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The SO blog is a critical resource for information about the operation of the SO family of sites. In the past I've suggested moving the blog link from the bottom of the page to the top so it gets more visibility. I still think that's a good idea.

Now, though, I think it ought to go further. Whenever a new blog article that impacts SO operations is published, the SO family of sites ought to display a banner announcing it for 24-48 hours after the initial publish date. This provides a significantly more visible mechanism to communicate important information about site changes via the blog without being too annoying in doing so.

While I know it won't solve the problem of clueless users entirely, I think being more proactive in communicating changes and making sure that people know about the avenues of communication would enhance the site.

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I was about to ask the same question. Totally agree with you. –  mafutrct Mar 22 '10 at 16:43
    
Related to: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/18355/… –  Lance Roberts Mar 22 '10 at 17:13
    
Related (noticed only today): meta.stackexchange.com/questions/48087/… –  Gnoupi May 24 '10 at 12:11

6 Answers 6

RSS is the friend of those that care about what's going on in the kitchen.

The vast majority of SO users don't care, and needn't know - but those that are interested can avail themselves of the latest web technologies and receive updates on their favorite aggregation services about blog posts.

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And then when the masses are unaware of changes to the site we can blame them for not being sufficiently interested. –  user27414 Mar 22 '10 at 16:40
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How would you even know about the blog and the RSS feed if you got here via google. It isn't even mentioned in the FAQ (like people read it) and there's only a tiny link at the bottom of the page. Meta is really the wrong place to post critical communication because there's no way to "stick" the post to the top. The blog is probably the best communication channel, I think, but is also the one that is least easy to find if you don't already know about it. –  tvanfosson Mar 22 '10 at 16:58
    
@Pollyanna -- fyi, I've clarified the suggestion to limit notifications to articles that deal with changes in SO operations. That was my intent -- I simply neglected to consider the podcast announcements, etc. –  tvanfosson Mar 22 '10 at 17:02

I think changes relevant to the user interface (like the introduction of @username in comments) or major system changes like the rep recalc should definitely be announced in some way, like the recalc was on Meta.

These are things the majority needs to know even if it isn't interested in the blog (which it has the good right not to be.)

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I agree 100%. I think it's common sense to announce visible changes and new features. They happen infrequently enough that I doubt it would cause confusion or be a source of annoyance. The @user commenting (Pekka mentioned already), rep-recalc, voting issues and other are perfect candidates.

I don't mean to nitpick but I find it odd that voting on moderators was considered more important than the rep-recalc announcement. We had a banner for that. Kudos to our moderators; I participated in the voting. Yet, most people don't dwell on the matter once the new moderators were announced. Rep is an in your face change that should've been communicated. The @user comment feature was good to know about too and most people wouldn't pick it up till they read the blog/meta or if they were used to IRC/Twitter style @replies.

For the record I was positively affected by the re-calc but nonetheless think it could've been announced better.

In closing, the SO team does a fantastic job overall.


Original before tv's edit:

I personally wouldn't mind since I listen to the podcasts and visit the blog/meta frequently. That said, I think this is ignoring the underlying motivation of this suggestion. Namely, important announcements should be communicated via the popup messages. We did the same thing for voting, so it should've been done for the rep re-calc. The keyword here is "important":

visible mechanism to communicate important information about site changes via the blog

If it's important use the banner and link to the related blog post. I'm for that and it makes it sound like less of an RSS feed for the blog via the banner.

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The major way a banner fails is the notice will disappear relatively quickly. Any solution needs to address intermittent users that might spend days or even a few weeks away from the site at a time.

And even for users that spend time on the site every day, if they only spend a little bit of each day and just don't participate very much, I can easily imagine them looking for news and having no idea where to go.


"About" and "faq" are important enough to be both at the top and bottom of the page; "news" should be too, instead of the effectively hidden blog link.

Consistent promotion of the blog at the top of the page will catch those users who are able to read without annoying those that can't (they'll ask about it anyway) or those that don't care (including many new and low-rep users).

screenshot of "news" link

Replace "news" with "tools" once a user hits 10k if horizontal space is a concern. By then I expect them to know where it leads and have gotten RSS feeds if they care.

I have specifically chosen "news" instead of displaying headlines, however, because it seems not raising the ire (read as "email and complaints posted as questions") of users which aren't affected or otherwise wouldn't care is a major concern of those who would have to deal with it (e.g. not me).

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I am impressed by your rep score and badge count! –  Jared Harley Mar 23 '10 at 5:51
    
@Jared: I has this idea in mind when I created it for the other question. :) (Was kinda surprised no one noticed the "news" link on it.) –  Gnome Mar 23 '10 at 6:23
    
What if the blog notices work the same way as the "you've got mail" notifications for comments, badges, etc. They show up until you've either visited the blog site or dismissed the notification? Granted that would take some integration between the two, but maybe we could fudge it by just checking if you've clicked the link in the notification or closed it. –  tvanfosson Mar 23 '10 at 11:23
    
@tvanfosson: I think you should opt-in to something that requires an active dismissal or otherwise purposefully grabs your attention, and the RSS feeds fill that niche nicely. All that's left is to make it easier to find for those looking for it (as someone who's going to question lost rep is), and I think it's fair to say many more people know about the top links than those on the bottom. I'm imagining a use case of people neglecting the news link entirely, until there's an issue, and then they remember "oh yeah, I can check the news!" Another use case is finding the RSS feeds from it. –  Gnome Mar 23 '10 at 12:37
    
@Gnome -- I don't opt-in to the comment, badge, response notifications. I'm thinking this could be an extension of that (if having the banner appear for 48 hours is either too much or too little). In that case, at least, it would not be making the interface worse from your perspective. –  tvanfosson Mar 23 '10 at 13:40
    
@tvanfosson: Comments and responses really do require your attention often enough (it is at least hard for the system to decide), but I wouldn't mind if badge notifications were opt-in. –  Gnome Mar 23 '10 at 15:13

Much like Gnome's answer, you could include a little module on the right sidebar of the sites with news, showing the title of the last two posts from the blog:

mockup

On a related note, I like using Firebug in Firefox to add stuff to pages :)

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Including this on the 'ask question' page too could be helpful, since you don't want it on every question and I wouldn't be surprised if many people asking plz-send-the-rep reached for that button before trying to find out what happened. –  Gnome Mar 23 '10 at 8:52

The footer now has a small [new] indicator on the blog link when there are new blog articles.

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