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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 …

8mo 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 …

8mo 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 …

7mo 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. …

8mo 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 …

6mo 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 …

7mo ago

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

6d 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 …

7mo 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 …

8mo 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 …

6d 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 …

8mo 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 …

5mo ago

1 comment thread

General comments (2 comments)

12 answers

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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 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).

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+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 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.

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General comments (1 comment)
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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, it may well happen that they do not get to know about it unless they track the category Site proposals constantly.

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follow proposal by following a comment thread? (1 comment)
General comments (5 comments)
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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. 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.

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General comments (3 comments)
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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 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.

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+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 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.

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+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 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.

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+1
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Indicating interest and following proposals

Now that we have threaded comments, and the ability to follow threads (meaning you get inbox notifications of new comments), maybe we can use that to simplify some things. Two suggestions:

  • For each proposal, create a thread on the post named something like "follow this thread for status updates". Anybody can follow the thread. The initial comment would ask people not to comment in this thread, just follow if interested. When a proposal has significant changes (like a status tag), we'll add a comment about it. Followers will be notified. This is manual, but seems better than what we have now.

  • For new proposals at least, replace the "register your interest here" answer with a comment thread on the post named something like "comment here if you want to help build this community". The intro comment would ask people to indicate level of interest (casual, enthusiastic, in between), specific areas of interest/expertise, etc -- boil the current answer text down into 500 characters. As with the other one, we'll ask people not to have discussions here; each comment should be one person indicating interest in the proposal, only. This is simpler than editing an answer.

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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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General comments (3 comments)
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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 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.

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+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 that most of proposal has more than 5 enthusiasts but, all of them doesn't participate. OK! They are busy with their works. And, they aren't able to answer all of question. So, they can't participate. So, let's forget about it.

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.

We have. HTML gave us way to do that. We can write questions in answer also. I am not talking about sample questions. Cause, a community can have more than 1000 answerers. But, if there's no questioner than, the community will be useless. We got lots of question after creating Poweruser community. So, we can say that PU is little bit active community. Linux community had launched also. But, it had lots of proposal and, lots of enthusiast. But, there wasn't lots of questioner. So, the community became inactive. So, we have to sure that our member have question. They need it too much. You said,"We don't have a good way to manage that now". Let's think from mind. Who have questions they can type in an answer (The answer will be created by a user or, system). That answer will be under license CC0. Anyone, can add their question using details summary HTMl tag. Just every user (who has question) should edit that post. Here's a sample of how should we write question. Don't make your question bigger. Just put a meaningful title and, describe in short (don't have to show research effort). If anyone thinks that, that question is off-topic than, write off-topic inside parenthesis to title. And, say why it is off-topic in Comment (Suggest edit's comment).


Who don't have idea of "A community", he shouldn't propose "A community". Cause, he can't explain why we need that community. What's the importance of it. How it can help people. (Earlier, someone had proposed a site he didn't have much more idea how that community works. I am not mentioning his name here).


Your title goes here. (off-topic (if that question is off-topic)) I had faced it. How to solve?
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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 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 must capitalize on laypeople's interest in

  • the stock market rally like the Game Stop short squeeze

  • economics and politics because laypeople are definitely caring about the stimulus packages, inflation worries, and unemployment.

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

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