129

This is a question related to the new feedback procedures announcement.

This site (Meta Stack Exchange) has various functions: (per the help center)

Meta is for...

  • ... Stack Exchange users to communicate with each other about the Stack Exchange network (asking questions about how the websites work, or about policies and community decisions)
  • ... Stack Exchange users to communicate with Stack Overflow, the company (posting bugs, suggesting improvements, or proposing new features), and
  • ... Stack Overflow, the company, to communicate with the community (soliciting feedback on new ideas or features, or discussing policies that affect the whole network)

Summarizing this, there are these main use cases for Meta:

  • suggesting new features/improvements to features
  • posting bug reports
  • announcements
  • network-wide policy discussions.

The first three of these use cases seem to be moved off, to another platform:

In early December, we are putting a strategy together for the tools and systems we’ll need. Bug reports, in particular, have been a significant pain point internally and externally! We plan to transition things like bug reports, user and customer support, user feedback, and company announcements off of Meta over the course of next year.

emphasis mine

This leaves the last point, which also seems to be covered by the creation of a moderator advisory board:

we’re putting together a moderator advisory team drawn from our 550 existing moderators (folks who volunteer their time and donate their knowledge and leadership to the community): a small, self-replacing council of moderators who will be tasked with keeping our moderation guidance and methods up-to-date, along with ad-hoc working groups of moderators to work on specific initiatives as needed.

emphasis mine

These changes seem to render Meta Stack Exchange useless.

Do you plan to remove it after doing these changes?

(Note: This doesn't mean I am advocating/agreeing with it. I am just curiously asking)

  • 62
    It sounds like the public nature of feedback is going away for private-solicitation only feedback. That’s an interesting solution, but for all intents and purposes, yes, meta is going away. Of course, I’m having to read between the lines because the writing is neither direct nor clear. – George Stocker Nov 25 at 17:43
  • 12
    "These changes seem to render Meta Stack Exchange useless." - doesn't seem so to me. The single most important purpose of Meta is community self-governance; that is, us debating and setting our own policies and coordinating the use of our various powers. That's acknowledged as a purpose by the blog post, and there's no proposal given to try and migrate that function elsewhere. The advisory team does not make that function redundant, both because it needs a place to get community feedback and because many self-governance discussions don't involve any diamond moderators at all. – Mark Amery Nov 25 at 18:01
  • 10
    I doubt anything decided on the Metas will carry any weight as an expression of community consensus anymore, though (which at the moment it sort of still does in those areas, if informally). I strongly suspect the hand-picked councils will set policy. IMO the only reason why they're not closing it down altogether is because they don't want to deal with hundreds of angry Meta-heads expressing their dismay on the main site. – Pekka supports GoFundMonica Nov 25 at 18:04
  • @MarkAmery however on Meta.SE that is mostly with regards to network-wide policies. (Almost) everything else is decided on per-site metas. I understood the advisory board as the new way to make these. Also: I would approve your statement if this happened as a single occasion, however, given the recent circumstances, I am less optimistic. – MEE - Reinstate Monica Nov 25 at 18:05
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    @markamery I think of it like this: if the people responsible for the strategy are ignoring meta now (and they are) what makes you think any of that will change with the advent of “The Loop”? – George Stocker Nov 25 at 18:07
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    Reading between the lines, they really really really do not care about this site anymore. Whatever happens is irrelevant. – Sklivvz Nov 25 at 19:15
  • 4
    I have the feeling this will actually be counterproductive in handling bug reports. If you just take a look at the sheer number of reports that were no-repro'd by the community, closed as dupes etc. Having a real bug tracking would require the company to handle these bugs by themselves. That would hardly be more productive. Perhaps any of the SEDE magicians can pull some stats on this? – Luuklag Nov 25 at 19:27
  • I think the question this prompts is: Where can meta stack exchange discussion go? The community needs an off-site forum which could serve as a nexus for discussion of all the sorts that SE is trying to get rid of. It needs to be something that the community accepts as an unofficial but de-facto standard. – Ask About Monica Nov 25 at 20:12
  • @Luuklag The latest weapon in their censoring arsenal was "this off-topic on Meta, we will delete it". The Loop will probably make everything criticizing them off-topic and restrict Meta to bug reports, features etc. – Fermi paradox Nov 28 at 10:22
110

The fact that this was announced on the blog, rather than MSE, speaks for itself as to whether they want to continue with MSE or not.

106

Yes, Meta is the "toxic" place and it must be eliminated.

This seems like divide and conquer strategy. If Meta is removed, no negative feedback (collected through The Loop, or otherwise) will be left in the open. There will be no community left, each and every one of us will stand alone, wondering if we are the only ones opposing some ridiculous idea or others think the same.

Anything Company decides and does will be backed up by some imaginary data collected through Surveys that can be vastly misinterpreted and manipulated. Anything they do will be because we wanted it™ and anyone complaining anywhere else will be just some loser swimming upstream.

I expect chat will be gone soon enough... but even if it stays it is hardly a place where more than handful of users can effectively criticize ideas and implementations.


I am absolutely against removal of Meta sites including this one. I am afraid that mine and everyone else's opinion (whatever their opinion might be) will not matter one single bit.

  • This is all true; it also is worth emphasizing that, because the data will be biased and non-representative, it will lead to poor business decisions. Another check against misguided schemes and initiatives will have been removed. – Ask About Monica Nov 25 at 19:40
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    I'm thinking of starting a place on another site where we may discuss things freely. – Richard says Reinstate Monica Nov 25 at 19:41
  • 1
    @RichardsaysReinstateMonica A Discord server would work. It’s free and easy. – ColleenV parted ways Nov 25 at 19:49
  • 2
    @ColleenV I'll look into it. I'd rather have someplace to have people argue with me sincerely, then agree out of fear. – Richard says Reinstate Monica Nov 25 at 19:55
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    I don't like a chat system like Discord for this, because if you are not online most of the time you'll miss a lot. – Josef Nov 25 at 20:09
  • That was sarcasm, no? – πάντα ῥεῖ Nov 25 at 20:19
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    @πάνταῥεῖ YES........ – Resistance Is Futile Nov 25 at 20:24
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    @Richard says Reinstate Monica: You can start at Atwood's place. – Peter Mortensen Nov 25 at 23:25
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    MSE is not, and never has been, "The Community". At best it has been a means for trying to interact with The Community. – Raedwald Nov 26 at 7:28
  • @Raedwald SE never actually had a Community... but all the people that are contributing in positive manner ARE the Community. – Resistance Is Futile Nov 26 at 8:26
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    @PeterMortensen: How is Codidact "Atwood's place"? I don't get it... – Marc.2377 Dec 2 at 23:38
  • @Marc.2377: Subtle reference. Look at the very bottom of that page. Discourse. One of the founders left for reasons we can only guess at (and created something entirely new). – Peter Mortensen Dec 3 at 4:45
48

Reading between the lines, yes, Meta Stack Exchange may be following in Documentation's footsteps.

In the blog post, Stack Exchange discusses what they believe are the 5 main uses for Meta.

We analyzed data on how Meta is being used, who is using it, and all the functions that Meta serves. We then refined the functions into five areas:

  • Self-governance discussions
  • Support
  • Bug Reports
  • User Feedback
  • Announcements

They plan on transitioning 4 of these 5 areas off of meta.

We plan to transition things like bug reports, user and customer support, user feedback, and company announcements off of Meta over the course of next year.

The remaining point, self-governance discussion, is a bit more unclear. This may partially be covered by the upcoming moderator advisory team, but it's impossible to know for sure without more information.

Community managers will look to moderator advisors in matters that impact the moderator community, with an eye toward making sites as self-governing as possible. Our moderators are the experts here, and we want to work with them to foster a welcoming community (our community Code of Conduct provides the ground rules for that) and meet community challenges as a team.

  • They must have assessed the main uses of meta more than 60 days ago, because that's not how it looks today -- at the very least, they're mission a few uses – Scott Seidman Nov 25 at 20:24
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    @ScottSeidman I believe Meta's primary use over the past 2 months would be classified under "user feedback". – Stevoisiak supports Monica Nov 25 at 20:27
  • 1
    Your @ popup isn't happening for some reason, but I'd say "unwelcome user feedback". The powers that be only want a certain type of feedback – Scott Seidman Nov 25 at 20:32
37

We've known for a while now that Meta will be disappearing based on the comments that management has made recently. The only question that remains is "WHEN". I'm guessing the recent backlash has maybe forced them to bring forward their timelines.


This quote from Sara Chipps should do it:

I like the idea of the SO Company account, however, it still doesn't really help with the fact that there are Millions of users on Stack Overflow whose needs aren't being met because in the past we've spent so much time on Meta which has .015% of Stack Overflow's active users and is not representative of the community as a whole.Source

(Relevant MSO post: How was the number of .015% of Meta users calculated?)

In the question What are the effective communication channels for effecting change to SE?, Oct 24, 2018, Tim Post mentioned:

Meta isn't scaling well for any of the goals that it was originally designed to meet. I don't want to get lost in discussing all of the ways that it's just not working; I'd rather just say that our structure when it comes to development evolved considerably and meta simply didn't.

...

Meta doesn't track bugs well, it doesn't track feature requests well, it doesn't indicate presence from us well (how do you know what stuff Joe Friend has been looking at recently for distant scheduling?) and quite frankly, even working 60+ hour weeks, there's still not enough time to get everything done [...]
There's also no good way of keeping a roadmap up to date, or even tracking progress toward goals in any kind of public way.

...

I think, in 2019, we're going to have to bite the bullet and replace at least bug tracking and feature requests with something else, or have something else behind the pipeline consuming meta and making sure it gets put somewhere else in ordered form so we can work from it. I don't know what that's going to look like, I just know what we've got isn't working, and breaks even more embarrassingly by the week.

...

And I know a lot of you have got "well why don't you just ... " suggestions at hand, that's great, but they're probably not going to help because you really need to be behind the scenes to know what cogs aren't going to fit.

...

So, for now, use Twitter if Twitter is comfortable for you. Use email if you want to use email. Use meta (many people don't because it's scary) - it's not that we're deliberately ignoring things, it's that the pile is so huge and continues to get so every day we pretend Meta still works.

  • 5
    What actually remains utterly unanswered or even unquestioned is: if MSE is unrepresentative of SE's minioning: then what is? The blog? With vastly improved clauque channels? – LаngLаngС Nov 25 at 20:15
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    @LаngLаngС a lot of uncomfortable questions remain unanswered. It is a common theme we've seen and this new update seems to further solidify this. It seems that SE simply want "Yes men". – Script47 Nov 25 at 20:16
  • 1
    Yes, mam! –– Obey, obey! Exterminate! – LаngLаngС Nov 25 at 20:18
  • 3
    Twitter is more representative of the SE user base than Meta ever thought it could be – random Nov 25 at 21:28
  • 1
    @LаngLаngС: Re "clauque": Do you mean claque? – Peter Mortensen Nov 25 at 23:35
15

Moving bug tracking out of the domain of user feedback and closing meta will only increase the amount of work they'll have to do and slow the process of development.

Previously, bugs that were not actually bugs or just the user-side problems were addressed by meta users and left out. Bugs that were duplicates and bugs that were not reproduced were also taken care of. How will that take place when this all is shifted of meta?

We plan to transition things like bug reports, user and customer support, user feedback, and company announcements off of Meta over the course of next year

Then what else will be left of meta to exist? I think it's pretty clear that meta will close down.

We’ll share regular updates about what we learn through our research, as well as create a new working group of users that we’ll lean on for regular feedback. This working group will be made up of a diverse group of folks excited to see Stack Overflow grow.

Given there's a new system for feedback and meta won't be used for it, It's another call that meta is not needed anymore.

  • What do you mean by "user feedback the and closing"? – Peter Mortensen Nov 25 at 23:37
  • Re "How will that take place when this all is shifted of meta?": That will be moved to their daily Scrum meetings, when they discuss tickets. We will be relieved of this work. Jobs will be created. Perhaps we can apply for some of those jobs. Relocation is not required (can be remote work). – Peter Mortensen Nov 25 at 23:41
  • Slightly related: Recent interview with Basecamp’s Ryan Singer on Software Enginering Radio, episode 389 (same company as the inventor of Ruby on Rails). Direct (MP3). Among other things, he talks about backlogs and how to handle them. He has a surprising and refreshing view on them. – Peter Mortensen Nov 25 at 23:56
  • @PeterMortensen it was a typo, edited now. Jobs will be created. Perhaps we can apply for some of those jobs. Relocation is not required (can be remote work) I guess there's some sort of wage then if you are calling it a job? How will they manage to pay thousands of users who give feedback? – weegee Nov 27 at 18:47
  • Not give feedback. Rather, handle bug reports, feature requests, and support (the latter probably in some scalable way (wizards, FAQs, and other documentation)). – Peter Mortensen Dec 3 at 4:56
9

Unlikely

Unless replaced with something similar the child metas are currently necessary in community building (scope discussions, part of mod elections, et cetera). So as long as the network sites stay, those metas very likely stay. As long as child metas stay there's no good reason to shut down MSE. The discussions would just move.

Having all the trolls slugging it out on MSE instead of all over the network metas (or finding trolly ways on the actual sites if those were gone too) is most likely preferable to shutting it down. Just having MSE keeps the rest of the network cleaner.

Hosting web sites that are community moderated doesn't cost meaningfulTM effort or money and SE stated as much with regard to the smaller network sites. Same applies to MSE.

MSE is currently a cheap, almost perfect quarantine mechanism for disgruntled people in a place where SE has admin powers. That's just too divine to give up.

9

I suspect that if Meta continues, the stated policy will be that Community Staff will have no interaction with it. It seems disingenuous to roll out the policy that is probably carved in stone already. I suggest that if where Meta is going is known, that information be released. I object to being "handled".

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