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This is largely catalyzed from this question and its subsequent comment chain.

The basic sentiment brings to highlight a very specific site in the network which suffers from two specific problems:

  • The site's scope and domain were formally discontinued or ripped from underneath its feet by the OEM.
  • The site itself doesn't have a whole lot of activity around it, either.

My perspective in asking this question is that there was an exchange with the moderator dealing with this question that left me puzzled.

For context, the moderator believes that Meta is not the site to discuss whether or not a network site should be closed, and that it should be taken to that site's Meta. The problem with that is that I can see a question that was last touched in 2017 on that site's Meta if I don't move my mouse wheel. This tells me that the community that actually curates and moderates this site is...either reduced to nothing, or has long since packed up.

In essence, facilitating a conversation where no one is strikes me as not having a conversation at all.

While I don't necessarily disagree with the moderator - I do feel like the community should own the choices here - if there is no obvious community, who owns the choices then? How do we get attention to a site that has fallen into disrepair or by the wayside? Not all of us have or want to have to use our inner connections to CMs to shed some light on this. I'd be looking for a more formal kind of pattern to do this so that the community knows how to react when they see a situation like this.

So, what should we do? Does MSE have a role here when there's no obvious community who would?

2 Answers 2

17

if there is no obvious community, who owns the choices then?

Since I am said moderator... This question is not giving the nuance I added later on. I've already clarified, so like I said in the comments, if there is no meta community on a site at all anymore, the choice should be up to staff. Also note that there's a subtle difference between 'discussing viability' and 'outright arguing for its deletion'. The latter was what was happening, and the latter is what I was addressing in those comments there. If Meta.SE regulars want to argue about site lifecycles, fine. But don't go around saying 'this specific site should be deleted because'.

If you see a site where you believe spam is lingering, bad content is no longer moderated, and where you believe any post on meta will go unanswered, I believe you should use the 'Contact Us' form, and add examples to point out the issues and have staff take a look.

Note that moderators on a site get notified of new meta posts. So even if the moderators there aren't writing their own questions on meta, they still get notified if someone else posts. As such, they may be very capable of alleviating any fears of inappropriate content lingering on a site. So just because you see 4 years of posts on the front page doesn't make posting in a more appropriate venue (even if it's just as a first resort) totally superfluous.

I still stand by my point there: The choice is up to the site's community, the people that still moderate or visit it, and if there truly are no such people, the choice is up to SE staff. But it's not up to MSE regulars to argue about the closing of any site, whether it's languishing or not. If it is, you have two venues, maybe there are more that I don't know about... but the users of this site can not make that decision, so having the discussion here is useless.

Besides it being useless... it's also rather insensitive and impolite to argue that a site should be deleted on Meta.SE. What would you think or feel if you found out that the site you still moderate, still care about, had people arguing it should be deleted on here? I remember a post saying exactly that about IPS, and it both wasn't constructive and it wasn't nice for the people that do care about that site to read. As long as there isn't any spam lingering on that site, as long as the new questions are still moderated, there is still someone that cares out there, and that someone doesn't need a mob of users that have never been to their site telling them the site that they still maintain, even if it doesn't grow anymore, is better off deleted.

6
  • 1
    This is why I was very explicit about saying "if there is no obvious community". On IPS, there is a very obvious community so I would expect questions about its viability on MSE to be closed in a timely manner with little fanfare. That aside, your position seems to be more on the side of spam and other problems which aren't getting handled. I feel like that could go without saying, but this is more a nuanced situation - the site isn't getting bombarded with spam, but it lacks an obvious reason to exist and there is no obvious community. Is it only staff that can discuss this?
    – Makoto
    Oct 13, 2021 at 18:58
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    @Makoto At this point, I don't know how I can be clearer: Meta SE can be the site to discuss site lifecycles in general (as far as that doesn't belong on Area 51 discussions), but if I see people posting that a specific, named, site should be deleted, I'm going to moderate and say it stops right then and there. So, if your question is a general "What's the lifecycle for sites whose topic is deprecated", it can stand and get a general answer. If it gets comments or answers arguing "$sitename should be deleted", or the question is asking "should $sitename be deleted" I'm going to delete that.
    – Tinkeringbell Mod
    Oct 13, 2021 at 19:04
  • 5
    @Makoto let me mention that user profile spam is not considered by SE as a concern or something moderators should actively look for and moderate (read: destroy)
    – rene
    Oct 13, 2021 at 19:05
  • 3
    Even then though, a question like "what should the lifecycle for sites whose topic is deprecated be" will probably have little to no effect if started at random, because ultimately the decision and policymaking is still up to SE staff. Given that, such a question is better off asked by them if they want our input, instead of started by the community just for the sake of having a discussion, because the latter is mostly just a waste of time that could be spent on other problems ;)
    – Tinkeringbell Mod
    Oct 13, 2021 at 19:10
  • 5
    So I'm a bit worried that you may be defensively answering my question; your position is still very much on if there is a community when I'm saying that there isn't, or it's not apparent. I'll accept your other points about this, but given the fact that the attention of CMs is hard to come by, I was hoping that there could be something we could do to constructively discuss that sort of thing. Your points about community otherwise are 100% valid and I don't disagree with them at all. I'm simply looking for a whole catalyst on how to get that conversation started.
    – Makoto
    Oct 13, 2021 at 19:30
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    See my comments above for examples on what could be constructive questions, and what definitely won't be. You may be familiar with meta.stackexchange.com/a/289913/369802, my stance is the same for sites: focus on the problem not the site. If you're going to focus on arguing that a specific, named site (that's not Meta.SE) should be deleted, you're not being constructive. If you're still not sure how to start a conversation, let me know and we can pick a time/date and hash a post out in chat later.
    – Tinkeringbell Mod
    Oct 13, 2021 at 20:05
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I'd say in the generic - we're the place for discussing the process.

In the general, we probably are not the place for well meaning meddling on the affairs of a network site.

I guess the problem is when we're trying argue for the life, death and afterlife of a community. In the case of Windows Phone - it’s probably a great exemplar of a community built around a sunsetted product, and we might need to think about how one might choose to go forward with such communities in general. We might have more as the blockchain feeding frenzy dies down.

That said, I don't feel MSE is the right place to discuss the birth (Area 51 and its possible successors), continuation (per site meta is the right place) and death (The community management team and per site meta). Personally - I have some (rough) ideas of what might be a useful future for the Windows Phone site but, it’s not really my place to say - unless I had a stake in it. We shouldn't be the place where such decisions are made

I believe that right now, as of October 2021, the lifecycle of the communities is something SE is looking at. Considering some other conversations I've had about some other communities I shan't name, I feel like rather than trying to bring up the conversation of one community being dead, and why it needs to be put down (in the veterinary sense of the term), perhaps we could consider how we can try to 'fix' ailing communities, and what would be the options that are available to revitalise or help those communities wind down in a dignified manner in general, rather than talking over them about their impending doom.

If you want to talk about Windows Phone in the specific - and it’s a site you properly care about, their meta is the right site. Likewise, if there's a site you're involved in at the risk of dying due to lack of moderators, and you have sufficient involvement, step up.

If you want to talk about the lifecycle of sites in general, and want to use Windows Phone as an example in general and talk about the challenges these sites face - MSE might be appropriate. In this case it very much was about Windows Phone and its unfitness to survive, so I don't think it was in our scope.

3
  • Just want to clarify that I fully understand that the example question was not the way to discuss things; I'm looking more for a better approach to do so. It seems that your response is, in specific, what I'm looking for. I would want to leverage this as an example "in general" more than "in specific", but there is always going to be a blurry line when it comes to Meta pundits and their ability to contextualize from a broad area (anecdotally said from a self-proclaimed Meta-hound). That blurry line is what I need help with, honestly.
    – Makoto
    Oct 14, 2021 at 14:40
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    My stand here is - with a properly functioning community management team, and we finally have one built up, it would be really good to try to analyse the reasons a site fails, and if its possible to salvage it in some way, to at least try. With windows phone, I'd try to see if there might be communities of interest within SE for other niche OSes, like Kai or sailfin that might benefit with sharing the site. For sites short of mods, to understand why people arn't standing, or the community left. This very much needs far more than us meta talking heads can do.
    – Journeyman Geek Mod
    Oct 14, 2021 at 14:55
  • I concur with that. If nothing else, I would think that my role in this would be to surface it, not to try to debate and/or enforce action since I know I couldn't.
    – Makoto
    Oct 14, 2021 at 14:57

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