I am concerned about some of the answers we've received recently. We have a post on high quality answer guidelines and it doesn't seem the community is enforcing these. Alternatively, I'm rather strict in my opinion of high quality.
Taking a quote from Robert's recent meta post, I feel that we have not been eliminating the answers that fall into this:
Except that many questions I see here quite broad, soliciting a random list of brand preference that are being answered by virtue of who happens to be reading the post. Answers could offer dozens (sometimes hundreds) of different answers with no grounds but personal preference for choosing between them; that's not good. That's not a Stack Exchange site, and soliciting requirements like "it has to be cheap" or "must have USB port" doesn't generally mitigate that.
We have answers that are lists of products, single paragraphs and little more than someone mentioning that a product looks good. I am not a fan of these types of answers, and certainly not a fan of these when compared to several of the high quality answers we were receiving just a month or so ago.
Before I continue, I am not calling out certain users. I have selected answers, not users, that I feel reflect a pattern of low quality that I've been seeing. If a specific user appears in this list, I sincerly appologize. This is a sampling of questions from our most recent questions that are not closed.
- Good processor for 1998 computer: This answer is step 1 of troubleshooting. It provides 3 bullet points that tell the user what to look for when determining which processor they should eventually get.
- Is the ASUS Radeon 390 worth buying?: This answer starts with a paragraph linking to a comparison. It doesn't include the comparison in the response. It concludes with a short paragraph recommending a product based on the result of "various searches".
- Desktop NAS: This paragraph is little more than "I recommend X".
- Laptop for school: This is formatted nicely, but I am curious why the user went with Dell. It also lacks much more than a list of system specs pulled from the manufacturer's webpage. To me, this answer falls into the "brand preference" mentioned above.
- GPU for current set up - Answer 1: Another paragraph, linking to an offsite resource. It doesn't descibe the product at all.
- GPU for current set up - Answer 2: This provides two alternatives and bases the rest of the recommendation only on product price, not any of the other criteria originally asked about.
- Which memory to choose: This answer doesn't provide a recommendation at all.
- Graphics card with open source drivers: I count 3 recommendations, 4 retailers, a mention that you can "find something cheaper" and low reliablity. This answer is horrible.
- Flash drive with bluetooth: Barely more than a link only answer.
- Case to support motherboard and dual power supplies: Two recommendations and minor details about each.
- GPU for price to performance - Answer 1: Little more than a link, with a single note that it's slightly faster than another product, but no citation.
- GPU for price to performance - Answer 2: The recommendation is a single sentence fragment and a link to a video card benchmark site.
I am rather frustrated by the low quality that I've seen in the last few weeks. I agree with Robert's comment above too. Many of our recent answers are personal preferences and have little supporting data behind the recommendation. This isn't helpful to anyone other than a user that is asking what to buy. We should be striving to provide details about why this product is being recommended. What can this GPU do that another can't? What can this laptop do that another can't? Does an answer provide anything to anyone other than the original poster?
Am I out in left field when saying our quality has dropped? If not, we need more people down voting these types of answers. Up votes to these types of answers encourage more link only, single paragraph, low quality answers.