March 2018: we now round to 86% answered:
Update 31 March 2018: we now round to 87% answered:
When I started writing this meta post, the list of unanswered questions contained 1378 out of 6960 questions. Doing the math, we would need to halve this number to get it up to 90%. I.e., we need to resolve around 700 unanswered questions.
Resolving these should also impact the low number of answers per question.
So that we know we're making progress:
When #Questions #Unanswered proportion May 5, 2017 6974 1364 19.56% [snip] May 31, 2017 7142 1223 17.12% Jun 1, 2017 7160 1235 17.25% [snip] Jul 12, 2017 7399 1186 16.02% [???] Jul 16, 2017 7404 1191 16.09% Jul 17, 2017 7411 1193 16.10% [???] Mar 17, 2018 8372 1311 15.66% Mar 18, 2018 8380 1297 15.48% [???] Mar 20, 2018 8397 1282 15.27% [???] Mar 24, 2018 8364 1225 14.65% [???] Mar 26, 2018 8372 1212 14.48% [???] Mar 30, 2018 8402 1172 13.95% Mar 31, 2018 8414 1157 13.75% Apr 1, 2018 8385 1111 13.25% [???] Apr 6, 2018 8434 1109 13.15% [???] Apr 10, 2018 8454 1104 13.06% [???] Apr 13, 2018 8488 1101 12.97% [???] Apr 17, 2018 8501 1092 12.85% [???] Apr 23, 2018 8530 1089 12.77% [???] Apr 29, 2018 8565 1105 12.90%
(The day is whatever time zone I happen to be in at the time.)
What steps we can take
There's some immediate things we can do:
Delete these questions.
Questions on the list
score:0 is:question answers:0 created:..3m duplicate:no, if they were downvoted, would result in automatic deletion [checked weekly]. But be careful not to do this to salvageable content.
Questions on the list
is:question answers:0 score:1..1 created:..1y closed:nothat satisfy (a) has view count <= the age of the question in days times 1.5 and (b) has 1 or 0 comments, would also result in automatic deletion if they were downvoted [checked daily].
(I've done this to a whole bunch of "nobody cares, not even the author" posts.)
Voting to close close-worthy questions.
If you see something worthy of closing on the unanswered questions list, vote to close. This will enter it into the review queue.
(I've done this to a whole bunch posts too; this should result in automatic deletion [checked daily].)
Upvoting answers to "unanswered" questions.
If an answer has an un-upvoted answer, upvoting it (which should only be done if it's worthy of being upvoted) will result in it no longer being classed as unanswered.
A data explorer query can be used to identify questions which have 0-score answers but not answers with higher scores.
Improve the questions by editing.
Many of the questions in the unanswered questions list are only there because the authors didn't put much effort into their question. The question would be fine if it were presented properly.
When I edit, I usually:
remove signatures, taglines, and greetings (see the behavior help page);
find the actual question that the author wants answered and highlight it in some way;
make the question the title; see the tips here: Advice for writing question titles on Islam.SE;
use appropriate tags;
touch-up the writing and English, if applicable; and
add links to Wikipedia for non-obvious definitions (and edit in an English equivalent in brackets), link to quran.com (for the Qur'an) and sunnah.com (for ahadith), if applicable.
Writing answers to unanswered questions.
This is the most helpful thing to do, but it's also the most effort.
If you think an unanswered question is worth it.
Additionally, we can avoid unanswered questions by:
Making our questions as easy as possible to answer.
I do this by highlighting a single question, so an answerer can read that sentence alone and get straight to answering.
Avoiding answering in comments.
This can deter people from posting subsequent answers.
If a question is "easy", give a good answer anyway. Probably different people have different attitudes regarding this, but:
Meta.SE has a post Embrace the non-Googlers, where they raise the point that people are
- searching for answers to questions on Google,
- finding the relevant post on StackExchange, and
- finding it says "Google is your friend".
Another relevant point: QuantCast.com highlights how around twice as many users of this site use mobile devices. For May 1st it was:
Mobile Web 2,043 Desktop Web 1,001
It's difficult to do things on a mobile devices (particularly copy/pasting references).
It can encourage users to "give back" to the site.