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TL;DR: Please do not hide Meta Stack Exchange posts on the homepage based on the score because this site works differently than the other ~180 sites listed in https://stackexchange.com/sites.


I just noticed a particular MSE post today on a topic I care about that was posted almost a week ago, which I entirely missed before. I'm a pretty avid MSE user, and this happens quite rarely to me.

This particular post was created by an SE employee, and is essentially the final answer to this meta post, which is the 10th most upvoted MSE post with a bit more than 900 upvotes right now. So it's kind of an important post, and on a topic I care about, but I still missed it entirely until it was linked in a comment somewhere else.

The reason I missed it is because it's heavily downvoted. This means that as it has below -8 score, it's hidden from the home page entirely, drastically reducing the visibility of the post. In particular, the negative score removes all visibility a question usually receives from being bumped due to edits, new answers and bounties.

Many of the recent heavily-downvoted Meta posts by SE have been featured manually, which grants them a lot of visibility beyond the particular meta site. This masked the problem pretty efficiently, but it is more of a workaround, and one that isn't applicable to all situations.

Voting means something different on meta sites, and not every downvoted question should be hidden from view. Closed downvoted questions can certainly still be affected by the usual rules on the home page, and that should cover the vast majority of questions that actually have a purpose being on the home page. But open questions should be displayed on the home page on meta sites even if they're heavily downvoted.

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    @SonictheAnonymousWizHog the post is at -34, so no, it's not enough Aug 20, 2019 at 16:21
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    Not even the first time this has happened. Remember the new theme announcements? ELU meta created an announcement for the announcement but this doesn’t allow you to see that there are updates on the question, such as new answers.
    – Laurel
    Aug 20, 2019 at 16:30
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    Can you think of any non-employee-authored, heavily-downvoted posts that would've been worth seeing?
    – Shog9
    Aug 20, 2019 at 16:37
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    @Shog9 probably not, but I wouldn't rely on my memory for this Aug 20, 2019 at 16:39
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    @Shog9 If there aren't (m)any, can't we make it so that heavily-downvoted questions show on the homepage if they were posted by a user with the staff bit? Aug 20, 2019 at 17:16
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    @Shog9 agree; however, that involves the staff member to be willing to do that. For the aforementioned post, in particular, and other post candidates, in general – it would be useful to give visibility regardless. Now, my only option to increase post visibility – was to add a bounty, which has very limited effect. Aug 20, 2019 at 17:47
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    If the goal here is only more visibility for employee posts, then might as well just make that the request, @anton.
    – Shog9
    Aug 20, 2019 at 18:04
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    @Shog9 this particular post wasn't featured, and it was a post where a negative reaction could easily be anticipated. This creates a situation where not featuring can look like trying to sweep the topic under the rug, a solution that doesn't require manual intervention avoids this entirely. Aug 20, 2019 at 19:07
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    @Shog9 employees can manually feature the post, which puts it on the community bulletin on every site on the network, possibly pushing out other featured posts. I'm not saying that's good or bad, but I've already seen one flag asking us to unfeature a post because of the effect it was having elsewhere, so as people look at data (what do "featured" trends look like and how often do employees post questions anyway?), it's something to keep in mind. Aug 20, 2019 at 19:15
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    Just to be clear: MSE-featured posts do not "push out" anything on other sites, @Monica. Whatever would be shown on a per-site bulletin without any MSE-featured posts is still shown with them. Details: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/130621/…
    – Shog9
    Aug 20, 2019 at 19:17
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    Thanks @Shog9! Good to know. (I declined that flag anyway, but now I can do so with even more confidence.) Aug 20, 2019 at 19:18
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    @Shog9 two of those are closed, so they wouldn't fall under my proposed change. The third one doesn't need more visibility, but it probably also wouldn't hurt that much. Hiding the post on the frontpage doesn't have that much of an effect unless the post is also bumped a few times, a non-hidden post can attract more activity, which means more bumps, and stays visible for a while longer. A hidden post can't get bumped, if we stop hiding the posts this would mostly affect posts that actually attract activity, the others would still drop out of sight pretty fast. Aug 20, 2019 at 19:24
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    @Shog9 posted the alternative suggestion with smaller scope. Aug 20, 2019 at 21:24
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    @shog9 I've encountered a handful just after being back on MSO for three weeks. The active meta community has entrenched the "downvotes are for disagreement" mantra causing posts that need visibility to be lost. For example, It was only on a lark that I saw this issue a user had: meta.stackoverflow.com/questions/388668/… because it had been downvoted into oblivion. We shouldn't hide users's problems through downvotes on meta sites. Aug 21, 2019 at 13:13
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    @shog9 Here's another example after using the workaround suggested by the answer in this post: meta.stackoverflow.com/questions/388714/… I'm not sure a moderator would have seen that if they weren't on the front page when it was asked. It was downvoted very quickly (-27 currently). Aug 21, 2019 at 13:15

4 Answers 4

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+50

As a moderator on Stack Overflow's meta site, I agree with this proposal.

Users come to us with their support issues, and due to the reasons why people downvote:

  • posts that are a little salty (wouldn't you be salty if your question was just closed and you didn't understand why and no one were there to help?)
  • posts they disagree with
  • posts they feel don't 'show enough effort'

We're losing support requests to the blackhole of downvotes on meta.

If Stack Overflow wants to be more welcoming, that does mean having an avenue for people to get their questions about how Stack Overflow works answered -- and that can't happen if those posts are being downvoted out of sight. I can point to at least 5 different occasions recently where due to downvotes I had to find the questions through other means (seeing the Meta Comment archive on chat, for example).

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  • The Q&A model was not designed considering a broad audience and the diversity of expectations and needs that might have; it was designed with the mindset and needs of a tiny crowd and might have incorporated the insights and demands of more people. Because of this, using the same model for handling "meta" stuff requires a lot of "patches" and a group of users willing to be kind to users struggling with using the main sites, among other things.
    – Rubén
    Oct 15, 2023 at 19:13
  • There are a lot of perverse incentives, that make the goal of turning the perception of most users about Stack Overflow and its sister sites as "welcoming" places a wicked problem. Regarding this feature request, forget about "welcoming", let focus on not hiding posts due to downvotes due to the voting culture in Meta SE and SO Meta.
    – Rubén
    Oct 15, 2023 at 19:15
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I agree with this proposal, but until it is implemented, there is an easy workaround that I almost always use:

Instead of accessing the homepage of each site, browse the /questions path. If you sort by "active", you will see edits/new answers on downvoted questions.

After a while your browser will remember the correct path, and autocomplete it when you type the URL.

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    The SE mobile apps also don't hide downvoted questions on the main page. Aug 20, 2019 at 17:15
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    I usually navigate SE by hamburger not raw URL, and here on meta I try to scan for questions that got pushed off the front page each day. If you're already current on the front page then searching for score:..-8 is probably more efficient. Aug 20, 2019 at 19:17
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    @MonicaCellio' Then click on the top left hamburger, and then "questions" in the menu.
    – user000001
    Aug 20, 2019 at 19:19
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    Sorry, that was shorthand -- add is:q to the query to skip the extra step. (You don't want to find all the downvoted answers, after all.) Aug 20, 2019 at 19:21
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    Workarounds are satisfactory for power users. The audience of the homepage is way broader than power users.
    – Rubén
    Oct 15, 2023 at 18:56
  • @Rubén: I agree with you. Ideally it should be available for all users. But OP mentioned missing some important discussions, so this answer shows how he can prevent missing them. Of course it is far from perfect, for the reasons you mentioned.
    – user000001
    Oct 16, 2023 at 5:58
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There is a comment from a now former staff asking about examples of non-staff posts heavily downvoted.

Can you think of any non-employee-authored, heavily-downvoted posts that would've been worth seeing? – (redacted) Aug 20, 2019 at 16:37

I'm unsure how these posts could be found, i.e., if it's possible to query the question timeline in SEDE. The score subtotal corresponds to the first whole day, between 24 and 72 hours, considering up to two daily summaries.

Posts are ordered by ID (oldest first). I created the posts marked with (*); the other posts were mentioned in the question comments but only open Meta Stack Exchange posts.


This query might be helpful: Questions created during 2023, not have been closed, having a score -8 or less, not having the tag feature request (assuming that many feature requests get "legitimate" downvotes, based on the help article about required tags in Meta.

created:2023 votes:..-8 closed:0 -[feature-request]

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The problem is still happening

The table in my previous answer includes several posts scoring below -8 based on the first two daily voting summaries. Only two were created before this question was posted. The other eight were created after 2019.

I'm not claiming that they deserve special attention; the claim is that considering the Meta Stack Exchange's purpose and the community behavior, they don't deserve less attention.

Supporting arguments

Community behavior

The Meta Stack Exchange community uses upvotes / downvotes early and often. By this, I mean that many users vote up or down on new posts on the same day they were posted, sometimes even in the first hours. Over the years, there have been calls to change voting behavior in Meta Stack Exchange. Some complain about being unfairly downvoted; others appeal to motivations, rationalizations, etc.

As of October 2023, there have been heavily downvoted posts that aren't crap. Most crap posts are spam or abusive, which are been deleted.

Meta SE has changed

The idea of hiding posts with a low score comes from main sites. The threshold was changed to adapt it to per-child metas, but Meta SE is different.

Meta SE has an active core community

The workings of Meta Stack Exchange have changed. Nowadays, Meta Stack Exchange has Community Moderators, and the posts requiring staff intervention have changed.

Moderators could add the tag to the posts that the moderators consider that the Community Managers should pay review to be escalated internally.

About the workarounds

Using

This might be good enough for staff posts. This could not be used for non-staff as the post will be shown on the Community Bulletin of all Stack Exchange sites, and not all the user-created communities might require such exposure.

Using Questions (page), Filters

Considering the site's purpose and community behavior, this solution is satisfactory for Meta Stack Exchange power users but not for a permanent Homepage state.

Update

Related CM Posts

One of the recent changes to "Discussions" is the removal of the downvotes on "Discussions" posts as a "sub-experiment" (an experiment inside of a more significant experiment).

I found Discussions at too early stage to consider making a pointed to solve the problem discussed here.

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    This post (upcoming initiatives) is prominently displayed in the bulletin on MSE and all non-meta sites. The ones on MSO are, also, prominently displayed on SO and MSO's bulletins. I don't see a problem here.
    – Kevin B
    Apr 4 at 16:09

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