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How do you expect users to:

  • Know that a site's meta-site exists (and what it's for)?
  • Find the hyperlink to the meta-site?

I know it exists, of course, and how to get there; I'm wondering how (or even whether) you expect new or naive users to do that.

I think there isn't a link to Meta from the main site, am I right (except one link in the "list of all 171 Stack Exchange sites" drop-down menu on the toolbar)?

Sometimes I tell people to post a question on Meta instead of on the main site -- I don't realise that they may not know that Meta exists, and that if they do (because they've been there before) they don't know how to get there (because they haven't yet investigated everything on the toolbar).

  • There is a direct link to Meta.SE in the top bar of stackexchange.com. – Glorfindel Oct 25 '17 at 11:08
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    @Glorfindel not really relevant, it is part of the old top bar, and will be changed soon to the new top bar, hence removing that link. – Shadow Wizard Oct 25 '17 at 11:14
  • I remember when I was a newbie, just discovering the site usage is enough, I can't imagine myself participate on meta as a newbie. Like glorfindel state, discovering it is a natural step for an active member IMO. – yagmoth555 Oct 25 '17 at 12:23
  • @yagmoth555 You might have to start (to discover Meta) sometime, especially when you start posting questions about the site. – ChrisW Oct 25 '17 at 12:33
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    I'm wondering if a new user will get a notification in the achievement like "You've earned the "participate in meta" privilege! Learn more about it in the help center." with a link to this page when they get enough rep or not... – No Distraction Wizard Oct 25 '17 at 14:06
8

Putting newbie hat. OK, suppose I'm a user with low rep (usually new users have low rep) and faced a problem with the site. I need help. I look on the top bar:

Great, there is a question mark, let's click it:

Now I can navigate happily to either the Help Center, or the Meta of the site.

I agree there is no direct link to meta in top bar which isn't ideal, but as I explained above, it's still easily accessible via the question mark menu for users with <500 rep. If you want to explain to someone how to reach there and not sure of their rep, you can also tell them: "Click the right most icon in the top bar, which looks like a speech bubble or hamburger, then you'll see link to meta below":

Also, since the footer redesign, a link is added on all main sites to their meta sites, called "feedback":

  • Thanks (I didn't know there was a question-mark on the bar for users with <500 rep). I think only a techie would know what a "hamburger icon" is. – ChrisW Oct 25 '17 at 11:41
  • @ChrisW nah, I think any user who browse sites from mobile will know what it means. How else they call the menu? It's really common. – Shadow Wizard Oct 25 '17 at 11:53
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    @ChrisW you might suggest an feature request to replace the icon with a BigMac ... – rene Oct 25 '17 at 12:00
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    Thanks to your screenshot I can refer anyone to the answers to this topic, for an illustrated how-to. – ChrisW Oct 25 '17 at 12:35
  • @ShadowWizard They wouldn’t use any terminology but rather describe it: “the speech balloon made up of three lines” for example. – 11684 Oct 25 '17 at 12:45
  • Hamburger icon is almost certainly not the technical term for it. It just looks like a hamburger – Journeyman Geek Oct 25 '17 at 12:53
  • I didn't know it was called hamburger until this new top bar came in, and I have worked in IT for 25 or so years. And if my non techy friends none knew that is what it was called. When informed, they couldn't see why that is the name. It is maybe a US thing, but hamburgers are not ubiquitous in the UK. – Rory Alsop Oct 26 '17 at 7:18
  • @Rory fine, I give up. Edited. :-) – Shadow Wizard Oct 26 '17 at 7:26
3

The homepage of (almost) every site contains a 'community bulletin' with featured and hot meta posts:

enter image description here

Users who visit the site regularly will notice this and probably realize there is such a thing like Meta; from there, it's a small step to finding it. Though I agree with you that's is rather hidden.

  • A corollary to that is that we should ensure that some meta-topic remains featured. – ChrisW Oct 25 '17 at 11:34
  • I wondered whether to propose a UI change, which replaces that "FEATURED ON META" there with a new hyperlink such as [Meta topics](https://meta.example.stackexchange.com/questions). – ChrisW Oct 25 '17 at 11:36
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    @ChrisW even without any featured questions, there will always be the "Hot Meta Posts" part, which is based on question score. – Shadow Wizard Oct 25 '17 at 11:52
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    Maybe not always, for example I see neither hot nor featured on aviation.stackexchange.com/questions at the moment. – ChrisW Oct 25 '17 at 12:00
  • @ChrisW Their most recently active meta question is over a week old, and it's been almost two full weeks since a new question was asked, and hence they don't have any eligible meta posts. – Servy Oct 25 '17 at 13:39
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Yet another option when you tell someone to ask on meta in a comment is to use the [meta] comment magic link described here like this:

You should open a discution on [meta] to get community advice about this post.

  • Yes I think a user may need to be told, via a comment, like that. Having been told once or twice, they might even then have to be told again and again if they never discover a way to navigate (a hyperlink) to Meta somewhere, for themselves. – ChrisW Oct 25 '17 at 14:12

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