Often a meta question is asking for guidance about a question on the main site. For instance, this question is what really got me thinking about it, but this applies to a lot of questions. In most cases, asking on meta (rather than just closing it) is a perfectly appropriate action.

However, the OP of the question at hand does/may not know his question is being discussed at all. That seems a bit unfair. He has no way to refute any of the points made here, unless he also happens across it or someone helpfully posts a link in the comments. I've commented in this case, but I've seen many other questions where there was no signpost.

Since we have a handy "Linked" question sidebar, why not put that to good use? Specifically, if a question is linked on that site's meta, it should appear in the "Linked" column.

I understand that this may cause some back-and-forth on the meta question if the OP is obstinate, but this is surely better than taking unilateral action to form a consensus without the OP's knowledge.

Note: With the upcoming MSO/MSE split, you may want to consider linking to any meta question on that site's meta or the main MSE.

I've seen this question, and do not believe it to be a duplicate.

  • That's asking for network-wide links. I'm just asking for links to meta questions that reference it.
  • That question is also over three years old, with no clear [status] tag.
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    How do you propose telling whether a post is being discussed on meta, or just happened to be linked to on meta? – Linuxios Dec 20 '13 at 17:40
  • @Linuxios The same way linked questions work today? If you link to the question/answer in a post, it "links" them(both ways). – Geobits Dec 20 '13 at 17:42
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    That has a problem though. Very often links to posts are brought up when either a user, general trend, or bug is being discussed. In those cases, we don't want to accidentally clutter the SO page with wrong information. This would require something like Area51's "Proposal: BlahBlah" headers. – Linuxios Dec 20 '13 at 17:44
  • I don't see how it's okay to "clutter up" a popular question with 106 linked questions, but it's not okay to link to meta questions that (may/may not) alter the fate of the question at hand. – Geobits Dec 20 '13 at 17:47
  • It depends on how we're linking them. If that question has 106 linked questions anyway, this suggestion becomes useless. However, if we do something like what I suggested (box in the same place as protected and closed boxes), we're really drawing attention too it, and should worry about getting the link right. – Linuxios Dec 20 '13 at 17:49
  • @GenericHolidayName But realize that some popular questions are going to have dozens and dozens of meta questions that link to them, many of which aren't actually discussing making any meaningful change to the question, but rather just using it as an example when discussing an entirely different question (or similar). There would be too much noise and not enough signal, so people wouldn't read that section, so it's as good as not having it. – Servy Dec 20 '13 at 17:50
  • @Servy I agree, but on popular questions the "Linked" sidebar is basically useless already, so it wouldn't change anything. There are far fewer "popular" questions than questions in general, though. – Geobits Dec 20 '13 at 17:52
  • @Servy: Exactly. It would require implementing something on meta like Area51's "Proposal: Blah" headers. – Linuxios Dec 20 '13 at 17:53
  • @GenericHolidayName So that's a good reason to not put this information into the "linked" sidebar, not a reason to avoid filtering noise. – Servy Dec 20 '13 at 17:55
  • @Servy You may be right, but I think basing an argument on "popular" questions is a mistake, also. Popular questions are outliers. – Geobits Dec 20 '13 at 17:59
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    @GenericHolidayName 1) When a popular question is being discussed on meta it's one of the most important times for the meta discussion to be prominent on the question page. If the feature explicitly is unhelpful in that case, that's a big point against it. 2) Even unpopular questions may not have lots of links on meta, but having a question linked once or twice in which none of those links are really discussing it is still wasteful. 3) The important point is that if 90% of the links in this section aren't worth clicking, people won't click them when they should, they'll be ignored. – Servy Dec 20 '13 at 18:03
  • I guess what it boils down to is this: If we're going to show linked questions in a sidebar, why are we excluding meta ones? Discounting the possibility of making it more visible like the banner/box suggestion, if a question is linked, it's linked. – Geobits Dec 20 '13 at 18:06
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    related: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/168076/… – Kate Gregory Dec 20 '13 at 18:36

How about a little box in the same place as closed and protected boxes something like this:

This post is being discussed on Meta. Join the discussion here.

This makes it much more visible.

Some thought needs to be put into when to link. As I said in the comments:

Very often links to posts are brought up when either a user, general trend, or bug is being discussed. In those cases, we don't want to accidentally clutter the SO page with wrong information. This would require something like Area51's "Proposal: BlahBlah" headers.

  • @Servy: That's my comment too :). I can add it to the answer. – Linuxios Dec 20 '13 at 17:45
  • @Servy: added to the answer. – Linuxios Dec 20 '13 at 17:46
  • @Servy That's exactly why I like the (manual) comments solution: it leaves it up to human discretion, which is better suited for something like this. – Joe Dec 20 '13 at 17:53

I think that can easily be handled in the comments section, and almost always is.

A user who is relatively new will likely not look at the Linked Questions sidebar anyway, so for those users at least the comment method is far better; adding it to Linked Questions would reduce the number of people who mention that it is being discussed at meta (as some at least would feel it is extraneous if it's alread in Linked Questions).

Perhaps we should make an effort here to ensure that's done in cases where the originator of the discussion does not, however.

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    While it can easily be done in a comment (and I systematically do it, unless I forget), in my experience, it rarely is. – Gilles 'SO- stop being evil' Dec 20 '13 at 17:41
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    @Gilles How often does it need to be though? I find it's done frequently enough in cases where it's likely to help (i.e. a popular question being closed, or a question that has meta discussion in the comments already, or where it wasn't the author of the post bringing it to meta, etc.). – Servy Dec 20 '13 at 17:43
  • @Gilles I have to disagree, though not with any meaningful stats to back me up. In my anecdotes-are-not-data experience, most - perhaps 75% - do have a link at some point (perhaps not early on, like the one that likely spawned this post, but eventually). – Joe Dec 20 '13 at 17:43
  • @Servy It should be done any time a question's fate is being discussed. Joe: to avoid observer bias, you need to exclude all cases where you were the one to post the link. – Gilles 'SO- stop being evil' Dec 20 '13 at 17:45
  • @Gilles, of course. I've probably posted 2 in my history here, so I think that's not a big part of the sample ;) – Joe Dec 20 '13 at 17:51

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