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During this period of moderator selection (nomination/primary/election), one of the questions for the nominees was:

While M&TV has a large userbase and many visitors, the meta participation is relatively low and discussions are usually held within a small active core group. Do you see this as a problem? If yes, how would you try to improve the situation as a moderator?

Which question I answered ad nauseum and then again spurred another spirited debate (and understanding session) on the electoral chat between myself and two other regulars to M&TV. It seems that Meta is more important to some than it is to others on the site.

  • My question to the userbase is, why is the Meta site important (or not) to you?
  • Why do you come to the Meta site and how often do you come?
  • Does the Featured on Meta heading which appears on the right side of the site entice you to come to the Meta (and to what extent)?
  • What else would entice you more to come to the Meta (What would you like to see here)?

It seems that I do not have as high of opinion of the Meta site as I should, so help me to understand.

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    This is a kind of meta-meta question :-) – EleventhDoctor Feb 25 '15 at 15:42
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    "ad nauseAm" :) – psmears Feb 8 '16 at 23:01
  • @psmears - Yes; yes it is. I wrote this question before I had a better understanding of what Meta was about. Don't know I've got a "huge" understanding now, but it's far better than it used to be ;-) – Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 Feb 8 '16 at 23:03
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Its important because it is the place where decisions about how the site itself are made. It is the place where policy changes are made to the site. For example its where we decided whether the 'Identify-This' questions were on-topic or not. I use this as the example, as this decision was against the opinions held by all the moderators at the time.

If the meta site is only occupied by moderators or die-hard users, that is not particularly healthy. To ignore the meta site is essentially to remove yourself from the running of the site. That is fine for many people, but we should attempt to engage as many people in the community as possible when deciding how the site is run, for hopefully fairly obvious reasons.

How often do I visit meta? Whenever there is a new question on meta, moderators get a message informing them - which enables me to see new questions very quickly, which is useful as it is also a way to report possible bugs or flag disputes. Unfortunately this doesn't cover all new content, such as answers and flags on meta are not shown to me unless I specifically go to the meta home page - so I do occasionally miss stuff (sorry - hopefully having 3 moderators will help).

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  • Thanks for your insights. It helps coming from a mod's point of view. – Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 Feb 12 '15 at 23:01
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    @Paulster2 - Yeah - its definitely something I use to ensure that its not just 'my opinion' that becomes policy. – iandotkelly Feb 12 '15 at 23:03
  • I think I've asked more meta questions than regular ones. :/ – Catija Feb 13 '15 at 2:12
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I don't know that I have anything to add... the other two responses here are great. I just thought I'd add my two cents as a new user.

I really like Meta because I like following the rules and I like to know what the rules are... Meta is here so that if I'm ever not sure, I can come and check it out and, if it's not on the Meta yet, I can ask about it... and I have. While I've only asked one question on the main site, I've asked four on Meta.

I like that you have somewhere you can go if you need clarification or if you want to make a recommendation for something that will make the site better and get other people's thoughts on it (or not, if they don't wish to subscribe to your newsletter).

I come to Meta... well... I've got a window in Firefox full of tabs for SE sites and research, M&TV is the only one I've got a tab open to the Meta on... in fact, I've also got the Screening Room up. This is probably at least partly due to the election stuff but not just that... so I see when new posts are made.

Featured on Meta box is ok... but all it ever talks about is the site graduation (is this set by the mods?). I tend to pay more attention to the upcoming events.

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    My suggestion to you, Catija, is don't get so bent around the axle that you forget why we are here ... to have fun and to learn. If we respect one another, the rules will take care of themselves for the most part. Thank you for expanding my comprehension. – Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 Feb 13 '15 at 12:31
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    @Paulster2 I didn't realize that I was getting bent around the axle... Personally, I think I've done a good job of trying to help people get the best answers they can and to do it in a cheery, upbeat way. – Catija Feb 13 '15 at 14:36
  • Sorry, please don't take that as a personal affront. Just an overly used cliche in this case. I'm just trying say ... Enjoy the site. As Bobby McFerrin once said in his now famous song, "Don't worry, be happy!". In other words, don't worry so much about the rules that you lose sight of why we're here. – Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 Feb 13 '15 at 14:43
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    @Paulster2 bah... Fun. What's that anyway? Fun is for lazy people. ;) – Catija Feb 13 '15 at 20:11
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Is Meta important? Of course it is. It's where we come to discuss policy, procedure and functionality. It's the "amino acid" of M&TV; without it the site would be a static set of rules that never changed.

As someone who is somewhat active on the SE Meta, I can tell you the entire SE network is constantly evolving. It's very important that changes are made when new shortcomings are discovered. Bugs are fixed, policies are updated and new ideas are presented. Sites need to always grow or they become obsolete.

Is it important that everyone participates? I answered that with a resounding "No". You can't force people to want to be involved in the active development of a website for free. It's not practical, and it's not conducive to bringing in new users. If they want to participate, they'll fnd their way over here and participate. Many just want a question answered and go away, many others like the discussions on the main site but have no interest whatsoever to participate in how the site runs.

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  • Thanks for answering, Johnny. Especially the first para ... the analogy is great. – Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 Feb 12 '15 at 23:02
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For a regular user, Meta is kinda like the sandbox from World Building (which I'd like to have on every site). If you're really unsure about how to proceed, then you head over to chat. Meta and chat help keep noise off the main site, but only meta decides what is noise.

Noise:

If questions about movies and TV shows were off topic at SciFi, this site would explode and we wouldn't be having this conversation. SE is 5yo, so it doesn't surprise me that we've all (at least those participating in Meta) pretty much got it figured out how it should go down. So don't expect that many Meta questions which might be better placed on the main Meta anyway. Also, Meta can be the scariest place on Earth to a new user. IMO, there should be a giant banner at the top of every Meta site saying Voting is Different Here!!!

Compared to SciFi's 600+ pages of users, TV has 60+, so it should have ~10% of the amount of Meta traffic. She's young, just keep at it ;)

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