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Newsletter #3 (August 2020)


The following announcement was sent to subscribers of the Codidact announcements mailing list on August 10, 2020. It has been reformatted here.

Hello from Codidact! We have a number of updates to share about our communities, platform, and project. Thank you for joining us in this venture to build truly community-driven knowledge-sharing communities.

New Communities

Since our last newsletter we've added the following new communities:

  • Judaism, for anyone practicing, studying, or interested in Judaism and Jewish life. Q&A and weekly topic challenges are off to a strong start, and the community is considering creating a dictionary and/or blog. To support this community, we added a Hebrew keyboard based on a script written by HodOfHod from Mi Yodeya -- thanks! We also added integration with the vast library of sources hosted by Sefaria.

  • Languages & Linguistics, for anyone interested in specific (human) languages and language and its constructs more generally. So far we have questions about English, Hebrew, Arabic, a comparison between Arabic and Chinese, and linguistics (language-agnostic), and that's just in the first few days.

  • Software Development, for anyone involved in software design, programming, scripting, testing, architecture, processes, or tools -- just launched! There was a lot of discussion about whether to create one big tent or create smaller, topic- or language-focused communities from the start. The bottom line is that we're creating a large tent but planning from the start to spin off subcommunities later. We're also working with our friends at TopAnswers, who have some focused communities already. We wrote more about this decision in the site's welcome message.

They join seven other communities at

We have proposals and suggestions for several other communities, ranging from math to music to medicine. To help us better understand which proposals have what levels of support, we've made some small changes in how we manage proposals. We're excited by all the people who want to build new communities on Codidact, and we want to do all we can to help them succeed. That includes knowing that there's a core group of community members who'll help get a site off the ground.

Platform updates

We've made a bunch of updates to the platform since our last newsletter. Highlights include:

  • Posts now show raw upvote and downvote numbers instead of just a score. Answers are now sorted by the new scoring system we promised some time back (Wilson scores). The new scoring system favors consensus over controversy, and showing the raw numbers helps readers to evaluate those posts.

  • Tags improvements: proper tags lists, tag information for individual tags, and hierarchical tags. When viewing posts with a specific tag, you can choose whether to also include the tag's children in the results.

  • User profile improvements, including being able to see a log of public activity (posts, comments, and edits).

  • An interactive tour for new users. If you're not new but you want to see it, visit /tour on any community. The tour was a joint effort by our developer and doc teams.

  • Moderators can now feature posts in the sidebar to make challenges, important meta discussions, or other important posts more visible. Administrators can feature posts network-wide.

  • Various style improvements, including better font support for other alphabets.

  • Ad server: want to advertise a Codidact community, or Codidact as a whole, elsewhere? We now have an ad server that generates ads for communities, specific questions, or randomly-selected questions.

  • Improvements to moderation and admin tools, and better abuse-mitigation measures (because into every community's life some trolls must fall).

For a more complete list, see the change log.

We've also revised our plans for privileges based on trust levels. You can read the updated specification.

Project updates

Since Codidact was founded, we have had one rule guiding us every step of the way: community comes first. When we incorporate, it will be as a non-profit and the board will include community-chosen trustees. The leaders of the project hold ourselves accountable to you, the community, and operate with as much transparency as is humanly possible. At the community level, moderators serve and are accountable to their communities, and when communities are ready they will choose their own moderators.

Moderators have more power than regular users and Codidact team members have more power than moderators. We therefore need a check on those powers -- a way for the community to appeal and possibly overturn decisions made by those above them. We have shared a first draft of a policy that will allow this to happen,1 featuring an independent, community-chosen review panel that has teeth. We're working to update the draft based on feedback we've received so far and will share a new draft when it's ready. Even before we have a formal corporation with a board of trustees in place, we want to establish principles by which we keep our promise: by the community, for the community.

Thank you for your interest in Codidact, and we look forward to seeing you in our communities.

The Codidact Team

  1. Later updated with a second draft.