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Previously we had the comments where it was easy to tell who was still watching a proposal regularly because minor questions asked by new followers were answered by this handful of people.

This small collective I would suggest is very important when setting the site up after going to beta and is more than likely going to be the most active in the closed beta stage and for defining the site.

Now IMO new people who are new to the SE sites and area 51 are not likely to post a "discussion" question as opposed to posting a comment and are even likely to post the wrong type of discussion question.

Furthermore this small group of important members has no public way to stay active. Basically there is no longer any activity and no longer any need for these people to regularly watch the proposal. If it takes 6 - 12 months to get the proposal through the definition phase these people will have done nothing during that phase and may lose interest.

There is this request marked status-planned for adding comments to commitment phase which I guess is no longer going ahead.

Is it important to start building community around sites early and should we have the tools to facilitate open discussion on proposals?

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In addition to @Rebecca Chernoff's answer, we will be re-enabling the original commenting feature in Area 51 (in addition to the Discussion Zone) to provide the means of adding occasional, lightweight comments where necessary. But the Discussion Zone will remain the primary means of asking questions and discussing issues with users. –  Robert Cartaino Feb 22 '11 at 22:50
    
@Robert - Will this be available in the commit phase also? (as per link in question above) –  xiaohouzi79 Feb 23 '11 at 0:01
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1 Answer

up vote 9 down vote accepted

I'd argue that the discussions are a step up from the comments. They're easier to follow because multiple trains of thought are interspersed. They're first-class citizens in the network, with voting, comments, answers, etc.

I'd also argue that they don't encourage you to stay active. I don't see how this stops people from regularly watching a proposal and pushing it along.

These are available during the commitment phase as well.

Proposal discussions

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I understand the point of the discussion area, but I haven't seen it used to facilitate the building of community on proposals just as a question forum to sort out issues with a proposal. –  xiaohouzi79 Feb 22 '11 at 22:43
    
@xiaohouzi79, perhaps you could add details about how you were doing that with comments that you can no longer do with discussions? –  Rebecca Chernoff Feb 22 '11 at 22:45
    
I can see your point. I wasn't trying to say the discussion area is bad, however my assumption was that more community was built by the banter in comments. With more thought, I can see that those people that care would participate either way and what we need on those proposals is more poignant discussion questions. –  xiaohouzi79 Feb 22 '11 at 22:51
    
@xiaohouzi79, that could be. My post is a little rough as I initially managed to miss your mention of the discussion area in the first place. Oops. –  Rebecca Chernoff Feb 22 '11 at 22:53
    
Oh goodie! A freehand circle-ish-thing! +1 –  John Feb 23 '11 at 0:20
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