Communities

Writing
Writing
Codidact Meta
Codidact Meta
The Great Outdoors
The Great Outdoors
Photography & Video
Photography & Video
Scientific Speculation
Scientific Speculation
Cooking
Cooking
Electrical Engineering
Electrical Engineering
Judaism
Judaism
Languages & Linguistics
Languages & Linguistics
Software Development
Software Development
Mathematics
Mathematics
Christianity
Christianity
Code Golf
Code Golf
Music
Music
Physics
Physics

Dashboard
Notifications
Mark all as read
Q&A

Welcome to Codidact Meta!

Codidact Meta is the meta-discussion site for the Codidact community network and the Codidact software. Whether you have bug reports or feature requests, support questions or rule discussions that touch the whole network – this is the site for you.

How can we improve community proposals?

+16
−0

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?

Why does this post require moderator attention?
You might want to add some details to your flag.
Why should this post be closed?

2 comments

What conflicts does the Medical Science proposal have? Zerotime‭ 2 months ago

@Zerotime the answers from Mithical and James Jenkins on the proposal, and especially the voting on them, make me think there are unresolved issues. But it's also been a while now, so maybe voters have changed their positions (but not updated votes) or aren't tracking it any more. A new answer that tries to resolve those issues in the form of a proposed scope, that people could vote or comment on, seems like a good idea. Monica Cellio‭ 2 months ago

10 answers

+8
−0

My three cents

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.

This would essentially be solved by being able to subscribe to a specific post.

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

There probably isn't, to be honest. The only difference was that one was "You should have a community of some interested users helping to build the site", but since we do the interest check regardless, it doesn't really matter.

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

Honestly, the only thing that needs to change is activity on the proposal - even if a proposal has ten people saying they're interested, and maybe three experts, when none of them are actually working on the proposal itself (by discussing scope etc.) then it will die.

I think part of it is because of how clunky comments are - they don't show as activity on the front page, so all the real discussion goes unnoticed and unanswered since nobody is going to check back on a proposal if there's no "activity", right?

Perhaps we need to think about notifying users about comments - whether that be in general or just for subscribed users (when single-post subscriptions become a thing).

Why does this post require moderator attention?
You might want to add some details to your flag.

0 comments

+9
−1

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 sidebar on Photography, the sites are really trying to be built while standing all on their own. If we had better ways of encouraging cross-pollination or just getting more eyes on questions the sites would have an easier time getting started.

That would let us build sites with more casual users and fewer enthusiasts instead of trying to build communities with just enthusiasts. Right now some of the sites are struggling with a lack of voting and casuals would help fill that gap.


[status-partially-completed]: We've added community promotion ads to help with this in an intentional rather than random way.

Why does this post require moderator attention?
You might want to add some details to your flag.

1 comment

FWIW I'm planning to build some kind of "site-switcher" component in the header, which would allow to switch communities easier. luap42 (on a break)‭ 2 months ago

+4
−0

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.

After reading the introductory paragraph I was planning to raise this if you didn't. I think it naturally ties into the assessing of interest: don't just ask people how much they expect to participate but in what rôle, and don't launch until there are enough people with questions to ask and enough people with ability to answer.

Why does this post require moderator attention?
You might want to add some details to your flag.

3 comments

I think it's also worth noting that the "skill" needed to answer (and thus the number of enthusiasts & casual visitors who can readily contribute answers) likely varies by topic. Christianity.codidact has had several questions sitting around for a long time with no answers, I suspect in part because a lot of questions require really specific knowledge or non-trivial research. Whereas other communities might attract answerers more readily but have challenges with not enough questions? Peter Cooper Jr.‭ 2 months ago

@PeterCooperJr, I think people who want to answer will do non-trivial research if it's a subfield that interests them, so maybe there's a mismatch between the aspects of Christianity which interest the questioners and the answerers. Mathematics and photography seem to be suffering from having people who would answer but no-one with questions. Peter Taylor‭ 2 months ago

You are unlikely to find the askers here when the site is being defined. You need committed domain experts to launch a site that is ready for questions. Getting questions is about getting the word out. The marketing plan should be part of the site proposal. Olin Lathrop‭ 2 months ago

+4
−0

When the site is launched there should be a way to notify those who showed interest in the community proposal. Otherwise, it may well happen that they do not get to know about it unless they track the category Site proposals constantly.

Why does this post require moderator attention?
You might want to add some details to your flag.

5 comments

Agreed. I'd like to have a way for people to register interest and then a way to notify them all in a batch. Pinging people one at a time in comments doesn't scale. Monica Cellio‭ about 2 months ago

This will be possible with the comments update I'm working on. Add a "Announcements" thread, which only staff can write to. Everyone who wants to can follow it. luap42 (on a break)‭ about 2 months ago

@luap42 not sure if this would be the same. If I show interest in a specific community being built, I may just want to be notified about that one, not about the rest. fedorqui‭ about 2 months ago

@fedorqui yeah. Sorry for being unclear. There would be an "Announcements" thread on the community propoal, which users can subscribe to. (Threads being a way to organize comments on posts). luap42 (on a break)‭ about 2 months ago

Aaaah, @luap42 that does make much more sense :) Still, something more automatic would be also great... in the long run, of course. Just mentioning it here for the future. fedorqui‭ about 2 months ago

+2
−0

One of the problems is Proposals that get an initial posting, possibly a quick flurry of activity, and then absolutely nothing.

One option is to make a rule along the lines of:

  • No new answers or edits within 'x' (30? 60?) days other than technical (grammar, tags)
  • Still has all 3 needs-* tags

Then Close the proposal.

This is kind of arbitrary, but it would declutter things that nobody except OP seems to care about, and where OP hasn't done the extra effort to improve the question.

Why does this post require moderator attention?
You might want to add some details to your flag.

0 comments

+2
−0

We've implemented one part of this (that seems to have consensus and no objections): the tags. I've updated the proposal guidelines, created the three "needs" tags, and retagged many proposals. (Sorry about the churn on the proposals list.) If we find in the course of using them that we need to tweak the tags, we can do that.

We've also determined that, even with the criteria still being in flux, two proposals are ready to advance, so we've tagged Music and Physics both as status-pending. We're in the midst of some infrastructure improvements right now, so there will be a bit of a delay, but they're coming.

The rest of the points raised here are still very much open for discussion.

Why does this post require moderator attention?
You might want to add some details to your flag.

0 comments

+1
−0

It would be useful to have a basic listing of the current status of all the proposals.

This way, we could have a good overview that would provide the basic details of each proposal.

Using the status-* tags, this should do quite doable.

In the future (1), there could be a timeline of each proposal, so a table would provide all the details on when every step happened (first col status-definition, second col status-needs-people, and so on).

In the future (2), this could also be user-specific, showing and indicator when the logged user is following any given proposal.

Why does this post require moderator attention?
You might want to add some details to your flag.

0 comments

+3
−4

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.

Why does this post require moderator attention?
You might want to add some details to your flag.

3 comments

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 Mithrandir24601‭ 2 months 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. Lundin‭ 2 months 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. Moshi‭ 2 months ago

+2
−4

I agree that the site proposal and validation process needs a re-do.

One of the biggest problems I see right now is that everything about a new site is limited to a single "question" in the Site Proposals category. That makes sense in trying to keep the chatter about individual sites from drowning out the list of what sites are being proposed. However, it greatly diminishes the usefulness of the voting mechanism we already have.

What we need is some kind of container for a set of posts about a new proposed site. That way one post can deal with the scope, and try to nail it down by voting on competing answers. Another could have a list of sample questions so that the community can indicate which ones are on topic by voting. Another post would be about who is willing to participate and at what level. There could be multiple answers for expert, enthusiast, casual, and lurker, and people upvote what they think their participation will be.

New questions can arise as additional issues come up that don't fit neatly into what was already mentioned.

The problem then is how to provide this container of posts for each proposed site. One possibility that works within our current mechanism is to have a category for each proposal. However, I think that would cause confusion with other categories that are not about proposals, like main Meta and Blog currently.

I think a separate Proposals site makes more sense. Each new site being proposed would get its own category there. To reduce clutter, the categories for sites that get launched would be deleted, or perhaps moved to a Proposal Archives site that would be read-only.

Why does this post require moderator attention?
You might want to add some details to your flag.

0 comments

+1
−3

I saw these suggestions here somewhere, but I can't find them. If you know where, just edit this post to link to them.

Someone suggested that Codidact must focus on inaugurating POPULAR subjects that will attract LAYPEOPLE e.g. https://meta.codidact.com/posts/279001. On Stack exchange, many picture ID questions become Hot Network Questions. Codidact ought capitalize on laypeople's interest in the stock market rally like the Game Stop short squeeze, in economics and politics because laypeople are definitely caring about the stimulus packages, inflation worries, and unemployment.

No offense...but I wouldn't have inaugurated Physics. That person also suggested that Codidact has been inaugurating too many abstruse subjects like Scientific Speculation, Electrical Engineering, Judaism, Software Development, Code Golf, Christianity. None of these esoteric professions make headline news. Finance, economics, politics do!

Why does this post require moderator attention?
You might want to add some details to your flag.

2 comments

On the other hand, we had hoped that Cooking, already a broader interest, would flourish in the pandemic. Monica Cellio‭ 1 day ago

@MonicaCellio Sorry to hear that. But Cooking doesn't make headline news. PSTH‭ 1 day ago

Sign up to answer this question »