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  • Who is TeamDAG?
  • What is the TeamDAG working on?
  • Why are you working on that and not [insert favorite feature request here].

These are some of the questions that we hear regularly on meta.so and meta.se. In an attempt to answer them, we are kicking off regular updates from the DAG team. These updates will provide a quick overview of the work we have done in the last several weeks and will list some of the notable work that we will/are working on or planning. Over time, they will morph and change being that they are plans, so nothing is guaranteed. That said, we hope you find these updates informative.

December 2017 update

November 2017 update

October 2017 update

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    Any chance you could add an explanation, or a link to an explanation, of how the priorities of "TeamDAG" are set/how you decide what to work on? – user160606 Sep 28 '17 at 2:40
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    Bit of mess here now. Is this coming instead of What features did the Community Team discuss, have implemented, or have denied last month?? In addition to it? – ShaWiz Sep 28 '17 at 6:53
  • Also, glad to see you can add moderator tags now, even without a diamond! :) – ShaWiz Sep 28 '17 at 6:54
  • @ShaWizDowArd - this is in addition to the CR work that JNat posts. That is even linked in the answer... – Oded Sep 28 '17 at 8:52
  • @Oded still, confusing. No way to merge them nicely under one "roof"? :) – ShaWiz Sep 28 '17 at 9:02
  • I'm not sure why we try to close vote this, specially for the reason does not appear to seek input and discussion. – rene Sep 28 '17 at 9:30
  • @rene well, question lacked announcements tag which should make it clear it's indeed an announcement, not seeking input. And since only SE staff can really "answer" it, even if it gets closed, there will be no real impact. – ShaWiz Sep 28 '17 at 11:34
  • @ShaWizDowArd Sorry for the confusion with the CR process. I'll think about how to address that more fully, but hopefully this simple description helps. For us the two are very different. TeamDAG is a product team and our work is guided by a vision and strategy for building our business and serving our customers. The CR process is a method for injecting some specific types of improvements that may not get considered based on vision/strategy. We attempt to take care of a few of those each month. – Joe Friend Sep 28 '17 at 13:59
  • Also, the scope and scale of work items that we consider for CRs are quite small in general. They are a day or few of work in most cases. While some of the things below will take one or two devs days, weeks or more to do. – Joe Friend Sep 28 '17 at 14:01
  • @hamlet I'll work on a post to help explain how we set our priorities. It probably won't come until next week. – Joe Friend Sep 28 '17 at 14:04
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    @Joe thanks. You mentioned "serving our customers" - who are those customers? The Community Team members like Tim Post or Shog9? Or do you mean us, the users? – ShaWiz Sep 28 '17 at 14:11
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    @ShaWizDowArd Well, in some ways the Community Team could be considered our customers too, but I was really talking about members and users of the sites. – Joe Friend Sep 28 '17 at 14:33
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    Team DAG is an anagram for "Data Gem". I'm just sayin'. – Adam Lear Sep 28 '17 at 23:25
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December 2017

Done

Revised question page hero: We've updated the sign up banner that anonymous users see on all question pages. It is now a more subtle bar at the bottom of the window. There was a bunch of on point criticism of the prior version as being too big, too annoying and obscuring the most important content.

Grace period for sign up notifications: We've added a new feature that sets a global "grace period" of 24 hours that prevents dismissible sign-up notifications across a single site. That means if you dismiss the new blue banner at the bottom, you won't see similar notifications for another 24 hours even if we update the notification.

Ask a question template: We launched an AaQ template experiment on 12/1/2017.

Top Bar: Live on SE.com. Oh, and we updated the review queue icon. Hope you think it's an improvement.

Dev survey support: The annual dev survey is coming in the new year. The team wrapped up our work to provide a better experience for signed in users and to ensure that badges are awarded to all who want them.


In progress

Navigation improvements: We are committed to improvements to our site information architecture to support Channels and generally create a more scalable IA that will support other new features. These changes are in progress and others continue to be investigated for the future. User research is ongoing. If you are interested in a chance to participate in this or future research, make sure you opt into user research via your email settings. See screenshot

Response to top bar feedback: There are a number of things in the works from the volumunous community feedback. You will be seeing additional updates this month.

Review Queue Indicator improvements: Again, working on improvements based on community feedback. Going a bit slower than planned, but we hope to see updates this month. If you haven't seen this post on how the RQI works, then check it out.

Hats for Winter Bash: Hat making is well underway. The finest milliners are on the case to make sure we have enough hats for everybody. Expect to see a best in class headgear collection.


Starting in December

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.

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.

Channels features: TeamDAG is working on a variety of features related for our Channels product. This includes ask a question experience, optimizations for question list views, channel newsletters, and a long list of other enhancements that will make Channels work well.


Investigations

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.

Responsive design: We are in the early stages of this investigation. (Check out what is responsive design) There is an amazing amount of work required to do this right and it's easy to break things. We've started with an MVP that is looking pretty cool, but we still have a long way to go. This effort is connected to our navigation improvements and channels work.

Site theme standardization: As we look at navigation improvements and responsive design, we are beginning to realize that our current theming support for some graduated network sites creates a lot of fragility. While most sites have limited theming, a few sites are extensively themed. We will catalogue which elements are currently customized on each site and investigate some options for standardizing site theme support. After we've completed this discovery step, we will gather feedback from the community. We want to continue supporting individual site themes, but we need to pare down what can be customized so that Stack Exchange sites can benefit from Stack Overflow design improvements.


Postponed

Ask a question wizard: We've done some concept designs, but are putting this on hold until we have results from our template experiment (see above).

Community requests: JNat keeps track of our progress on these via this post. No progress in November nor is much likely in December due to holidays and channels work.

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October 2017

Note: I updated the title here to match the timing of reports going forward.

Done

Mentorship experiment: The experiment is over and we learned a ton. More details are coming in a post from the team tomorrow. For background on the experiment checkout this post.

Review queue updates: We’ve rolled the red review dot out to everyone on SO and it will come to the entire network with the topbar. These UX changes have improved the flow of reviews. We will continue to keep our eye on this area, but there are no further changes planned.

“New feature” notification: This experiment is done and the notification is ready to be used for future new features. You won’t see this notification a lot, but hopefully you’ll be excited to see it when it appears. See the post for more details.

Inline sign up: Thanks to our move to https, we implemented inline sign up on our homepage a couple months ago. This change makes signing up for an account easier and it makes it clear you can reuse your Google or Facebook accounts to sign up. We’ve now added inline sign up to the hero banner on question pages. This took a bit longer due to performance concerns since question pages are responsible for almost all of the sites page views.


In progress

Rolling out new Top Bar for the network sites: We turned on a version of the new top bar for meta.stackexchange.com and for all mods on their site. We are working through a wide array of feedback from the community and plan to release the top bar for all network sites in October.


Starting in October

Each of the items below describe some work that is planned for the coming month. As needed, we will directly engage the community to help shape the work.

Automating success measures for question quality: One of the things we learned from the mentorship experiment is that our current experimentation system doesn’t work for question quality experiments. First step to make progress in this area is to automate what it takes to validate success/failure of any experiment. Not sexy, but critical for us to move quicker.

Ask a question template: This idea is an oldie, but a goodie. See this post as an example. We think this is a simple place to start on question quality.

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 team 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.


Investigating

Ask a question wizard Several people have proposed breaking down the “ask a question” experience into steps. We are going to start investigations on this in October.

Draft post: One of the most interesting findings from the mentorship experiment was around the value of being able to create and share draft questions. We think this feature is worth exploring and we will be starting an investigation in October.

  • Is "new feature notification" specific to SO or network-wide? SO's topbar is taller (which seems to matter for the current "new" grapheme) and you linked to a post on MSO, which is why I ask. Also, is the announcement banner system-wide or just on SO? (It sounds like it should be system-wide.) – Monica Cellio Sep 28 '17 at 2:24
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    I'm very happy to hear about the exploration of question quality (templates or wizards). And shared drafts sound like they would address the need filled by sandboxes on some sites. (You might want to look at how those are being used, if you're not already.) – Monica Cellio Sep 28 '17 at 2:26
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    "Question templates" seem like a great idea. Particularly so of it can be customized at tag level - like tag wiki. Maybe let the experts decide the structure of the question (for given tag) so that you don't have to make a "one size fits all" template. I know that the author of original post mentions strictly against it, but I see plenty of questions in JavaScript, where the OP forgets to post HTML; or in SQL, where they forget to post table structure. It would make everyone's life easier if they can see those placeholders in the template. – Nisarg Sep 28 '17 at 3:49
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    @NisargShah We will likely start at site level templates but it is possible the idea could expand to something more sophisticated. – Joe Friend Sep 28 '17 at 5:40
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    “New feature” notification: This experiment is done and the notification is ready to be used for future new features. Well played for brushing the negative feedback under the carpet. "Yeah, we got loads of clicks... and really positive feedback on Meta.. wait.. what?!" – Tanner Sep 28 '17 at 11:25
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    I think the wizard idea is lousy whomever suggested it should be burniated! Please don't do this, I am not booking a car, flight, and hotel I'm only asking a question. – JonH Sep 28 '17 at 12:57
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    @JoeFriend I was talking generally about the fact that 75% (vote wise) of meta users didn't like the NFN, and it went ahead anyway. Cody's comment sums up how I feel if I'm honest. – Tanner Sep 28 '17 at 14:07
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    @TylerH We are just starting our investigations and design sprint in October. We'd love to see your ideas in whatever form. – Joe Friend Sep 28 '17 at 21:01
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    @G-Man Perhaps replace "Sign Up" with "Create Account"... – TylerH Sep 28 '17 at 21:07
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    Is there a reason we can't use Meta for draft questions? Code Golf has the Sandbox, for instance. I think World Building has something similar, but I might be wrong. Do we really need to spend time building something? – jpmc26 Sep 29 '17 at 5:32
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    When reviewing question quality, please also take into consideration the effect on answerers. If questions eventually end up following the same boring format (or even worse feel like the user filled out a questionary through a wizard), then I’m a lot less likely to care about those questions. – poke Sep 29 '17 at 8:20
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    For the "ask a question wizard", try saving the title for after the user asks their question. I think the process of asking the question solidifies your issue in a way that allows you to easily summarize it. To summarize it before you asked is much harder. – Won't Sep 29 '17 at 16:16
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    @poke That's a good point, but in many cases, questions should follow a general format. The format for the question "Why isn't my code working" should pretty much always be "I'm trying to do X. Here are my constraints. Here's my MCVE. Here's any extraneous info about what else I've thought of. What am I doing wrong?" – TylerH Sep 29 '17 at 18:06
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    Another benefit of @Won't’s suggestion is that it will discourage users from using the title as the first sentence of their question, and encourage them to use it as a descriptive summary of the entire question. – G-Man Oct 2 '17 at 19:46
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    @Stijn An update will be coming out this week. – Joe Friend Nov 7 '17 at 16:38
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November 2017

Done

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.


In progress

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.


Investigating

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.


Postponed

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.

  • Re the new top bar on SE.com: please keep notifications visible on phones! I don't care if you do that by making a mobile version or moving things around, but userscripting isn't a tool in the mobile toolbox. – Monica Cellio Nov 7 '17 at 18:34
  • @MonicaCellio who said that you can't use userscripts on mobile? :) Firefox on Android supports extensions, and through some black magic you can import userscripts into Greasemonkey – angussidney Nov 18 '17 at 8:20
  • @angussidney Greasemonkey/Firefox and Tampermonkey/Chrome on my Android tablet both either didn't install or didn't work (been a while, don't remember how each failed). I don't see a way to install Tampermonkey in Chrome on my phone, and am not interested in a completely separate browser (which I gather is what the TM app is). If there's an easy solution that doesn't require me to conjure black magic, I'd welcome a link! – Monica Cellio Nov 18 '17 at 23:05

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