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It's been asked before, it's been rejected before and now I'm bringing it up again.

I have a love/hate relationship with the Sandbox. I've voiced complaints before but I now have an idea that might work.


The Sandbox is quite a good idea, despite having flaws. One of the flaws that we can easily address is its size. As if posting this, it has 1700 proposals. This is great. Unless you happen to use the iOS app (no idea about android) where it slows down massively, making reviewing posts difficult.

In a (apparently) unrelated side-note, the Sandbox is approaching 2000 answers. What a milestone. Almost makes you think that we should give it some form of reward...

I propose that we combat the problem in the first paragraph with the solution in the second. When the Sandbox reaches 2000 posts, we lock it and allow active challenges there to be transferred across to... a new Sandbox! I'm sure that the Sandbox would be happy to retire from that question (not to mention the fact that it will get another 3 gold badges).

I also suggest that we extend this into the future, if this works, which I see no reason why it shouldn't. When the next sandbox hits 2000 answers, we lock it and create a new one.

An advantage that waiting for 300 more challenges has, don't forget, is that it will allow us to slowly work down the number of questions being posted there, especially if we begin the new Sandbox as the current one nears 1950 to allow for people to divert away from it.

As an extra bonus, it will probably (for the moment) solve this question as people are more willing to look at a post when it has less answers.

Now, I have been presenting this as something that is perfect, that can't go wrong. But I'm going to do a Geobits and point out what's wrong with this.

To kick off, let's look at the reason why we have a giant Sandbox. It's because we had this situation before and it wasn't working. To quote Martin Ender, it was causing more problems that it was solving. If we reintroduced that, wouldn't it cause the same problems?

Also, how can we make sure that people won't keep posting in the current Sandbox as we are retiring it? The ideal thing would be a lock where people can edit, vote and comment but can't answer. But of course this doesn't exist and SE won't make an exception for us.

Finally, have you seen the proposed design for the site? If not, check it out here. In my opinion, it is a brilliant idea. But, when looking at it, I noticed a "Propose a Challenge" button that presumably takes you to the Sandbox. You're beginning to see the problem here, aren't you? If we constantly change the Sandbox, the button is going to have to change, as is the "Featured on Meta" link. Mommy SE will not be happy having to update things like this every so often.

In short, what do you think? I will post a "Yes" and a "No" answer but if you want to elaborate, feel free to post a separate answer.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I remember the humble beginnings when the sandboxes cycled about some... 100 posts? It survived for seven cycles or so before being retired and replaced by the monolith we have today. \$\endgroup\$ – John Dvorak May 28 '17 at 22:22
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    \$\begingroup\$ Unless you happen to use the iOS app (no idea about android) where it slows down massively, making reviewing posts difficult. Then don't. The sandbox works perfectly fine in the browser. \$\endgroup\$ – Dennis May 28 '17 at 23:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ I think it has 4,314 answers, not 1700 \$\endgroup\$ – cat May 28 '17 at 23:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ @cat 1700 that everyone can see \$\endgroup\$ – caird coinheringaahing May 28 '17 at 23:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Dennis the whole point of the app is to make navigating SE easier when on a phone. Browser on my phone is difficult to use compared to the app. \$\endgroup\$ – caird coinheringaahing May 28 '17 at 23:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ The problem is that it doesn't; you can't even delete things from the app. If pagination doesn't work properly/at all in the app, file a bug report on Mother Meta. \$\endgroup\$ – Dennis May 28 '17 at 23:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Dennis you can delete things from the app; I just did. Also how would filing a bug report that the sandbox lags tons help the quality of any of the sites. Most likely, it'd get closed as too localised. \$\endgroup\$ – caird coinheringaahing May 28 '17 at 23:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ That particular shortcoming might be specific to the Android app. As for the bug report, I said if pagination doesn't work properly/at all in the app. Our sandbox might be an extreme case, but there are plenty of threads where pagination would be just as useful. \$\endgroup\$ – Dennis May 28 '17 at 23:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Dennis nope. As I said before no idea about android (phfft android) and this is definitely on the iPhone in my hand right now. \$\endgroup\$ – caird coinheringaahing May 28 '17 at 23:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ I would call this refreshing the sandbox. Retiring it would be getting rid of it completely. \$\endgroup\$ – isaacg May 29 '17 at 0:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ Instead of the "special" lock, we could just have a notice at the top that says, "The sandbox is being retired. Feel free to edit, comment, and upvote, but do not post any more answers." \$\endgroup\$ – Esolanging Fruit May 29 '17 at 0:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Challenger5 possibly although that doesn't guarantee that no-one will post \$\endgroup\$ – caird coinheringaahing May 29 '17 at 1:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Ilikemydog It will certainly stop most people. Anybody who tries to answer will probably be notified that the sandbox is being retired. Is it necessary that we absolutely stop it altogether, immediately? \$\endgroup\$ – Esolanging Fruit May 29 '17 at 1:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ "a lock where people can edit, vote and comment" = "on hold", I think. I don't think that prevents changes to existing answers. (I know there's someone going around who persistently casts votes to close the Sandbox as "primarily opinion-based". I'm not sure whether it's a joke, whether it's a genuine belief that the Sandbox is violating SE rules, or whether it's a belief that the Sandbox is bad for the site and that's the closest close reason.) \$\endgroup\$ – user62131 May 29 '17 at 2:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ I was kind of with you with your last post, but you've lost me now. Yes, the sandbox has some issues, yes it is a large post, no, we don't need to change it. For the majority it works. Sure, the sandbox failed you for that one question, but that doesn't mean we need to overhaul how PPCG works. \$\endgroup\$ – Beta Decay May 30 '17 at 0:05
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Do not retire the sandbox

Retiring the sandbox does not solve a sufficient number of problems to make the work associated with it worthwhile. The only problem that we know that this will fix is viewing the post on the iOS app. However, this is a problem with the app, not the sandbox, and it can easily be viewed in a browser instead in the meantime. The question of whether enough people look at the sandbox seems unlikely to change if a new sandbox is started, as viewing the sandbox by activity essentially yields the same results.

In contrast, retiring the sandbox creates more work for mods, since they have to manage locking the old post and featuring the new one. It also creates work for users who want to review their unposted sandbox challenges, or who want to look through the sandbox for duplicates, as their search queries will have to include more question ids.

While the negatives do not seem very significant to me, I see no actual benefit to retiring the sandbox.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Locking the old post, unfeaturing it, and featuring the new one would take less than 10 clicks. With a transition period, active sandboxed posts can easily be moved over to the new one, and it would make identifying abandoned posts easier. \$\endgroup\$ – Mego May 29 '17 at 0:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Mego True, I was trying to get at that I did not believe those ten clicks were worth it. Is there a way I could make that clearer? I also don't particularly see how identifying abandoned posts becomes easier, if you would care to explain? \$\endgroup\$ – FryAmTheEggman May 29 '17 at 0:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ If it helps solve the current issues with the Sandbox (not enough attention, impossible to load on the app), then those < 10 clicks are worth it IMO. Identifying abandoned posts will be simple - look for posts on the old sandbox that didn't get moved over to the new one. \$\endgroup\$ – Mego May 29 '17 at 0:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Mego I don't really see how that helps identify abandoned posts, as a new backlog of abandoned posts would be built up quickly anyway? It also doesn't seem terribly convenient to do what you propose anyway: wouldn't you have to sift through the old sandbox and then search to see if a match appeared in the new sandbox and hope it hadn't been edited/deleted? \$\endgroup\$ – FryAmTheEggman May 29 '17 at 0:24
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    \$\begingroup\$ It's more than 10 clicks, as we'd also have to nag a CM to remove the auto-protect feature. But at this point, I'm not sure it's even worth one click, as pagination achieves everything (and more) that creating a second post would. The only issue at hand is that the app is lacking pagination. \$\endgroup\$ – Dennis May 29 '17 at 0:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Dennis Fair enough. I'm not entirely convinced that retiring the Sandbox and starting a new one is the best solution, but it seems to me to be better than the current state of affairs. \$\endgroup\$ – Mego May 29 '17 at 7:10
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No

Restarting the Sandbox doesn't solve the problems we have. It postpones them. A smaller Sandbox is desirable so here is an alternative solution.


Adoption

TL;DR: Lets start adopting 60 abandoned posts per month

As of 30 minutes ago, the Sandbox had 1696 undeleted posts. Which is about 51 ( 1696/33 ) 'stale' posts per month since Sandbox's creation. In fact, lets have a look at the number of stale posts per month for the past year.

stales

Ignoring this month, it looks to be about 57 per month. So if 2 people adopt an abandoned proposal every day, Sandbox would stop growing. This would be an ambitious undertaking for 2 users, but if the community as a whole started to resolve these abandoned proposals we could conceivably start shrinking the sandbox.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I just asked to adopt 4 questions already getting started. \$\endgroup\$ – Christopher May 30 '17 at 1:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ How would adopting a challenge actually remove it from the sandbox post? \$\endgroup\$ – Notts90 May 30 '17 at 14:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Notts90 Once you post a challenge on the main site, you edit the sandbox post down to a hyperlink and delete it. \$\endgroup\$ – NonlinearFruit May 30 '17 at 14:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ @NonlinearFruit that's my point, how could I delete it if it's not my post? \$\endgroup\$ – Notts90 May 30 '17 at 14:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Notts90 I would flag it for mod intervention so they can delete it. \$\endgroup\$ – NonlinearFruit May 30 '17 at 14:35
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Yes

I've seen various proposals on how to fix/improve/help/encourage the Sandbox as it is (a Meta post), but I propose replacing it with a tag, and, making it possible to retire it. There is the question of what to do with currently active sandboxed challenges, but I suppose the Sandbox could be put on hold/locked and that moderators and authors could gradually re-post their proposed challenges as challenges on Main.

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Wouldn't it be a relatively easy process to delete Sandbox proposals based on a set of criteria? The criteria could be agreed upon within the community but it could be something like:

  • the challenge has been made official by posting it onto the main site
  • the sandbox post has been in an inactive state beyond a predetermined period of time (could be one year, say)

This solves the problem of it being unreasonably large.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ While deleting posts clears them for most users, once you reach 2k rep you can see all deleted posts so the posts are still there. \$\endgroup\$ – caird coinheringaahing Jun 2 '17 at 19:28

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