It's often said on this site that meta means murder and that this acts as a deterrent. Our site, which is supposed to act as the central clearinghouse for network-wide matters, doesn't have a great rep despite the good efforts of many people here. Using a system designed for objective(ish) Q&A, "no chit-chat", for discussions about functionality, policy, seasonal fun, and strongly-held beliefs probably isn't helping.
Does it have to be this way? Meta.SE is already different in some ways from both the per-site metas and all the other main sites. Are there other things we should look at tuning? Can we reduce the bad experiences while maintaining the quality that keeps everyone here and ready to help?
I've seen some things here that make me a little sad inside, cases where it feels like frustration could have been avoided with better...something. Things like:
- Support requests getting downvoted to oblivion, so they drop off the front page and don't get answered.
- New users deleting their accounts after asking an unpopular (but not poorly-asked) question.
- Questions that raise a reasonable point for discussion but don't follow some of our unwritten rules, so feedback focuses on language, formatting, and other flaws, instead of edits or constructive comments.
(I'm deliberately not linking to examples. I'm not going to draw even more attention to specific Meta trainwrecks. If you've read this far, you've probably seen them. If not, it probably won't be long before you see another one.)
I don't think these things happen because Meta is full of people who enjoy pulling others down. We've got a lot of great people here, people who tirelessly answer support requests and help figure out bugs and bring new ideas to discussions and patiently explain, again, why that thing the question asked about happens. I've been here a while and I've seen a lot of people helping people. And yet, we also have the less-positive things I've mentioned.
This makes me think there's something systemic that's contributing, something that works against good people trying to do good things.
This is a broad discussion, I know, but I think it's time we talk about what we could do to make Meta work better for its unique-on-the-network goals, without endangering the things that work well. Because many things do work well; Meta may mean murder sometimes, but it also means people working together to make our sites and the software that runs them better. Can we be less murderous without being less effective? What would we need to change?