We’d like to introduce version labels (official name and verbiage pending) for answers, a new product feature idea as part of the larger Outdated Answers project. We hope that this feature will help users more easily identify relevant answers that resolve their problems, as well as highlight opportunities to provide newer, up-to-date responses to existing questions. Version labels are currently in the early product-discovery phase. We’ve illustrated some initial ideas on how this might work on Stack Overflow. We’re interested in your feedback and hope to incorporate it into further iterations.
Note: We know that several sites have already shown interest in a feature like this and we believe that it has potential for use on many of the sites across the network (such as Role-Playing Games, Code Golf, and Puzzling), but this initial investigation, we will be focused on Stack Overflow and technology versioning.
1. Version management
Version labels are directly related to existing tags. We are considering using package managers to import major and first-level minor releases from languages/tags with X amount of questions. We're still defining what that minimum-bound may be. Tags that fall under the minimum requirement will have manually generated labels using the label management workflow.
Closely modeled after the tag synonyms workflow, the label management workflow will be gated behind a reputation requirement. At first, we would like to open this feature up to moderators and gold tag users exclusively.
- Users will be able to create new labels from the Versions pages OR propose new labels when writing an answer post.
- From the Timeline view (for versions on the tag), users may see all available labels for a particular tag in chronological order. Version order will be set based on built-in sorting rules and can be modified by users here as well.
2. Adding version labels
Users will be able to add labels to answers as they would add tags to a question. Similar to tags, labels can be manually typed out or added via the suggestion popover. This feature will accommodate up to five labels as well as version ranges.
3. Answer filtering and labeled answers
We'll be adding a new filter option to the top of the answer section of each question page. These filters will be generated by the labels being used on the answers themselves.
Answer version labels are ultimately optional. If they have been applied, they'll appear at the top of the answer. When we ship this initially, we will not be building in any search functions that would allow you to search for answers with a specific label through the site search — but this is an expansion we may consider at some point in the future.
In terms of moderation, label editing will function similarly to tag editing in such a way that sufficient reputation levels will allow users to edit the labels alone without editing the post body.
4. Labeling millions of answers
One of the concerns that we have is that we're introducing this feature after 13 years of content has been created on Stack Overflow - figuring out which tags to prioritize and which answers need labels - and how to get those labels added accurately so that this feature is useful - is a big question.
We're considering having a beta period where we select a subset of tags as an opportunity to test out the feature before opening it up site-wide. We're really interested in ideas for how to identify these starting tags and prioritize these answers to be labeled.
Here are some considerations:
- Open the feature to moderators and gold badge holders who can add labels invisibly (without bumping) for a few weeks before making it visible to everyone.
- Choosing only the top 20(?) tags to start out based on some metric - e.g. recent questions asked, total questions asked.
- Creating a dashboard on the 10k tools page to identify high-priority questions that may need labels - base priority on things like recent views or recent upvotes.
Open questions for feedback
As mentioned earlier in this post, version labels are in the product-discovery phase. We are actively working on what the initial release would look like and will continue to make subsequent releases.
We know that this is going to be a massive effort and we’ll chip away at it over time, but we'd love to read your thoughts on how we could go about simplifying this process and get people involved in making these edits.
- How much effort do you foresee label management to be?
- How might we handle answers that have been inappropriately labeled?
- Which tags and qualifying criteria do you think we should consider?
- Thoughts and strategies for handling the initial population and rollout in the most responsible manner?
- What considerations are we missing?
Our efforts may be focused on implementing this on Stack Overflow, but please feel free to share how you might see this feature being used on the Stack Exchange sites by specifying the site in your response.