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This is pretty rare. Any ideas why this is happening on PLDI?

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This is very common on brand-new beta sites. This is because everyone is super exited that a site they care about was made and want to help and become part of the community.

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    $\begingroup$ I would not say it's "very" common on brand-new beta sites. Which other brand new site had so many questions with 5+ answers? $\endgroup$ Commented May 24, 2023 at 20:46
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    $\begingroup$ Few other than worldbuilding and codegolf @NikeDattani $\endgroup$
    – Starship
    Commented May 24, 2023 at 22:43
  • $\begingroup$ @Starshipisgoforlaunch my point exactly :) $\endgroup$ Commented May 24, 2023 at 23:01
  • $\begingroup$ I was agreeing with you @NikeDattani $\endgroup$
    – Starship
    Commented May 24, 2023 at 23:50
  • $\begingroup$ @Starshipisgoforlaunch I agree that you were agreeing with me! $\endgroup$ Commented May 25, 2023 at 1:04
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Because most questions have multiple answers. This isn’t like most other sites where one answer that fixes OP’s problem suffices. Here we mostly aggregate multiple strategies.

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On top of what Seggan said, there seem to be a lot of questions that invite multiple answers, such as "what are the tradeoffs" and "why is it done this way".

(There are also several questions I've noticed with 4+ incomplete or incorrect answers. Not naming names. We're clearly all very excited with our shiny new toy.)

I have just become part of the problem with this very answer, and the irony is not lost on me.

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The site is called "Programming Language Design and Implementation", but the domain is languagedesign.SE - not some longer thing, and not pldi.SE or something like that. The "implementation" part is completely lost.

Why? Well, "implementation" wasn't part of the original proposal. But less facetiously...

Implementing a programming language is itself a programming task; and while there's a lot of theory (I say, looking up at the red dragon book on my shelf), it's not that special as far as programming tasks go. Actually writing the code runs into problems that could be hammered into shape for Stack Overflow; the algorithms and data structures needed are also used in other computer science contexts, and would fit fine on SO, cs.SE, etc.

The interesting questions are about design. They're high-level, top-down stuff that involve choices and trade-offs. The temptation to ask subjective, "is this feature even a good idea?" sorts of questions is very strong, enough that we had to discuss it preemptively. My suggestion in that (very short) discussion:

Instead, ask about advantages, disadvantages, consequences etc. of a decision. This compels answers to be concrete, and shifts the tone towards listing pros and cons rather than weighing them - which should be OP's sole responsibility, off-site.

Programming language design is fundamentally more about making decisions than it is about doing things "correctly". Making those decisions rationally requires weighing pros and cons. Typical decisions present options where the arguably pros and cons are numerous.

Meanwhile, talking about several pros/cons in the same answer is generally not very useful in the Q&A format - unless someone can really comprehensively cover them all at once. It works better to have separate answers for each point to consider, so that the related arguments can be optimally presented and refined.


Given the above, I privately predicted that old and/or popular questions on ux.SE would also see a lot of answers. And they do. The most popular question is 'Should "Yes, delete it" be red, or green?' - and that got 17 answers. By my count, around three quarters of the top 100 popular questions, have a double-digit answer count, and about half the 100 oldest questions do. Answer counts reach as high as 45.

By contrast, I can scarcely even find questions reaching the 10 answer threshold on japanese.SE (which has a comparable question count and has also been around for a long time).

(Credit to giraff, via Ciro Santilli, for the SEDE query. I personally find SQL syntax a bit obnoxious.)

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    $\begingroup$ Welcome to PLDI. I don't understand. How does the fact that this site allowing implementation questions getting missed contribute to the high number of answers per question? $\endgroup$
    – Isaiah
    Commented May 18, 2023 at 2:27
  • $\begingroup$ @Isaiah the point is that the emphasis here is on design, because that's what makes interesting questions about creating new programming languages. There are a lot of answers per question because design questions inherently attract more answers. $\endgroup$ Commented May 18, 2023 at 2:39
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    $\begingroup$ re: "The interesting questions are about design. They're high-level, top-down stuff that involve choices and trade-offs" - related: What do we think of "soft / meta" questions? and Should PLDI accommodate some types of philosophical (opinion-based) questions? $\endgroup$
    – starball
    Commented May 24, 2023 at 19:53
  • $\begingroup$ re: "Meanwhile, talking about several pros/cons in the same answer is generally not very useful in the Q&A format - unless someone can really comprehensively cover them all at once." I'd much rather see the latter than the former. Related meta posts of mine: languagedesign.meta.stackexchange.com/a/147/251 and languagedesign.meta.stackexchange.com/q/161/251. $\endgroup$
    – starball
    Commented May 24, 2023 at 19:55
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According to Area 51, a healthy site should have an average of at least 2.5 answers per question. Lots of people want this site to become an official part of the SE network, so people are posting lots of answers.

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A lot of questions are getting a large number of answers because a lot of questions are list of questions that are getting poll-style answers. It is not a sign of quality, quite the opposite: those questions are typically too broad or pure bikeshedding, and the “answer” posts are not actually answering the question but listing one item when a proper answer would discuss the topic as a whole.

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