Meta doesn't like me; I can't seem to keep my points. How can I make good posts that are well-received?
What exactly is meta? Why/how is it different? What goes here?
Meta Stack Exchange is a special place for suggestions, bugs, support questions, and discussion about the Stack Exchange sites. It is the only place where more frivolous discussions are allowed. Meta is also harsh(er) to your feelings. That said, here are a few guidelines if you'd like to keep your sanity and reputation points.
Always search for your question first
Meta has been around for some time, and the fact is that most common questions/bugs/suggestions have already been answered. It's easier and less time consuming to search for your question. If you can't find it, think of different wordings and search again.
Heavily consider not requesting a new feature if you're new
Although this sounds cruel, elitist, and rude, it is innately true: the experienced users have been around longer than you have and have a better understanding of Meta and the Stack Exchange sites. It takes a little while to get used to Stack Exchange and learn the inner workings and methodologies of why things are the way they are.
The reason it is very difficult to find anything trivial or sloppy on Stack Exchange is that all of the inner workings have carefully been thought through, tested, and polished. In other words, if you have no idea what rocket science is, it makes no sense to walk into NASA and start telling them how things should be.
If you still have suggestion(s), that's great! However, the best advice to you is to hold that thought, learn the ropes, eat your waffles, ride your ponies/unicorns, and then revisit us. You will have a better background and more experience to suggest. Don't suggest anything before thoroughly checking if it was suggested before.
If your idea has been suggested before but not implemented, and you think the system has changed in such a way that the original reasons for not implementing it no longer apply, see here before asking.
Consider whether your question may be phrased better as a question and an answer
If you find a problem that no one has asked about before, and you think you have found a solution to that problem, it's better to ask a neutral question that simply asks about the problem and asks for ways to solve it, and post your solution as a self-answer, rather than provide both the problem and solution in the question. This way, if your solution turns out to be unpopular, only your answer will be downvoted, not your question.
In addition, even if your answer turns out to be a downvote magnet, you can always delete it, whereas an unpopular question with multiple answers or a single answer with upvotes cannot be self-deleted and quickly drains your reputation.
Don't criticize, put down, or insult. Be constructive.
Meta's primary audience is experienced Stack Exchange users who've spent hours, and sometimes sleepless nights, asking and answering questions, sometimes even pouring out their hearts over mundane tasks like editing tags. If you do post anything disrespectful, you can almost count on being reprimanded. Meta is still composed of people, and as people, everyone must be treated politely as such.
Instead of being rude or disrespectful, turn those negatives into positives. Be polite and constructive and you will be much better received.
Don't post incorrect answers/comments
Just like on regular Stack Exchange sites, wrong answers get downvoted. If you'd like to keep your reputation points, simply follow common sense. If you don't know, don't pretend that you do. If you aren't sure, say so (or don't post at all).
Don't whine or complain
While Meta is a place for questions, answers, suggestions, and bugs, it isn't a place to rant. Meta expects its audience to act – and post – like mature adults. If you've had your hair ruffled up, the preferred procedure is to persevere, putting on a pretension of imperturbability in the presence of perceived persecution, and carry on. However, if you really feel that a great wrong was done, or a pattern is developing, you can post it on Meta. But please, please, don't whine.
On meta, voting can be different on some questions, especially feature requests. On such questions, users often vote to signify whether or not they agree with the suggested feature, and downvotes are often used to indicate disagreement with the feature proposal rather than indicate that the post itself is of bad quality.
Remember, Stack Exchange is just a website, not your entire life
Just like any other activity, it is important to remember that life exists outside of this website. Spending days on end doing nothing but Stack Exchange is bad for your health (and we have to put up with your crazed antics). So please, remember that SE is a website, and keep things in perspective.