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How can we improve community proposals?

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Now that we've seen several community proposals, some of which succeeded and some of which have run into hurdles, I want to look at how we're managing and tracking proposals. While there will always be an element of human judgement, I feel like we don't have a good handle on how to decide when to advance a community. I have some thoughts on how to improve what we're doing, and I'm asking for community feedback, especially on the shorter-term items since we have proposals that people are patiently waiting for us to respond to.

Issues with the current approach

  • We currently use the "idea" and "proposal" tags as a coarse indication of where a proposal is. The line between them is kind of fuzzy, especially since we (I) added some status tags.

  • How many supporters are enough? It depends! I think topics of broad interest don't need as many experts to start, and ones of more narrow interest need more of those specialists. But notice I haven't said a number yet, because I really don't know. EE and Judaism, both somewhat specialized, started with a handful of people (<10) and are doing ok. Code Golf, which is newer, also seems to have taken off with a small group of enthusiastic founders. Does that generalize? (Also, is there a better way to track supporters?)

  • How much scope needs to be agreed on before launch vs after? Do we need sample questions (on/off-topic)? We don't have a good way to manage that now.

Short term

Tags: let's use "needs" tags from the start and separate them from status. A proposal should start with all of them and gradually remove them as they're worked out:

  • Needs-summary: a paragraph or so describing what this community is for, plus a one-liner summary for the community list. Use one or more answers to work it out so people can vote. When there's consensus, edit into the proposal and drop the tag.

  • Needs-scope: we want to see the next level down of scope consensus, whether that's lists of on/off-topic items or sample questions or something else. Think of this as fodder for the help topic on what you can ask here. It doesn't have to cover all the edge cases, but it should be a decent start. Again, we want to see some sort of consensus via voting -- do the people who are interested in building the community agree on what they're building (broadly)?

  • Needs-people: for now we can keep doing what we're doing with collecting them in a post. It would help if we could sort the list by enthusiast vs casual so we can more easily tell, but that requires people to self-identify and they don't always. (I tried to sort one proposal's list this way and gave up because I had to interpret too much.)

I don't know if there is still a meaningful distinction between [idea] and [proposal].

Criteria: As I said in "issues", I think some of this is necessarily fuzzy. As a starting point for discussion, let's advance a proposal when it meets all of the following:

  • Has a summary with a score of at least +10/-0. Even people who won't participate actively can and will vote, as part of the broader network community, so it's ok to have a highish bar here. Setting up a new community isn't hard but it's not free either, so we should see some consensus from the Meta community that adding this one makes sense.

  • Has a scope proposal (answer) of at least +5/-0.

  • Has at least three enthusiasts.

  • Has other users who've signed up on the proposal, number still TBD. (I'm thinking 5-10?) There are a lot more casual music people in the world than there are casual quantum-computing people, so we're likely to pick up more people "in the wild" on a general topic, which argues for requiring fewer for general and more for specialized. On the other hand, it's harder to find and attract specialists, so if we set the bar higher for a specialized community, it might never get off the ground. So maybe the number doesn't depend on the breadth of the topic, even though that's counter-intuitive to me at least.

A factor to consider is that a community needs a decent flow of (quality) questions to entice people to stick around. I'm not sure how we assess that in advance.

Here's how some of our proposals stack up against these criteria:

  • Music: would advance

  • Physics: would probably advance (looks like enough people, scope needs more support)

  • Linux: needs scope, looks like enough people including enthusiasts

  • History: needs consensus on scope, and enthusiasts (proposal is popular voting-wise)

  • RPG: needs people, particularly enthusiasts

  • Medical Science: has conflicts (needs to resolve), needs more enthusiasts, needs scope

Longer term

Longer term, we need better tooling for proposals. A post type customized for proposals could make a big difference. I'm imagining something that has a top-level post that describes the proposal, and then some specific responses for summary, scope, etc, and with all of this being more easily edited by community members.

Can we add an "I'm interested" button? You would be prompted for level of interest, level of expertise, and a freeform comment. Ideally these would be sorted and displayed together somehow; as an interim solution, they could be added to a (standard) answer that collects these, with consistent formatting and without requiring the edit ability on Meta. Once people can register interest in this way, we could ping supporters when the proposal changes state (status tags, I mean). It's ok if sending that ping is a mod clicking something saying "notify supporters" as opposed to something more automated -- the point is that if supporters "register" somehow, then we know whom to contact and could do it with automation rather than hand-written comment pings.

It would be nice to have a way to collect sample questions to feed the scope discussion. These would be individually votable (up/down). But it's ok if the scope discussion takes the form of an answer that anybody can edit, comment on, and vote on.

What else? What changes (in code or process) would help people proposing, supporting, and evaluating new communities on our network?

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+9
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My three cents > the point is that if supporters "register" somehow, then we know whom to contact and could do it wit …

almost 2 years ago

+9
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Just to throw in my two cents, right now other than the link way down at the bottom of the page and extra link in the si …

almost 2 years ago

+4
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When the site is launched there should be a way to notify those who showed interest in the community proposal. Otherwise …

over 1 year ago

+4
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> A factor to consider is that a community needs a decent flow of (quality) questions to entice people to stick around. …

almost 2 years ago

+2
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One of the problems is Proposals that get an initial posting, possibly a quick flurry of activity, and then absolutely n …

over 1 year ago

+2
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We've implemented one part of this (that seems to have consensus and no objections): the tags. I've updated the proposa …

almost 2 years ago

+1
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Indicating interest and following proposals Now that we have threaded comments, and the ability to follow threads (me …

1y ago

+1
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It would be useful to have a basic listing of the current status of all the proposals. This way, we could have a good …

over 1 year ago

+3
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I liked this answer where some external program was used to keep track of interested users. Generally, you would divide …

almost 2 years ago

+2
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I agree that the site proposal and validation process needs a re-do. One of the biggest problems I see right now is t …

almost 2 years ago

+1
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I saw these suggestions here on an earlier post, but I can't find it. If you know where, pls tell me. That person su …

over 1 year ago

+0
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Old post but, not lost. >Has at least three enthusiasts. If you visit most of proposal than, you will notice t …

1y ago

1 comment thread

General comments (2 comments)
Post
+3
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I liked this answer where some external program was used to keep track of interested users. Generally, you would divide interested users in three groups:

  • Potential moderators.
  • Core users.
  • Casual users.

I think naming (temporary) moderators before the site is started would help a lot in getting things up and running.

Core users would be enthusiasts who badly want to launch this community and/or veteran users from similar communities in the past. Domain experts might also count belong to this group.

Ideally you'd want at least 10 core users + potential mods, probably far more. At what extent "x" number of casual users is also needed, I'm not sure, but all activity is good.

Expect around 50% who declare interest to drop out and never show up. Which is why it would be nice to have an opt-in email notification for those who declared interest, so that when the site goes live, they do show up.

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1 comment thread

General comments (3 comments)

Comments on How can we improve community proposals?

General comments
Mithrandir24601‭ wrote almost 2 years ago:

Long term, I'm not entirely sure getting 'potential moderators' before the site exists is the best idea - you want to pick mods from the core users, once you know who the core users are, rather than letting someone say 'I want to be a mod' before they've actually done anything on the site

Lundin‭ wrote almost 2 years ago:

@Mithrandir24601 But site activity doesn't necessarily mean that they are suitable for moderator, other than that they are indeed active, which would be the bare minimum requirement. But if we want to start up a new community and someone who was an elected mod at the corresponding site at Someplace Else volunteers, then why not make them mod here too? Past experience doesn't necessarily have to be past Codidact experience.

Moshi‭ wrote almost 2 years ago:

@Lundin Personally, I agree with Mithrandir, I don't see the point of choosing mods before the site is up. At the start, the site is small enough that the global mods should do fine.

Of course, if they have experience, then we should factor it in when we start to choose mods - but the candidates for mod and the time for the election are orthogonal.