It's been a little over a week since Meta first went live, and what a week it as been! When Jeff and I talked about creating a meta-discussion site based off of the SO engine, he asked if I could identify some places where the Q&A needed to be tweaked to better support discussion, so I sent him an email that contained a few ideas that he included in the inaugural blog entry. One week in, I think it's a good idea to review them, remove the ones that are unnecessary, and add additional ones that have become apparent:

bounties make little sense on a discussion site

I still agree with this statement. I don't think that bounties fit well with subjective discussion, and I'm not sure offering bounties for feature requests is a good idea, though Jon Skeet has proposed setting using the bounty system to indicate increased interest in feature requests (and I'd get you a link if I could find it)

wording needs to be tweaked (i.e. questions->topics, answers->replies)

I still think this is a good idea. Though there has been much more Q&A here than I expected, there are also feature requests, announcements, and general fun topics that don't follow the Q&A format, so more neutral language is probably a good idea.

need to be able to follow questions/get notices of additional replies

On a discussion site, you often want to follow topics you've participated in. The current system allows for notification of new replies if you're the topic owner, but if you're just a participant you have to manually check back.

remove notion of community wiki, as discussion sites have a stronger sense of ownership, plus nothing will be off-topic

I've actually done a complete 180 on this and I think that we should definitely keep community wiki. However, it should only be used if the post needs to be edited by others (such as for faq posts). This is actually what CW was originally for - to allow people to collaborate in a Wiki-like fashion. Sadly, on SO, it has taken on the dual-role of being for subjective/off-topic posts, due to its reputation-negating properties.

I should also clarify what I mean by "nothing will be off topic". I certainly don't want Meta to become a free-for-all, and it's certainly possible to be off-topic. However, since reputation here doesn't mean what it means on SO or SF, it's OK to post fun questions and get rep from them. So the question becomes whether or not to close as off-topic, not whether or not the post should be CW.

ensure that chronological ordering is the default, if not the only, sort order, both for replies and comments

Jeff's already shot this one down. The reason I included it is because I envisioned people replying to other people in their own reply (like more conventional discussion boards) and it would be important to be able to see the context in which the reply was created when reading the topic. However, as Jeff has said,

<blockquote> is your friend

so this feature may not be necessary.

remove accepting an answer

I've also changed my mind on this. Though it has slightly different semantics here on Meta, I do think that the ability of the topic starter to select a reply that has resolved their issue is important.

some of the close reasons will have to be removed or tweaked

This has already been more or less done, with the removal of "subjective and argumentative" and "not a real question".

Please let me know if you agree or disagree with anything you see here. Also, please feel free to submit your own proposals for changes!

  • I love the meta-meta tag. I'm trying to formulate a question that would justify a meta-meta-meta tag. – phenry Jul 6 '09 at 17:39
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    I believe the comment you just made is meta-meta-meta. =) – gnostradamus Jul 6 '09 at 17:41
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    the other interesting observation is that the software actively affects the conversation; given we've provided the "hammer" of Q&A (and I would actually argue this is not necessarily a bad thing) then all the conversational "nails" tend to end up resembling Q&A somehow.. – Jeff Atwood Jul 6 '09 at 17:43
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    FWIW, i set "Oldest" as the sort order on day one of MSO, and haven't changed it since. Even though answers-as-replies are still fairly rare here, it's happened enough to be confusing if someone votes the reply up the list. – Shog9 Jul 7 '09 at 20:13

Moderator-Only tags, and a guidebook for how we should use Meta-SO for uservoice requests, how Moderators should (or only Devs perhaps) categorize the requests.

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    this is the #1 priority in my mind; I have some database fields in place for this (and tag aliasing) – Jeff Atwood Jul 6 '09 at 17:40
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    Jeff Atwood: If you are going to implement moderator only tags, I would hope that they A) do not count on the number of tags you can use and B) they are colored differently so that they can stand out. – TheTXI Jul 6 '09 at 18:21

You may want to encourage linking back to the answer you are replying to along with your blockquote, that way someone can click back to it in an instant if necessary.

I do agree with getting rid of bounties. They really don't make sense on this site.

The ability to follow along with questions and get better notifications of replies (especially on things that don't belong to you) would be a god send and has been requested numerous times up the point of this edit.

I don't think CW needs to be completely done away with. I still think it can serve it's purpose to prevent gaming on questions and answers that have an obviously sarcastic or otherwise humorous lean. I think more or less we need to rethink what CW means on Meta as opposed to the other sites.

I disagree with the proposition of getting rid of accepted answers. Often times people ask here for genuine questions on how to do something and they get an answer. I see no problem with them clicking on the correct answer for the check mark.

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  • Thus far I haven't really seen anyone even bother with blockquotes. For the most part we just comment on the original answer. – Hilarious Comedy Pesto Jul 6 '09 at 17:41
  • I've seen it in limited usage so far. – TheTXI Jul 6 '09 at 17:42
  • Cool, we're on the same page then - although I initially recommended for their removal, I changed my mind on both CW and accepted answers after seeing them in use here. – Kyle Cronin Jul 31 '09 at 15:08
  • Sounds good to me. – TheTXI Jul 31 '09 at 15:25

Honestly, I'm even more at a loss as to what rep means on meta than it does on SO. If I up/downvote a suggestion, does that mean I agree/don't agree with the proposal? If so, how does that tie at all to rep? Our editors and 10k moderators are going to be the people with the best suggestions? I just don't get it.

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  • Overall I see it as a sense of overall activity on the site. It doesn't necessarily mean you are giving -good- ideas, but it shows that you are incredibly active in the discussion. – TheTXI Jul 6 '09 at 17:43
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    Welcome to Meta where everything's made up and the points don't matter. :-) – Kyle Cronin Jul 6 '09 at 17:43
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    @TheTXI: So you support high rep via attrition here, but not on SO... – Hilarious Comedy Pesto Jul 6 '09 at 18:35

An easy way to see and search a listing of all questions that are either feature requests or bug reports and either unresolved (however we choose to define that) or declined.

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I think perhaps some new close reasons could be added. For example, a close reason of "declined" could replace the combination of a "declined" tag and closed as "no longer relevant".

Devil's advocate: The only down side I can think of is that, if you wanted to search for questions that were declined or completed, tags would be easier to find than close reasons. But would you really need to search for those anyway?

EDIT: One solution, suggested below by Kyle, is a close reason that automatically adds a tag to the question. The best of both worlds: a clear one-click close operation and a tag for easy searching.

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    This is a good idea - this would really streamline the process, and not cause the edit to add status-declined to pop the question to the top of the stack. – Kyle Cronin Jul 6 '09 at 17:58
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    re Devil's advocate: There's no reason why closing as "declined" couldn't also silently retag the question – Kyle Cronin Jul 6 '09 at 18:08
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    @Kyle: True, an auto retag connected to the close option would be nice and streamlined. – gnostradamus Jul 6 '09 at 18:12

I'd suggest making feature requests fundamentally community wiki; that way, there's more of a chance of getting useful input without concern of rep-trolling.

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"remove accepting an answer"

This could still make sense for feature requests.

There is one reason I can think of for accepting an answer to a feature request, and that is if the answerer convinces you that your suggestion was a bad idea. But maybe the 2 rep points should not be awarded to the asker in this situation (replaced by a badge?)

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