Upgraded Elasticsearch engine: Thanks to the architecture team, we are now running the latest version of Elasticsearch. This provides a foundation for future search improvements. Our plan is to provide ongoing enhancements to search accuracy and relevance in the coming months. In addition to improving site search, we are interested in an experiment to help first time question askers find existing answers to their question in an effort to avoid duplicates.
Automating success measures for question quality: We now have an automated method to validate success/failure of any Ask a Question experiments. We call this a "Question Grade". Jon Ericson posted details on this work so you can understand our approach. I can't emphasize how critical this is for us to move forward on the question quality effort. Also, a side benefit is that this provides us an important health indicator for Q&A as well.
Top Bar for network sites: This is live for all Q&A sites and will be coming this week to SE.com. Chat and Area 51 are coming soon. See below for additional work we will be doing in this area.
New feature notification improvements: We enhanced the dismiss logic of the New Feature Notification and put in a delay so that it doesn't pop up on your first page view. We also improved dismiss for the sign up hero. We will be combining the two approaches so that all of our user messaging (NFN, hero, announcement banner, etc) use a consistent dismiss logic that is reliable and predictable.
Ask a question template: Now that we have our automated method for measuring question quality improvements, we can move forward with an AaQ template experiment. See the team's post for community feedback on this idea.
Announcement banner: We are redesigning the announcement banner for system alerts (e.g. “site is in read only mode due to fail over”) and targeted user messages (e.g “we need you to update your email address”). This is part of the user messaging system mentioned in the new feature notification post.
Community requests: JNat keeps track of our progress on these via this post. Each month we try to take on a few items championed by the community team. Sadly, we only got part way through one CR this month. We hope to bang out several in November.
Starting in November
Each of the items below describes some work that is planned for the coming month. As needed, we will directly engage the community to help shape the work.
Revised question page hero: We pushed a new (really big) sign up hero for anonymous users on stackoverflow.com. Did I mention it was really big? Well, the MSO community took us to task. We were wrong, the community was right. See my full mea culpa here. We will be testing a couple of smaller designs that we hope will still encourage people to sign up without taking over their screens. Our goal is to test these designs and push one of them live before the end of the month.
Ask a question wizard: We have some designs for the community to give feedback on and will be posting the ideas soon. If all goes well with the first question quality experiment (see above), then we may run an experiment this month.
Response to top bar feedback: There are a number of things we plan to address this month from the volumunous community feedback. Details and responses to all feedback on the top bar will be posted this week.
Review Queue Indicator improvements: This is another area where we've received some great feedback. We will be addressing issues that will make this work better for users who don't have access to all the queues and for users of lower volume sites. If you haven't seen this post on how the RQI works, then check it out.
Dev survey support: The annual dev survey is coming soon. The team is providing support to provide a better experience for signed in users and to ensure that badges are awarded to all who want them.
The work described here is in the very earliest stages. As these items progress, we will engage with the community to gather feedback, use cases and other insights to inform the work. But it is always possible that nothing will come of this work.
Information Architecture investigation: We are considering improvements to our site Information Architecture to support Channels and generally create a more scalable IA that will support other new features. We've made various changes to our navigation over the years, but it has been a while since we've stepped back and look at how the various parts of the site interact. This project will start looking at the site as a whole, frequently used parts/pages and continue looking at individual pages that haven't been touched in years and need some TLC.
Tag subscriptions: We recently rolled out an improved tag subscription experience optimized for our Enterprise product. We are looking into bringing this to our public Q&A sites, how it will work with Channels and how to combine it with the Filtered questions functionality on Stack Exchange.
Draft post: We are still excited about this concept that we tested as a part of the mentorship experiment, but it is taking a bit of a back seat to some of the channels work. I'm hoping we can come back to this early next year.