Stack Exchange

May 2011 Newsletter

2011-05-07 by . 3 comments

Introducing the Community Moderator Newsletter

Welcome to the first edition of the Stack Exchange Moderator Newsletter. This monthly newsletter will provide an important outlet to highlight the top community-related issues of the previous month, as well as highlighting the newest features added to the Network.

My goal is to keep the noise and the rhetoric to a minimum. This will be an information-dense resource, so let’s get started.

Staying Informed

If you haven’t already subscribed to our Stack Exchange Blog, that is where you will find most of our major announcements. If it’s more detail you seek, the Recent Feature Changes to Stack Exchange post provides an up-to-date list of all the major new features added to your site.

Return of the Stack Exchange Podcast

April brought and end to the long hiatus of the sorely-missed Stack Exchange Podcast. The audio podcast invites us to to listen in on a weekly call between Joel Spolsky and Jeff Atwood (CEO and CTO of Stack Exchange) to discuss the development of the Stack Exchange Network. There is a lot of information packed into the hour of pithy banter between Jeff, Joel, and the occasional guest. It really is the best way to gain some insight into the how’s and why’s of how this all works. I receive each episode automatically on my iPod through a free subscription from iTunes, or you can listen to it on your computer by watching for the announcement of each episode weekly in our blog.

Encouraging More Question Voting

We’ve known basically forever that questions don’t get voted on nearly as much as answers. To promote more voting on questions, users now have an additional 10 question-only votes in addition to the current 30 all-purpose votes they get each day. We also provide a gentle pop-up reminder for users who cast a disproportionate number of votes on answers only. Set a good example and vote on particularly clear or intriguing questions on your site.

/Review path for New Users

We have been experimenting with a set of review pages that focus on contributions by new users. It’s incredibly important to vet and review contributions by new users, as that’s your first and best opportunity to educate. It’s also how you’ll find and reward your most talented newcomers. Please make it part of your routine to visit those review pages and make a special effort to up-vote good content from new users. That will give them the initial boost they need and help them realize “Wow! This is the place for me!”

Treat Meta Questions Like Gold

It’s not unusual for your meta site to receive significantly less traffic than the main site. The problems begin when you meta starts to get ignored by the community and ignored by the moderators. It is particularly disturbing when users reach out in meta and starts talking about improving the site or asking for help… only to be ignored; No follow-up, only deafening silence.

The only way to break that cycle of The “Empty Restaurant” Syndrome is to treat each meta question like gold. That small spark of activity may be just what you need to promote even more involvement in the site. But more importantly, it is vitally important that users know meta is there when they need it.

To that end — As a moderator, every new meta post is now inserted as an item in your inbox. The “inbox” is that small Stack Exchange icon in the upper, left-hand corner that notifies you when you have replies anywhere on the Network. When users reach out in meta and starts talking about improving the site or asking for help, please engage them by giving their inquiries top priority! More meta participation will encourage others to participate so you don’t have to carry the entire burden of community support yourself.

Fill Out Your Tag Wikis

If you haven’t visited your ‘tags’ page lately, the tag listing now shows a bit more information about each tag, including an excerpt from each tag wiki.

There was an interesting issue raised by ChrisF of our Home Improvement site. He noted that we should make special effort to assure that the first two pages of tags have tag wikis. He’s right. Tag wikis are a great way to educate users about the most popular subjects on your site. Take a look at your ‘tags’ page and see to it that each of those top tags has clear and concise wiki entries.

That’s all I have for now. See you next month!

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3 Comments

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  • Mike says:

    Rebecca,

    Thanks for the pingback to my “Empty Restaurant Syndrome” blog post. Mike

    @mikepascucci

  • [...] a recent newsletter, we discussed the importance of the /review page to help you acknowledge (and educate) new users [...]

  • [...] you’re a long-time reader of our Moderator Newsletter, you’ll remember the significance of filling out your Tag Wikis. [...]