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Update:

NEW FEATURE REQUEST POSTED HERE

It seems to have disappeared, and I don't see any other links to it. I can go to the /election page but I'm guessing most visitors won't think of that.

This was brought up earlier this year. BUT, without a link to the page, is there even a point in having it last longer? The message is essentially

If you don't know about this by now, we don't care what you think!

I don't think this is a good message.

Below is a handy image illustrating the problem area.

enter image description here

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I'd love to know why someone would think this is a bad idea. –  JNK Nov 10 '11 at 14:18
    
I'd be in favor of leaving it up at least until all slots are taken (or the primary, whichever comes first). I didn't mind that particular message, since there seems to be no way to pull a feed of new nominations. It was handy to have the link. –  Tim Post Nov 10 '11 at 14:29
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@TimPost - not just handy, there are NO OTHER LINKS to the election page. It would be less of a big deal if there was an extra tab at the top for election or something, but it's pretty much closed off unless you know the URL. –  JNK Nov 10 '11 at 14:31
    
There might be another one warning of the close of nominations (unlikely given the primaries follow right after and lingering system messages are bad), but by now all interested users should be aware of the election and how to get to the page without a link –  random Nov 10 '11 at 14:32
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@random - If people with that mindset ran actual elections, there would be no signs indicating where to vote. After all, if you cared about voting you would already know where your polling place was and wouldn't need a sign. –  JNK Nov 10 '11 at 14:33
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@JNK I completely agree. If we want a good turn out, people need to know there's an election. –  Tim Post Nov 10 '11 at 14:37
    
In the US they have been known to fudge time around elections: politico.com/news/stories/0811/60515.html –  random Nov 10 '11 at 14:54
    
@random - Not sure what point you are making. Is that behavior we are emulating on SO? –  JNK Nov 10 '11 at 14:59
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@random: Wait, Politico covers subjects other than Herman Cain's wandering hands? –  Won't Nov 10 '11 at 15:22
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@NotifyingWillIsReallyAnnoyingWhenTheNonAsciiCharactersOfHisUsernameComeFirst, that comment is so not going to age well. –  Pops Nov 10 '11 at 17:36
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5 Answers

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Your wish, my command.

enter image description here

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My hero! I nearly started to draw a kiwi (because they are simple) but couldn't manage it. –  JNK Nov 10 '11 at 15:26
    
Those two tiny black pixels on the narwhal are annoying. I kept brushing my screen. –  BalusC Nov 10 '11 at 16:26
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@Chichiray: Wat, his eye and belly button? –  Won't Nov 10 '11 at 16:36
    
+1 for Gnarly - –  Pëkka Nov 10 '11 at 20:59
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The problem with leaving the system message up for prolonged periods of time is people learn to tune it out. So, when it comes time to announce the vote, many many people miss it — This isn't theoretical; It happens.

Keep in mind that the most engaged users (the ones you want as nominees) visit the sites 'most every day, so the additional display time is really only picking up the occasional straggler.

Prolonged banner displays have a rapidly diminishing return. But when you fail to notify the much larger audience that elections are underway, that is a MUCH bigger failure.

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Agreed on people tuning it out. I also think there is value in a permanent link (opened a new request for this) to the election area. This also excludes potentially active moderators who for whatever reason don't log in for 2 days (death in the family, business trip, vacation, etc). –  JNK Nov 10 '11 at 15:13
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I assume you still do the individual orange notifications when the actual election begins though; this is just telling people about nominations. If somebody misses nominating him/herself because they were absent from SO so long they didn't even see the system message, I don't think it's a big loss –  Michael Mrozek Nov 10 '11 at 15:13
    
We still do include the topbar notification for all eligible voters during the election phase, @MichaelMrozek. –  Grace Note Nov 10 '11 at 15:18
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The engaged user who just happens to miss the initial announcement will almost assuredly see one of the many meta posts on the subject. And if they miss those, too, there's still a human element. If someone is a shoo-in for the nominations, someone would almost certainly ask them "why aren't you nominating yourself?" We really are talking about an increasingly unlikely set of circumstances. Honestly, I really cannot recall an instance of losing a great moderator to "Awe shucks, I was going to run but I missed it." –  Robert Cartaino Nov 10 '11 at 15:23
    
Only one way to remedy the tuning out: make it a blinking banner in colorful pastel tints! :) –  Bart Kiers Nov 10 '11 at 20:17
    
I totally agree with this because the banner is going to be shown again when the actual election process starts. Right? –  Pëkka Nov 10 '11 at 22:16
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They usually drop off on purpose after 48 hours (as you know).

But should they? Not in this case.

I imagine the SO team just used the system notification bar for this purpose, and since most of the time there isn't a need to have it last longer than 48 hours, it is probably not configurable yet on their side.

Feature Request: Make the time duration of the message on the notification bar configurable by the moderators.

Update: It's already implemented.

So perhaps not leaving it up was a mistake on their part?

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How hard would it really be to post another one today that said "Nominations end in 4 days!"? –  JNK Nov 10 '11 at 14:13
    
@JNK That works great for one site. But imagine if 20 (or all) of the SE sites ran elections on the same day (a la Election day in the United States)? That'd get crazy, fast. It's far better to make the notification message's duration configurable (and while you're at it, the text of it as well) and accessible by site moderators so they can do this without having to bug the dev team. –  George Stocker Nov 10 '11 at 14:15
    
You would suspect if the mods actually DID bug the dev team about it as frequently as needed the devs would fix it quick. –  JNK Nov 10 '11 at 14:16
    
@JNK in the short term (i.e., right now) it'd be best for them to re-post it; but since the problem has already been encountered twice, it's a sure bet it's going to happen again, and again, and again, with every SE site. Better to nip it in the bud, as it were. –  George Stocker Nov 10 '11 at 14:16
    
Mods can throw up a system banner whenever and with whatever they need to –  random Nov 10 '11 at 14:17
    
@random Excellent. That solves half the problem right there. :-) –  George Stocker Nov 10 '11 at 14:18
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We can select a specific time period for a message to live, or set a pre-defined duration. Though mods can write system messages, it's not something we would normally do unless there was a compelling reason to do so (e.g Everything on the site is broken, I e-mailed everyone, but the whole team is in Tahiti). For stuff like this, we kind of defer to whatever the SE staff decides to do. –  Tim Post Nov 10 '11 at 14:25
    
@TimPost So I guess that either 1) the election message was purposefully not supposed to stay up for the 7 days of the election or 2) someone just entered the wrong date? –  George Stocker Nov 10 '11 at 14:29
    
@TimPost - Do you have any ideas as to why they want to effectively bury the elections after 2 days of a 7 day-long nomination period? –  JNK Nov 10 '11 at 14:29
    
It is possible for us to force the bar to stand longer than 48 hours. It was intentional, as always has been, to keep this one at 48 hours. –  Grace Note Nov 10 '11 at 14:31
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@JNK Presumably, they thought 48 hours would be long enough. However, there's still six slots available. I'm in favor of putting it back, I'd like to see a better turnout than we had last year. –  Tim Post Nov 10 '11 at 14:32
    
@GraceNote - "It's on purpose" isn't a reason, though. WHY? –  JNK Nov 10 '11 at 14:32
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@JNK I imagine because after so long, people's brains tune out things they're used to seeing. So if you saw a notification bar there all the time, eventually you'd just tune it out (and at that point, you may as well not have one). –  George Stocker Nov 10 '11 at 14:34
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@JNK I did talk with GraceNote about this, and yes (if I really wanted to), I could put the banner back. The issue is, I don't want to make people snow blind to the system message bar, or have people writing greasemonkey scripts to get rid of it and forgetting to turn them off. I suggest another feature request, put a more permanent link in place during an election, for the length of the entire election. –  Tim Post Nov 10 '11 at 14:53
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@JNK Reminder, I'm just one of ten people who have the ability to do that. Another moderator may feel differently. –  Tim Post Nov 10 '11 at 14:55
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I think not having the election bar there the whole time is a good feature - put it back when we get to the next stage of the election (i.e. at the start of the primaries and at the start of the real election, and after the results are there).

The issue is that there is no other way to find the page, as it isn't linked anywhere else.

Could we have a link in the top bar (i.e. beside the chat | meta | faq links), or somewhere in the sidebar, as long as the elections are running?

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I'm writing a new feature request now for just that thing! –  JNK Nov 10 '11 at 15:08
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  1. During the election we only want people who actually visit the site at least every other day to nominate themselves.

  2. It is annoying and obtrusive for the 99% of the users that don't care about the nomination phase.

We had this same question pop up in some past election, and IIRC the decision was to have limited announcement for the nomination and primary phases - get the most active users to deal with them - then the actual final vote would be an alert to those users that hadn't yet voted.

I still don't see a strong reason why that process should be changed.

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