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Semi-private questions, the ability to invite a list of Experts to participate

Recently while discussing the Anonymous Question feature with sdstuber the idea of being able to ask a question of a specific white-list of Experts was brought up.

The idea is that certain Experts have helped an asker multiple times in the past and they would like to have a semi-private conversation with just those Experts.

From the originator of the idea
The goal (at least as I intended) is not to use blacklists, but to whitelist questions.

Part of that is a community oriented spin.  That is, it's a feature about those we like, not those we hate.
Also, functionally,  if you're asking a question and you have some favorite experts you want to ask, you can't blacklist every single other member.  Even if you did do it, somebody new could always create an account 1 second later and hop in to your question.

I assume users will be able to build a few saved white-lists, there by making it easier to pull up the favorite experts for various TAs
The lack of saved lists wouldn't be a show stopper, but seems like a useful part of the feature.

Messaging takes the question out of the point system and the end result doesn't become part of the PAQ.   These would still be questions with all the features thereof,  the only difference would be only some people could post in them.  I was envisioning the question would be invisible to members not on the white list (see below.)

There is a potential for some favorite experts to get points they wouldn't necessarily have gotten if they had to share with the masses.
However, any expert that is on a Question's whitelist, is presumedly fairly active, helpful, quick, and polite.  So there is a good chance that even if there were other people involved, that person (or those persons) would likely get the lion's share of points any way.

I think this would be a premium service, so there will still always be other questions available that are open to everyone, also not every question will likely be asked on a whitelist (I wouldn't make it a default option.)

Plus, just because an asker selects experts x,y, and z only, doesn't mean they are available right then, or know the answer, or even noticed that particular question amidst all the others.  So, I would envision an option to open (irreversibly) a white-listed question where the favorites fail to produce an adequate answer.  At that point the entire thread opens up to the rest of the world, being both visible and postable.

Also, once the question is closed it would then become visible as well and, I would think postable.

This discussion is to address the possible pros and cons in a constructive fashion.
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Rank: Prodigy

Expert Comment

☠ MASQ ☠2017-08-04 10:54 PMID: 2044709
"Maybe it's different in other threads."

This might be the key here.

Is it that some topics lend themselves better to this model than others?

Objective solutions would fit much better than more subjective posts which really do have that collaborative element of Experts firing off each others' thoughts.
Rank: Prodigy

Expert Comment

Mark Wills2017-08-05 01:03 AMID: 2044716
Gosh, I certainly hope my post didn't come across as Doom (and Gloom). Other than the blacklist comment where I am quite sure I would be a regular (Vulcan sarcasm maybe). Other than that, most definitely did not intended any Doom. In fact I am in support of a lot of good ideas here.

Maybe I jumped a few assumptions... My main question was "How does an Asker decide who to whitelist ?" Do we really need to build and maintain a new whitelist system ?

I am suggesting the Askers probably have a whitelist of sorts by those they follow. This new feature is supposed to be a means "to pull up the favorite experts" so wouldn't they probably be on the Askers Follow list already ?

What happens when you venture into a new TA. Maybe the Asker already has good SQL and Web experience (in EE) with their favourites. But the boss has said you now need to work on Oracle.

So, being experienced EE member you already know the benefits of Asking (and your favourite experts). But now you have some serious questions in a new TA.

If you have never been there before, but realise the benefit in having the right experts, or, have used your own whitelist and know just how well it works when doing the Web Project and how brilliantly Scott Fell was every time, and never wrong...

How do you find the best people ? It is like being a newbie all over again and don't want to have to relive that again...

So, go into Browse, then Topics, type in Oracle, choose Oracle Database and a bit of a dead end. Go back into Browse, then Experts, then EE certifications, then type in Oracle, choose Oracle Database and there is a list of Experts :
Oracle Database Experts by CertificationThen you realise it is not in points sequence so you change the sort order :
Oracle certified experts by points
But, you might miss out on sdstuber or slightwv.

If you could choose either of those two you would get the top 2 experts in Oracle Database. How do you find them ?  Where as, if you wanted Oracle Database at least Genius level, you could have 14 experts to choose from / getting notifications... A few of which may well become Followed and Favourites.

So that is where the idea is a bit different. Leverage what we already have available and being used.

I am pretty sure the feature would be most welcome in any guise.

Would like to imagine it as a privileged feature and might even be worth some extra dollars for EE (Platinum Membership).

As for gaming the system, the onus is completely on the Asker to choose who they want. They could allow or deny 'Readers' (live-lurker), Allow or deny other than 'whitelist', and allow or deny Search, Anonymity and a few other parameter options.  

If no one responds, within a time, then the normal notification can go out to the wider groups if so desired. A concept that maybe used one day for automating Neglected without having to get a Mod involved.

I am not sure how caps would work other than number of concurrent questions maybe...
Rank: Savant

Expert Comment

sdstuber2017-08-05 06:10 AMID: 2045026
My comments about "doom" weren't really targeted for Mark, sorry for the confusion.

Maybe I should have made 2 posts or some visible divider to delineate a change in thought line.
I recognize that all of the undesirable scenarios, if taken far enough, would be very bad.

As for how one finds members to add to a whitelist when entering a new area, I sort of don't care.
It seems silly to me to go into a new TA and then just blindly tag whomever I see at the top.
Sure, there's a decent chance they might provide a good answer but maybe not.

I'm sure some, maybe many will do it; but does it matter?
Some might use it to pick just a few people they like but maybe aren't the best.

Do we care about motivation in selection criteria?

I suppose if somebody asks 1000 dummy questions and tags a friend for easy point passing then it's a problem.
But again, that's an extreme situation, easily identified, and easily stopped by caps (and maybe timelimits.)
Also, if it's a user that appears to be illegally gaming the system; then it's also easily stopped by blocking the feature for the offending user.

The more complaints I read, the more a simple X/month(or week or year) cap seems like a good idea as a simple blanket rule.
Also with a restriction that it can't be applied in low-traffic zones.  The X would be on simply asking.  Doesn't matter how they end (closed, auto-opened, open and deleted, whatever.)
If that means some people get "cheated" out of their whitelists because it never works for them, I don't see that as a problem with the system, only a problem with their whitelist.
Rank: Ace

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Sjef Bosman2017-08-05 07:13 AMID: 2045037
Suggested white-list: the experts participating in Asker's last 10 (20?) questions over the last 3 (6?) months. At least 5 questions needed before the white-list appears. White-list experts are guaranteed to be recently active.

Experts should be allowed to opt out of being white-listed if they don't want to receive alerts.
Rank: Savant

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sdstuber2017-08-05 07:46 AMID: 2045049
I wasn't thinking there would be special alerts for white-lists, at least not by default.

For example, my notification filters don't include Excel.  So, if somebody whitelists me for an Excel question, they can, but I'll never see it, so I wouldn't respond.  However, you whitelist me for an Oracle, SQL or Math question, it'll show up in my in-box.

I suppose some people might want an "include all whitelist invitations" option on their profile, but I would leave it unchecked.
Rank: Prodigy

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Mark Wills2017-08-05 12:37 PMID: 2045433
Just be wary of trying to achieve goals of inclusion by way of exclusion.