As has been previously announced, we have been working for some time on a full refresh for post notices. I am happy to announce that all initial development work and testing has been completed, and that the new notices are now live on Stack Overflow.
During our initial launch period these will be shown to 50% of users (with the other 50% viewing notices as they have been with no change). After evaluating the impact of the notices during this period and making any warranted changes, our goal is to release these network-wide, and to completely remove the old notices from the system.
For our purposes, a 'post notice' includes any status banner shown on questions or answers: deleted, merged, migrated, closed, locked, protected, bountied, as well as any information notices that can be applied to posts by moderators.
The visual change in styling and position relative to content should immediately be obvious. The current notices use legacy styling and for the most part appear below the post (question or answer) content. The experience on mobile and desktop is different as the old layout is not flexible enough to be used on both. The new notices will all appear above post content, will feature a refreshed look and feel (using the Stacks design framework), and will work identically on both desktop and mobile.
Beyond the look and feel changes, we have also rewritten the language for all of the different messages, with the goal of making them more friendly and results-driven, and taking into account the changing ways in which the notices have been used over the years. New messages language has been guided by our Content Style Guide, which itself is based on user insights and best practices. We hope that the language refresh will make it clearer to users what each respective notice is for, and if appropriate, to provide clearer instructions as to what they can do in order to improve the content that was flagged.
As Meg wrote in her blog post:
For people who ask questions today, if your question is closed, feedback that is directed toward you privately is shared publicly with anyone who views your question. Plus, the names of people who voted to close the question are highlighted publicly, too, setting them up for attack when they’re just trying to curate content according to the system.
Here’s what our holistic redesign of all post notices will prioritize:
- Delivering improved, private feedback to post authors
- Not putting users who curate content on the spot
- Giving actionable, understandable information for the vast majority of public viewers
The change affects all post notices, including mod notices, post locks, migration notices, and every single type of close notice. Many of these feature different messages that will be shown to the post owner, users with close/reopen privilege, and everyone else, with each message designed to expose the information that will be most helpful to the viewer. Another goal is also to provide more instructions and options for post owners when it comes to taking steps to edit the content of closed questions in order to allow for them to be reopened.
This is a far-reaching project and is also touching other related content like the wording used in the close menu giving guidance on off-topic reasons and the instructions being shown at the top of the review queue. Additionally, the notification language, user workflow, and options being provided to post owners on questions where there are active close as duplicate flags has been modified to give post owners more leeway in preemptively accepting or rejecting potential duplicate posts.
This new set of features and improvements is the first of a series of related projects aimed at improving the user experience on question close workflows and review queues for all users. Our goal is to better facilitate feedback and content curation for all people who code, whether they are new to programming and Stack Overflow, are seasoned moderators and technology experts, or fit anywhere in between.
When will the changes roll out on SO?
The changes are live on SO right now
I still see the old notices and I would rather see the new ones
I see the new notices and would rather keep the old notices
During our initial launch period the new post notices (and all related changes) are being shown to 50% of users. There is no easy way to switch between the group of users seeing old or new notices. If there are things about the new notices that you dislike, please let us know in a respectful and constructive way. We are happy to receive and take all feedback into consideration.
What are you looking for during the initial launch period?
The primary goal of the project is to improve the friendliness of the user experience when viewing post notices. This is a hard thing to measure. Some of the indicators that we will be using are the levels of engagement by users who see old vs new post notices and the rates of closed posts being reopened (specifically focusing on post edits and post reopen votes).
Can you please release a list of all the changes that were made to all notice language and functionality?
We are not going to do this right now:
- There are sooo many changes that were made, that any attempt to document all of these in a clear way will probably still end up being confusing (and it will be challenging to keep this up to date as changes are made during the initial launch period).
- We feel that in order to properly evaluate the changes to presentation, language and functionality, the changes need to be seen in the context of the site, by users who encounter them through normal site usage. Thus, we prefer to evaluate the success of changes by presenting them to users who will encounter and interact with them through organic site usage.
After Meg's blog post that first mentioned these changes, a post on MSE was made that solicited feedback on the preview given in the blog post. Were there any changes to this project that were made based on this feedback?
We read all of the feedback and found much of it to be very useful. Some of it was incorporated into this set of changes, and we hope to incorporate much more of it in a future project that builds on this one to address the underlying mechanics of the close->reopen workflows. Thanks for all the suggestions, and special shout out and thanks to Journeyman Geek for initiating and organizing the feedback post on MSE!
How long will the initial launch run for? When will this go live for everyone?
The initial launch is slated to tentatively run for 2-3 weeks. While we cannot commit to a final go-live date at this point, as there are many unknowns involved, we can say that we are interested in getting the final product out as soon as we can.
What is the average air speed of an unladen swallow?
What do you mean? An African or a European Swallow?