So you guys are all familiar with what happened with the envelope and the website design.

Since the website is very mature now and people don't really expect experimental/unfinished changes being deployed on all websites, I'm just wondering why you don't make a meta post asking for feedback before deploying the feature on high volume websites such as stackoverflow.com.

waffles has done this a few times and I think it always worked out great and no one was angry, so why isn't this always done?

  • 2
    Website layout?
    – Shog9
    Mar 18, 2011 at 20:25
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    waffles is not the only one who provisions out for new implementations.
    – Grace Note StaffMod
    Mar 18, 2011 at 20:27
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    @Grace: yes, it was more of an example. What I'm wondering is why this isn't always done =) Mar 18, 2011 at 20:28
  • 19
    Can we stop the Eeeek title meme now? It's rapidly losing it's novelty.
    – tvanfosson
    Mar 18, 2011 at 21:04
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    I admit that Eeeek is starting to lose steam, but it's still giving me micro-chuckles. Mar 18, 2011 at 21:15
  • Especially with the use of Eeeek the cat, it gave me reason to laugh again. However, it's easy to be abused for attention and not for the laughs.
    – going
    Mar 18, 2011 at 23:48

3 Answers 3


For the same reason Facebook doesn't. If they did, it would end up like this: The Process (a.k.a. Designing The Stop Sign Video)

I'm not quite sure why everyone thinks they have an equal say in what the developers paid by the company that has financial obligations to meet push out to the site.

Imagine if all of your users wanted to you to run EVERY change to the system past them first.

  • 3
    Facebook has done it before though. They ran new.facebook.com for quite awhile to gather user feedback before pushing the changes on to everyone. They have given the option to preview new designs, the new photo galleries, etc. Facebook seems to have learned from its history of user outrage that it is better to ease users into major changes.
    – Brandon
    Mar 18, 2011 at 20:50
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    I'm not quite sure why everyone thinks they have an equal say in what the developers paid by the company that has financial obligations to meet push out to the site. => Probably because of their motto =) Mar 18, 2011 at 20:55
  • +1 - "You can please some of the people all of the time, but you can't please all of the people all of the time."
    – jmort253
    Mar 19, 2011 at 8:15
  • Funny you would say that; that kind of UI churn is one of the reasons I don't actually use facebook much. I also think that to compare SO to facebook like this is unfair; SO seems to have less gratuitous rug-pulling by at least one order of magnitude.
    – SamB
    May 2, 2011 at 19:59

Simple answer is for the same reason that they don't maintain an official changelog. There's a lot that gets changed. Tiny things, small scale things, then big scale things. The perspective of whether it's big or small depends on the person looking at it.

For example, the CSS change? I shrugged it off because it was pretty minor to me. But given the reaction, there's a lot of people in both camps - some found it minor, some found it major. Both camps reacted differently - some felt it was minor but could use some big changes, others felt it was a major change but also shrugged it off. It's not even like there's a universal opposition or appreciation in either camp.

Could the decision to pre-advert or not be considered arbitrary? Perhaps it can be. Fact is, not everything goes through the community because making everything go through the community would probably hold up development significantly. By asking only about the biggest of items and letting much smaller things just get pushed, it accomplishes a lot more in less time.

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    Some people just need something, anything to rage against while they sit in their bunks doling out some of that armchair revolution
    – random
    Mar 18, 2011 at 20:35
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    In the month of February alone, there were 21 changes documented in our community FAQ, including flag weight, migration checks that remove tags, backticks in comments changing, the Strunk & White badge change, and the location of the logout link. Some people may consider one or more of these core functionality, and yet not one of the 21 was put first to community review. We had minor tussles, but otherwise we got nearly one new feature per day.
    – Grace Note StaffMod
    Mar 18, 2011 at 20:44
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    I'm pretty sure there were arguments about every feature you listed. Wow we whine a lot Mar 18, 2011 at 20:50
  • @Michael For the most part, if you think about it though, the people behind each of those arguments... were the big voices of the movements ever the same people?
    – Grace Note StaffMod
    Mar 18, 2011 at 20:55

This is not always done because not all features are experimental.

We have strong feelings that certain features are necessary for the network and sites to grow, and are not experimental but inevitable.

Of couse we are always willing to listen to feedback in either case and make adjustments, but what you think of as an "experimental change" we may think of as "essential and necessary change".

I can't really define those terms for you, only you can, so what you're asking for is effectively impossible.

  • Why not get feedback from us first, then rollout the change after you've fixed bugs/design flaws we've discovered? For instance the whole envelope bit could've been made a lot better if the envelope was kept for a while, and you let us see the new replacement, put in suggestions and you implement those suggestions, THEN deploy it. Rather than deploy and then get suggestions/complaints and then implement changes when the community gets fed up.
    – Earlz
    Mar 19, 2011 at 1:34
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    @earlz we always plan to implement changes based on feedback, being "fed up" has nothing to do with it. Shipping is a feature, and it's the best way to get feedback. Mar 19, 2011 at 3:04
  • Actually, I've become quite fond of the new layout. At first I was a bit confused, but then I realized that I can still see all my responses and upvotes/downvotes by clicking on the arrow by my name and clicking "reputation".
    – jmort253
    Mar 19, 2011 at 8:18
  • @Jeff: Well, shipping is a great feature, but I understand Earlz suggestion as follows: ship the new feature and keep the old one for a while. That would have been easily possible here. I think enough users would have tested the new feature even with the old envelope being around. Mar 20, 2011 at 13:17
  • @hendrik the old feature was, and still is, available. Nothing was removed. Mar 20, 2011 at 21:23
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    @Jeff: No, it's only partially available. The notification of favorite changes was removed, and also the link to the /recent page where one can find the changes. That's more than "nothing". (I hope some of that will be integrated in the new drop-down, which is already quite nice.) Mar 21, 2011 at 7:16
  • @Jeff: Now the /recent page is removed, and there's no proper substitute for it's "favorites" tab yet. (The "favorites" tab on my profile only tells me that there were changes, but it's a lot less clear about were to find them.) Apr 8, 2011 at 19:28

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