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There will be a video call meeting between us (moderators) and several Community Managers soon, and I'd like your feedback on things we should ask about. There is already a list of questions that will be discussed at the meetings and we can still add a few to the thread on the private team, but there will also be time during the meeting itself to discuss more things that weren't mentioned before.

Specifically, are there any topics you would like me to bring up or any specific questions you would like me to ask regarding anything to do with Stack Exchange? Feel free to include ideas specific to CGCC, but we must also remember that SE is going to prioritize decisions and topics that benefit the entire network rather than just one or a couple of sites, so if you have a way to extend some considerations to the whole network, that might get a better response (and I'll try to do the same with any questions specific to this site).

Of course, I can't guarantee I'll be able to ask all of them, and I can't promise I'll even consider them all; some I might silently decide to skip. However, this is a very valuable opportunity for moderators to directly discuss with community managers about things that matter to us and to relay things from the community up, rather than for them to relay things from the company down. Thus, I would like to know what the community does want relayed up, since the call is to talk about things that matter to us as moderators, and by extension to me, a large part of that is what matters to you.

Questions or topics should relate to things that are controlled by the network, the staff, etc (even if it's specific to this site, things like changing the help center, for example, are locked from us and so that is something necessary for the "higher ups" to consider that I can't do anything about); things relating to this site's moderation should just be posted on meta for this site's moderators to see.

Here are a couple examples of questions/topics that have already been brought up to give you a better sense of what we're looking for:

  • Why are we still launching changes to the sites without discussing them with at least the mods first?
  • Magic wand time: What would the CM team love to change? And is there anything you want to keep?
  • In the light of recent events I'm wondering how the Stack Exchange Community-a-thon went.

Please post one topic/question per answer and vote on things you'd like discussed so I can get a better sense of how much the community wants each potential point of discussion to happen.

Finally, here's a question asked to us (moderators) that might help prompt some ideas that I'd be interested in seeing the community's answers to as well:

How can community managers better support you? We're not developers, so we can't fix bugs or implement feature requests. We are curious what non-technical support you would like to see from the Community Management Team. Should we write a community management course for moderators? Answer some questions on a child meta site? Adjust some site settings for your community? Please, tell us!

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Do you mind giving us some examples of the ideas you have? I imagine the list they have so far is confidential, but if not then sharing that would be super helpful, too. On the one hand, it should be low enough that it's actionable by the staff/network. And on the other hand it should be high enough that it's not something we can simply post to meta. (You said both these things, I'm just repeating.) I'm having a hard time imagining the sorts of issues that lie in the ripe middle ground! Thanks for going to represent us along with the others. You guy make a great face for CGCC! \$\endgroup\$
    – AviFS
    Sep 4 at 9:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ @AviFS Good suggestion; added some to the question. \$\endgroup\$
    – hyper-neutrino Mod
    Sep 4 at 12:04
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Discussing the sandbox

I think this would be an important thing to touch on, since it's such an important part of the site and we have so many little (and big) things that would improve it. The concept of sandboxing could also be useful on quite a few other sites, so it's relevant to the network as a whole.

Things that could be brought up include:

  • Problems our sandbox currently has, like reviewing being difficult or people not noticing it
  • We have over 3000 posts in the sandbox, and any sort of clean-up is basically impossible because there's so many
  • Simpler solutions to the problem, like having a mod-only tag that could automatically put information about the sandbox somewhere visible on main, as well as make other changes (like sorting by active by default)
  • The possibility of having a more official sandboxing feature, maybe even something like a sandbox.codegolf subdomain
  • Other sites that could have a use for sandboxing, and other ways an official sandboxing feature could be useful (like migrating questions that need a lot of work, but are still useful or interesting)
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    \$\begingroup\$ Something about this I think should be emphasised is that, while our Sandbox is probably the worst (in terms of problems to mitigate) across the network, many SE sites, a lot of them bigger than us, use sandboxes and would benefit from proper support for them. To name a few, Mathematics, Worldbuilding and Puzzling, all use some form of sandboxing \$\endgroup\$ Sep 4 at 16:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ (CC @cairdcoinheringaahing ) IPS also has a sandbox. \$\endgroup\$
    – emanresu A
    Sep 5 at 20:11
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    \$\begingroup\$ I think this is worth framing more broadly, in that the Sandbox is kind-of a hack, and the ideal thing would be an integrated feature to help users draft questions and get feedback. \$\endgroup\$
    – xnor
    Sep 9 at 22:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ I believe it would also be more practical to have a feature where, when you post a challenge, you have to draft it first, which makes it visible to everyone in a "sandbox" area, and once it's been green-lighted by enough people, it could be auto-posted to main. Edits can be made in this sandbox, and with this feature (which would also apply to other websites that enable it) anyone can comment even if they have less than 50 rep. This would cut down on spam and prevent under-specified challenges. \$\endgroup\$
    – ykcul
    Sep 10 at 8:52
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Company engagement with the network

Short comment/question

Does Stack Exchange want its employees to be engaged with sites in the network aside from Stack Overflow, Meta Stack Overflow and Meta Stack Exchange? If so, how does the company aim to not only improve this engagement, but make it clear to the community as a whole that it is improving?

Events like the Community-a-thon are promising, but don't show the necessarily visibility to demonstrate that the company is making efforts to engage - as users of their own product, not as staff - with the network.


Longer version

When Stack Overflow was first started, the core developer team at the company were very closely engaged with the community. As more sites were added, members of the team became engaged with these sites as well. Taking a look at some of the former employees' flairs:

Network flair for Jeff Network flair for Robert Network flair for Shog Network flair for Tim Network flair for Pops Network flair for Oded

As you can see by their network reputation, and the sites they have that reputation on, these high ranking staff members weren't only engaged on SO and MSE, but also on a large range of the different sites in the network.

Comparing this to the current CM and PubPlat teams, or the CEO and the Head of Community:

Network flair for Prashanth Network flair for Teresa

These are especially important members of staff, when it comes to engagement with the communities, as their actions will have the most direct impact on those users. Unfortunately, a lot of these users only have engagement on a small set of Stack Exchange sites.

I therefore believe it'd be beneficial for Stack Exchange, as a company, to work on improving community engagement with its employees. The Community-a-thon is a good event, but, by design, it doesn't visibly demonstrate this engagement in any way aside from the posts on Meta Stack exchange.

Does Stack Exchange share my beliefs in the importance of engaging their staff, as users, with their network as a whole? If so, what goals do they have, and what efforts are they taking, to improve this and to do so visibly?

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Balance between network-wide and site-specific changes

It's clear that Stack Exchange is prioritising changes that affect the network rather than a specific site, and that site specific changes are much less likely to be implemented. As one of the more unique sites, we're more than aware of this. However, this network exists because of the sites that make it up. And not every site is the same; some single sites could do with specific features, some groups of sites with a shared feature that doesn't apply to every site. Disregarding a feature request because "it wouldn't apply to every site" is a fool's errand that is unlikely to keep users invested in their site

Therefore, I'd like to know how SE intends to balance their intention to prioritise network wide changes against the fact that some sites could benefit from changes that don't apply to the entire network. For the purposes of this question, changes that are specific to Stack Overflow are irrelevant - that site is a special part of the network that can't really be considered in the same way as any other site.

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