It seems like fairly regularly I'll be running a Google search to assist with a minor problem and the result that I get from a
stackexchange.com site is extremely high quality. It answers my question quickly and accurately. Sounds like just what we want from StackExchange, right?
So why are these questions often marked closed or otherwise flagged as low quality? Should Google ignore these results in favor of better quality ones? Should we instead improve these low quality (but commonly viewed) questions?
While my question is very general (hence its appearance on Meta), in order to provide an example, the specific query that brought this to mind was:
At the time this was written, the top non-
redhat.com hit was:
While it contains a perfect answer (
json_pp) the question itself was closed as "too broad." This classification by StackExchange standards seems correct. However, when Google indexes questions like that so highly (for whatever mysterious reasons) should we take the hint and provide a higher quality search result?
One possible way to improve the quality of that specific response would be a redirect to this (very similar) question which also appears (lower) on the Google search results above:
This whole issue seems to tie in with a semi-common issue on StackExchange-- should we provide information about relatively basic and broad topics, such as what someone might type into Google as a starting point?
The answer seems to be no, but we quickly get into a circular situation if we tell users to "Just Google it" and
stackexchange.com shows a low quality question as the result of following that advice. This issue was discussed indirectly at people who don't use Google but I'm starting a new post since the specific question of managing responses in terms of overall view volume (implied by Google search rankings) seems to warrant its own discussion.
Since the above specific question is a top Google hit (and presumably sees more view volume as a result), would it be worthwhile to cultivate the answer and improve it over time instead of keeping it closed? Would it be useful to identify other closed/flagged pages which are common Google destinations/high volume views and also improve those?
Alternatively, should we take steps to discourage Google from indexing these closed/flagged answers as top hits? What steps can we reasonably take to do so?