I just posted to our blog about our First Quarter Community Roadmap for 2020. Here's a preview of what the roadmap looks for this quarter:

Q1 2020 Roadmap Image - a chart of the four key goals and the monthly work scheduled to meet each goal.

Please see the post for details on the different themes of our upcoming work as well as on some of the different projects that our Public Q&A and Community Management teams have been and will be working on this quarter. We'll be releasing more information to you about each project as it nears release. We are about to kick off our Q2 Roadmap planning so please share if you have feedback we should consider.

I also wanted to let you know that we shared the Internal Community Engagement Guidelines with the company today as promised.

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    Excited about Follow Questions in both directions; good to hear. Commented Feb 25, 2020 at 18:08
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    Is the [roadmap] tag really necessary? We don't usually allow tags that relate to topics that are very narrow, time-bound, and/or likely to result in very few questions. IMHO [community] and [announcements] suffice. Commented Feb 25, 2020 at 18:30
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    @RobertColumbia the roadmap will be ongoing into the future with quarterly posts and the opportunity for y’all to ask questions about it. I think it’s a good tag to have.
    – Catija
    Commented Feb 25, 2020 at 18:32
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    "I also wanted to let you know that we shared the Internal Community Engagement Guidelines with the company today as promised." - this is actually promising. I hope you keep it up too ^^ And thanks for sharing a concrete plan. Increased transparency has really been needed for a long time Commented Feb 25, 2020 at 18:37
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    I hate sites that send me emails that I did not ask for. So this would not make me any happier. It's exactly how ResearchGate got on my "no-go" list. Commented Feb 25, 2020 at 23:43
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    Also "Moderator Agreement" sounds like this kind of change that'll cause even more moderators to leave. Because it's a "us vs. them" thing, and it will be written in legalese by your lawyers, something we all hate, too. Commented Feb 25, 2020 at 23:46
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    @HasQUIT--Anony-Mousse: Note that there's already an existing moderator agreement that all diamond moderators must agree to before they can become a mod. It just hasn't been updated in ages. (It remains to be seen what changes there will be.)
    – V2Blast
    Commented Feb 26, 2020 at 2:21
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    Why is this post pointing to the blog and not the other way around? If SE Inc. doesn't want to use its own product to engage with its own users, why should anyone else?
    – Boaz
    Commented Feb 26, 2020 at 8:36
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    Will the Town Hall chat sessions will be back? IMHO, those are the best way to communicate - real time, directly with SE staff, in an organized manner that can be easily stored for future use. Commented Feb 26, 2020 at 8:40
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    @Boaz-ReinstateMonica the blog reaches a wider audience than a post here does. We are posting here as well to show that we do want to use our product to engage with our users. Commented Feb 26, 2020 at 12:56
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    @Boaz-ReinstateMonica As you can see from comments on the blog, we don't moderate out the things that are critical of the company. The blog is (among other things) a vehicle for reaching a very wide audience, but is not a place for having big discussions (unlike here). Posting in this way allows us to reach a very wide audience while still being able to get feedback from the Community here. There is no one mode of communication that is the primary and is fitting for every type of audience and interaction. We are trying to find the best combination. Thanks for your feedback. Commented Feb 26, 2020 at 13:36
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    @YaakovEllis I’ve seen other far more controversial posts which were lacking critical comments. Without actual transparency, there’s no way of knowing what gets filtered. In addition, the whole reputation and voting system is lost. Transparency and community moderation are the corner stones of this network, not customer reach and engagement.
    – Boaz
    Commented Feb 26, 2020 at 13:44
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    @Boaz-ReinstateMonica, I dont see why trying to reach as many people as possible would be a bad thing. they also have this question for feedback to be provided. the only thing that could make it better imo is if they linked this question on the blog saying to feel free to have discussion here.
    – Dragonrage
    Commented Feb 26, 2020 at 19:14
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    @Dragonrage That's actually a good idea. We had planned to post a blog first and then the meta question. But we can post the question first, then post the blog with the meta question link and then come back and update the meta question with the link to the blog. Thanks for the suggestion Commented Feb 26, 2020 at 23:11
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    Why are you censoring comments criticizing the company on the blog? Is this how you will regain trust with the community? Commented Mar 1, 2020 at 17:04

16 Answers 16


This is a really encouraging blog post, and I appreciate the roadmap being shared with us. We need to talk about part of it though.

We are making fundamental changes to how our close question system works so that it’s a friendlier experience and more educational for post authors, while making it easier to edit and reopen closed questions, and reduce the burden on curators. Questions that get voted to be closed will be hidden, giving authors the opportunity to improve their questions in private. Our hope is to make it easier on everyone by providing clearer guidance and encouraging better questions. [...]

Could you clarify what this means implementation-wise?

It sounds like it means a closed question will be hidden from everyone except the author (or maybe high-rep users). This would be very, very bad for everyone involved, even the author of the question!

Here's how the close-edit-reopen process works on many large sites:

  1. Close: The question is closed ASAP, because serious work needs to be done on the question and we need to put answers on hold for now. (Otherwise as the question changes, answers will get invalidated and we'll have a huge mess to clean up, including people upset their answers are now not answering the question—because they were fine originally.)
  2. Edit: Community members actively engage with the closed question and its author, asking questions, making edits, and providing direction that bring the question into a reopenable form.
    • If the question is not going to be reopenable (e.g. it's just a poll for peoples' opinions on their favorite soda) then that gets conveyed during this engagement. The querent may be directed to other places they can ask about this instead.
  3. Reopen: People come across the question as revisions bump it, and reopen it once it's reopen-worthy. Alternately, maybe the question never should have been closed at all: people who discover it reopen it right away. Invested community members may open meta Qs requesting assistance reopening the question at any stage.

Hiding a closed question impedes or makes impossible all three steps of this process. As one of my fellow mods put it: newbies already believe closing to be a death sentence for their question. This would mean it actually is a death sentence.

Let's walk backwards through this and talk about the problem hiding a closed question represents at each step.

3. Reopen

This relies on users discovering a question as revisions bump it, evaluating it, and casting reopen votes. The meta Qs that might arise around the question's closure rely on invested community members discovering the question while it's still closed.

Who's going to do any of this if nobody can discover the question?

2. Edit

Getting a question into a reopenable shape always involves engagement from the broader community. Authors do not usually independently know what to do with their question to get it into an open-worthy state without feedback, or they would have asked it that way to begin with! Continuous engagement with the broader community is critical here.

That helpful engagement that gets questions revised can come from the entire reputation spectrum, both in theory and in practice. (Provided you have the 50-rep comment anywhere privilege, usually.) Even users who are too new to contribute can learn a lot from seeing our process in action, including learning that if/when their question is closed they can expect similar assistance.

1. Close early

Closing questions fast and early is an extremely important quality management tool. We need to hit the brakes to give the question room to be worked on without also dealing with answers arriving.

But people want to help. They really, really want to help. It's the whole reason they're here on the site. If a question is hidden when it's closed, that means they will not be able to help while it's closed. That means people will not want to vote to close a question if it's in a possibly-recoverable state, because then they're blocking the community from helping it.

This means people will not use the close tool early and often, or at all if they can help it, leading to really bad quality issues and headaches. Many of the people who currently vote to close fast and early will instead begin to abstain from close voting—and for the exact same motivation!

In summary

... So, with all that said, I hope you can understand why I hope “questions that are closed get hidden” does not actually mean what it sounds like. But I don't know what else it would be.

Could we talk about that thing? Can you tell us more about it? If it's what it sounds like, can we not do this thing?

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    @user400654 No, they're just right there in the question list. Here, open Role-playing Games for example and CTRL+F the front page for [closed]. Commented Feb 25, 2020 at 20:09
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    @GhostCatsalutesMonicaC. Well, hence me also asking what we're talking about. I ask that at the start and at the end. I am explaining why I hope it is not the thing it sounds like it is. (Ed: oops. Might not have asked that clearly enough in the summary section.) Commented Feb 25, 2020 at 20:11
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    @user400654 A lot of community engagement that helps get questions reopened on RPG.SE comes from the sub-3000-rep crowd. The 3000-rep users don't need to be burdened with being the only users able to guide closed questions towards improvement. Some games do not even have users who understand them available at high rep counts, meaning the audience best positioned to understand the question (which is critical for guiding it toward improvement!) may not have access to the question at all. There are tons of people even at 500+ rep who are absolutely amazing helpers. I would not rep limit this. Commented Feb 25, 2020 at 20:13
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    @doppelgreener I'd second that on the scientific stacks... anecdotally, often helpful edits on closed questions come from the people who are best able to see through the eyes of the asker, which aren't always the higher-rep users with close privileges (who normally provide more answers). If a question is poor enough that it should be hidden...well, that's one purpose for the downvote button. Commented Feb 25, 2020 at 20:16
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    @Laurel If that's the case I think that's still a problem, and doppelgreener laid out a lot of the reasons why. Commented Feb 26, 2020 at 0:07
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    @Laurel "improve their questions in private" sounds like it's a little more private than that, but maybe that's it? Still, giving closed questions home page visibility is a powerful force for good in fuelling the close-edit-reopen process with attention and engagement; removing that seems like it would be an overall loss. (Definitely not as disastrous as what I envisaged and reacted to though.) Commented Feb 26, 2020 at 0:12
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    This would make it a death sentence in deafening silence. “To on hold limbo with you new user!”
    – mxyzplk
    Commented Feb 26, 2020 at 0:20
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    #3 is my biggest worry. Almost all my reopen votes come from finding closed questions on the [non-SO] homepage that I don't think should be closed. On sites I don't have rep, I raise a flag (and usually the flag is accepted), so rep-limiting would still be harmful. I assume they're trying to avoid a pile-on effect when a question is first closed, but I think this solution (as written) would do more harm to the reopen scenario overall.
    – Troyen
    Commented Feb 26, 2020 at 1:10
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    @GhostCatsalutesMonicaC. this isn't speculation, it is asking for details precisely to avoid speculation and pointing out possible drawbacks if the implementation works in a specific way.
    – terdon
    Commented Feb 26, 2020 at 11:13
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    Well I'm also explaining how hiding a closed question would disrupt our close-edit-reopen cycle and hurt the author. To do that requires at least some speculation on what “hiding” it so that the author can revise it “in private” might mean, but there's only so many things that can mean, and I don't feel like my speculation is wild or unreasonable. All I'm speculating is that a closed question would be some manner of hidden and some manner of private, which is what we're told would be the case. Commented Feb 26, 2020 at 12:46
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    @doppelgreener Thanks for the feedback. Our research with users across the rep spectrum found the concept of “hiding” the question to be friendlier and less embarrassing for question askers, preventing dog piles and giving question askers time to sort through feedback . Improved system guidance (similar to the recent post notices work) are aimed to help users make updates with less reliance on others while saving time for curators, who currently provide this guidance manually via comments.
    – Des StaffMod
    Commented Feb 26, 2020 at 20:08
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    Having said that, this project is currently optimized for Stack Overflow. The site specific feedback you’ve provided here is helpful as we consider specific needs of network sites. We’ll post a new question soon with more details and mocks to open it up for feedback.
    – Des StaffMod
    Commented Feb 26, 2020 at 20:08
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    @Des One more aspect to consider - sometimes closed questions do have value. About 40% of the time I find an answer that works for me on SO, it's actually from a closed question (whether it's "too broad", allegedly "unclear", or "duplicate"). Maybe you should factor in question score and/or close reason when deciding if something should be hidden. Maybe you already are - looking forward to the detailed writeup.
    – Troyen
    Commented Feb 27, 2020 at 2:04
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    @des please note that this feedback isn't site-specific. It's the standard process on all sites I participate on, including the three I am or have been a moderator on, two of which (Unix & Linux and Ask Ubuntu) are among the larger of the non-SO sites. This feedback is relevant globally. It might not be so relevant to SO in particular, but it isn't site-specific at all. If you all think this would be helpful for SO (although I really doubt it, doppel's points would also apply to SO) then maybe make it specific to SO? I cannot overemphasize how harmful this will be to askers and curators alike.
    – terdon
    Commented Mar 12, 2020 at 11:05
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    Yeah the process I described is not “how we do things on RPG.SE”, it's “how the close-reopen process is meant to work on every site”. Stack Overflow seems to have a specific breakdown due to its size and quality issues and general community frustration around those issues, and this appears to be an attempt to address SO-specific symptoms (other changes will be needed to address the root cause), but that means this is primarily a thing targeting a problem on SO and it is not appropriate for the network in general. Ask around other active stacks and I suspect you will hear similarly to @terdon. Commented Mar 12, 2020 at 12:36

Where have you been all these months? (Hint: I'm only kidding, I know she's just joined the company).

Just the mere fact you take things to the blog, and put up a summary here is basically priceless! Simple things can make such a big difference! Thank you very much, and please continue with that approach!

Yet, let me say this:

We are making fundamental changes to how our close question system works so that it’s a friendlier experience and more educational for post authors, while making it easier to edit and reopen closed questions, and reduce the burden on curators.

Please consider to not only announce fundamental changes to be coming. Instead outline/draft them here before spending a lot of resources developing them. An agile mindset and development model should include user feedback as early as possible. If you consider the users to be true stakeholders, then act accordingly.

Your proposal sounds like a large waterfall, as if you design all these features behind closed doors, to then be surprised in case they miss the point, and users are unhappy about the result, and more importantly: the fact that they weren't consulted upfront.

So: I very much appreciate that you keep us updated with a relatively detailed timeline. But as said: announcements alone aren't what will make the difference in the long run. It is also about working together. And changing essential elements of the Q/A "technology" is something that many users here will consider to be "at the heart of everything". So please include us on that path.

That doesn't mean that each single detail needs to go through a lengthy MSE/MSO discussion. But writing up an outline for each major change (that could for example include the work that you already spent on evaluating options) and have that up for feedback for a few days would surely benefit the product that you are working on and the relationship between company and community.

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    They might be getting user feedback -- alpha and beta testing -- without doing design by commitee on Meta.
    – ChrisW
    Commented Feb 25, 2020 at 19:56
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    @ChrisW Two different things. A/B testing requires that you already have something to show. You can still ask for feedback first, and decide what to do about that. Before you invest time and energy to get to A/B testable content.
    – GhostCat
    Commented Feb 25, 2020 at 19:58
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    @ChrisW I doubt A/B testing would even be useful for this; you'd need huge swaths of the site to be separately assigned to one user group or the other for a meaningful test. On the other hand, some of the users here on Meta are experts who can tell whether an idea is good or not on the same day it's proposed - that's not design by committee.
    – Brilliand
    Commented Feb 25, 2020 at 22:53
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    Uhm. She's a relatively new hire. So... Somewhere else possibly. There's also been a ... massive change in how things are done from the mod perspective too. Heck. I wouldn't have expected the question 2 weeks ago. Commented Feb 25, 2020 at 23:14
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    The benefits of working behind closed doors before feature release are speed of initial release, surprise effect for marketing, and the ability to say something is a fait accompli and cannot be changed again. None of those should be relevant for most improvements to this site. Iterating with the community on draft proposals is a common way in open source to make best use of willing contributors and reduce risk of anger at release time. A main problem can be the logistics of communication when developers are scared of being attacked buy the community. This might be a reason here.
    – tkruse
    Commented Feb 25, 2020 at 23:30
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    @JourneymanGeek That was a joke. I just wished that she would have been around for longer. As I have the feeling that this could have spared us some tears...
    – GhostCat
    Commented Feb 26, 2020 at 3:42
  • @tkruse SE now have a team of professional full-time product designers, don't they, as well as developers, who I assume have already been getting user feedback. Obviously they already know they could ask here -- or elsewhere on the network, if and when they want to.
    – ChrisW
    Commented Feb 26, 2020 at 8:54
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    IMO, as someone who has some experience working at a similar community-oriented site, what you probably want to do is to get a group of active community members and discuss things with them, privately, to both get an outside-company perspective and avoid giant conversations that tend to not go anywhere. In a situation like this where the community is skeptical about the future, it may be a good idea to make that community group public (they become your representatives, and you can petition them to represent your specific viewpoint) although that requires thought about potential backfires. Commented Feb 26, 2020 at 17:43
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    @GhostCatsalutesMonicaC. Our research and data teams, including feedback and suggestions offered here, help drive our discovery. Typically when we come up with a design concept, we get it in front of users for feedback and iterate until we are confident in the solution. For this project, we held interviews with users with varying rep levels, completed data analyses, and plan to share more here to open up for feedback. As mentioned in Teresa’s post, we’re taking phased approach with these changes so you’ll see more close UX bits lined up in Q2 when the roadmap is published.
    – Des StaffMod
    Commented Feb 26, 2020 at 20:10
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    @Des "we held interviews [...], completed data analyses, [...]" that's nice and all, but why did you only make a meta post about it after doing all this extensive research? Why not post about it here way earlier, before you do interviews and in-depth analysis, to ensure you can already take concerns of the broader community into account when you do your in-depth research? Because I'm pretty sure SE was "confident" in many things it did over the last year (e.g. front page) where the community found glaring flaws in minutes after it was rolled out...
    – l4mpi
    Commented Feb 27, 2020 at 11:26
  • @l4mpi "The loop" survey, "racial background", cough cough.
    – GhostCat
    Commented Feb 27, 2020 at 11:54
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    @l4mpi Maybe because trying to sift through 100s, if not 1000s of and questionscomments, trying to find those that target the actual topic instead of ranting or going on about something else is time-consuming and drainging? Commented Feb 28, 2020 at 21:46
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    @CindyMeister If only there was some kind of rating or voting system so that important concerns could rise to the top... oh wait... Commented Feb 29, 2020 at 11:19
  • @CindyMeister nobody said they would have to read every single response or babysit the whole thread. I'd envision an informal 1-2 paragraph post, checking after a few hours to see if anything requires clarification, and coming back to read the top answers after a few days. That alone would have prevented various communication disasters over the last year, and does not need to take an extraordinary amount of time.
    – l4mpi
    Commented Mar 2, 2020 at 13:37

If engagement is not growing with the overall user base, a lower percentage of you are getting value from these interactions each year.

This is a premise many of us more dedicated users reject. In fact, one of SO's founders explicitly explained why he believed it was wrong: Optimizing for Pearls.

We believe asking questions on our site is a privilege, not a right. ... If we don’t do our part to cull the bad questions, then we risk alienating the true experts who provide what really matters: the answers!


Perhaps you’ve noticed a theme here. Incoming questions are a universal constant, all around us in countless billions. But answers — truly brilliant, amazing, correct answers — are as rare as pearls. Thus, questions are merely the sand that produces the pearl. If we have learned anything in the last three years, it is that you optimize for pearls, not sand.


That’s why we’re determined to keep question quality high, even at the cost of refusing a little sand. It’s true that you can’t have Q&A; without questions, but having the wrong sorts of questions is far more dangerous. The fastest way to kill any Q&A; site is to flood it with low-quality questions. I think Mark Trapp summed it up best in this meta answer.

Please go read that linked answer, as well.

SO's founding philosophy was that most users would derive value by learning something from existing high quality content, and we credit SO's success as a site to that approach. So please answer my question about why SO has so abruptly changed its philosophy on "increased engagement."

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    My guess, and I may be wrong, is that SE are trying to improve their Teams product from which they hope to get almost all their new revenue. So they want to make the software more engaging and useful to everyone, see e.g. the new feature of being able to follow/unfollow specific questions. According to this theory part of how SO is useful to SE inc., whose commercial interests are now centered on Teams more than on Ads or Jobs, is to serve as a large scale test bed for product improvement.
    – ChrisW
    Commented Feb 26, 2020 at 7:40
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    @ChrisW Whatever the reason, I don't expect I'm going to like it. But if SO is serious about transparency and good will, then this is one place to start. Honestly, I doubt we'll ever get a real answer. But I'm open to being pleasantly surprised on both counts. I'd certainly feel better if we got an actual answer, even if it's one I disagree with.
    – jpmc26
    Commented Feb 26, 2020 at 15:52
  • I too asked this question twice (here and here). I figure if we were knew the reality of SE's motives we could accommodate that, if not then "we make it harder than it has to be".
    – ChrisW
    Commented Feb 26, 2020 at 16:44
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    "Engagement" is often a dirty word, but IMO it doesn't have to be. There are a few different levels of engagement we look at (e.g. voting vs posting) and they feed into different things. We have some purely business-driven goals - to put it plainly, more users means more support and growth for our revenue streams. But there are also community-oriented goals. We need users (both new and old) to come in and help post and curate up-to-date information on current technologies, to maintain the knowledge base, if you will. The needs of the company and the community aren't completely orthogonal here.
    – Adam Lear StaffMod
    Commented Feb 26, 2020 at 23:43
  • @AdamLear Even if they were only "orthogonal" that should be no problem (and that's often a characteristic of a "win-win"), it's only when they're "opposite" that there's some conflict. I think there is some antagonism now though e.g. resistance, doubt, mistrust, and fear of the X-Y problem -- from people not seeing (because SE has not explained) that larger picture.
    – ChrisW
    Commented Feb 27, 2020 at 9:34
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    @AdamLear I expect that SE does have business goals. Part of the ambition is to implement/satisfy those so that they benefit or at least don't harm "the community", I imagine it's hard for the community to participate in that process (instead of having that process forced upon them) without knowing what the goals (aka the constraints) are.
    – ChrisW
    Commented Feb 27, 2020 at 9:46
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    So please answer my question about why SO has so abruptly changed its philosophy on increased engagement it is (to me) rather obvious. They want some more noise with their signal, that's why. (I like my coffee with a small bit of of cream, they like a full latte with whipped cream on top) The Stack PTB have demonstrated ever since that Kelly Tweet that they believe that more noise isn't a problem on a site that was a great success due to a superior signal to noise ratio. Why they seem to believe that is a mystery to me, but their decisions reflect that. Commented Feb 27, 2020 at 16:10
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    @AdamLear I've given your comment a lot of thought, and I think I've identified why I have a problem with it. In principle, yes, I'd agree. In this context, though, that usage of the word doesn't line up with the class equity emphasis associated with the use of the term "welcoming" we've seen so much of over the past year. (And we saw some of that start to appear even earlier.) It is impossible for me to divorce the term from the company's well established emphasis in making policy changes and decisions regarding users (e.g., Monica).
    – jpmc26
    Commented Mar 12, 2020 at 2:51
  • @AdamLear So unless you can demonstrate that SO has abandoned much of that way of thinking, that does not appear to be what engagement is about.
    – jpmc26
    Commented Mar 12, 2020 at 2:54

Become part of the community again, don't administer it from outside

What I am completely missing on your road map is that you actually try to be part of the community.
"You" as in: the entire SO company.

There is the famous concept of eating your own dog food.

SO employees need to frequently ask questions, answer questions, and moderate. Right now, I don't see this happening, I don't see you feel the same pain points as we do, but rather you stare at some KPIs like engagement or question closing rates as a proxy for quality. Every employee at SO should be answering at least one good question per week somewhere, for example.

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    In the comments of her initial MSE post, she did touch on that topic.
    – V2Blast
    Commented Feb 26, 2020 at 2:45
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    I think you missed the last sentence "I also wanted to let you know that we shared the Internal Community Engagement Guidelines with the company today as promised." Commented Feb 26, 2020 at 8:24
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    Thanks for your feedback. We do dogfood the product across the company in the form of a Team that is used as the knowledge repository for everyone about everything. As Jonas pointed out, we have released new guidelines internally and are encouraging greater community participation across the board. As far as asking & answering questions: we hope to see an increase in this, but this is not going to become mandatory for all employees. And we believe that general moderation is best left up to our excellent community-elected moderators, supported by our CM team. Commented Feb 26, 2020 at 13:02
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    @YaakovEllis I'm afraid that the dogfood you need to eat is not the software expressed in a neatly packed format with a small number of select users but the network. You need to know what happens when the software is deployed at scale with a diverse user base most of whom are not on board with the existing culture of the sites and have widely varying ideas of what the sites are for. Teams is just not a substitute because bigger is different when people are involved, Commented Feb 26, 2020 at 16:36
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    @dmckee Or in other words, it is not just to eat your own dog food, it is eating the food of all of your own dogs. And each site/community is a dog. Commented Feb 26, 2020 at 18:29
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    @YaakovEllis you dogfood the "Team" software and use case. You need to dogfood the community; which likely is very different. For example, in a "Team" you won't get people asking to have their homework assignments written for them, I guess... Commented Feb 26, 2020 at 20:01
  • @JonasWilms: "Internal Community Engagement Guidelines" is an undefined term. I couldn't see anything like that anywhere; so its probably internal, and we have no idea what it says. It could then say "don't talk to people on meta". Commented Feb 26, 2020 at 20:03
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    @has it is internal,not going to be released here. You'll have to take my word for it that the guidelines are very positive towards encouraging all kinds of community interactions. I hope that some folks around here will vouch for me. As for dogfooding the community, we're trying to get better with that as well. Commented Feb 26, 2020 at 20:26

User engagement - you are solving the wrong problems...

This answer may be skewed with Stack Overflow perspective, what I am saying here is not necessarily true for each and every site in the network.

You don't need more new users, nor people asking more questions

Stack Exchange sites work the best when people don't have to ask questions, because questions they might have are already answered and easy to find. For that you don't even need an account.

You don't need to make closing process more friendly

Problem with closing questions is that at the point when question requires closing it is already too late. No matter how much you improve and polish that process (besides the ability to close questions faster) you will never make that process "friendly" enough.

Improving question asking process also has its limitations. Main problem is that new users (and fair number of existing users) are not familiar with the rules. And even less new users is aware that posting poor question or answers can lead to post ban.

Make all rules clear before posting

When I say that, I mean not leaving to the user to go around and look for rules - make them blatantly obvious. Especially, the fact about post ban. I had reputation well over 3000 when I first realized that post ban exists.

Also, give people access to all their deleted content. Current process where people have to go to Meta and beg moderators to dig up their deleted posts is far from ideal. And most people don't even know that their deleted posts also count towards ban.

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    Don't know if the information about a post ban is needed when you ask your first question. In fact I find this very threatening ("BEWARE! YOU CAN GET POST BANNED!"). Just give this information when they are running towards a post ban. IMHO the most important thing is to make clear how a good question looks like in a very short way. Commented Feb 26, 2020 at 13:59
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    +1 for rules. I've been on SO for many many years now, and back in the days of FAQs, I knew where to look for explicit rules. Since the moment we moved to tour and help center, I have absolutely no idea where to look for rules, and how to point them out to new users (so I don't). On most of the sites I'm active, I don't even know the rules anymore, I just tend to go with the flow.
    – AndrejaKo
    Commented Feb 26, 2020 at 14:03
  • 4
    Just to add to your comment about deletes, some users don't even realize they had posts deleted, much less are able get access to them! I see threads where a user is asking about a surprise post-ban only to have revealed to them posts that they'd long forgotten and that had long since disappeared... at least to their eyes....
    – ouflak
    Commented Feb 26, 2020 at 14:21
  • 4
    @OcasoProtal When you start and get your first post down voted and closed that is not good experience. Many would be more careful if they would new what is expected from them from the start. Also, letting people know when they are approaching post ban is not efficient - such system is already in place and it is not working as it should (I don't know exactly what is written in those "ban warning notices", so maybe that message could also be improved. Commented Feb 26, 2020 at 14:46
  • 1
    But reading about a post ban is also not a good experience, and I don't think that this would influence a lot of new users. New users normaly have only one question to ask, they have one problem for which they need a solution. They don't know about the SO ecosystem, they don't care about a question ban because they might have further questions. I think there should be a more positive approach, even if I don't know how exactly that apporach should look like (a wizard? a higher rep tutor? hide downvotes?) Commented Feb 26, 2020 at 15:13
  • 1
    @OcasoProtal We need to optimize for people that can and will become good contributors. Such people don't mind when you present them rules up front. They do mind getting in trouble because they didn't know exact rules. If I had a dime for every new user that said "I wish someone told me so, before I started posting..." (talking about ban and post topic rules)... you know how the rest goes... Commented Feb 27, 2020 at 8:08
  • The last para is strange: What do you mean by that and how is your desire different/not working from searching for user:313443 deleted:1, which should work for you, but not me (or other ordinary users)? Do you mean easier access? Commented Feb 27, 2020 at 14:13
  • 1
    @LаngLаngС I don't know what low reputation users can see if they search. But for sure I mean easier access. If you cannot click it, it does not exist. There is recently deleted posts link under profile and I don't see any reason why all deleted posts would not be accessible from there. Commented Feb 27, 2020 at 14:58
  • Ah, agreed then that this a UI issue to improve. From mod down all users can only search for their own deleted posts, should that have been in doubt. I can't search your del-posts no matter how much rep. But for you it is 'there', with CLI like search query (no chance 'to click' but also no need 'to beg'…) Commented Feb 27, 2020 at 15:03
  • @LаngLаngС Since I have never seen mod telling user how to search deleted posts, but they hand pick them instead I always assumed low rep users cannot search for their deleted posts. Commented Feb 27, 2020 at 17:26
  • 1
    Oh. It appears that it's even restricted to be above some rep-level? All my beautiful deleted work here is indeed invisible to me with that search query, while it does work as I expect on sites where I'm a bit more respected. Thought I had access to my own stuff, even if deleted, always, everywhere. That's indeed a shame. Please take my earlier comments on this with that pinch of additional salt then. Commented Feb 27, 2020 at 17:42
  • 1
    @LаngLаngС Thanks for confirmation. I don't have deleted posts on sites where I have low rep (at least I cannot remember any), so could not check myself. No harm done :) there is so many differences between what low rep users and high rep users see that I am totally lost on occasions... Commented Feb 27, 2020 at 20:26
  • 1
    Wait, I didn't know post bans exisisted!? Commented Mar 4, 2020 at 12:17

Thank you, this sounds extremely promising.

  • A clear roadmap is a welcome turnaround from the "6–8 weeks" meme.

  • Some of the items seem to show a growing understanding that helping curating users help the question askers helps Stack Exchange as a whole.

  • The announcement of network-wide question asking improvements, better close voting UX, and hiding closed questions feels like the long-awaited rain after a drought.

    Especially the last one: back when I was active in curation, we'd often downvote closed questions just to get them hidden from the site's front page. That sucked for everyone involved. This new approach has the potential to be much better. And I remember the years of lobbying that went into the question wizard. It's great that it will finally become usable more widely.

While I'm still very sceptical of these new noises coming out of the Stack Overflow offices, I'm quite glad for the general direction of these announcements and hope everything continues along these paths!

  • 1
    Interesting. Why would you want to get closed questions hidden from the front page? As in, it sounds like the exact opposite of what @doppelgreener wants.
    – Clonkex
    Commented Feb 27, 2020 at 4:06
  • @Clonkex On smaller sites closed questions can linger on the front page for over a day. A front page with around 50% closed or downvoted questions is not a good look. We had hoped that a front page that showcases good, on-topic questions would invite more good on-topic questions, thus reducing need for downvotes/close votes in the long run. Dopelgreener is legitimately concerned about the reopening process, but in my experience half of closed questions are unrecoverable (e.g. wildly off topic) and its ultra rare for the asker to engage with existing improvement suggestions.
    – amon
    Commented Feb 27, 2020 at 10:24
  • I totally agree that most closed questions are not even worth bothering with, but I've personally had too many experiences where I ask a similar but definitely not duplicate question and it gets closed instantly (often because they literally just didn't read the question where I state why it's not a dupe) and then I struggle to figure out what to do next (since the question is already correct, and I stated how it wasn't a dupe, so now I just have to make some random edit and pray it will stay on the front page long enough for it to get reopened). As such I'm hesitant to make that even worse.
    – Clonkex
    Commented Feb 27, 2020 at 22:48
  • I think the "A year in moderation" posts that Shog9 made on site metas included stats on reopen rates... It looks like in 2019, 33% of all closed questions were reopened. And I don't think they were all bad questions - often, they could have been fixed, but the question author never bothered addressing the issues. (A few were simply a not good fit for the site.)
    – V2Blast
    Commented Feb 29, 2020 at 3:35
  • @V2Blast It is great that the RPG community was able to reopen so much! My experiences lie largely with the Software Engineering community, which has always struggled with communicating it's scope (often misunderstood as the place for soft questions that don't belong on SO) and has a tiny group of curators. Last year >50% of questions were closed, and only 2.3% reopened. Similarly, SO had a 3% reopen rate. Those rates should/could be higher (~20%?) but a lot is impossible to salvage.
    – amon
    Commented Feb 29, 2020 at 7:17

We are making fundamental changes to how our close question system works so that it’s a friendlier experience and more educational for post authors, while making it easier to edit and reopen closed questions, and reduce the burden on curators.

When can we expect to see some more information on this? I'm really interested to see what your mock-ups are, and would prefer to be informed every step of the way as you release these changes, and would love to be able to contribute to its design.

Questions that get voted to be closed will be hidden, giving authors the opportunity to improve their questions in private.

I have a few questions about this...

  1. Will users with the cast close and reopen votes privilege be able to see these hidden posts?
  2. How will you relay to the author of a closed question what they can do to get their post reopened?
  3. How can other users assist authors of a closed question to get their question reopened, especially if it's hidden?

I feel as though this change, once refined, could definitely increase the amount of questions that get refined and reopened. One of my concerns, however, is that hiding these posts will eliminate the possibility of helpful users stepping in and instructing the user how to better their question, because most of the time, helpful edits are made by other contributors rather than the question author to get questions reopened.

General questions:

  1. Will you be open to discussion on these changes as you release them incrementally?
  2. Would you be willing to roll back some of these fundamental changes if the community has widespread concerns over it?

Thank you for keeping us updated on your plans for the future. Please continue to keep us informed.

Additionally, try to open up channels of communication on the changes you plan to make, and ensure that everyone has their chance to contribute to these (very large!) changes.

  • 7
    doppelgreener's answer mentions (and elaborates on) many of the same points, and I agree with your concerns. I understand the desire to not have askers have a spotlight put on them and how bad their question is, but visibility is often helpful in allowing the community to guide the question toward a state in which it can be reopened. I suspect the level to which "too much attention" is an issue is very different between SO and smaller sites.
    – V2Blast
    Commented Feb 26, 2020 at 2:28
  • I support the answers of doppelgreener and Spevacus . Further, hiding closed questions seems counterproductive for an additional reason: it creates an opportunity for misuse, what it allows is that a small number of 'close' voters with any ax to grind may censor the site, closing and hiding questions for what may be inappropriate reasons. That's just not the way to promote a vital question-and-answer community open to critical community appraisal. It's feasible to make non-censoring change to limit use of a closed question -- e.g. grey-out, no more answers, only close/reopen comments, &c.
    – terry-s
    Commented Feb 26, 2020 at 13:24
  • 7
    1) Users with the cast close and reopen votes privilege will be able to see hidden posts. 2) Post notices and notifications(inbox & email) are mechanisms we’ll leverage to provide guidance 3) Mods/privileged users will be able to provide guidance 4) Yes, planning to open up for feedback at each milestone 5) Rolling back is always an option. Keep in mind we are balancing feedback from all users. Also, these changes are currently optimized for Stack Overflow. We know we’ll need to consider network site needs separately.
    – Des StaffMod
    Commented Feb 26, 2020 at 20:13
  • 5
    As mentioned in comments on other answers, we plan to post with more details and mock ups so we can open it up for feedback. Thanks for the feedback so far :)
    – Des StaffMod
    Commented Feb 26, 2020 at 20:14
  • 2
    No no, thank you. That's everything I was hoping for and more, @Des. Keep up the great work.
    – Spevacus
    Commented Feb 26, 2020 at 20:19
  • 2
    @Des Thank you for the clarification, and two big thumbs up for the rational, incremental approach! (Oh, and welcome to MSE!) Commented Feb 26, 2020 at 23:20

Very promising, especially that Meta is included in the discussion.

One question springs to mind. You say

Though our active user base continues to grow, our engagement has remained the same. What this means is that while more users are coming to the site every month, the number of users who engage meaningfully in the site does not increase proportionally.

To change this dynamic, we will balance investing in improving our tools and features that benefit our long-term users with initiatives that convert new users into engaged ones.

The dynamic suggests that as engaged users leave, new ones rise to take their place.

I'll ask the stupid question "Why do you want more engaged members?" The idea that you'd like more engaged members suggest that there's something about the stacks that isn't getting done that somebody want to see get done. Is it that questions are going unanswered? Is it community moderation tasks aren't getting done? Is it that non-engaged users are waiting too long for their answers? The language you use seems to suggest that we need more engaged members to adequately deal with the throughput, but it can be a valuable exercise to make sure that everybody understands the real goals.

Of course, it's entirely possible that that goal really is simply to have a higher number entered in a spreadsheet box, but it doesn't feel like this is the answer.

  • 5
    I second this question. I'm not really engaged in the "community" part of SO/SE (moderation, chat, etc), but do vote on Q's and A's ('active'?). Is community engagement just another metric for them (e.g. for VC), or is there some greater purpose that it serves? Commented Feb 26, 2020 at 6:03
  • 4
    They want more engaged members because they've belatedly figured out that they needed the people they kicked out Commented Feb 28, 2020 at 0:56
  • Yes, voting is considered an engagement activity. Commented Mar 12, 2020 at 2:55

Since you have mentioned the "Developer Survey" as a way to understand the community in that fancy image, I just wanted to point at something that might not be a big deal, but it was disturbing enough to completely push me away from such things.

I have been participating in the developer survey since four or five years ago. I liked the way the questions were designed and taking that survey gave me a feeling of inclusiveness. Last year, when I was going to take it again, I faced a geo-blocking message. I complained about it on meta and was somehow amazed about the warm response I got that gave me a sense of faith in this great community. This gave me some real hopes that at least there are some places on the internet where we won't be dealing with such discrimination.

But to my further amazement, when I tried to take the survey this year, I faced the same message! Though I shouldn't have been surprised regarding the other incidents and messes which gave the impression that nothing is impossible/unexpected anymore. But I really hoped that since the problem was immediately fixed last year, it won't happen again. Well, this was kind of offensive and I decided not to participate in any kind of such activities anymore, even if it is fixed in the future.

Now you might be wondering what this has to do with the things I said? To be honest, I don't know exactly. But I just wanted to point at the fact that the damage to the community's trust (well at least, my trust as a droplet in the ocean) is accumulating and the need to take some serious actions is becoming more evident everyday.

  • 3
    Thanks for the information, I just learned about this situation as since I am new to the company. We will review this earlier this year and see what we can do with the current survey vendor or alternatives since we have nearly a year to resolve this. Commented Mar 1, 2020 at 23:34

"Though our active user base continues to grow, our engagement has remained the same. What this means is that while more users are coming to the site every month, the number of users who engage meaningfully in the site does not increase proportionally.

To change this dynamic,..."

Yikes. This kind of approach really worries me. I know this isn't a popular opinion (been down-voted before badly, I mean we're talking meta-effect badly), but I truly believe the most valuable asset SE has are those users who fly in, get an answer, and fly away. These are the ones that cement into the broader culture the idea that StackExchange (StackOverflow) is the place to go to for your answer, even if they never post a question, post an answer, or even register. This makes it all worthwhile for those of us who do take part in the sustenance of this site. I myself like participating, and will probably continue to do so at my varying levels for years to come.

But if you start to chase off the very casual users, this site will eventually become forgotten in the haze of near-infinite internet possibilities for places to find answers. I do understand the corporate philosophy that constant growth, however implausible or impractical, is always a good thing. I just think you ought take a hard look at how you define 'growth', and how you can profit from that, before putting into place things that in anyway attempt to force participation in exchange for information.

  • 9
    They've been chasing away casual visitors for years. Have you seen the Stack Overflow homepage when logged out? It's all corporate gumph, and it isn't at all obvious that you can view the site without signing up. I know that's all the rage these days (Twitter is the same), but it's not friendly.
    – TRiG
    Commented Feb 26, 2020 at 11:21
  • 5
    @TRiG No they haven't, they have actively been moving away from quality to quantity over the last 6 years or so. The intention of the company is definitely to increase traffic. That they implement features that are counter-productive to their own goals, such as replacing the front page with a corporate barf paywall, is simply because of incompetence. ->
    – Lundin
    Commented Feb 26, 2020 at 11:49
  • 10
    Similarly, in their attempt make the community more inclusive, they launched a campaign that lead to harassment towards LHBTQ people. Now they have a campaign to interact more with the community and find out what it wants, which they started by firing all of the most respected CMs, the last people in the company that the community respected somewhat. Over and over, they mean one thing and do the opposite. The failure everyone does when discussing the company's actions over the past year is assuming that they are competent and make rational decisions. This simply isn't the case.
    – Lundin
    Commented Feb 26, 2020 at 11:51
  • 2
    @ouflak I've seen claims like this in other communities before. But guess what: once the people who provided the answers left, the communities were dead in the water despite all those "users who fly in, get an answer, and fly away." Because they couldn't get an answer anymore. Commented Feb 27, 2020 at 11:02
  • @AnsgarWiechers, I'm certain that happens. But what I meant was that for this site, it's the vast number of casual users that spread the word, make up and encourage the bulk of traffic, and are the reason why so many of us participate in doing more than just getting answers for our own issues. If you chase those people away, this site will fail just as surely as it would if the contributors were the ones to go first.
    – ouflak
    Commented Feb 27, 2020 at 11:11
  • @AnsgarWiechers, Unless this site decides to become an Experts Exchanges clone with basically just a few users answering questions for each other and all paying for the privilige, we should make it as easy, click-free (canceling spammy sign-up prompts), and welcoming as possible. The casual users should never be given even the slightest impression that you have to pay to see anything or that you have to 'register', not even accidentally.
    – ouflak
    Commented Feb 27, 2020 at 11:12

Welcome to StackExchange, Ms. Dietrich! (This answer was written before I noticed your second initial post.)

About your post, in general and in context of recent events

Yours is an interesting post, with some promising and some worrying aspects. But most of all - it is disconnected from what has been happening here on the network over the past few years, and specifically over the past several months.

I suppose that this is in part only natural, with you being new on the network - but if SE inc. as a company wants to have a "clean slate", this needs to be stated explicitly, and also - answers need to be given and amends must be made before this can actually happen. This is particularly worth emphasizing because we have already noticed how more veteran company employees occasionally make "How things are going to work from now on"-type posts which completely ignore what they had done before, said before and been told or asked before. Again - this is not personal criticism of you.

Also, your post describes planned unilateral action. While you mention trying to understand the community, engagement etc. - the underlying framework is of the company making decisions about the network and then enforcing them. The tradition - recently more honored in the breach than in the keeping - is that many policy decisions are reached through a process on meta sites and in chat-rooms, by the active users; and while moderators and company employees have a privileged position in that decision-making process, it still a community process. This applies specifically to some of what you're considering: Changing the question-asking UI, changing the closing process and so on.

Remember the network's raison d'etre

I concur with most of the criticism and apprehension voiced in other answers. Please bear in mind that the network exists to build up a repository of useful answers to questions, not to maximize people's active interaction.

Thus, for example, if you're thinking about an email newsletter, you need to ask yourself: "How will this help the production or improvement of answers to questions?" If the answer is "it won't", then it's probably not a good idea (and will also be poorly received on account of that fact.)

The above is a more nuanced point then one might first assume. Specifically, encouraging useful/meaningful questions to be asked is a valid goal w.r.t. the criterion above, because such questions beget good answers. But artificially encouraging "engagement" of users means more work for the active users / editors and more noise in the body of questions.

The problems with statistics

Your "understanding the community" rubrique lists the "Site Satisfaction Survey" and "Developer Survey" as actions. I believe these are not likely to significantly help your understanding of the community. This is for at least 4 reasons:

  1. Sampling issues - especially with the first one. The population of survey-responders is not representative of the population you need to understand.
  2. You only get answers to what you already know you want to ask.
  3. A lot of insights can not be obtained by asking a straight-up question of individuals. Perhaps one might even say the more important insights about a group or community cannot be thus obtained.
  4. It's not a single community! There are some commonalities; and some of the more active users live in more than one network site - but some of the SE sites are literally worlds apart. From what I gather, interpersonal skills SE is almost nothing like Stackoverflow. And while the latter is larger than all others, they can't just be lumped together. In fact, a "Developer Survey" is by definition irrelevant to most network sites: Biking, religion, cooking, politics, history...

From the blog post:

Questions that get voted to be closed will be hidden, giving authors the opportunity to improve their questions in private. Our hope is to make it easier on everyone by providing clearer guidance and encouraging better questions.

This does not encourage better questions. It just hides bad content.

Also, this seems like something that will reduce the community's power to close questions. In other words, more bad content is allowed into the sites for the sake of pretending to be a friendlier place for people who have a hard time with the stack Q&A format.

One thing that I like about Stack Overflow, for example, is that when I have a problem I don't have to search through s... Erm, sand to find what I want or need.

I really love that post from 2011, specially this:

We believe asking questions on our site is a privilege, not a right. If, after a few fair attempts, you haven’t been able to prove that your contributions to a particular Stack Exchange make it at least … not-worse … then we reserve the right to refuse your questions. If we don’t do our part to cull the bad questions, then we risk alienating the true experts who provide what really matters: the answers!

You already took a step away from that philosophy when you made upvotes to questions worth as much as upvotes to answers. Now it seems like tolerance to sand will increase too.

If you want more users in lieu of quality, you can save a lot of effort by just changing format. Rebuild the network as a series of forums. Just saying.

  • 2
    I don't follow the logic: "this seems like something that will reduce the community's power to close questions". How does hiding closed questions reduce being able to close questions? Hiding closed questions takes them "off the radar" - it reduces the "sand". Commented Feb 28, 2020 at 21:40
  • 1
    @CindyMeister no, the question is still there, but less visible to those that would close it. And judging from the text around it, the question may resurface unclosed. A closed questiom stays closed until it is reopened, which requires improvement. Commented Feb 28, 2020 at 21:58
  • 1
    The phrase "voted to be closed" is a little unclear: does that mean a sufficient number of votes (3 or 5) to get closed, or just any number of votes in favour of closing? It sounds like @CindyMeister read it the first way, and Renan read it in the second way.
    – npostavs
    Commented Feb 29, 2020 at 4:50

On the topic of roadmaps...

I'm an avid fan of games, especially AAA PC games, but also smaller indies. Lately, the game industry, and especially the AAA industry, has gotten to the worrying trend of releasing games in an unfinished state with tons of missing features, a huge amount of bugs and a core gameplay loop that's generally considered to be unsatisfactory by the target audience (don't worry, I have a point to make). Then, on the day of release, the developers release a roadmap, similar to what you did, with a list of intended feature updates and changes to the game, in hopes of retaining the customers while they spend another year or 2 finishing the game. (see also Early Access)

There is a problem that has consistently appeared in this situation, especially with the most egregiously unfinished game releases, like Anthem, Fallout 76, the Epic Games Store,..., namely the problem of the inflexibility of these roadmaps. through whatever reason, the roadmap does not get fulfilled, planned features get delayed or even canceled, and if they do get released they're poorly implemented. This is often because there are pressing issues with the game that take up development time, either bugs from release that need to be fixed or sudden appearances of problems that weren't noticed before and need to urgently be fixed. In most cases, roadmaps miss their targets and even get canned after a couple months of struggling.

Obviously Stack Overflow is generally stable and not like an unfinished AAA game in terms of feature completeness and amount of bugs, but after being faced with tons of AAA roadmaps that inevitably miss their mark, the concept of a roadmap, in my eyes and those of other gamers, has become synonymous with mismanagement, missed goals and slow reactions.

What are the plans of Stack Overflow to ensure that the roadmap it is setting out will in fact succeed, both in terms of completing the goals on it and ensuring the goals on the roadmaps will have the intended effects?

  • 2
    Should this be its own question? Commented Feb 28, 2020 at 17:56
  • 1
    I can't comment on your experience with the gaming industry and roadmaps but I can share my approach. I believe roadmaps should be built only up to 6 months in advance. The next quarter should have a confidence of 85% and the following quarter at least 65%. Roadmaps should be commitments, if we aren't sure we can do it, don't put it on. We also take into account work on bug fixes and small incremental changes that don't require major investment. Roadmaps are framework to communicate the priorities but should be tied to KPIs that indicate if desired impact is achieved. Commented Mar 4, 2020 at 1:38

I already tried to leave this as a comment on the blog post itself, but of course it didn't get approved (can't have dissenting opinion on the front page, can we?). Well, let's see if this gets deleted as well.

I would like to point out that all of the changes that the community has been criticizing over the past months (if not years) are still in place. Every single one of them. Nothing has been repealed or amended.

In light of this the statement

Increase user engagement

We are launching a series of educational email campaigns for new users, non-active users, question askers, and question answerers. These series are designed to take a proactive approach in providing guidance and support for all users.

reads to me like the company is still operating under the impression that they "didn't explain things well enough to us."

Lack of explanation on your part or lack of understanding on our part is not the problem here.

  • 8
    One of the loudest complaints I've heard in recent years is that curators are being blamed. Curating content is not "nice" and we need to make ppl feel "welcomed" by being "nice." This seems to be saying they're looking at things differently now. If we can educate newer or more casual users so they post better questions and get better receptions, their posts won't need to be curated as much and they won't feel "attacked." From my perspective, this is a major shift in thinking that many meta users have been asking Stack to consider for ages.
    – scohe001
    Commented Feb 29, 2020 at 14:39
  • @scohe001 Sometimes we're supposed to downvote without comment (b/c telling people where they're wrong is unwelcoming), the next time we're supposed to comment without downvote (b/c downvotes are unwelcoming). I kinda lost track of what's the current policy a couple months ago, because it seems to change every other week. Commented Mar 2, 2020 at 18:37

There's one piece of this blog post that strikes me as non-sequitur and a wrong handling:

Improve feedback metrics

Our users have shared that they don’t feel heard by Stack Overflow. We will define a dashboard for the various types and methods of feedback and dedicate time to processes and outreach that identify ways we can be serving our users better and facilitating better two-way communications.


The situation of having a community that doesn't feel heard is NOT solved by "setting up a dashboard." That's what you do if you have a bunch of machines that you need to monitor. NOT real people.

What you need to do is look at what is being said by the people who say they don't feel heard, and seek to understand them. And then respond to them appropriately in such a way that they actually know that you have understood them (which may also imply that you are doing something about whatever it is they brought up).

This is entirely and only a human process and cannot ever be done by machines. And certainly cannot be done by a dashboard or by numerical information.

Overall, it's nice to see what looks like a greater intention to engage with the community. Hope it will pan out. I just had to say something about that one paragraph because it seemed so entirely off the wall.

  • 5
    I'm sorry, but if you've ever worked for a large scale corporation, this just isn't feasible. You can't "seek to understand" all 1+ million people in your community one by one. While I agree meta posts should read, understood and responded to by CM's , the bigger issues that need more work than just a response should be organized and put somewhere they can be worked on. That paragraph is saying we've been promised space in the budget to have our grievances addressed and resolved. Maybe you could elaborate a little more on what you're imagining SE doing in a perfect world in regards to this?
    – scohe001
    Commented Feb 28, 2020 at 20:20
  • 3
    @scohe001 When did Stack Overflow become a "large scale corporation"? Besides, the number of people who give them feedback is not 1+ million, it is 100 at most. Majority of the "users" make at most one post on the site and never come back. Although they do help the company pad their numbers when making a sales pitch to VCs, potential buyers, or for selling their "Teams". Also, how come this "large scale corporation" took down a site from HNQ for months based on one tweet from one (non)-user, if it isn't possible to "seek to understand" each person individually? Commented Feb 29, 2020 at 10:59
  • Hey @Uchi! Yea, you're right, I don't think Stack is a "large scale corporation" by any means. I probably should have said a small corporation with a large scale user base. But can you share where you're getting that 100 number from? I think part of the discrepancy here is in the way we're defining "community," so can you expand on that too? And lastly, I'm not sure how acting on that tweet shows an effort to "'seek to understand' each person individually." Quite the opposite if anything seeing how many people that decision upset.
    – scohe001
    Commented Feb 29, 2020 at 14:15

In January, we launched our monthly blog series “The Loop” to share research and feedback insights and methodology.

Please, fix the blog first before using it for things which need feedback. Currently blog is very poor: it lacks any kind of intergration with stack exchange, it doesn't looks like it's desinged for community (it has very "stinky" promoting design), it will not let us to give feedback on feedback, etc.

My suggestion would be: if you plan to post something for us (stack exchange members), do it on meta please.

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