It's all well and good closing down the old crufty questions and the new review tools do a good job for that but I'm more concerned about another factor: the rate we answer new questions.
Answering questions is much more important than closing them!
Cruft does need to be cleared up but I don't think this is the time for that right now. Unless I'm deeply mistaken, the rate of new questions is far outpacing the rate of answers.
Look at page 5 of the new questions. 200-250 questions and they're less than 24 hours old still. Most importantly, most of these questions have no answers. We're not talking about votes here — it's not like they have answers without votes (one of the things the clean-up targeted) — they have nothing close to an answer.
These are the questions we need to target. If we don't answer our new questions and spend time playing around with the old questions instead, the site is failing its main objective and we're just treading water.
We need more people answering but we also need better systems. Here's what I'm thinking:
Hardware questions need to be perfect, first time. The current system seems to be that people post a rubbishy vague mess. This is followed by a comment from somebody in the community asking for
lspci (et al) and that's followed by an edit... By this point the question is on page 4 of the new questions and lots of people are never going to see it.
Outreach programmes to get more helpers. The wider Ubuntu community knows who we are (several of us here are also Ubuntu Members who post on the planet) but we need to make it easier for new people to get involved in topics they're interested in, at a level they can manage.
How successful is the five-a-day program for Launchpad? Something similar to that might work for us and it wouldn't be hard to randomly email unanswered posts to different people.
We need to be better. If you're a hard-working member here, you're probably enjoying this post and if you feel I'm wrong, I probably am but as much as this is a system or numbers problem, we're also at fault. We're here now and we've let things get to their current state.
We need to improve things but we need to remember how to be better users too. A couple of examples from my activity:
I know I have answered things that were probably duplicate questions. I felt it was easier to answer them than track down the best parent. I was lazy and probably greedy.
I've also stopped opening some questions because I know how painful it'll be to discern anything of value. Wifi and networking threads are famously hard to understand and they seem to be 90% bug related. I'm not going in, I'm not fixing them and I'm not answering or closing them.
I know I'm not being good enough and given the number of these questions we're not dealing with, I suspect I'm not the only one.
I shouldn't need to point out the obvious: if we answer more questions off the bat, our answer rate goes up and we're not left playing catch-up trying to close dead questions...