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I'll cut straight to the point here:

We must do something about the Sandbox, and soon

The Sandbox recently hit 2000 non-deleted answers (5700 total). That's over 2000 potential challenges festering in some corner of the Internet, most likely not going to be posted for years, if ever.

I'm proposing that we, as a community, spend a week cleaning up the Sandbox.

The problem with the Sandbox

The Sandbox is intended to be a place where people can post challenge proposals, in order to get feedback before posting to main. However, the fact that there over 2000 proposals in one place means that, most of the time, people's challenges don't get the feedback they need, and suffer for it on main. Its size is preventing the Sandbox from becoming effective.

In addition to this, it's a store for a large number of potential questions, yet people are complaining about the low number of questions being posted per day. Cleaning it up, even just a little, can help solve both of these issues

Clean up

This is just my idea for a plan for cleaning up. Feel free to suggest alternatives in answers

This is laid out in progressive steps e.g. 1. is the first thing we do.

  1. Lock the Sandbox. It is possible to lock a question to prevent new answers. If we lock the Sandbox for a week while cleaning it up, it prevents new answers for being posted, which would then need to be held in consideration.

  2. Everyone who has a post in the Sandbox goes through their posts, marking each into one of four categories. Be harsh. If you end up thinking "Will I ever post that?", delete it. If you change your mind, you can repost afterwards. The categories:

    1. Ready to post - These are posts, which after a few edits, would be perfectly fine to post on Main. Example
    2. In progress - These are posts which are still being worked on, but aren't ready for Main just yet. Example
    3. Delete - A lot of posts in the Sandbox aren't worth posting, or can't really be salvaged, no matter the amount of editing. Example
    4. Open to anyone - Some people don't want to post a challenge, but are willing to let others post. Do this, if you're not sure about a challenge. Example
  3. This will just leave the posts where the authors are no longer active. Here, we post a comment below the challenge saying something like

    You have 48 hours to decide what to do with the post, else it will be part of the Sandbox clean up (link to meta post). Please mark it appropriately, as you see fit.

    Any posts which haven't been updated 48 hours after such a comment is posted can either be deleted, or, if someone else wants to post it, be adopted.

  4. Finally, after all this, all Sandbox posts will be categorised. We then follow through on each of these categories, posting to main and deleting. Downvote and Vote To Delete posts due for deletion. If you can't vote to delete, downvote and others will.

    In short (not really short, but ¯\_(ツ)_/¯): Everyone trawls through the entire Sandbox, acting on each post, relating to how it's categorised. The most important thing here is In progress posts. Give them feedback! Be a brutal and as honest as you want, that's what the Sandbox is for! (Although Be Nice). We should aim to make almost all In progress posts be ready to post to main.

    If you wish to adopt a unadopted post, edit your username in, next to the Open to anyone, like so:

    Open to anyone: taken by caird coinheringaahing

    Please don't steal posts from other people; there's no reason to.

  5. Hopefully, by the end of the time we do this in, the Sandbox will be reduced to around 6000 deleted proposals, with 100 or so In progress posts that can't be either posted or deleted yet. At this point, the moderators create a new Sandbox post, migrating the remaining answers across to start a new Sandbox post.

Hopefully, if we do this right, this will kill two birds with one stone:


What does the community think about this? Do you have a better idea of how we can clean up the Sandbox? Please, post it as an answer!

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    \$\begingroup\$ Could you please elaborate on why we must do something about the Sandbox? You propose some rather aggressive steps to reduce its size, but why is its size a problem in the first place? \$\endgroup\$ – Dennis Apr 6 '18 at 13:02
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    \$\begingroup\$ This proposal seems to be rather disruptive while serving no readily identifiable practical purpose. \$\endgroup\$ – Nathaniel Apr 6 '18 at 13:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Dennis I have edited in the reasons why I believe reducing the size of the Sandbox is necessary \$\endgroup\$ – caird coinheringaahing Apr 6 '18 at 13:11
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    \$\begingroup\$ Mass-downvoting posts in the Sandbox will almost certainly trigger vote reversal by the system. \$\endgroup\$ – Mego Apr 6 '18 at 13:11
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Mego Not targeted, should be fine. \$\endgroup\$ – user202729 Apr 6 '18 at 13:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ @user202729 I believe even downvoting all answers on a given question would still be considered voting abuse. \$\endgroup\$ – Mego Apr 6 '18 at 13:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Mego I'm next to certain it is not, at least in it's own right. Here is the relevant mother meta on what constitutes voting abuse. I do frequently downvote near every answer on a question it and I have yet to see it reversed. Of course it is possible that someone could be participating in voting abuse by downvoting every answer on a question if it goes against voting rational but doing so doesn't constitute voting abuse by itself, and doesn't seem to be flagged by the system. \$\endgroup\$ – Sriotchilism O'Zaic Apr 6 '18 at 15:52
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The sandbox's size is not an issue.

When sorting the sandbox by activity, you only see the 30 most recently active posts. Whether there are 2 or 200 more pages doesn't really change that.

I agree that the low amount of feedback for sandboxed posts is an issue, but I fail to see any evidence suggesting that this is due to the number of posts in it.

The size doesn't decrease by deleting.

The most valuable feedback will usually come from established users. Everyone with access to moderator tools sees all deleted posts anyway, so deleting a lot of posts doesn't even make it appear to have less of them.

Your plan is disruptive.

  1. Closing the sandbox for a week (or applying that hacky wiki lock) will prevent it from getting the ~30 answers it usually gets in a week. 30 answers for a sandbox containing thousands is merely a drop in the bucket, so we'll prevent people from using the sandbox for no good reason.

  2. Everyone who has a post in the Sandbox goes through their posts, marking each into one of four categories.

    Everyone? You're lucky if the owners of 10% of the sandbox posts even see this meta discussion, let alone act on it.

  3. Giving hundreds of users 48 hours to act on a non-issue is unnecessarily confrontational, perhaps even rude. Our less active users (not everyone has a Fanatic badge) might not even see the comment in time, let alone have time to act on it.

  4. I predict that after the above steps, we will be left with some 1,800 uncategorized posts. There's no way we'll be able to handle any significant portion of those posts in a week.

  5. Due to pagination, that doesn't really accomplish anything.

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    \$\begingroup\$ While I disagree with your conclusion (that my suggestion isn't necessary), I'm accepting this answer as it does answer the discussion \$\endgroup\$ – caird coinheringaahing Apr 6 '18 at 15:36
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Let's do a softer variation of this

I believe, as others do, that this proposal may be a too drastic solution to a not-so-important problem. Some points of the proposal, however, could still be applied to produce good results.

  • Review your old posts - I think it's not that uncommon even for fairly active people to have some forgotten proposals in the sandbox (I might have one or two of those myself). Let's use this post as an incentive to look for our old proposals and update them: either post them, go back on working on them, delete them or mark them as open to anyone.

  • Open to anyone - This could become an "official" status for questions in the sandbox. We could even allow posting incomplete ideas for challenges with this status, ready to be picked by anyone and turned into a real challenge ready for main.

  • Abandoned posts - If you see an old proposal that you would like to complete and post, you can leave a comment under it; if the author doesn't answer for a week, the proposal becomes automatically open to anyone and you can make it your own.

By doing this we could facilitate the flow of ideas from sandbox to main, and encourage people to build on other people's ideas to produce better challenges and avoid having half-baked proposals lying in wait forever.

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The size is not a problem

You do describe two very real problems:

  1. People want more challenges
  2. There's not enough feedback in the sandbox

However, neither of these problems are caused by the size of the sandbox. In fact, I'd argue that the size of the sandbox actually improves our challenge-posting situation: People will occasionally look back at old challenges and say "Hey, I want to post that!"

Getting people to provide feedback in the sandbox is hard. We've had many, many discussions about how to motivate people to do this. The primary discussion around it is here, so if you have an idea on how to motivate people to provide more feedback, that would be awesome.

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