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As a product team, we’re taking a look at our end-to-end product development lifecycle and identifying points where project work has reached a milestone that can be shared with you for input. We recognize feedback from our meta communities is invaluable and we want to share ideas with you at earlier stages to incorporate your feedback. To avoid confusion and manage expectations, we will do our best to be clear about the type of feedback we’re looking for at each milestone/stage. For example, a feature in the Discovery stage will go through several design iterations before we land on a solution, so we have a lot more room to incorporate feedback before going into Build. Whereas changes to a feature that is at the end stage of Build is costly but may be in need of user acceptance testing.

To clarify what stage a project is in and set the right expectations with you, we plan on introducing new tags (likely 2-3 overall). We’re starting with the mod-only tag on all Meta sites. This tag will be used by staff when sharing concepts in the Discovery phase relating to product or configuration changes. In most cases a direction and/or goal has been established, and there has likely been some amount of time invested in research and discovery.

We’ll do our best to be explicit in the post about the questions we have and invite you to share your thoughts. Note that while we will try to respond to as many items as we can, we cannot commit to implementing any specific item solely based on feedback or votes.

I hope this is another step forward in rebuilding our relationship with you and we appreciate your help in working with us.

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    Neat. When will this tag become mod-only? It's currently displaying as a normal tag. – Spevacus Apr 23 at 16:53
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    It's forthcoming, @Spevacus: it needs to be made mod-only and to have its wiki and excerpt filled on all Meta sites. – JNat Apr 23 at 16:56
  • Don't forget to add some tag info describing what the tag's for/about! :) – V2Blast Apr 23 at 23:27
  • It seems that the tag was transferred to some meta sites. I have seen it on two of them, in both cases the tag-excerpt contained a typo (missing I in Indicates). math.meta.stackexchange.com/posts/31584/revisions meta.mathoverflow.net/posts/4522/revisions (This did not seem important enough to make a separate post, but I thought that it is worth mentioning at least in a comment.) – Martin Apr 27 at 6:03
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    "excerpt filled on all Meta sites" I hope there's a script. Else someone will be busy... – Journeyman Geek Apr 27 at 8:19
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    @JourneymanGeek The two instances on per-site-metas linked above had a typo. This suggest that it was probably copied manually. (Or if it is automated, there is probably some bug in the script.) – Martin Apr 27 at 8:25
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    @Martin I made a dev route to push the mod tag to all sites. Used it to populate all sites. And miscopied it :-(. Will shortly be fixing that – Yaakov Ellis Apr 27 at 9:03
  • @YaakovEllis It seems like your dev route didn't auto-reject pending suggested edits, resulting in confusion. Can you please respond? – Sonic the Masked Werehog Apr 28 at 19:53
  • The effort itself is welcome, but is "product-discovery" a user-friendly name? I think that users are using "web services", The term "product" is from the developer's perspective. – cubick May 21 at 7:59
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I thank you for this step and for telling us about it, and I think I lack a little context for understanding what this signifies.

The way you talk about a capital-D-Discovery-phase makes me feel like there are product phases that are well understood/documented internally, but that perhaps the broader community isn't aware of.

I'd request that you and your team take a look at whether and how it's appropriate to share some of that structure with us, so that we can all be working off of the same vocabulary and sharing the same expectations.

(I'm reminded of a tweet by Shog9 (I think?) from a while back talking about disconnects among knowledge-centers within the company as projects moved from one phase to another, only to have constituencies brought on board at later phases turn out to be in possession of key experience/understanding that would have been really impactful earlier on, but which at later stages felt just like a frustrating roadblock to project participants. If someone more Twitter-savvy than I can find it, please feel free to link it in.)

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    They sound like the stages mentioned in stackoverflow.blog/2019/12/11/… – Tinkeringbell Apr 23 at 17:00
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    It does, and I'm glad to have that linked here--thanks, @Tinkeringbell. (I will note that the word "discovery" doesn't appear in that post, so if it is a term of art as I'm reading, I think there's still a disconnect. But it may just be that a single, errant capital letter has me in a tizzy. As usual.) – nitsua60 Apr 23 at 17:24
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    You're right, they're different ;-) They just sound similar, don't worry, it's not you! – Tinkeringbell Apr 23 at 17:36
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    "Discovery" (or Product Discovery) is a term we use internally but is generally well understood in product development as the phase in which product teams iterate on a concept until they validate the idea. There are many tactics during this phase: user research, surveys, prototyping, etc all aimed at reducing risk/uncertainty until a final solution design is defined (or mvp, vNext etc). – Des Apr 23 at 17:58
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    Thanks, Des--good to know that it aligns pretty well with the plain reading of the word. I'd be more interested in knowing--if appropriate--what the other phases are. I.e. where Discovery's situated in the life-cycle of a project, in SE-world. – nitsua60 Apr 23 at 18:06
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    @nitsua60 I think that would make a good topic for a future post. I'll take that one back to our team. – Des Apr 23 at 18:11
  • @nitsua60: Are/were you thinking of this Twitter thread by Shog9? twitter.com/shog9/status/1233591329491283968 – V2Blast Apr 23 at 23:26
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    That thread was something I've seen in every job I've ever done, @V2Blast - going back to milking cows decades ago! More of a personal observation than anything relevant. I have written about communication and product design strategy quite a bit over the years, both here and elsewhere... But the relevant subtext in those is simply that "discovery" isn't / can't be limited to an up-front Discovery phase (yeah, they lied to me in those systems analysis classes): every system involving people is constantly refined by them; some are aware of this. The value of meta lies in this ongoing refinement… – Shog9 Apr 27 at 16:44
  • @V2Blast I don't think that's the one I'm thinking of. Maybe it was a Jon-thing. It definitely went specifically to the depth of "team A would be working on a thing, did a year's worth of work, it'd get pushed to other parts of the company through channels, and suddenly team B would chime in with 'that's horrible for reasons X, Y, Z!' Team B would feel like they'd been left out of important design decisions with ramifications for their work, team A would feel ambushed by engineers lobbing in grenades from the back row, and all would go to crap." – nitsua60 Apr 27 at 17:32
  • @nitsua60: That does seem familiar... Though I don't remember if it was an answer on MSE by Shog, or maybe a blog post by Meg. :P – V2Blast Apr 27 at 21:04

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