The Loop: Our Community Roadmap for Q3 2020

This quarter, we tried something new for the Community Team roadmap and worked through every idea the community team had in an initial planning session. Here's what made the cut for Q3.

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As Q3 kicks off, I wanted to come to our blog to share our roadmap for the next few months. In Q2, we launched the Dark Mode beta (and Ultra Dark Mode), finalized our first Mod Training Lesson, prepped and gave the finishing touches to the updated Mod Agreement, and hosted our internal Community-a-thon, among many other really great projects! Having a public roadmap is relatively new for us, so we’re proud to see those projects take flight.

This quarter, we tried something new for the Community Team roadmap and approached things by working together over the course of three days. We started with a “divergent thinking” exercise where every idea was welcome in our initial planning session. Everyone on the Community Team is passionate about improvements they view as the most important for our sites and the things we believe would move the needle the most for our communities. We wanted to give everyone the opportunity to share solutions to problems that our community members have been pointing out as well as some new ideas for features that would really help meet our goals.

We then took the time to estimate each of the initiatives across two different verticals: impact towards our goals and level of effort. After we did that, we each brought a few of the initiatives we thought were the most important to the group and pitched our theories as to why.

The final step we took was to vote on the top things we thought were most important. This combination of impact and effort estimation along with voting helped us converge on potential projects and develop our Q3 roadmap, which I presented to the Community Leadership Team for input. The really good news is that all the highest voted initiatives were able to make it on the roadmap. I was concerned that there would be something that would be highly voted that we couldn’t do, either because of resource or time constraints. It was great to see we were all on the same page about the things we thought were most important after our discussion.

The rest of the initiatives will stay on the board we put together to be revisited next quarter. We may remove some things that don’t make sense then or add some things that come up during the next quarter. We’d also like to involve the Moderator Council in our planning next quarter and give them the opportunity to add some things to our board for voting.

Q3 2020 Community Roadmap July August September Community at our Center

  • Training Launch
  • New Moderator Agreement

  • Moderator Quarterly Survey
  • Lavender Letter Follow Up

  • Moderator Council: Governance

Community Builders

  • Review Queue: Reviewer Suspend Experience

  • SME Content Strategy

  • SME Content Release


  • Downvotes Research

  • Reactions Test Analysis

  • Moderator D&I Training
  • New User Email Series v2

Grow & Scale

  • Internationalization - Discovery
  • Election Automation - Discovery

  • Teachers Lounge Moderation Tools for Community Managers

Connecting Users to Opportunity

  • Interaction Modeling/Engaged User Satisfaction

  • Area 51: The Way Forward - Discovery

General Improvements

  • New Editor

  • GDPR Consent Management v2

There is a lot we wanted to work on this quarter, and only the most important made the cut. Here is some additional context about the projects on this quarter’s roadmap:

Diversity & inclusion training for moderators (June)

This quarter, we launched our first training program for moderators by kicking things off with a series on conflict resolution. We launched the initiative using a training platform called Thinkific, and moderators are starting to move through the lessons. Next quarter, we are prioritizing diversity and inclusion training for our group of 550 moderators (which will complement the D&I training module that all members of the Community team are currently completing). This is both due to popular demand and the clear need to set our moderators up for success by giving them the tools they need to support users when faced with sensitive situations.

A quarterly survey for moderators (August)

On Stack Overflow, we have our Site Satisfaction Survey, which helps us to understand the needs of our users and what features to prioritize for them, and we’d like to do the same with our moderators. We have several channels, like Teams and chat where we communicate with them, but we’d like to be able to tell if we’re actually moving towards a better experience for our moderators when we release things for them. We’d also like to know how we could be doing better in a quantitative way as we’re supporting them.

Lavender Letter follow up (August)

The moderating members of Stack Exchange’s LBGTQIA+ community sent us a really thoughtful letter regarding the different ways that members of this community have felt hurt over the years and different types of support and resources that they would like to see from us in the future. It’s taken us a bit to formalize a response, not because we don’t care, but because words are easy and we want to back up our words with action and resources. We’ve had several productive conversations with representatives from this group and hope to continue those while we roll out initiatives designed to support them.

Moderator Council governance (September)

The Moderator Council has been working to establish their rules for engagement as they represent the larger moderator community in interactions within the company. This quarter, our goal is to help them define what governance means within the Moderator Council. Should all members of the Council be equal or should there be a chair or head Council member that has a special role? Does the group require consensus? These are some of the questions we’re looking forward to helping them answer.

Subject matter expert content strategy (August)

Stack Exchange Inc. has been building communities for more than ten years. One of the key selling features of our Teams product is how much knowledge we've collected on how to establish and build communities. We have some expert community members and people working on the Community Team, we’d love to help them to start sharing their wisdom with the world to help others that are thinking of doing the same. This might be through blog posts, a content series, the podcast, or any number of ways. There have been many lessons learned here, and ensuring that this knowledge exists online in a way it can help people is something we’d like to kick off this quarter.

Mod agreement (July)

The new mod agreement shipped earlier this month. The Public Platform and Community Management team worked closely on building this into the platform so that mods across the network can be notified about the new agreement and either accept or decline on site.

Review queue improvements (July)

When we started to explore improving the Review Queues, we realized an overhaul to this part of the site would be a high impact way to improve the experience for those that volunteer their time to maintain the site. You will see incremental improvements to Review Queues roll out over the next several months.

Teachers Lounge moderation (September)

The Teacher’s Lounge chat room is a space for mod discussion. Currently, there are no additional moderation controls that give Community Managers the ability to moderate this room so we’re working on building some in so that staff can properly moderate this room when needed.

Automating site elections [discovery] (August)

Facilitating moderator site elections is one of the many important tasks our Community Management team is responsible for. Running and managing elections is a very manual and time-intensive process. Product and Community Management are working together to automate this process for our CMs.

Reactions test analysis (August)

We shipped a test last month introducing a way for users to say thanks with the intention of creating a new, equitable way for all users to show their appreciation. This quarter, we will be reviewing the outcomes of this test, sharing results with the community, and deciding on next steps.

Downvotes research (July)

Receiving downvotes on Stack Overflow can be a frustrating and confusing experience. We currently ask users to downvote posts that are not useful or are unclear, but this can be subjective and interpreted in different ways. We will run a short targeted onsite survey to better understand what motivates users to downvote a post and use this data to inform inclusion and engagement opportunities.

Iterating on educational emails (September)

We often hear that new users don’t understand Stack Overflow’s site mechanics or know how to get started. We will be iterating on a series of emails aimed at providing new users with tips on how to engage with the Stack Overflow community. We will take lessons learned from the first version of this to create a more targeted and useful series for new users.

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