Today (15-3-2018), there was a discussion in chat, starting about here, about the state of IPS and its moderation. (Moderation here means any moderation, not just diamond mods stuff)

It is no secret that we struggle with our answers. Unexplained answers, frame challenges, non-IPS solutions, and so forth. This is a difficult thing to moderate, since there is a lot of subjectivity on this site. Answers, with their point of views, can be compelling and agreeable, but still be incomplete. In order to prevent this subjectivity from being too dominant, we expect a lot from our answers.

While it is nice and all to have a list of things we expect from answers written down somewhere, acting on it is not as easy. Often NAA/VLQ flags come back disputed, because users reviewed them as 'looks OK'. There seems to be a mismatch between what is discussed on meta, and what is enacted on main.

What causes this?

There are multiple possible explanations. First of all, the flag was wrong. That's possible, but let's just assume that if we apply the policy to the post, the flag is helpful.

To me there are really two options:

  1. The reviewer is not aware of the policy on meta.
  2. The reviewer disagrees with the policy on meta.

Both of these are problematic. The former is problematic because it means that a significant portion of the reviewing community is not aware of what is discussed and decided on meta. I say significant, because of the frequency and consistency that these flags come back disputed. Or the frequency that problematic questions get reopened.

The latter is problematic, because if a significant portion of the reviewing community disagrees on the policy, why is it still policy? Why is that opinion not reflected on meta?

Meta community versus Main community

Both of these boil down to one thing: participation on meta. To me, there seems to be a significant disconnect between the IPS community on meta, and the IPS community on main. There are users that have enough reputation to moderate, that do moderate, but that do not participate on meta, and as such are disconnected from the policy and the ideas behind those policies, causing the moderating that they do to be not in line with what policy would expect. This is counterproductive.

From what I can see there is a group of about 10 users active on meta and in chat, that has an idea of how to moderate IPS, in terms of scope, expectations from answers and comments. These ideas then get discussed on meta, shaped into a nice bit of policy, and subsequently enforced.

And this is where the ship strands. For the enforcement, we are reliant on flags and votes. The moderators have said multiple times that these forms of moderation are up to the community to work out and to apply. And that is fine, the community has the tools to work with them.

So where does it go wrong?

The point where this idea fails is that if there is a small group of users trying to flag and VTC, all the while they are outnumbered by other users that fall in the two groups I described above, this is doomed to fail. Closed questions get reopened, NAA/VLQ flags get disputed, and so forth. This does not help the site, because the moderating is a gigantic tug of war, going back and forth on these issues, and it also doesn't help the community. The 'meta'-users eventually get demotivated. This is something that is happening as we speak. Users get tired of having raise every issue on meta, begging for people to adhere to policy.

What can we do about it?

HDE226868 rightfully said:

I hope we can all understand that the building of this community is a long-term process.

This is true, of course it is. Shog9 has a similar story about the early years of StackOverflow.

But we need to start somewhere, and I think that we need a plan. Because right now, this site is split into two communities. There is the meta group, trying to define standards of moderation for this site and then there is the main group, blissfully unaware of these efforts. And while the building of a community takes time, while finetuning the moderation standards for this site takes time, to me it seems there is a clear place to start.

Getting more users to meta

The last few months have shown that the efforts of defining policy are largely ineffective if there is not a wide mandate for this policy. If only a small portion of the moderating users is aware of and agrees with the policy, it cannot be enforced. The policy needs support.

So how do we get this support? I think the place to start is to build a community, one community. We need to engage more of the users to contribute on meta. We need these discussions to happen. Maybe we even need to disagree. I don't mind being wrong. I'd rather be disagreed with in a meta discussion about moderation than after getting a flag disputed because someone disagreed with what we thought to have established.

So how do we tackle this problem? How do we get more users to share their opinion on meta? How do we make sure more people are at very least aware about what has been decided on meta? How do we turn these two communities into one?

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    Well I’d like to be more help when Im available, though only at a level of flagging/voting what falls under my eye rather than trying to check quality everywhere. My prob is understanding where to find some of the detailed rules and policies I see mentioned. People tell you to check Meta, but what I see here are discussions and I’m left not knowing what is policy. I look in on chat and I don’t understand a fraction of the discussion, abbreviations etc. So how do I understand enough to help without it becoming too onerous? – Spagirl Mar 15 '18 at 20:40
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    @Spagirl that's a good point. I have been trying to fix this a little bit with a policy-tag, but it still needs some work. Creating some sort of FAQ to link to should be really helpful – JAD Mar 15 '18 at 20:42
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    @Tinkeringbell because I don’t enjoy chat rooms. I’ve popped in a few times recently to try and understand more about the culture, but generally I’m reading backpostings, scanning for helpful stuff, not following in real-time. – Spagirl Mar 15 '18 at 20:57
  • Ah, okay. We don't bite, but I can understand that. You can always reply to one of the messages you read and don't understand, and read the replies later... And I agree with you that it would be nice to have a clearer distinction between policy and discussion on meta, so that you know what you can act on. I'd always thought that it was something like 'the most upvoted answer in a discussion is policy' :P – Tinkeringbell Mod Mar 15 '18 at 20:59
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    I think one way would be to refrain from downvoting meta questions just because one disagrees with a user on a personal level. I think I've seen this happen a few times - people voting down questions without bothering to help improve it. Is this worth an answer? – NVZ Mar 15 '18 at 22:22
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    @NVZ and how does one improve a question where the answer is just 'I disagree with all the premises in this question'? Also, downvoting is allowed for lack of research effort or questions being unuseful just as much as on main if I'm correct. If you want to write an answer feel free, but you can never be sure people only vote for disagreeing since you can't look into their heads... – Tinkeringbell Mod Mar 16 '18 at 6:21
  • @NVZ I think it's a symptom of a bigger issue: hostility on meta, especially hostility against dissenting opinions. – JAD Mar 16 '18 at 7:49
  • Note: your "discussion in chat" link in Q goes to the chat room only, and the most recent message is seen in real time. Is there a way you could link to the actual discussion that occurred? – English Student Mar 16 '18 at 15:13
  • @EnglishStudent fixed – JAD Mar 16 '18 at 17:06
  • That will be an interesting chat discussion, thanks @JAD. – English Student Mar 16 '18 at 17:10
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    Honestly, I've pretty much given up, myself. I'm tired of the insults which don't get deleted, I'm tired of the cliquishness and I'm tired of the nastiness in general on META. If that doesn't get better, don't expect much participation. – user4548 Mar 16 '18 at 19:34
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    It sounds like a key problem is that moderators are allowing decisions to stand where they contradict agreed meta policy. They shouldn't be doing that. Where a flag decision runs contrary to the agreed meta policy, Moderators should be enforcing said policy, thus a) Making sure that the site is run per the agreed policies and b) educating users that their decisions were in contravention of the agreed policy. – Valorum Mar 17 '18 at 10:45
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    More featured question on Meta will attract users to meta, especially if you're asking the big questions. – Valorum Mar 17 '18 at 10:49
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    @Edgar The rules are more relaxed here - (on-topic) discussion is allowed in meta comments to some degree. – Em C Mod Mar 21 '18 at 13:34
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    @Edgar Because meta is for discussion (see the tag), the main site is not. It is to provide answers. – JAD Mar 21 '18 at 14:46

When commenting about something, topicality, answer style, or what have you, start linking to the relevant meta discussion. It's the easiest way to nudge people towards the discussions on meta.

Be warned... This doesn't always work out the way you want or expect it to. Inviting people to the discussion isn't just inviting them to read what was already discussed. They'll likely have something to say about it.

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    I'm not sure the second paragraph really is a drawback. If there is a significant amount of people disagreeing with the policies, why should we hang on to them? – JAD Mar 16 '18 at 5:47
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    Also, from a community point of view, I would much rather that the site has a policy I personally disagree with, and that is able to consistently enforce that policy, than the disconnect we have now. – JAD Mar 16 '18 at 5:49

Well, this is against my better judgment, but here goes.

The first thing to do is make Meta more stable. That means crack down on rudeness and nastiness in here. There is one user who has ended up rage-deleting many of his posts out of frustration. I can empathize.

There is no rep penalty for down-voting in Meta, but there are more drive-by downvotes in this meta than I have seen elsewhere. Here, at least, comments should be included when there is a down-vote. So, if people are down-voting without comment, stop. All it does is make the person who went to the trouble of posting something to say "why do I even bother" and then stop participating.

Which brings me to the next point. BE NICE IN THE COMMENTS ON META and do so even more than on the regular site. People who post in meta do so out of either frustration or a sincere desire to built this site.

This is not the place to antagonize people

and, now for some general points

  • on the main site, refer people to Meta in the comments
  • if a Q or A is borderline, link to meta in the comments
  • Invite to chat when possible, link to meta.

To combat the overriding of flags, flag for moderator attention until the tone for the stack is set.

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    I agree with your points, but I don't think using mod flags is a solution. When closing questions for example, mods don't have that much more powers than users. Example – JAD Mar 16 '18 at 20:23
  • @JAD if a mod dumps a comment or closes a question, can those be overridden? – user4548 Mar 16 '18 at 20:36
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    I also disagree with the point about using more mod flags. In the past few weeks I've seen it mentioned more than once (at least once by the mods themselves) that having the mods do all of the moderation for us is unhealthy for the site. The community needs to be the ones setting the tone for the stack, and the mods need to be around primarily to handle the exceptions. – Rainbacon Mar 16 '18 at 20:43
  • @Rainbacon that works once a stack Is established, but the very problem laid out by JAD, and others is that we essentially have mob rule at this time. It's even hard to get something deleted as rude when someone else disputes it in review. – user4548 Mar 16 '18 at 20:46
  • @Rainbacon from the OP The point where this idea fails is that if there is a small group of users trying to flag and VTC, all the while they are outnumbered by other users that fall in the two groups I described above, this is doomed to fail. – user4548 Mar 16 '18 at 20:47
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    @RichardU "Mob rule" is something of an exaggeration. We don't have a fully-grown, fully-functional site, but it's not a chaotic mess, either. I trust the community to - most of the time - make the right choice. And in cases where they don't - well, then mods can step in. – HDE 226868 Mar 16 '18 at 20:47
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    @HDE226868 a bit of hyperbole, perhaps, but your reply is an under statement, and mobs are not necessarily chaotic. What is frustrating, is as JAD said, you try to participate in good faith, but you've been overwhelmed by people who are obviously not. – user4548 Mar 16 '18 at 20:48
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    @RichardU I agree that the division JAD described is a problem. The solution to that problem is to bridge the gap between the groups. Increased use of mod flags is only going to make the effects of the two groups disappear rather than the groups themselves. It's like an infection: if you only take aspirin to make the fever go away, you still have the infection. You have to take antibiotics to actually fix the problem. – Rainbacon Mar 16 '18 at 20:53
  • @RichardU Comments can't be overruled. If a mod closes a question however, it can just be reopened like any other question. – JAD Mar 16 '18 at 21:00
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    "So, if people are down-voting without comment, stop." No! Votes are the user's to use as they please, if SE wanted to force you to write a comment when you downvoted then SE would force you to write a comment when you downvoted. "All it does is make the person who went to the trouble of posting something to say 'why do I even bother' and then stop participating." Then that is on them. AFAIK it is well known up votes on Meta are agree, down votes are disagree, if you get a pile of downvotes then assume people disagree with you, if people constantly disagree with no comment then ask why – RyanfaeScotland Mar 27 '18 at 20:45
  • @RyanfaeScotland revenge voting in Meta means nothing though, which was one of my points. If someone actually wants to improve meta, it would behoove them to actually put forth a reason WHY they disagree, which I'll grant you, you did that. On TWP, a few of us actually have what we call "Downvote stalkers" or serial revenge voting. it happens, but here you don't get hit in the rep if you annoy someone. Again, you at least posted something which is far better than most. – user4548 Mar 27 '18 at 21:21
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    @RyanfaeScotland I deleted that comment. You're right, it was out of line. I apologize. – user4548 Mar 27 '18 at 21:22
  • Indeed, revenge voting in Meta would be pointless, but if it becomes policy here it sets a precedent for it becoming policy on Main. Also, some people may not make the assumption that it could be applied to one and not the other. And don't worry, we'll clean up the comments after our discussion and it'll be water under the bridge. – RyanfaeScotland Mar 27 '18 at 21:24
  • @RyanfaeScotland I think the frustration factor is running high right now. – user4548 Mar 27 '18 at 21:31
  • Yeah it looks that way, I'm just reading through the chat logs now that are linked in the first post and it's showing that you folks are trying hard to make this place work and seem to be constantly being pushed back. It's tricky now, as a 'wading in an out' user part of me thinks I should leave the answers to the 'hardcore' user actively dealing with it but another part of me feels somewhat obligated to post an answer just so you can get in and downvote it. ;) :P @RichardU – RyanfaeScotland Mar 27 '18 at 21:37

Honestly, I think people are intimidated.

BEFORE ANYONE GETS ANGRY, I am not accusing anyone. I am not saying the moderators are intimidating new users. No one is causing anything, so please don't rip my face off.

I've been here for a while now. I've always had a lot of positive feedback on my answers. I've always felt like I am a good member of this site. BUT...

Whenever I see a link to "Discussion has been moved to meta", 75% of the times, I don't bother clicking it. 25% of the times, I click it, read it, close it.

The reason I don't reply or participate is this: Intimidation.

The users who are big on IPS.SE - HDE, Catija, TinkeringBell, Spagirl, Shog9, Monica, apaul - to name a few, they almost always seem to be in the middle of a discussion. I've tried going into some of the chat rooms and I always see what is being talked about, and get scared and close the window.

Not at all anyone's fault, but to me, it feels very much like I felt when I was in middle school (and high school and college, sadly). "Oh these guys are friends are talking to each other about something, I don't want to be that weirdo who sticks his nose in". I just stay away for that reason. The users that are very active on meta discussions are well established. The other well established users joke around with each other in the chat rooms. I always feel like I don't belong there and that I am just a random weird alien trying to "fit in".

While I agree that apaul's answer that the meta discussion links should be posted on comments to nudge people to meta, I don't think anyone is ever going to participate in the discussion as it is because no one is waiting for anyone. A meta discussion feels very much like the main site itself - "Oh there is already 5 answers to this question, why bother answering on top of all this, no one cares anyway".

This is genuinely just my problem and I am not pointing fingers at anyone. I feel like this might be a widely faced problem by all users.

Also, "more welcoming" was one of the other answers I read here and that brings me to this:

I posted this question in meta

It got downvoted 4 times. The top answer was upvoted 8 times. The question is DEFINITELY not a question that should not be on meta. Not everyone knows why such a thing would happen on SE and that is a very genuine curiosity-related question about why it was not OK so I could learn. I was not angry, I was not pointing fingers, I was not blaming anyone, I was not accusing anyone, and I was definitely not ranting. But still, it got downvoted.

I've had a lot of questions since, but never bothered posting them because of fear of getting downvoted like that. I get that some questions do not belong in meta even, but if not in meta, WHERE?

This is just my opinion. And when I say this, please trust me: I DO NOT CARE that my question got downvoted and I DO NOT CARE that the other big guys talk to each other a lot, it is COMPLETELY MY PROBLEM. Just pointing out that it might not just be my problem.

  • A downvote on meta is not the same a a downvote on main. While a downvote on main is supposed to mean "you asked a poor question", on meta it's something more like "I disagree with your point of view". – brhans Mar 22 '18 at 20:21
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    I understand, but I never made a point of view, it was just a "what is the policy behind this" question. Disagreeing with wanting to know what the site's policy is means "meta is not needed for this site and can be deleted". – Crazy Cucumber Mar 22 '18 at 20:23
  • @brhans I always thought the same, but apparently, downvoting for disagreement is only for feature requests. Otherwise, downvotes should be used just as on main, for questions that aren't useful, unclear or show a lack of research effort. Weird, I know, but apparently it's like that... – Tinkeringbell Mod Mar 22 '18 at 20:28
  • @CrazyCucumber Do stick your nose in the chatroom, and talk. We're not unwilling to answer questions but there aren't often new faces asking serious questions in chat, so we just talk about what's bothering us or fill the time with chattering :) What gives you the impression I'm 'scary'? :P – Tinkeringbell Mod Mar 22 '18 at 20:30
  • Also, not to mention @brhans, I just noticed that you had posted a question that is literally the same as mine "Why was my comment deleted" - you do not have any downvotes. Which is why I was curious as to why so many people hate that question when I posted it when the comment itself had 6 upvotes. Also, that is exactly my point too - in my head, this is what I am thinking "Oh shut up Crazy Cucumber, no one cares about what you have to say in meta". And I feel like a lot of people go through the same feeling. – Crazy Cucumber Mar 22 '18 at 20:30
  • @Tinkeringbell has nothing to do with you! :) I find all the moderators fair and delightful. Which is what is scary to me. I feel like I am not "cool" enough. I get intimidated easily and that is a personal problem. Maybe other users feel that way too, and maybe making them not feel that way would be a good start to getting them to participate? That is pretty much what I am trying to say :) – Crazy Cucumber Mar 22 '18 at 20:32
  • You know, you should really drop in now and say something 'cool'... the room is silent ;) I understand... but now I'm curious, is there anything we could do to make the chatroom less intimidating? Because this is the second time I've heard someone say they don't really like the chatroom (see the comments under the question) – Tinkeringbell Mod Mar 22 '18 at 20:35
  • @CrazyCucumber sounds like a problem you could ask about on main. I know I've felt like you quite a bit in my life, and I'd bet there are several others here who have as well and could provide some great answers to a question like that – Rainbacon Mar 22 '18 at 20:36
  • (And I'm not a moderator :P Just someone hoarding reputation points :P) @Rainbacon, I think such a question on how to make the chatroom a better place would be better fit for meta than for main :) – Tinkeringbell Mod Mar 22 '18 at 20:37
  • @Tinkeringbell I was thinking more generically, something like how do I join an already established social group – Rainbacon Mar 22 '18 at 20:37
  • @Tinkeringbell I don't think so. I see some really funny messages being exchanged on chat every now and then. I see how calm and chilled out the chatroom is. I always want to say something. Maybe just say "hey guys". But I immediately think "What if no one responds!". I am very good at interpersonal skills ONCE I break that barrier I have. That is all me! :) – Crazy Cucumber Mar 22 '18 at 20:38
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    @Rainbacon Yes I always go through that. But I have always managed, in real life, to break that barrier because I am good with body language and studying others. I can read the situation and chime in and immediately be accepted in the conversation. On a computer, I don't know how to. You know? – Crazy Cucumber Mar 22 '18 at 20:39
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    I really appreciate your answer here. Part of why I've slowed down on answering questions that are more discussion-based rather than support-type meta questions is actually because I worry that my voice is too loud and I want to hear what others say. If they haven't said what I think after a few days, I might add my voice but I think it's fine to let a meta post sit for a bit and think about it first. As to chat, it's not for everyone. Some people love it, some people don't. Whether you use it or not is your call but if you want to, you will be welcome. :D – Catija ModStaff Mar 22 '18 at 20:54
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    I upvoted this answer, I am also often intimidated by meta/chat! On meta I tend not to post unless I either feel relatively confident that what I will say is generally accepted, or if I have strong feelings about it. Or other times I have opinions but then I think about having to respond to dissenting comments and I don't want to deal with it for whatever reason. I hang out in chat sometimes but it's still a bit intimidating because I'm never sure if I fit in and when it's appropriate to interject, especially when people already have a conversation going. – Em C Mod Mar 22 '18 at 21:39
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    I'm sorry that some of us seem intimidating -- definitely not my intention, and I think it's safe to say it's not for the others on your list too. I was a little taken aback by what you said about us and chat because I almost never go into IPS chat, and yet I still give this impression. It's something to be mindful of; thanks for raising it. – Monica Cellio Mar 22 '18 at 22:16

One of the things that discourages me from participation on any site in SE, be it main or meta, is when I find that a very small handful of people are responsible for 95% of content and decisions. It makes it seem like my contribution wont really matter because one super-contributor is going to steamroll me.

It is especially discouraging when the majority of decisions being made on meta are by moderators. To me, this makes it seem less like a community site, and more of a benevolent oligarchy. Granted, mods will generally be more active on meta as they should be, but I think it would be nice to see new voices rise to the top more often.

My solution is that if meta users want to see increased participation, they should step aside and let other people post more often. By that, I mean literally not answering or commenting as frequently. This should help in a few ways:

  • People like me will feel like our voices will be heard if we speak up.
  • Seeing a question with 0 answers (and perhaps a few upvotes) makes me (and probably others) far more willing to pop in and see if I can answer.
  • When someone gives a well received answer, it has a galvanizing effect that will encourage them to return and contribute more often.
  • Reading through older meta posts will not feel like reading through the memoirs of one individual, it will feel more organic and communal.

I understand this is a little paradoxical and perhaps circular - to increase participation we must decrease participation by some - but for some people I think it will absolutely encourage participation.

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    I'm tentatively upvoting this; while I generally disagree with any motion to quelch the most valuable contributors in any medium, it is vitally important to remember that no individual, or small group of individuals, should be shouldering the burden of the entire site and it's very easy for such an environment to become insular if you're not careful. – goldPseudo Mar 23 '18 at 20:52
  • @BlackThorn do you have any 'proof' the majority of decisions made on meta are made by moderators? Ever since I joined (back in July) the moderators have to me been very clear that they were trying to keep their participation on meta to a minimum, just so a community could build there... – Tinkeringbell Mod Mar 27 '18 at 17:07

You're going about this all backwards.

The thing about Meta is, it really sucks as a top-down policy machine for pretty much exactly the reasons you describe: Only a small percentage of users ever use it (or are even aware of it, really), and they're ultimately outnumbered by the unwashed masses pouring into the site. This really isn't going to change; your user base is just going to keep on increasing, but the percentage who end up becoming active Meta users is going to stay roughly the same.

Meta needs to be reflecting the opinions of the community, not dictating them. And what you're doing here, intentional or not, is attracting people to the site who don't really share your goals and then trying to make them adhere to policies they neither know nor understand: This is a race you're just never going to win.

There's always going to be new users coming in with zero knowledge of the site or what you're trying to accomplish here, and ultimately they're going to be learning the ropes by watching the other users. If you don't want a "blind leading the blind" scenario, it's important not only that enough of these "other users" are actually established users who know what they're doing, but that these established users are highly visible in doing it.

Flagging and deleting weak answers is exactly the opposite of that. It might be important in terms of keeping the site clean, but is effectively worthless for guiding new users on how to use the site properly (except possibly the poor guys who actually noticed their stuff get deleted), and really should be used as a last resort rather than a first one.

Good questions and answers, constructive criticism and editing, voting in general really, these are what the new users will be seeing and learning from, not a bunch of Meta discussion and behind-the-scenes flagging.

Rather than worrying about getting more of your "Main Community" into Meta or getting them to fall in line, you the "Meta Community" should focus more on setting a good example — constructive and visible — for them to follow. This will not only improve the site over-all and make it more clear what you as a site are trying to accomplish, but will be more likely to attract like-minded users who will naturally be drawn to Meta participation anyway.

In other words, good activity attracts good activity. Targetting bad activity is important but only makes the site, for lack of a better term, "less bad": You can't let that get in the way of making the site "more good" with positive contributions. Spending too much energy on the former just means you won't have any left to do a good job on the latter.

And the more outnumbered your established users are, the more actively constructive and visible they need to be. Like I mentioned before, deleting a bad post will help maybe that one poster learn how the site works, but once it's deleted it's invisible to new users, as are the lessons it imparted. On the other hand, constructive behaviour that stays visible can potentially be seen by hundreds of users who visit the site and view that post, and positive contributions accumulate over time in a way that deleting posts never will. This distinction is crucial, especially when you're attracting new users as fast as this site does.

It's an uphill battle, yes, and I'm not saying it'll be quick or easy, but it's really about the only way to pull this off without everybody just burning out and giving up halfway through.

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    One issue with not deleting answers is that we're a pretty high-vote site, and it's really easy for an answer to get a pile of upvotes pretty quick - even if it's not an answer that uses interpersonal skills. If an invalid answer stays visible, it can appear to be "good activity", as you put it - the sort of thing we want. That's why we have to be quick about deleting stuff, lest it masquerade as guidance for what good answers should be like. – HDE 226868 Mar 17 '18 at 14:18
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    @HDE226868 Agreed. But if you focus too much on just deleting weak stuff that appears "good" before there's anything that's actually good to take its place, you're just encouraging more weak answers to come in and fill that gap. And in many cases, a weak answer is still better than no answer, or at least looks that way to the people trying to help by posting the answers. – goldPseudo Mar 17 '18 at 19:17
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    Just to be clear: We don't delete low-quality answers. We delete answers without justification (usually after letting the writer know that they need to edit, and giving them time), answers that give non-IPS solutions, and normal NAAs. We don't delete weak answers; we delete non-answers. And besides, there's usually plenty of good material; the good virtually always outnumbers the bad by a lot. I understand the concern; I'm just saying that this site isn't a case where that sort of situation happens. – HDE 226868 Mar 17 '18 at 19:49
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    @HDE226868 Except that answers without justification and answers that give non-IPS solutions are answers. Bad answers, answers that go against what the site needs, but still answers. Answers which the "main community" obviously wants, otherwise they wouldn't (a) post them (b) upvote them and (c) review in their favour. The point of my post is that you're not going to get anywhere trying to force the existing users to want something they don't want or even understand, you need to be attracting more users who want the right things and making sure they're guided early and properly. – goldPseudo Mar 17 '18 at 20:40
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    If this were the case, meta would be pointless. If meta should always reflect what the community wants, whatever that is, you might as well remove meta altogether and let everybody figure it out for themselves. These policies don't just pop up, they originate from users noticing problematic developments, (such as every question turning into a brainstorm where everybody can just spout wild ideas), and trying to find a way to tackle this. You are almost right. Meta should reflect main, and main should reflect meta. – JAD Mar 18 '18 at 8:43
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    If you only have meta reflect main, you leave no option for meta discussion whatsoever. But that's what meta is for. You can't decide as a whole to just not use meta anymore, especially not with the problems this site faces. – JAD Mar 18 '18 at 8:43
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    @JAD The site is run by the community. Meta is simply a tool to help members of that community communicate with each other, but that's all it is: A tool, one of the many available to everybody. I'm not suggesting anybody stop using Meta, just that everybody would have better luck using it for what it is, rather than trying to make it what it isn't. – goldPseudo Mar 18 '18 at 8:52
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    @JAD If the current "main community" isn't using Meta, that isn't the fault of Meta, it just means you have a community who either (a) doesn't care about effectively communicating with each other, or (b) is able to communicate effectively without it. If (a), you should as I suggest focus on attracting better users (especially for a site catering to Interpersonal Skills expertise) since giving them more tools to communicate won't actually help if they don't care enough to use them. And if (b), well, nothing to worry about: System working as intended. – goldPseudo Mar 18 '18 at 9:05
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    @JAD What don't you understand? Meta is a tool for communication about the site. It has approximately zero actual legislative power: That power is in the hands of the community, not the hands of a handful of people making decisions, especially when that handful of people doesn't actually reflect what the community itself wants (no matter how valid their arguments are). The only effective way to enforce Meta policies that the community doesn't want to apply is to rely on your diamond moderators, and that simply doesn't scale. – goldPseudo Mar 18 '18 at 9:17
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    There's actually a really easy way to change this... by asking for the graduation-level privilege triggers. If users with 500 rep (who often have only ever posted one or two things on the site ever) can't close or reopen vote, then we've made them unable to act on their poor concept of what this site is actually about. The only reason there's disagreement on what's acceptable quality here is because reputation is pitifully easy to acquire and people who want to answer bad but "fun" questions, can do so merely by voting to reopen. – Catija ModStaff Mar 18 '18 at 18:05
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    @Catija: I suspect that going to Shog et al. with "Our site's moderation is broken, please graduate us so we can fix it?" will go over poorly. Especially if "fixing it" will negatively impact the metrics which are supposed to decide whether you're ready to graduate in the first place. – Kevin Mar 18 '18 at 19:26
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    @Kevin Except that's not the response I've gotten. If we ask for it and support the request with a valid reason, they will probably grant it. Again, this has absolutely nothing to do with "graduation". The reputation requirements can be changed at any time, they just usually tie it to site design (not "graduation"). Sites that "graduate" currently do not get the higher rep levels, only sites with a full site design. – Catija ModStaff Mar 18 '18 at 19:30
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    @Catija Do you really think the answer to an outstanding quality problem here is to allow fewer people to close and delete? I'd like to see some stats of how many users that'd be impacted by this regularly reopen trash. – magisch Mar 19 '18 at 7:36
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    @Catija I think it might work at first, but it's very much fighting the symptoms instead of the root cause. – JAD Mar 19 '18 at 7:50
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    @Catija, would the higher rep threshold be the same as on The Workplace for example? If it is, there would be no-one left with deletion privs except the mods and apaul in that case? Would that be a problem with e.g. HNQ upvotes vs LQP queues? – Tinkeringbell Mod Mar 19 '18 at 15:46

I have a few points in lose order:

  • This and many other meta questions are very long. Who wants to study long questions?
  • Some answers (also here) are long without any formatting. Who want to study long answers like that?
  • Some people, like me, got lots of reputation with only few answers or questions. I won't complain. But in a way I think the reputation system here works "incorrect" compared to i.e. Stack Overflow. I did a lot more work there and I don't even have 25% of the reputation from here there.
  • It seems some moderators here (mis)use their power to delete answers which they personally don't like. That does not help this site.
  • Rules should make sense. A sample are legal laws. Most people know very few laws but most people know what is right and what is wrong. This should work similarly here. Some questions and answer don't fit 100% but they still give good advise. Why don't we keep them (even if they are not according to the rules)?
  • Last but not least: I think it should be fun and informative to use this site. Few people want to participate in long dry discussions for nothing. People will participate if they want to participate. Most people are not motivated by setting and enforcing "dry" rules.
  • Regarding the deletion of answers - if you would like to talk about why an answer was deleted (to find out why, or object to its removal) you can always make a meta post for that particular one. We have a few already and sometimes doing so can even lead to salvaging and undeletion :) – Em C Mod Mar 23 '18 at 20:58

How can we bring more users to meta?

There is rather a domain difference because meta is not primarily about IPS, but about the IPS.SE website. Users who are interested in interpersonal skills are active on the main site. Users who are interested in moderation help out with the review queues. Users who are interested in IPS, moderation and discussing the site itself, including policy, are active on main, reviews and meta (also, but not always, on chat.) Thus the small group you call "meta users" are a subset of the "main group".

A crude way to encourage more non-meta users towards meta participation would be to award reputation points but this is not the SE policy. How else to motivate users to discuss the site itself?

Maybe we could announce regular unofficial "new meta user of the week" award for the highest participating "new meta user" which needs to be defined. In addition, if the community agrees, although this is not strictly necessary, a deserving answer on the main site by the "new meta user of the month" could be rewarded with a 100 point bounty. These recognitions could be announced on the main site in some way by a moderator, possibly with a link to your excellently detailed question on this meta page, to create awareness and motivation about participation on meta.

Update in response to OP's comment:

What I mean is that as it stands there are users voting and reviewing, without being aware what IPS considers good or bad answers and questions. Preferably we would want users to be aware of that before they start moderating.

__ the logical step would be to find out why many of them are not participating on meta, though they should be? I hope some of them would enlighten us by posting an answer here.

  • Users who are interested in IPS should be interested in meta though, since that is where the measures are made against which their contributions are held. – JAD Mar 16 '18 at 14:17
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    "Users who are interested in IPS should be interested in meta though" __ "Should be" doesn't work for all @JAD. I like sports broadcasting but am not interested to know how the images are created in the "engine room." Some users are interested only in IPS (as in main site posts) and find the meta processes tedious even though important policies are created here. A senior user actually said flat out in a now-deleted comment: "I write answers to help users having IPS questions. I am not interested in your discussions about how the site should be modersted." – English Student Mar 16 '18 at 14:20
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    But you should at least be aware of meta. You should at least be aware of the policies decided on meta. The reason is that we want to be able to enforce these policies if we want to build a stable site. To carry on your analogy, you might not be interested in what happens in the engine room, but it's important you realise that sporters don't exist inside your television, but rather that you are watching someone somewhere else kicking a ball. – JAD Mar 16 '18 at 14:24
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    How can ESPN bring me into the media processing room if that is not my interest? But I would like to see some policy to announce newly created meta policies on the main site with links to the meta post, @JAD. Note: I participate just as much on meta (as on main) but we cannot expect the same of all users. – English Student Mar 16 '18 at 14:26
  • All users is overly ambitious. It's also not what I am suggesting. I am saying that we need more. – JAD Mar 16 '18 at 14:28
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    Participating on meta is its own reward for us meta users @JAD but for others, maybe incentives of whatever kind will drive participation. I await better ideas from other answers here. – English Student Mar 16 '18 at 14:31
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    Let's not get lost in the specifics of this analogy. What I mean is that as it stands there are users voting and reviewing, without being aware what IPS considers good or bad answers and questions. Preferably we would want users to be aware of that before they start moderating. – JAD Mar 16 '18 at 14:31
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    For comparison, it's as if a football referee joins a waterpolo game and starts refereeing. Sure they might know how points work, and know how to blow a whistle, but they really should start with getting familiar with the rules first. – JAD Mar 16 '18 at 14:33
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    You are totally right @JAD. "What I mean is that as it stands there are users voting and reviewing" __ the logical step would be to find out why many of them are not participating on meta, though they should be? I hope some of them would enlighten us by posting an answer here. – English Student Mar 16 '18 at 14:48

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