Firstly, I am suggesting this only for UX.se, so please don't migrate it to the Stack Overflow meta.

Right now UX.se has become almost exclusively about computer related UX and mostly leaves out the physical UX that makes up the vast majority of UX in the world. The few physical questions that we have had in the last few months have been very well received, and I would like to see many more of them. The UX.se site is stagnating somewhat, and I believe it is mostly due to a lack of interesting questions on broader topics than a lack of people to answer them.

So to deal with this, I believe that we need to encourage more (and better) questions. Three suggestions for doing this are:

  1. Change the points that a question gets for an upvote from 5 to 10.
  2. Allow people to put a bounty on a tag for a week, and then award that to the best question on that each week. The person who posted the bounty gets to choose which question to award it to.
  3. Allow question bounties to be manually awarded to encourage more of them.

There are a lot of finer details that would need to be worked out, but those are the basic changes that I would like to see.

This is mostly a mix of things that @Rahul and I discussed over the weekend, so I can't take credit for all the ideas.

  • I think the questions reflect the users of the site. I would wager that few users of the site are industrial designers, and the physical questions that have been asked, while interesting, feel close to off topic to me because you could pretty much boil it down to "let's have a discussion about {x}". Questions are supposed to be real problems faced by the user, and often the physical questions are about a subject that really none of us are qualified to answer out of experience. Commented May 7, 2013 at 20:32

3 Answers 3


I do not really understand how this is going to encourage people to ask more questions about physical UX.

Maybe it will improve the quality of questions (even that I am not sure) or the amount of them, but it will probably not increase the amount of a specific type of questions.

There is probably something to do with the presentation of the forum:

  • In the About page the question is HCI oriented and most of the question here are of that ilk. People tend to use a tool as it is commonly used.

  • Tags : how many tags are related to "real world" interactions ? Physical Ergonomics maybe Affordance. It does not seem enough compared to Web oriented ones.

  • Badges : same idea here, maybe we need and industrial designer badge or something like that.

Educated guess: HCI designers and enthusiasts are more alike to ask questions in this kind of application since they are closer to the developers world and sharing-knowledge-with-strangers culture. Industrial designer or Service designers are more from a craftsmanship background and like to do things IRL. We also have to acknowledge that UX oriented design is not really common yet in other fields than computer science (even there it is hard to present things from this point of view).

  • I don't know which suggestion you're referring to.
    – JohnGB Mod
    Commented May 6, 2013 at 11:37
  • Three of them regarding the second paragraph of the question. Commented May 6, 2013 at 11:41
  • This isn't just about physical, it's about encouraging more and better questions. If I put a bounty on a tag, chances are more people will ask a question on that topic. If people get rewarded more for good questions (more points or bounties) they should be encouraged to ask more and better questions.
    – JohnGB Mod
    Commented May 6, 2013 at 11:51
  • 1
    Your hypothesis : I believe it is mostly due to a lack of interesting questions on broader topics than a lack of people to answer them. Your proposition : I believe that we need to encourage more (and better) questions. Your propositions do not take your hypothesis into account. Furthermore you probably presuppose that people ask questions because they can earn points. I believe they ask questions because they think they can get a good answer. Therefore I challenge the editorial orientation of this forum. Commented May 6, 2013 at 12:16

I'm not sure I participate on SE because of points.

I don't mind the gamification, but I participate based on my interest and desire to learn (and share).

As for real-world, physical relevancy, I'm sure there is interest - but in a world that is quickly moving to online delivery of, well, everything, there is going to be more interest in software UX.

Also, it's much easier to get into software design than hardware design (so there'll be a larger base of participants).

  • The basic premise of gamification is, it should be voluntary :) You participate if you wish to, else just carry on with your thing and ignore the system. It does not hinder with your experience (most of the time).
    – rk.
    Commented May 7, 2013 at 1:56
  • And yet, the 3 options suggested were all related to increasing the rewards related to gamification. I'm not of the opinion that the desire to participate originates with gamification and I don't recall any research that supports gamification as a way to increase initial engagement. Commented May 7, 2013 at 2:04
  • On the contrary, gamification quite easily increases initial engagement. It is the prolonged engagement which is a harder nut to crack. venturebeat.com/2013/03/26/…
    – rk.
    Commented May 7, 2013 at 2:06
  • Having read the article carefully, it explains that gamification increases participation for users - but it does not talk about increasing initial adoption or driving new behaviour. Gamification is an extension of operant conditions - which increases persistence, not new behaviour (dl.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=2181040). UX / MMI theorists have adopted gamification as a way to increase participation - but very few have adopted it as a way to drive initial engagement. A little bit of reading on reinforcement schedules may be in order :P Commented May 7, 2013 at 2:51
  • The operand conditioning is the behaviorist approach to gamification. The problem with behaviorist approach is it thinks of players in terms of a black box, look at the reactions and work on that. Gamification is about empowering the user/player and tends to be a bit farther from behaviorism. When you look at the gamification design frameworks, the first step is onboarding. It is focused on how to increase the initial adoption and engage the early(new) users. The later steps focus on retaining the players and creating experiences for the older/experienced users.
    – rk.
    Commented May 7, 2013 at 3:02
  • As per your description, Gamification is based on operant conditioning principles [Full stop]. If that isn't clear, you don't understand gamification. Commented May 7, 2013 at 3:18
  • 'The use of game element and game design techniques in non game context.' I took the liberty of adding quotes after the full stop. And since you are an avid reader, here is some additional reading material on gamification frameworks and such which is not standing on operand conditioning's sholders. yukaichou.com/gamification-examples/experience-phases-game and some class notes irez.me/category/wonder/class-notes
    – rk.
    Commented May 7, 2013 at 3:26
  • I'm not sure what you're arguing - your comments agree with mine (and you may want to reference a scientific study, not an opinion piece on a gaming site). I think you'll find that the yukaichou site combines several theories of development (piaget/vygotsky/adler) with a theory of behaviour (skinnerian perspective) to support a particular interpretation of gamification. That may support your viewpoint, but it isn't valid (in the scientific sense of the word). Commented May 7, 2013 at 3:27
  • Same researcher publish articles. I am arguing that stop pushing gamification as solely operand conditioning spin-off.
    – rk.
    Commented May 7, 2013 at 3:29
  • Gamification isn't operant conditioning, it's gamification. Unfortunately for your position, gamification is based on the efficacity of schedules of reinforcement, which are an element of operant conditioning. Also: Calling it operand conditioning undermines your credibility. You can't reasonably tell me I'm wrong when you don't understand the terminology. Commented May 7, 2013 at 3:31
  • Explain 'As per your description, Gamification is based on operant conditioning principles [Full stop]. If that isn't clear, you don't understand gamification. – David Clarke 15 mins ago'
    – rk.
    Commented May 7, 2013 at 3:33
  • And sorry, I didn't bother to get a degree is psychology so have no familiarity with the terminology :)
    – rk.
    Commented May 7, 2013 at 3:34
  • let us continue this discussion in chat Commented May 7, 2013 at 3:34
  • That's alright. Having incorrect terminology has never caused any problems when discussing things in plain text. Commented May 7, 2013 at 3:44
  • @rk. I do believe that you are chasing the rep cap each day. If that rep cap didn't exist, or you didn't have someone ahead of you to chase, do you really think that wouldn't affect your participation? :)
    – JohnGB Mod
    Commented May 12, 2013 at 19:49

Apart from the fact that the number of questions overall is low, I would estimate about a dozen or two odd questions per day (excluding the closed ones). I think it is about the demographic and psychographics of the stack exchange users.

Overall, looking at the variety of stackexchanges we have, majority of them are focused on computer related topics. I don't remember any physical design stack exchange as such. Also, among the UX.se users if you look at their profiles, most of them are from a computer/graphics background and very few from an ID background. Speak from personal experience, I don't know any of my ID colleagues and friends ever wandering on SE apart from the occasional SO questions for some prototypes.

That all being said, your suggestion for increasing question rep from 5 to 10 though likely to increase questions, is not guaranteed to increase physical design questions, rather I can see even more software UX questions arising for quick and dirty rep (for the rep hunters). The bounty of tags option seems quite viable. Can we have something like +50 rep to each question with physical tag with 5 or more likes, or something similar?


Another idea I had: We can have 2 public questions going on every week, one for suggesting a physical design which should be improved upon and the second, picking one challenge and making it a community question. We can vote on which design problems to work on. The proposition thing might not need to be weekly.

  • I mostly want to help increase activity on the site, and so if there are more good computer related questions, then great.
    – JohnGB Mod
    Commented May 12, 2013 at 19:48
  • @JohnGB Totally, agree. This screen of today (Sunday evening) goes quite well in explaining the problem. imgur.com/tOqsZee
    – rk.
    Commented May 13, 2013 at 3:31

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