Welcome to the Stack Exchange Moderator Newsletter. This monthly newsletter highlights the top community-related issues and events of the previous month.
Question Down-Votes Are Now Free
As part of our effort to increase voting on questions, down-voting questions will not be subject to a -1 rep penalty. Down-voting answers still incur the usual -1 reputation cost. We will be monitoring voting patterns over the next few weeks and evaluate the effect of this change.
Community Promotion Ads for Your Site
If you’ve been following the Stack Exchange blog, you may have read that your Stack Exchange site can now host its own ads for events of interest to your community. Users submit the artwork for these ads and users vote for which ones appear. This is a great way to bring announcements of interest directly to your community. See the blog post for details.
Community Guest Appearances on SE Podcasts
Next week’s podcast (SE Podcast #07, airing June 8th) has scheduled our own Steve Karantza (Shirlock Homes from DIY.SE) as a guest. If your site has an interesting user you would like to “meet” on a future podcast, let us know! Who Do You Want to See on the Stack Exchange Podcast?
Keep Network Meta Questions on Meta.
There was an interesting discussion on last week’s moderator chat-cast (#20, starting at about 4:42 PM in the transcript). I mentioned the importance of keeping and supporting discussions on your per-site metas, even when those discussions could go on meta.stackoverflow.com.
We routinely follow all the support threads on your meta site. It is completely unnecessary to burden your users with the subtle nuances of where to ask for help or submit a feature-request. Network-related questions are okay hosted on your meta site. Please pass that on to your community when you see users shutting down discussions with “This should be asked on meta.SO.” Our goal was never to dismissively direct everyone to meta.stackoverflow just at the hint of the issue being “network wide.” Pass it on!
From the Department of “If you read nothing else…”
The Teacher’s Lounge hosts all the latest discussion of interest to moderators. But pouring through endless chat transcripts may not be your thing. If you read nothing else, why not drop by the chat room once a month to view the “starred posts?” The right column highlights the most “starred” advices and announcements the moderators found most helpful. If a favorite post rouses your interest, click on the link to see the full transcript — Why not use this newsletter as a reminder to check it out once a month?
On a related note:
If you have a general moderator issue that can be discussed in public (without disclosing private per-user stuff) then we encourage you to discuss general moderation issues using the [moderation] tag on your site. That way the entire community can benefit from the conversation and provide input. And don’t hesitate to email the Community Managers at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com if you have any deeper concerns. We always prioritize email from community moderators.
That’s all I have for now. See you next month!
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.
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!