I realize I might be jumping the gun a bit in asking this question, but I'm very curious to know what Stack Exchange is going to be replacing the moderator newsletter with, given that it's hosted on Blog Overflow.

I'll grant that it's been a long time since we've gotten a mod newsletter announcement. Still, in the past, it's been a valuable tool to alert moderators to major upcoming or present changes to moderator tools and features, such as the addition of moderator vacation notices. It seems like an invaluable tool for network-wide notifications that's going to be hard to directly replace.

The Blog Overflow announcement has this to say:

[We're] looking at something that can be directly a part of the Stack Exchange system [to replace the moderator newsletter.]

What options is Stack Exchange looking at? And/or, do you all know already what's going to replace it - if so, what is it going to be?

  • The main company blog isn't going to be shut down, only the individual per-site blogs. I haven't checked, but surely the mod newsletter, as a network-wide thing, is hosted on the main blog? – Rand al'Thor Mar 5 '17 at 13:04
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    Go look at it, @randal'thor - it actually says it's hosted on Blog Overflow. – ArtOfCode Mar 5 '17 at 13:47
  • There's a moderator newsletter? – Catija Mar 5 '17 at 14:46
  • @Catija The last post was in April 2016, just before you became a mod, but..... yes! – Aza Mar 5 '17 at 20:09

Right now there's 3 kinds of information we want to be distributing across moderators. One is important, not-specifically-mod-stuff, but discussions and announcements (either by Blog or Meta) that moderators should at least be aware of so they can consciously figure out "This is something our community should speak up about" or "This is something I need to at least tell the community on our own meta about". As Monica's answer points out, we're starting to announce these things to mods a lot more readily than in the past. The other is the moderator help center, also mentioned by Monica Cellio but this time in a comment - it's a bit in disrepair but we recently added a new feature to the Moderator Inbox Announcement system which will let us use site-relative linking so that new Mod Help Center articles about how tools work can actually be sent to moderators.

But the one that is most important, and is why I asked for the Moderator Inbox Announcement system to even be developed, is changes to moderator abilities / guidance. This is what the Moderator Newsletter was designed for - to be a simple, easy reference that a moderator (or anyone, even) can just look up, that is explicitly just "Mod stuff". Sure, some of this stuff is found in meta posts, and we even have collections of changes such as the Community Team feature stuffs or Recent Feature Changes, but the former doesn't necessarily cover everything mod-related that happens (some features happen because of motions not from the Community Team), while the latter covers all things. The mod newsletter was created to help focus on the stuff mods need to know, and originally designed to be able to broadcast so that mods get to know sooner.

We're looking at an in-house solution that is neither a blog (at least not, like, strictly mechanically a blog), nor is it simply making Q&A. The needs of the newsletter are simple - we need a space where we can provide basic information in a one-way communication system on new or changed mod features, with links to relevant meta discussions on the feature. It needs to be able to be linked on a feature-by-feature basis so that we can still use the Moderator Inbox Announcement system, but probably allow multiple visible on a page since unlike Q&A there's no responses present or permitted to what should be short written articles. The WordPress newsletter fell into a lack of updates in part due to some wronks in communication on new features, in part due to the fact that WordPress was overspecced for the task, and in part due to the decision made to kill our hosted WordPress instance anyway.

There may be other things we can do with the system we create for the Newsletter. Dunno yet. Still kinda in the mix as to how that's working out.

  • How about a wiki-esque recent changes? Subscribe users to an rss in x category, and publish the feature changes in a wiki page. – Braiam Mar 8 '17 at 16:29
  • Ooh, updates to the mod section of the help center can now produce notifications? Nice! – Monica Cellio Mar 8 '17 at 17:39
  • For the broadcast announcements to mods, I wonder if you can adapt CM/user contacts, which already produce notifications. Send a notice to or a CM contact from the Community user, disable replies, and adjust the text of the notification? (And presumably disable the automatic email to the CM team that would flood y'all with 160+ copies of each announcement otherwise. :-) ) – Monica Cellio Mar 8 '17 at 17:42

We've gotten two network-wide moderation notices (orange diamond, like the newsletters of yore) this week. Both linked to posts on Meta.SE. I suspect that this is what they meant by "can be directly a part of the Stack Exchange system".

This does mean that non-moderators can't easily see what SE is particularly highlighting for moderators, but -- as with the newsletter -- there's no secret information. Anybody can see the posts in question.

  • Two? Three? I got notices for Blog Overflow cancellation, dupe reason editing and too-broad wording change. – muru Mar 6 '17 at 3:57
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    @muru ok, three. – Monica Cellio Mar 6 '17 at 4:24
  • Yep, just checking if there's a bug in the new system. – muru Mar 6 '17 at 4:31
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    No, the bug is in my memory. :-) – Monica Cellio Mar 6 '17 at 4:48

With the newsletter, a new mod could have checked the newsletter to see relevant changes before they became a mod. While there's no secret information (as Monica says), a new mod will find it harder to get a handle on mod tools if there's no list of new features, etc. to browse.

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    New mods have access to a mod-only collection of help topics, but prospective mods don't. – Monica Cellio Mar 6 '17 at 4:49
  • @MonicaCellio true, but it doesn't necessarily have the same info as the newsletter. The first newsletter post I saw after becoming a mod was modnewsletter.stackexchange.com/2016/04/may-2016-newsletter/…, which says something about recent flags in chat, but there's nothing about that in help/mods. There's nothing in help/mods for redaction, either (and for other minor features added in the last 3-4 years). – muru Mar 6 '17 at 4:57

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