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I've been answering questions, making and reviewing edits, voting to close "bad" questions and in general been involved in Stack Overflow for about 3 years now (18.7k rep) and I've been having this feeling that I should be more involved in meta but I really don't know how or what I would do.

I don't have any concrete questions about how SO works that I want to ask and the times I've had, I have tried to ask a question. However, I feel that I'm missing out on something, that there is some "next step" that I don't see.

When I see the profile of other people that have a few thousand rep on meta I wonder what they are doing here (on meta)? What is it that I don't get (yet)?

What am I missing?

I know what meta is "about". I've read the about page and those things. I just don't get "it".

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  • Have you tried answering opinion based questions..? it doesn't require you to know anything about the engine, or have any questions, all you have to have is an opinion about how SE should work. Feb 13 '14 at 23:01
  • I try to provide support mostly. And on occasion I'll give my view on something that's proposed. Don't be amazed by high rep scores on Meta though. I find it comes far easier than main-site rep.
    – Bart
    Feb 13 '14 at 23:01
  • 3
    Personally, I think it comes a lot easier to get rep on Meta, but it is a slow process. You have to lurk for a while and just read and post comments and learn how the site works. Eventually you'll learn enough that you can provide answers and in that you learn more. Feb 13 '14 at 23:03
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    A lot of meta is politics (in a good way); discussions about how things should be run - if you're interested in that then its a good place to be. But just like real politics its rough and tumble Feb 13 '14 at 23:04
  • Answer some questions? Participate? Same as anywhere else :) Feb 13 '14 at 23:05
  • Some insight is provided here meta.stackexchange.com/questions/44188/… I'd say just hang around for a while. If it's your thing, you will get to a point where you think "hey, I might be able to provide something of value here".
    – Bart
    Feb 13 '14 at 23:05
  • 4
    Well, one thing you can do is flag us when trolls show up. Feb 13 '14 at 23:07
  • 1
    One thing to remember is that Meta.SO (currently) doubles as the Meta for the whole SE network. This means that a few of us are here to keep an eye not only on SO specific issues, but on network wide concerns as well. I only started regularly visiting Meta.SO after I got a diamond on ProgSE, at which point keeping an eye on network wide concerns became essential to moderating that lovely corner of the SE-verse.
    – yannis
    Feb 13 '14 at 23:18
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The tags will help you a little, but overall there are a number of different types of questions:

  • Bug reports in the Android or iOS apps
  • anything tagged Usually in the form of Why was this question closed/deleted/edited/downvoted?
  • Suggestions for things that have been suggested dozens of times before such as forcing people to explain downvotes
  • Requests for tag renames, burninations, and synonyms
  • Questions about our norms for reviewing, editing, and flagging.

These last ones are probably your best starting points. If you make a point of reading those kinds of questions, you will act with more confidence on the SO when you're editing, reviewing, flagging, voting to close and reopen, and so on. You will also start to gain opinions. You can share those opinions on the next iteration of those questions, and on the ones too.

It's also possible that the second-last bullet will catch your interest. If the topic is a tag you're active in, chime in! Explain the subtle difference between two things that shouldn't be synonyms, for example. I think it was the sorry state of the Windows 8 tags that really got me active in Meta.

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I started watching the questions and chiming in when I thought I had something to offer. I recently posted my first question which I thought was a decent one. Anyway, watching the tag I think is good because you can think about what people are proposing and think if that is something that you feel would be beneficial to the community.

Also, the tag brings up a lot of good topics that can bring on good opinion-based discussions.

I think most important is to not try too hard otherwise you aren't helping yourself or the community. Just like maybe when you were new to SO or any other site, the more posts you look at the more you will get a good feel for ideas/opinions to contribute.

You may want to look at the tags page to see which ones interest you the most and which you think you will have better ideas for and follow those tags.

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I think that the act of being on SO for so long and having so much rep does make you qualified for Meta. It's a higher learning curve, to be sure, but to be honest, getting rep here is so much easier than getting it on SO. There are a lot of opinion-based questions where your opinion would be more than welcome, as such a long-standing member of the SO community.

Do you want something that you think would be beneficial to the site? Don't hesitate to suggest it, unless it's been suggested before. Do you see a question where the answers are opinion-based? Give your opinion!

Actually, one of the fastest ways to get rep here is wait for a terrible, terrible question question or feature request to come along, and then tell them why it's wrong. Sadistic, elitist, and cruel, yes, but true, also yes. Of course, this is assuming that those points don't get deleted, as they often do.

There's room for a lot of people here with a lot of rep. You've been here longer than I have, so you probably know more about the site than I do. Really, the only way to get rep on Meta is to start using it more. My rep hung around really low for the first few months that I was using it; I made terrible feature requests and other posts, but at some point it just clicked, and I started hitting the rep cap a lot more, and getting a lot of rep.

No, seriously. Look at my rep graph. At some point, it just clicked for me, and I got the it that you're talking about, I think.

Stop listening here:

But really, the best way to get rep on MSO is the same way as to get rep on SO. Spend all your time on it. Forget about our smaller sister site we call Stack Overflow. Meta is love, Meta is life.

5

I think that what you miss is the deep understanding of how Meta works, which is unique and different than any other site I know of.

For example, looks like your motivation for posting this discussion is your heavily downvoted question here on Meta. Right? So what you missed there was the understanding of duplicates on Meta, which unlike on Stack Overflow doesn't always have to be exact duplicates, just share the same goal or idea.

The most important thing though is to keep in mind that downvotes do not mean bad content or that you are a terrible person, just that users didn't agree with what you said or with the idea behind what you said. Downvotes should not scare you off.

Now for the "what to do" part, I'll share what I did to get my small fortune here on Meta:

  1. Take part in discussions. Express your opinion, like I do right here.
  2. There is always room for improvement. Suggest new feature requests of things you think might make Stack Overflow, or Stack Exchange as whole, a better place. Your first try failed only because of misunderstanding, but don't let it stop you now.
  3. There are always bugs to be found. Report those bugs whenever you spot one, preferably with screenshot and with a free hand red circle. Yes, you heard me right... long story. :)

That's about it. Good luck and happy Meta-ing!

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Meta Stack Overflow is a bit different than the other meta sites on the Stack Exchange network. So we can categorize questions in here under two main categories.

  • Questions about Stack Overflow, and its structure
  • Questions covering all of the Stack Exchange network and how it should run

All Stack Exchange based questions are generally bug-fix requests. These are about the Stack Exchange core and related changes that has an effect on all sites in Stack Exchange networks.

Stack Overflow questions vary and there are good answers pointing them like Kate Gregory's.

What we are doing in here?

Beyond personal questions, like Why did my question get closed?, there are discussions based on general moderation logic. A good example would be Improving “demonstrate a minimal understanding” close reason, since every user dealing with close votes had witnessed the changes. Or problems about reputation-based tools like The current review system encourages fake reviews; some people upvote everything rather than actually fixing problems. So, beyond reporting bugs, talking about problem questions and flagging spammer users; we talk about how Stack Overflow and Stack Exchange should be and what can be done to fix problems.

How does the decision mechanism work and why are there so high reputated users?

Voting logic is different on meta sites than the main sites. On Stack Overflow, people upvote if the post is good and fair. They downvote to point out wrong or misleading answers and not-suitable questions.

On meta sites, people upvote if they agree, and they downvote if they don't. Unlike the main site, high reputation is not a sign of knowledge but a sign that reflects how that user's opinions and suggestions aligns with the community. Proposals and answers that got higher votes mean the community likes his/her ideas. Some people on meta see reputation as not-a-very-important-data-to-display.

If the user's question or answer about the core mechanics of the site gets higer votes, there is a greater chance that it might be applied.

You can check the questions and answers in here. I advice you to start from frequent or active questions tabs, since they are more general things than specific user based questions. You can examine how people ask and answer. You can answer if you have any idea.

Do not forget, receiving downvotes do not mean you are doing something wrong (unless people tells you that in the commnets); people just do not agree with you.

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One of the things that really attracted me to the meta site was that you get to observe and take part in the discussion revolving around feature development. Sometimes it may be something simple, but there are times (like the top bar) where it is something significant.

Including the community in the development process in this fashion has really fascinated me. It is really a success in my opinion.

Everyone gets different things out of it though. It is a good place to post simple bugs that you may come across, ask for support with a feature that you are struggling with, get some clarity on how to deal with a situation you just keep seeing, or to simply make sure that your understanding of the status quo is up to date.

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