The More Specific The Question, The Greater The Value

It’s tempting to post broad questions which are easy for most members to answer.

In theory, this should increase participation. In reality, it tends to depress participation.

General questions aren’t exciting for genuine experts to answer. They’re too general to produce any useful information. They’re also close cousins of the dreaded ‘what do you think?’ discussions.

Dumbing down the questions simply dumbs down the value of the community. It erodes any unique value your community can offer the audience.

People don’t come to a community to have general conversations, they (typically) come to get insights that will help them be better at what they do. Communities are a place for the nerdiest (or most passionate) people about a topic to have the kinds of discussions they can’t have anywhere else.

We also need a quick clarification here. Don’t confuse specific with advanced. You don’t need to have advanced discussions to deliver great value. Compare the two questions for newcomers below:

General Question 1: “How did you get started in [topic]?”

Specific Question 2: “Which software did you use to get started [xyz], what were the costs, pros and cons?”

Answering the former question doesn’t let members feel smart and doesn’t give the reader any useful insights. The latter question, however, clearly offers much better value to both.

Generally speaking, the more specific the question, the greater the value in the answers (and the greater the value of the community).

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