with Robert Cartaino & Rebecca Chernoff
Guests this week are Robert Cartaino and Rebecca Chernoff. Yeehaw! They're members of our Community Team.
original Joel on Software forums were sort of a progenitor for Stack
Overflow. They had strict rules: nothing off-topic was allowed - and
discussing the forums themselves was off-topic. So a Joel on Software
Off-Topic discussion group was created for all of That Stuff. Joel's
forums are still going strong!
- What happens if we let a
community go on forever? If it's stagnating or not really growing, it's
not necessarily making the internet worse. It's just not doing
anything. Right? But think about something like an eHow, that has low
quality pages that still rank higher for most queries than other pages
with real, good information. The Community Team does evaluations of the
quality of sites, but they are beginning to make that process
transparent to the communities or even have their communities do the
checks. Or potentially to hire really deep experts now and then. Or
- What if we have the best site on the web, but it's for a
terrible topic? For example - what if horoscopes.stackexchange.com was
the best darn horoscopes site out there. Does the topic still make sense
on our engine? This is why proposals are examined so thoughly in Area 51 (and its respective discussion section).
you haven't checked Area 51 out recently, you should stop by - there
are lots of cool improvements that have been made. Robert, Jeff and
Rebecca discuss the newfangled Area 51 process, and what sorts of
mysterious things happen to a site when it spends its "week" in Private
- Sometimes proposals fail and get closed. Game of Go was
one of them. It got shut down, but its questions and its users got
migrated over to Board Games -
which is one of the ideal ways to handle having a young site shut down.
Another positive way to handle the shutting down of a site is to let
its users regroup in Area 51 and try the proposal again with a different
- "Wouldn't it be simpler to just create a catch-all site, answers.stackexchange.com, and split off topics as they grow large enough for their own sites?" Basically, there is no way to grow acommunity through this method, since all the people there would have nothing in common. A counterexample is the split between Stack Overflow and Programmers -
but that wouldn't have worked with someone just asking a question about
hardwood flooring on Stack Overflow and having it turn into Home Improvement.
good moderation is key to everything. There are 260 moderators on the
whole network! We start to identify moderators a few weeks into a site's
private beta by looking for active meta participants, editing to
improve content, voting to close - doing activities other than simply
asking and answering questions. This does not necessarily mean
that the moderators must be the highest-rep users! That's like asking
your grandparents to be ushers at your wedding. Rebecca tells us about
the changes that were made to the Stack Overflow election system for the
recent moderator election. It involves badges. Learn more about elections! The Android elections are going on now.
hold chat-casts with moderators every few weeks to open a channel
between the Community Team and the moderators. There's also a monthly moderator newsletter with
highlights of important announcements. That's so people can get the 5-6
things they need to know without having to be too deeply ingrained in
the moderators' chat room or in metas.
- Meta Stack Overflow is
to the federal government as individual site metas are to state
governments. It's possible to spend most of your time on your local site
government, and the newsletter will keep you apprised of the changes on
the national level.
- Moderation and meta activity are huge parts
of why Stack Exchange is so awesome, but we can't forget that it's the
amazing Q&A engine that makes all that awesomeness possible!
That's it for Podcast #30, which is it for podcasts in 2011. See you next year!
This free podcast is from our Stack Exchange series.
For The Conversations Network:
- Post-production audio engineer: Alex Miller
- Website editor: Alex Miller
- Series producer: Alex Miller