Zaid mentioned the problem with unanswered questions inhibiting graduation. Area 51 currently lists Islam.SE at 80%, which "needs some work".

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Update 18 March 2018: we now round to 85% answered:

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Update 26 March 2018: we now round to 86% answered:

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Update 31 March 2018: we now round to 87% answered:

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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%
 May 31, 2017       7142            1223         17.12%
 Jun 1,  2017       7160            1235         17.25%
 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:

  1. 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:no that 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.)

  2. 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].)

  3. 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.

  4. 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:

    1. remove signatures, taglines, and greetings (see the behavior help page);

    2. find the actual question that the author wants answered and highlight it in some way;

    3. make the question the title; see the tips here: Advice for writing question titles on Islam.SE;

    4. use appropriate tags;

    5. touch-up the writing and English, if applicable; and

    6. 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.

  5. Writing answers to unanswered questions.

    This is the most helpful thing to do, but it's also the most effort.

  6. Offer bounties.

    If you think an unanswered question is worth it.

Additionally, we can avoid unanswered questions by:

  1. 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.

  2. Avoiding answering in comments.

    This can deter people from posting subsequent answers.

  3. 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

      1. searching for answers to questions on Google,
      2. finding the relevant post on StackExchange, and
      3. 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.

  • But if we don't answer old questions and kept on answering new question, will the percentage increase?
    – Casanova
    May 4, 2017 at 18:43
  • @Casanova Mathematically yes. If the current percentage is X and the incoming percentage is Y>X, it'll converge to Y over time. May 5, 2017 at 0:06
  • Thanks teacher ;)
    – Casanova
    May 5, 2017 at 0:30
  • I'm guilty of the 2nd step to avoid I guess :S. But you forgot one step we can take, find me a job where I find time to answer 40-60% of the unanswered questions ;) at least my favorite list is basically a to do list, of questions I might have enough material to answer or be interested to investigate for!
    – Medi1Saif Mod
    Jun 4, 2017 at 20:23
  • 1
    I'm waiting for "Update 34 March 2018: we now round to 87% answered" ;) At least in Erich Kästner's novel there's a 35 May
    – Medi1Saif Mod
    Mar 26, 2018 at 9:47
  • It is great that we reached 87 % before the 3rd April. My favourite list has 169 questions (not all unanswered questions) I guess if I had adequate time I'd be able to give answers for 50% out of them.
    – Medi1Saif Mod
    Apr 12, 2018 at 14:20
  • 1
    :( back to 86% somehow even if we didn't have that much (new) questions during Ramadan the answering activity was just ticking over.
    – Medi1Saif Mod
    Jun 20, 2018 at 8:26

1 Answer 1


Maybe we should assigne the top users some unanswered questions that they'd like to investigate. And maybe some users need to stop leaving answers in the comments. I don't call out names but @Medi1Saif you should definitely stop doing that XD.

  • What specifically is "XD"?
    – III-AK-III
    Jul 28, 2018 at 14:54
  • An emoticon to designate a laugh.
    – user24306
    Jul 28, 2018 at 14:55

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