Related: Make the election notification more prominent on the frontpage

Some usability links provided by BenBrocka: F shape reading pattern, banner blindness

I really feel that the community bulletin is rather useless when it comes to bringing the attention of the community to it. When we had the enter image description here blog notifications, blog posts were much more noticeable. Also, I've seen the box once and it did catch my eye that time. Featured posts do not catch my eye via the community bulletin box.

There are a few factors at play here, IMO

The box is in the sidebar

As many people have noted elsewhere, the sidebar is notorious for being filled with ads. For sites other than SO, which only have internal ads and , I still don't look at it much. And I don't think others do either. We've just been trained by years of ignoring sidebar ads on the Internet.

The only thing on the sidebar I regularly glance at is the chat box--it tells me if a quietish room has any new activity.

Here's a mock heatmap of where my eyes/mouse probably are on the main page of Physics.SE OK, yes, there's no real point of a made-up heatmap, but there's no fun otherwise ;-):

enter image description here

(Click to enlarge)

As you can see, I miss the community bulletin completely.

New items are not visually prominent

Whenever there's a new item in the bulletin, it's not really noticeable. For example, these two screenshots look pretty much the same (unless you rapidly switch tabs).

enter image description here enter image description here

Unlike the rep indicator, the bulletin isn't something that changes often so our eyes aren't trained to glance at it every time you open the page.

Now, there are some pretty important things in the community bulletin, as well as some noise. Which is which depends upon the site.

  • Blog posts (Sometimes noise, sometimes not)
  • Elections (never noise)
  • (possibly noise for larger sites, but essential for betas and low-activity sites)
  • Events (don't know about these)

My main concern is the fact that posts don't get the attention they deserve. They get mixed up with other metaposts, and on top of that are tucked away in the community bulletin, which, like I said, is nearly invisible :\ .

This tag is meant to highlight important discussions and attract attention to them. These can be recent events, site definitions, and any discussion whose resolution may have a critical impact on the whole site. It is generally a wise idea to at least look at any new questions with this tag.

The tag is clearly for stuff that everyone ought to have a glance at. With the current functionality, I doubt that everyone does look at it--most of them may not notice. When I tag something , I expect the message to go out to all the active site members. Which is probably not happening :\

Any comments/suggestions/?

  • 5
    We could have a permanent system banner saying "Hey you, did you check out the Community Bulletin?"...
    – yannis
    Commented Jun 12, 2012 at 12:08
  • That would get obnoxious fast...
    – Rachel
    Commented Jun 12, 2012 at 12:23
  • 3
    @Rachel Obvious sarcasm not obvious enough? ;P
    – yannis
    Commented Jun 12, 2012 at 12:24
  • If you're going to make up a heatmap you could at least link to the relevant usability findings; F shape reading pattern and banner blindness
    – Zelda
    Commented Jun 12, 2012 at 12:26
  • @BenBrocka: OK, added to the hatnote. I dunno where else to put it, edit it to a better place if you want. Interesting reads, btw. Thanks! Commented Jun 12, 2012 at 12:31
  • Creepy timing. Just wanted to post a similar question.
    – Raphael
    Commented Jun 12, 2012 at 14:40

3 Answers 3


This self-answer is not meant, in any way, to discourage other answers (i.e., this is not meant to be a "blog post"-type question). I want some discussion on this first, and I didn't want to bloat the question with my millions of suggestions. Feel free to post more ideas!

I have a few ideas for this. They are sort of mix-and match--maybe mods can select which type of bulletin notification(featured, meta, blog, event, election) is displayed how.

Most of these are geared towards getting posts more attention, but they can be used in the general case as well.

Use a enter link description here notification.

Or enter image description here. Or even enter image description here.

OK, maybe not the animated ones. But I did like the enter link description here doohickey used for blog posts-- disappears when you visit the blog or click the doohickey. Of course, the notification may have worked well because it replaced the chat link.

IMO, this should either be customizable for each site or only used for , elections, and relevant blog posts (eg those not tagged for other sites).

enter image description here

Move the Community bulletin to a separate page

OK, I saw this idea elsewhere, can't find where. Credit for this idea awarded to Community♦ by default

Basically, the bulletin shall be elsewhere, but there will be a link in the user menu showing the number of unread messages there.

enter image description here

enter image description here

Multicollider notifications

We already have the light blue notifications for trivial stuff, I see no harm in using those for and possibly even blog posts/events. Using the red inbox seems a bit excessive.

enter image description here

Orange slidy!

enter image description here

Featured posts can still be shown enter image description here. Don't particularly like this, after all, the notifications were supposed to replace the orange slidy.

Something akin to the system message

Recently, the system banner was used for promoting the election and was removed by the devs since it's only for life-threatening stuff. But, if the system message had an option for making it dismissable, using it to display important stuff would be ideal. In this case, it's up to the mods to choose stuff to put up here. This solves the base problem--currently, there isn't a a way to notify all users of the site of important (but not life-threatening) stuff.

enter image description here

  • 1
    I don't like the idea of moving it out of sight, since I'd never visit it then. The [new] icon would be OK if it was not blinking, and if it only showed up for items I have not seen before, and only for featured items, events, and blog posts. I don't want to see [new] on every meta post that shows up there.
    – Rachel
    Commented Jun 12, 2012 at 12:27
  • Yes!! Bring back Orange Slidy!! ;) Commented Jun 12, 2012 at 12:28
  • @Rachel: The blinking was sort of a joke :P Commented Jun 12, 2012 at 12:29
  • +1 for the separate page; maybe combined with a <new> button. Commented Jun 12, 2012 at 12:47
  • @ben like I said, mix and match ^.^ Commented Jun 12, 2012 at 13:54
  • 2
    This is a lot of suggestions in one answer. All of these have their own drawbacks so I have a hard time supporting any right now.
    – Zelda
    Commented Jun 12, 2012 at 14:22
  • I like visually highlighting new items in the existing box. Notifications for important stuff seem natural, now that we have them in the inbox thingy.
    – Raphael
    Commented Jun 12, 2012 at 14:42
  • @benb hmm, could you explain the drawbacks? Post it as a separate answer if you wish. Commented Jun 12, 2012 at 15:08
  • 2
    Sys message/slidy are annoying and disrupt the flow of the page (hence why they were nixed). The "new" table draws attention, but almost too much, especially if items are going to constantly change in there; I can see them working for uncommon events like elections, blog posts ect maybe...notifications could end up being very common if every Featured post goes in there. Separate page makes the header menu bigger and the "countdown" is a bit too hard to ignore; some people will really not care and I don't think harassing them with a new unread count is a good solution
    – Zelda
    Commented Jun 12, 2012 at 15:12
  • @BenBrocka: Hmm, dunno about UX, but on physics.SE (and chem, but we're new) [featured] is used pretty rarely. That's why I say it could be configurable. (See edit to the question, there was something wrong with the draft-saving and the part of it ranting about [featured] was eaten up) Commented Jun 12, 2012 at 15:26
  • Btw, the slidy was tongue-in-cheek. Sys message, not so much, but I don't like the idea that much either. Just put it out there. Commented Jun 12, 2012 at 15:27
  • 1
    @TimManishEarth I'm signed up on 61 sites (not entirely uncommon). If any given site only adds a featured tag once every two weeks, I'll still get 4 notifications a day on average
    – Zelda
    Commented Jun 12, 2012 at 15:31
  • @BenBrocka: Hmm, right. I've signed up on all :\ I forgot that notifications are global unlike the slidy they replaced. But then the "new" table would work if there are few enough featured posts (and meta posts aren't marked as new) Commented Jun 12, 2012 at 15:35

I think removing unnecessary elements from the sidebar like I already proposed not long ago would help with the visibility of the bulletin. The sidebar should have only important elements that are actually used by a significant number of users. Stuffing it with everything that might be nice just further trains users to ignore the whole sidebar.


I suggest the Community Bulletin be displayed on the User page.

My screen has room for it (I wouldn't want to reduce the widths of anything else on the user page to make room), but it doesn't fit well within the standard width StackExchange sites seem to be using.

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