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It's everybody's favorite time of year again. The celebration of hats, of course!

Last year, we organized a community "refactoring" event aimed at bringing some much-needed attention to the old, unloved, neglected questions on the site. It was a lot of fun and produced some great results, so we're going to do it again. In conjunction with the Winter Bash, we'll thus be holding the 2014 edition of the 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. This year we'd like to focus especially on tackling duplicate questions.

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 or flag questions that are duplicates as such. This will generally involve some searching around to find the duplicate, but please take some time to do it if you see a question and have that funny, "I think I saw this already..." feeling in the back of your mind.
  • 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. Remember that users can be directed to ask their question elsewhere if it's too open-ended or discussion oriented. 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.

One of the problems we had last year was tracking metrics. To that end, Anko has built a live graph of the site's unanswered count, which we can use to see how things are progressing:

[ final chart moved to answer ]

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...and that's a wrap! Thanks to everybody who participated. Here's what the graph looked like at the end of the event (Sunday, Jan 4):

enter image description here

We got down to about 1700 unanswered questions, a fantastic result!

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