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Update: Maybe we can convert this question into an FAQ-style question? I didn't find a place where the style and type of questions for meta are described (as it is the case e.g. in the SO faq or in Jon's howto).


Original question:

Can someone please explain what happened to the discussion threads about the new/removed "recent" feature?

For the ones not knowing what I am talking about you will still find the topic in Google's cache:

Eeeek! What happened to my envelope?

Should this topic no longer be discussed? How is the discussion of UI changes generally considered? Which topics can be freely discussed?

So far I thought that meta was the place to discuss and vote about all things related to StackOverflow and the other SE sites. However, it seems that there are some hidden rules what can/should be discussed and what shouldn't?

Sorry, but I am highly confused and be glad if someone please could shed some light on the general culture of discussions here.

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Well... not an answer to your (perfectly valid) question, but: The tone in that discussion admittedly was not very productive. I have nothing against starting over. However, even with a lot of good will and after a few days' intense open-minded testing, I'm on the side of those still wanting the envelope back as it was.... unless somebody can come up with a massively better idea, that is where my vote is going to be. –  Pëkka Mar 15 '11 at 11:34
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@Pekka: Even if the tone is not productive, then why are topics deleted? Isn't that what the close feature is for? And isn't closing something to be triggered by the community? –  0xA3 Mar 15 '11 at 11:40
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@0xA3 I agree the deletion was probably a bad idea. A closing or locking would have worked fine –  Pëkka Mar 15 '11 at 11:42
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@Pekka Actually, closing and locking tends to inspire just about the same reaction that deletion does, these days. –  Grace Note Mar 15 '11 at 12:12
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A meta post about meta? We need meta.meta.stackoverflow.com now... O.o –  David Thomas Mar 15 '11 at 12:14
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@David Thomas, no, what we've long needed is a meta.stackexchange.com, keeping meta.stackoverflow.com as the meta for, well, stackoverflow. –  Marti Mar 15 '11 at 13:46
    
@Marti: I believe that's been raised, at some point, but declined because of the...legacy of meta.so? –  David Thomas Mar 15 '11 at 14:20
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Have either of you recently checked out the resolution for the name meta.stackexchange.com ? Just saying –  jcolebrand Mar 15 '11 at 14:40
    
Links to Deleted Questions here (for 10ks). –  Lance Roberts Mar 15 '11 at 18:32
    
A read through of the answers suggests quite strongly that this is both noise and pointless, and I'm voting to close it as such. Most of the answers either address the specific case (ie, too localized) or complain that what happened was a bad thing and it shouldn't have happened - without answering the question at all. –  Adam Davis Mar 17 '11 at 6:29

8 Answers 8

up vote 43 down vote accepted

Anyone who has spent any substantial time on meta will recognise this censoring behaviour. It's not new. As well as complete thread deletions, Jeff is quite willing to delete comments he finds unpalatable. I myself have been on the receiving end of several of these 'clean-ups'. I expect, if this discussion continues, this question itself will be deleted.

As I understand it, Jeff's point of view is a combination of

  • this is noise
  • this is ranting
  • this is not productive
  • I don't want this on my site - it looks bad

Therefore, deletion. It also seems that he prefers the long term view - willing to annoy and upset users now, for the future gain that no one new will ever know it happened, and SO will look shinier and even more awesome.

I don't like it. I've never liked it. But I am under no illusions that the Stack Overflow family of sites is an open democracy. While the sites strongly encourage user participation and discussion, they are still owned and operated by a company. A company that wants the best for itself, and its future. Your 'rights' are secondary to that. If you choose to participate, you agree to submit yourself to Jeff's unique autocratic style, for better or worse. We are not the ones with any real power here.

My personal opinion is that Jeff's approach is a mistake. I don't think it is necessary or productive to make sweeping deletions when things get annoying. I think a little more empathy, a little more diplomacy would go a long way. I find his moderation style abrasive, brash, unsubtle and disrespectful. And if it annoys me enough, I will leave. And SO will continue just fine without me! But everyone should be clear that making his own decisions, right or wrong, is Jeff's perogative. All we can do is express ourselves as best we can.

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well, you are clearly still here, so perhaps you belong. But I don't believe noise, ranting, and other unproductive junk does. I will never understand the "but you must let this toxic waste remain in the environment, otherwise how will anyone know there was a toxic waste problem?" mentality. –  Jeff Atwood Jun 1 '11 at 8:23
    
People will not know that there was moderation because there was moderation, therefore we should not do moderation‽ –  bjb568 Mar 5 at 8:22

Meta is the place to ask about UI changes, feature requests, etc.

However, this question was not a question or a discussion it was a complaint about changes that had been made. It labeled the change as a bug and was stubbornly focused on reverting back to a previous state rather than looking at new solutions.

I agree with Pekka that closing or locking it might be a better idea, however I do understand the rational behind deletion as the question had nothing productive in it. A majority of the answers are no longer useful because many are just feature requests for the user profile that have already been implemented.

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"stubbornly focused on reverting back to a previous state": Well, no explanation was given as to why the envelope had been removed, so it's natural to want it back. (Actually, I asked Nick Craver for an explanation in the comments, and he gave one, but it's no longer visible to the ordinary user.) –  Hendrik Vogt Mar 15 '11 at 12:43
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@Hendrik, the explanation was given in the answer that lists changes here: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/59445/…. The entire user profile page itself has been updated. I am happy to see the envelope go as it was confusing that it took you to a place different then when clicking on your profile, and I remember seeing several questions on meta that the root issue was that it was not clear what the envelope was for. –  jzd Mar 15 '11 at 12:47
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@jzd: I fail to see any explanation there. Do you mean the sentence starting with "The envelope in the header next your display name linking to recent activity has been changed"? This is a description of what happened, no reason is given. If a much used feature is taken away, I'd expect some explanation. –  Hendrik Vogt Mar 15 '11 at 12:52
    
@hendrik, I guess I must be reading between the lines. The reason is that the user profile features were reworked and improved with a new design. Just like how features were removed from the user page and replaced with new features. –  jzd Mar 15 '11 at 13:03
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@jzd: Well, I still can't see my recent changes, namely the things that happened since I last visited the site. This was what I used the envelope for, and there's no indication so far that this will come back. (The reason, if I understood Nick Craver correctly, seems to be that the feature needed way too much computational power. But this was never explicated!) –  Hendrik Vogt Mar 15 '11 at 13:06
    
@Hendrik You could try posting your comment as a request: 'I want those numbers behind "revisions" and "favorites" (and maybe also reputation) clickable! After clicking I want to see, e.g., the list of recent favorite changes that was before on that /recent page. Moreover, one very important column is missing: I don't care so much for "today", the first column should be "since last visit". Finally, I sorely miss the "orange envelope notification" of changes in my favorites. This was a quick way for me to check if something important happened here on meta.SO. How can I do that in the future?' –  Grace Note Mar 15 '11 at 13:13
    
Also, the Nick Craver explanation: @Hendrik - computationally every page load was crazy expensive, and ran many, many queries (thousands for a very active user). We're not 100% on removing them...we're not 100% on most things we're working on. But, if they stay they'll have to get an overhaul for performance. – Nick Craver♦ Mar 12 at 12:45 –  Grace Note Mar 15 '11 at 13:14
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@Grace: Thanks a lot for reposting that comment of Nick Craver! And OK, I'll go ahead and make that comment of mine a feature-request, thanks for encouraging me. In that Eeeek question it was really lost. –  Hendrik Vogt Mar 15 '11 at 13:19
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"In that Eeeek question it was really lost" - That's really the crux of why the question got deleted. It's hard to find these gemstones in all of the junk that is in that trainwreck. Gems are easier to harvest when they're sticking right out in plain sight, not when one has to dig through insults and assaults of everyone else. The few productive contributors like @Hendrik get lost in all the krutz. –  Grace Note Mar 15 '11 at 13:23
    
@jzd: "The reason is that the user profile features were reworked and improved with a new design" -- reworked, I'll grant you. Improved? I don't think so. –  Marti Mar 15 '11 at 13:40
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@GraceNote: This is all very sound reasoning for closing the question. Deleting the question just smacks of revisionist history and shutting up the masses and various other bad, bad things. –  Marti Mar 15 '11 at 13:42
    
@Marti When Jeff did that for sbi's tangential rant question, it certainly didn't seem like it came off any different. I don't see how preventing people from revising, commenting, and even voting comes off any less like shutting up the masses. –  Grace Note Mar 15 '11 at 13:49
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@Grace Note: oh, it still comes off as shutting up the masses (because it is shutting up the masses, funny how that works), but unlike deletion, it doesn't come off as pretending nothing happened -- of sweeping unpleasant questions under the rug. –  Marti Mar 15 '11 at 13:59
    
@Hendrik Vogt: Please feel free to comment on the following feature requests: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/83270/… and meta.stackexchange.com/questions/83265/… –  0xA3 Mar 15 '11 at 15:10
    
@0xA3: Ah, I just posted my feature request, which now will probably be closed as a dupe of yours ... But maybe it's still worth it. Thanks for the links! –  Hendrik Vogt Mar 15 '11 at 15:20

Perception is everything

Deleting a post when people are accusing you of not listening to them is not a great idea...

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It also leads to the very worst thing on a knowledge-sharing site... "Tribal knowledge", that only a select few and those who happened to be in the right place (with long memories) are privy to. Such history is never written down and leads to all kinds of confusion about why things are the way they are. It crushes the best solutions underneath "politically correct" answers that nobody will explain (or really can defend). It's the mark of a tyrant and a warning of SO's eventual demise. –  Awesome Poodles Mar 18 '11 at 1:43
    
I got bad news for you, @Brock: there's already a ton of "tribal knowledge" on MSO, and it has little to do with deletion. Partially because this site replaced the UserVoice support site that served SO for its first year, but mostly because there's just such a whopping huge amount of historical content here that finding and familiarizing yourself with it takes more time than most new users care to put in. Example: 2+ years in, and users still think their "forced comments" idea is novel and useful... –  Shog9 Apr 6 '11 at 15:41
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@Shog9, Well then, why make it worse? :) On a side note: If a gazillion motivated, smart, and often experienced users are for something but the "old timers" aren't; then at the very least there is a huge documentation and explanation deficit. Or, heaven forbid, the minority group is wrong. ;) –  Awesome Poodles Apr 6 '11 at 21:27
    
@Brock: the problem becomes there's too much documentation. Organizing and finding it becomes a priority. I'm not wild about deleting things that are still useful and relevant, but at some point you start to encounter folks who are still relying on an answer that hasn't been relevant in a good while, and have to admit it's perhaps doing more harm than good. –  Shog9 Apr 6 '11 at 22:26

There's a difference between discussion and, well, ranting. It's one thing when you dislike a feature or change, and point out that "Yeah, I don't think this was a useful idea", and then proceed to explain the pros and cons, as well as alternatives.

When the discussion devolves into insulting and attacking, becoming so filled with hate and anger such that constructive or productive material is easily being clouded by ranting material, it's not useful to have on the site. That thread was mostly whining. I don't deny that it was a problematic change - it came out spontaneously and removed a feature that many people used frequently. Posting image macros with the intent of insult does not help. Posting over 12000 characters of just complaining that "This was bad, you're mean, you lie, you are dishonest, this place isn't run by the Community" is equally going to be ineffective. To quote a reason for closing and locking a similarly inspired thread:

"have you stopped beating your wife yet?" rants will be closed and locked. Discussions are welcome. – Jeff Atwood♦ Mar 11 at 12:10

Jeff Atwood's answer to that question was a combination of "We are in the middle of improving things, please be patient and give us feedback on the system as we roll it out as well as any features you would like" and "The envelope was detested by many, so we're rebuilding it to something better. You can still access it." Rather than actually take that offer and provide feedback, the vast majority of the thread was more concerned on bashing Jeff and pointing out all kinds of past statements. There were some people who actually provided feedback, but not nearly as many as those who were just raging.

Shouting at people doesn't really make it any easier to get things done. If you're hurt, explain it. Tell what features you missed, and what features you think should be reimplemented. Then it will get looked at and probably implemented. Some people did that, but it got lost because of all the people who were fuming so badly that they didn't let up for even a second.


To answer your question? You can discuss topics, even features that you don't agree with. It's not even like the Team never changes their mind - we've had status-declined reverted and a multitude of things that get implemented which were previously strongly opposed. But if you're not going to discuss, and just going to incite basic wars... it's not useful to anyone here.

It's not useful to the Team because it's just shouting, it's not useful to the ranters because it won't get their needs addressed, and it's not useful to the neutral parties who actually want to try and improve the site.

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As Jeff Atwood said, "rants will be closed and locked". And so should argumentative discussions. That is perfectly fine. He doesn't say they should be deleted. However, I disagree that the topic in question has been a rant. The tone might have been very critical and many comments have been negative, but just look at the top 7 answers which are in my opinion quite constructive, make suggestions for improvement and tell - as requested by Jeff - what users would like to see on SO ("single-click", "recent changes", "reduce noise", etc). Why are such suggestions not useful? –  0xA3 Mar 15 '11 at 12:48
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@0xA3 The comments, and at least two of the answers, actually were really bad. Like I said, some people were actually productive, and some of their requests actually got addressed. But this is exactly what happened before with the mobile theme - someone asked a question about why the iPad was greyscale, and that got addressed. But rather than let the question stay like that, it got massively off-topic in a rant about usability in mobile devices. –  Grace Note Mar 15 '11 at 12:51
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@0xA3 It may not have strictly been a rant, but it had long jumped off the train of being a discussion. As time passed, the things getting posted were just more and more bashing. That's not helping anyone at all in this dispute. –  Grace Note Mar 15 '11 at 12:53
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@Grace Note: I totally agree that not all answers were constructive, some being IMHO actually really bad. Still I'm not happy with the fact that deletion has been the answer to that. Why put effort in writing constructive answers if some bozo writes a bad answer so that the topic is removed? –  0xA3 Mar 15 '11 at 12:56
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@0xA3 It's more because perhaps 70+ users were all jumping on the fury train, moreso than the actions of singular users. And they shifted the entire thing off-track. And it's hard to get that kind of thing back in place when you've got so many people zealously kicking it off. The harder it gets to filter signal from the noise, the harder it is to justify keeping it around. –  Grace Note Mar 15 '11 at 12:58
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It's not useful to unilateraly bash all commentors of the previous discussion. The purging is even a bit disrespectful to everyone who contributed there and was awaiting new feature announcements about making the new popup thing more user-friendly. Speaking of which, the whole Eeeek! complaining thread could have been avoided if instead there had been an announcement of planned changes beforehand. And the tone was certainly not inherent to that thread; it was caused. –  mario Mar 15 '11 at 17:38
    
@mario I hope this answer isn't interpretted as unilateral bashing, because I intend nothing of the sort. There were quite a few good answers that addressed good needs, and even were themselves implemented by the Team. But to have to sift through what noise was left by the others in that thread? It makes the tasks of knowing what actually got addressed or looked at very difficult, moreso just to find what was even a suggestion. –  Grace Note Mar 15 '11 at 17:44
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Sure, the discussion was too broad and got very muddled. It was probably even useless to gauge the feature changes. Which is why I think mixing the two up there was a mistake. And the derailing commenting was concentrated around the off-topic post there. So IMO it would have made sense to just delete the offending part, and start the feature change discussion anew in a separate post (where it should have been a week earlier). –  mario Mar 15 '11 at 17:55
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@mario Selective deletion of the offending material seems even more like the "censorship" that everyone else is labeling this. That seems a lot more like "I'm not going to listen to complaints of the users" than tossing aside a discussion which was going nowhere to presumeably allow users to start on a different foot. –  Grace Note Mar 15 '11 at 18:10
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Might be. I think it could have cooled off some heads to remove or lock just that off-topic answer. –  mario Mar 15 '11 at 18:22

Deleting the most highvoted question I've ever seen (over +300 when I last saw it) is slap in the face of the members who argued against it - over 300 some long time members.

Why bother to complain when in the end of the day everything is thrown to the trash?

The message sent is clear: "We make changes. You have no right to argue".
OK, I can live with that.

So to answer the question, we can discuss anything as long as it's not arguing against features/changes implemented over the network. :)

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That last statement is inaccurate. Pretty much everyone not employed by the Team in the first few pages of Meta Stack Overflow users has strongly opposed and argued against one or more feature implementations done by the Team, and we even win some of those fights. This site is not a happy-happy echo-box, and cleanup isn't even done to try and feign that it is one. Arguing against implementations is acceptable. You just need to make a point when you're doing it, rather than mill about picketing like rioters. –  Grace Note Mar 15 '11 at 13:35
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@Grace that's the message sent by deleting the argument against removing the envelope, to me it's loud and clear. Maybe other people interpret it differently but I'm sure many understand such action in the same way as I understand. Instead of deleting the whole thing, the mod could delete the posts he found offensive or useless rant and most importantly, leave the question be and add his own comments explaining why the question is closed or locked. But.. it didn't happen. –  Shadow Wizard Mar 15 '11 at 13:41
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@Shadow I'm aware that's what you're interpreting, which is why I'm here to tell people otherwise. As I've mentioned before, closing and locking wouldn't have produced that much different of an argument, if you're already coming from the diktat perspective, no? It's something that had to be cleaned up, though. Meta isn't a place for people to vent frustration. It's a place to give feedback and provide discussion. That was getting lost, and that thread is honestly a waste of everyone's time. Especially the people ranting, they probably are wasting the most time. –  Grace Note Mar 15 '11 at 13:45
    
@Grace it's all good, I agree it's important to explain both sides. But sometimes the line between ranting and valid discussion against something aka negative feedback is thin. –  Shadow Wizard Mar 15 '11 at 13:55
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@Grace: We're all aware that you think otherwise, but from the votes on answers and comments you will see that most users still perceive it differently. You can now whine that this is unfair and wrong and unconstructive, but this is the users you have, and you have to work with what you have. –  sbi Mar 16 '11 at 9:13
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@Grace: Now I'm confused. Why would you try and convince people not to feel in a way that's reasonable? –  sbi Mar 16 '11 at 13:23
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@Grace you said "Arguing against implementations is acceptable" - so how you suggest we can argue against the recent Envelope Murder change? Any chance to see "civil" discussion with reasons why it should be brought back, or at least why to preserve the lost functionality? I'm ready to be convinced. :-) –  Shadow Wizard Mar 16 '11 at 13:25
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Cheers @Grace I see your point and agree. What I want was actually already asked (either Hendrik or 0xA3) so I'm waiting patiently. However, I will be more careful before diving into threads that might develop to something like the Eeeeek saga. I'm not Anti-team and I'm not fanatic about anything, just want to know I can express my opinions without being bashed (too) badly. –  Shadow Wizard Mar 16 '11 at 14:03
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@Grace: I'm not sure how you got the impression I want the envelope back. I never said so. (Since you got the rep, please go back to the deleted question and read my answer to it.) I'm involved in this discussion here because I find the attitude towards critique damaging to the community, not because I want the envelope back. And playing that anti-team card is a very dirty rhetoric trick. I suppose very few people here are anti-team. Coming to meta is probably the last thing most of those being unsatisfied with SO will consider. –  sbi Mar 16 '11 at 18:57
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@Grace: So? How does this change anything? If your users feel that what you do is bad, is that your users' fault? If your users find your actions contradict your mission statement, is it the many users who need to learn to read properly? If your users criticize the process you use to roll out features, are they "anti-team"? That's hilarious, Grace. Accusing critique towards a process of attacking the persons who implemented it is a very cheap rhetoric trick (no matter whether you employed it consciously or not). And what's even worse: It's the very thing you're accusing those users of. –  sbi Mar 16 '11 at 19:20
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...All this this is not a question of word choice, it's about attitude towards critique, and your choice of word is symptomatic for that. Jeff obviously took this personally, and meant to deal with it by belittling the critique (what with saying that the envelope was the most-hated thing on SE) and get over it. And this got people really worked up, and if anything about this is surprising then how anybody could be surprised about that. Those users are on a time-stealing website they care so much about that they spend yet more time discussing the site itself.... –  sbi Mar 16 '11 at 22:09
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...When they voice a negative opinion a specific change they get slated for it. They believe in the mission statement and put time and energy into the sites, but when they point their finger at the owner violating that mission statements they are accused of attacking the team that made the site they're so much caring for. Stop seeing critique as the works of a few misguided individuals who need to be shown the right path; try to see it as feedback instead. And if that feedback hurts the tea might have done something wrong. (And that's not "we've gave them the means to discuss things".) –  sbi Mar 16 '11 at 22:10
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@Grace: I have long ago learned to value your opinions and I consider you as one of the calmest and most rational voices in this whole discussion. But that is precisely why I was so startled to see you filing me under those who just want their envelope back and calling those voicing critique "anti-team". (BTW, did you delete that comment yourself?) The former is actually wrong. For the latter please read my comment to Jeff under ire_and_curses' answer analyzing the answers to the deleted question. –  sbi Mar 17 '11 at 12:43
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Perhaps the degree of just how much unconstructive argument is exaggerated. Perhaps there were indeed a lot more people invested in improving the situation, not simply ranting. It simply shows how it was the intensity of those statements that made their volume, not their quantity. All I want here on Meta is for those who want to criticize to realize that they aren't being "silenced" for opposing Jeff. That it is a valid course of action to dislike an implemented feature, and voice that dislike. That it's reasonable why people feel hurt from this action. –  Grace Note Mar 17 '11 at 12:53
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For your constructive way of discussing I bow before you, and I do it again for your ability to step back, admit your own error, and apologize. If we all had this ability to the extend you just showed, this would be a much better place. –  sbi Mar 17 '11 at 14:50

The question referred to turned into an extremely subjective and argumentative discussion, is not permitted on the site.

In more detail:

The problem with that question in particular is that the system they are currently implementing is not feature complete, therefore discussing whether the old feature was better than an incomplete feature is counter-productive, and the discussion as-is was turning into a rant fest - subjective and argumentative.

While one could argue with the path they chose in rolling out the new feature and depreciating the old feature (and many did) the question and discussion itself was no longer serving any useful or productive purpose.

Attempts by Jeff and others to re-direct the discussion into productive, objective paths failed. While some subjective discussion, and some argumentative perspectives are allowed, that question went well beyond what is necessary and useful.

Therefore it was closed.

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While I see you about, and completely on-topic, why'd you kill Polly? We won't hurt you in the chatroom either. –  jcolebrand Mar 15 '11 at 20:30
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@drach It was meant to be a one off joke that went on for too long, and I decided to cast her off into the abyss that lay before me, as an offering in the hopes I won't get swallowed as well. Also, turns out she hated unicorns, and was secretly plotting to create a machine that turnes unicorns into waffles. Sounds great right? But it would cost 52 unicorns per waffle which is a terrible exchange rate. –  Adam Davis Mar 15 '11 at 22:52
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Are you saying that feature which is still being implemented can not be discussed? I say that feature which cannot be discussed shouldn't be rolled out. –  Nikita Rybak Mar 16 '11 at 8:09
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I saw lots of valid feedback in that thread: why new "not feature complete" is unusable and how to make it usable. If that's offtopic, this comment is offtopic too. –  Nikita Rybak Mar 16 '11 at 8:11
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Actually, Subjective and Argumentative discussion is supposed to be permitted (and has been) on Meta. –  Lance Roberts Mar 16 '11 at 15:26
    
@Nikita Go ahead and start a discussion on the new feature. Go ahead and start a feature request asking that the old feature be returned. As long as the discussions remain objective and reasonable they will remain. There is probably a LOT of stuff in that discussion that was valuable and useful. However, there was too much subjective arguing, and if that weren't enough, it continued to pull more and more users into its vortex of extreme dissatisfaction. In other words lots of people are unhappy about the change, but by reading the inflammatory posts they became more than just unhappy. –  Adam Davis Mar 16 '11 at 15:34
    
@Lance You are right, I've modified my answer to indicate that extremes aren't allowed. –  Adam Davis Mar 16 '11 at 15:37
    
@Nikita Just to tack onto Adam's note, keep in mind what has already been suggested thus far. Consider upvoting the ones you support, and even contributing other support or feedback you can think of. –  Grace Note Mar 16 '11 at 15:39
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@Adam 1) If user A posts bad content, it's not the reason to kill thread B. 2) Even if you wanted to stop bad content by dealing with question itself, closing/locking would've accomplished this. (I believe, I'm not the first one to say those simple things) –  Nikita Rybak Mar 16 '11 at 22:20
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@Grace The availability of object A can not be a reason to destroy object B (even if they are equivalent). Unless SO is trying to join the ranks of China and North Korea. That said, I agree that Jeff's famous "shut up or leave" argument is valid since he's in power in the company. But all this cleanup and pretending nothing happend leaves bad taste. –  Nikita Rybak Mar 16 '11 at 22:32
    
@Nikita If User B posts a great comment in a thread where the other 90% is actively hurting the community, then user B's comments are casualty of the operation to remove the festering wound so the injury can heal. User B is invited, nay, encouraged, to re-post their excellent contribution in a new thread which does not share the infected nature of the old thread. Closing and locking would not have allowed the wound to heal. –  Adam Davis Mar 17 '11 at 5:19
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@Adam: But it's not that 90% on that page was "bickering and whining", and repeating this unfounded accusation over and over won't make it any more true. The most upvoted answers were all making constructive suggestions (many of which have since been implemented), and some even said that they hated the envelop icon and are glad to see it gone. Please read my comment to Jeff under ire_and_curses' answer analyzing the answers to the deleted question. –  sbi Mar 17 '11 at 12:47
    
@sbi You conclude that merely nuking the comments would have been sufficient? That's part of the content on the page, and its largely the comments that were fueling the conflagration. The question was no longer simply a benign discussion of feature requests. Further, the same feature requests that you point out can be found in other threads that are much more civil and productive. What was lost? Nothing, except a thread full of bad feelings. I still don't see how removing it is more damaging than leaving it. I suppose, however, that we'll simply have to disagree. –  Adam Davis Mar 17 '11 at 13:33
    
@Adam: Were do I conclude that?? On more time: If those comments don't get substantially upvoted, they will be drowned in such a debate. And if they do get upvoted considerably, you've just managed to alienate a lot of users and should ask yourself what you did wrong, rather than bashing your users. A heated discussion needs two heated parties. As Grace has just shown us impressively, if at least one party stays calm and argues rationally, chances are pretty high it won't heat up. –  sbi Mar 17 '11 at 19:55
    
@sbi I could write a long comment explaining how your statements must lead to that conclusion, but I think we're straying from the point here. 1) The discussion was unproductive, and was actively making people angry who may have otherwise felt ambivalent about the issue, 2) the good points that discussion raised are now being addressed in other questions, therefore there is no point in keeping it around. It is logical and rational to remove such a incendiary discussion and encourage the participants to address their concerns in follow up discussions. –  Adam Davis Mar 17 '11 at 20:33

Should this topic no longer be discussed? How is the discussion of UI changes generally considered? Which topics can be freely discussed?

UI discussions are on topic, however, I didn't feel that particular question was salvageable, for the reasons that Grace Note, Adam Davis et al have noted.

For context, see this answer:

Should old questions that are no longer relevant be closed as too localized (meta)?

Most of these [historic meta questions], unless they have specific reasons to remain -- eg they contain useful information and not confusing / historically irrelevant (or, worse, wrong) information -- should be deleted. So I vote, flag them for mod attention with the text "candidate for deletion?"

This particular question had a high potential for confusing anyone who found it later, as the feature has changed substantially (as I said it would in my answer, to be fair) -- and its overall signal to noise ratio was woefully low. It just wasn't constructive or useful in any way, and letting it hang around was causing a lot more harm than good.

I would prefer that someone re-open a UI question based on the current state of the UI rather than see it buried in a bunch of rants and bickering comments based on a point in time that no longer exists.

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Who is policing the police?

Regarding what can and what cannot be discussed here, especially with regard to (constructive?) criticism, the range of topics is critically curtailed by the fact that it is very delicate (difficult, impossible) to offer criticism to a host under his own roof.

What we need here is an impartial, third party web site for meta-meta-SO discussion.

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See my previous answer on the topic: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/76333/… –  augustin Mar 16 '11 at 12:26
    
... and it's all the more difficult when the host is not inclined to listen but dead set in his ways. –  augustin Mar 16 '11 at 12:32

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protected by Adam Davis Mar 17 '11 at 5:37

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