It is the holidays!

A time of gifts, food, drink and festival (and hats, if you are into that sort of thing).

Now, we don't have any of those for you (except the hats), but we do have over a thousand unanswered questions on our site. So, alongside the network-wide winter bash that will be happening again this year, we thought it would be a good idea to go through and prune the backlog in what we're going to call the 2013 GDSE Winter Refactor.

This will be a directed effort to review, answer or close all the "unanswered" questions on the site which have fallen off the front page and are bit-rotting in the deeper, darker, less-trafficked portions of our site.

What can you do to help, you ask? It's simple! Visit the unanswered questions page and give it a browse. Keep an eye out for questions good and bad that could use some tidying up (really, that's most of them). Then:

  • Vote to close anything that doesn't belong on this site or that would be better served on another SE network site. That includes

  • Edit any questions that are poorly worded, overly verbose, or not actually phrased as questions.

    • Try your best to find the real question that a user is asking. Edit the question to focus on that. Remove excess distracting information.
    • It's okay to make a question more general, especially if you are turning a "code dump" type of question into one that is more focused on the theory behind the topic.
    • If the question title and the question text disagree, edit the former to match the latter.
    • When in doubt, remember to be bold. Some of these question have been languishing, unanswered, for months. You can only really improve their chances by editing them.
  • Answer any questions you feel qualified to.

    • Keep the usual guidelines in mind for answering questions. Try to avoid guesses or lots of speculation.
    • If a user is asking about something that suggests they are taking the wrong approach, consider answering their direct question first (briefly) before offering guidance on an alternative approach.

    • If a question already has an answer, consider editing the answer to improve it if needed, or give it up an appropriate vote.

Of course, please remember that the point of this event is to reduce the unanswered question backlog and improve the quality of the Q&A available on this site.

As such, please don't upvote zero-scored answers just to mark the question as answered, and please don't answer bad questions, make trivial edits, or add chatty comments. We want to be decisive about getting good questions salvaged and answered and getting bad questions closed. When in doubt, flag it for moderator attention.

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    \$\begingroup\$ As an added bonus, I'll be handing out some nice rep bounties to those who help out with the Winter Refactor. Thanks in advance to everyone helping clean up the site! \$\endgroup\$
    – House
    Dec 11, 2013 at 3:14
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    \$\begingroup\$ Should we motivate askers to Accept answers if there is any good ones? or just up-voting them is enough? \$\endgroup\$
    – concept3d
    Dec 11, 2013 at 16:13
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    \$\begingroup\$ Up-voting them is enough; an answer need not be accepted for the question to be considered "answered." Often the asker may have vanished from the site anyway. \$\endgroup\$
    – user1430
    Dec 11, 2013 at 16:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Byte56 Just to check, this does include questions which were asked ages ago, right? \$\endgroup\$
    – Polar
    Dec 12, 2013 at 17:46
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Polar Absolutely. \$\endgroup\$
    – user1430
    Dec 12, 2013 at 17:59
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Byte56 Definitely going to participate! This site has helped me time and time again, now is my opportunity to help them :D \$\endgroup\$
    – Pip
    Dec 13, 2013 at 1:46
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    \$\begingroup\$ Hats! I MUST DO IT FOR THE HATS! \$\endgroup\$ Dec 16, 2013 at 13:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ A filter to find question with very low votes asked by persons with very low reputation would be useful, since most of them are ... not that good, let's say. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 21, 2013 at 19:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ @GameAlchemist Not very recent, unanswered zero-score questions by low-rep users \$\endgroup\$
    – House
    Dec 28, 2013 at 19:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ We're in the last two days of the Winter Refactor folks, and hovering around 1032 or so questions with no answers (about 1320 "unanswered"). Keep it up! Let's see if we can get that first number under a thousand! \$\endgroup\$
    – user1430
    Jan 4, 2014 at 1:45
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    \$\begingroup\$ I did 2100 rep in bounties. We'll try to figure out a way to track better next time and get more rep to more people. \$\endgroup\$
    – House
    Jan 9, 2014 at 16:50

1 Answer 1


The Winter Refactor is now over, and I wanted to thank everybody who participated!

Although it's really hard to track activity statistics for event, those of you who did help flagged, closed, edited and answered your way to an impressive milestone: at the close of the event last night, we had 995 questions with no answers and about 1286 "unanswered" questions total!

This is way down from the starting numbers, which were up in the 1300 and 1550 ranges respectively! So once again, thanks a bunch to everybody who joined in!

But remember, just because the event's over doesn't mean you have to stop digging through the unanswered backlog. There's still a lot of questions in there worth taking a looking at, and if we keep this activity up, we may not need to hold another one of these events next year.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Blasphemy! There's always the need to refactor. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 6, 2014 at 15:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm still doing my bit, answered enough to keep it under 1000 today. :) \$\endgroup\$ Jan 6, 2014 at 15:55

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