A few weeks ago, I featured a meta post: Vote Early, Vote Often to encourage folks to vote. Today, I got sick of seeing it (and not noticing any effect), so I removed the tag. This is the result:

Community Bulletin

Now I think the reason is that when I removed the tag, it bumped the question, which caused the algorithm to pick it as a "hot " item. (Yes, our meta is so slow that the mere act of removing a tag can make a meta post "hot".)

Initially, I was going to suggest a tweak in the algorithm, but it occured to me that the problem really is that the community can't control what gets posted there. For instance, I'm not sure how interested our users are in Stack Overflow blog posts. (And if they are interested, it's because they are SO users already.) Most offices, schools, hospitals, etc. have strict rules on what gets nailed up and requires notes that don't meet the criteria to be taken down. Nobody, not even ♦ moderators, can do that on Stack Exchange.

Don't get me wrong: I like the automated posting feature. For many sites, it should work well with a few tweaks here and there. But the bulletin will be more useful if it can be curated by some actual person who knows the community and its needs. At a minimum (and this might be all that is needed) moderators should be able to remove notifications that don't speak to their community.

  • There is a problem here, but it's more that the "Vote Early, Vote Often" post didn't inspire more voting than what shows up in the Community Bulletin. – yannis Jun 27 '12 at 23:17
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    @Yannis Rizos: Too true. I know for a fact that at least 3 of our top users are out of town at the moment, so that makes a huge difference in participation. But there seem to be a number of lurkers who aren't voting and I'm at a loss to know how to fix that. – Jon Ericson Jun 27 '12 at 23:28
  • I just retagged a bunch of questions in meta, and now all of them show active. I thought moderators could silently go in and retag questions without disturbing the queue, like a ninja. I guess that's not the case. – jmort253 Jun 28 '12 at 2:36
  • Jon, the post you refer to at Hermeneutics meta mentions "signposts" - what's this? Author (Richard posted a comment right under that post - it is supposed to serve as an example of "signpost"? – gnat Jun 28 '12 at 8:01
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    @gnat: Yes. We don't do that much any more, however. I tend to make comments about the contents of a post and then, if I think it's a good one, suggest that folks vote on the post. Sometimes I link to Richard's "Vote Often" post, but usually not. – Jon Ericson Jun 28 '12 at 17:17
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    @JonEricson I see, nice trick. Pity it didn't work; hard to tell if anything could work here. Out of curiosity, I checked few other beta sites - all of them look rather voting-anemic (Money, Startups, Code Review, Code Golf, Fitness, Parenting, Productivity, Workplace, CompSci, Outdoors) – gnat Jun 28 '12 at 19:35
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    @gnat: I might try again. Part of the problem, I think, is only a small percentage of the readership votes. Getting that little bit of positive feedback can really help, in my opinion. – Jon Ericson Jun 29 '12 at 0:13
  • @JonEricson well I think it'll be tough. 100+ views for this wonderful post somehow didn't manage to make a difference: voting at Hermeneutics doesn't look any better than other beta sites I've seen. Even Richard, author of this very post sits at #10 with about 1/5 of votes he could cast, judging by top-voter's count (209 vs 981). Pretty sad. And pretty hard to understand why is that. – gnat Jun 29 '12 at 0:59

Actually, it just takes a while for that bulletin to refresh - the contents are cached, so removing doesn't immediately remove it from the list.

You can tell, because featured / scheduled posts are shown at the top, followed by blog posts, followed by a random selection of "hot" questions. FWIW: these are your hot meta questions (those scoring 3 or more will be eligible for the board).

If you look at the site now, it's gone.

I should also mention: the goal here was to provide moderators with enough control over the contents that they could always feature the posts they wanted, while making sure that other activity was displayed in situations when there was nothing so pressing that it needed to be there. Hence the blog (note that sites with blogs get their own blog posts listed as well) and the random selection of hot posts.

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  • It's always caching, isn't it? ;P – yannis Jun 27 '12 at 23:21
  • Hmmm... since the "Vote Early" question used to be at (or near) the bottom of the list and was moved to the top, I assumed it was the new hotness. Being able to manipulate using featured is a (somewhat caveman) solution to the problem, I guess. – Jon Ericson Jun 27 '12 at 23:24
  • Even beta sites with their own blog posts get them listed. ;-) – Jon Ericson Jun 27 '12 at 23:45
  • Really? Cool! I did not know that... – Shog9 Jun 27 '12 at 23:47
  • Is having the Arqade blog post community-bulletined on almost every site really a good idea? – Gilles 'SO- stop being evil' Jun 28 '12 at 0:50
  • Not as good an idea as having an Answerama blog post on every site, but... It'll have to do. @Gilles – Shog9 Jun 28 '12 at 0:59

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