The Loop: Our Community Roadmap for Q4 2020

We review our ticket smash event, lay out our roadmap for Q4, and talk about what we've been learning from our moderators.

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We’re already in Q4 of 2020, and though this has been a difficult year for many, this team has been working very hard and has accomplished a lot. One thing that I think has brought us closer is how open we’ve been about our needs at home now that we’re working and living in the same places. Many Stackers that were working from home even before the pandemic have had to figure out how to manage their new schedules with childcare and homeschooling. One thing I really appreciate about working on this team and at Stack is how open and honest we can be with each other about these things. I’ve seen people jump in to support their teammates, and join in on projects to help when someone needs a break.

In Q3 we decided to delay the Moderator D&I Training, Area 51 Discovery, and Subject Matter Expert Content Release projects to Q4. We'll update you on Area 51 Discovery next year. We delayed these projects in order to focus on our Ticket Smash event. We made it through all 631 tickets in two weeks! I had the great opportunity to work with the team on issues that our moderators escalated and feel like I got a much better understanding of what our moderators face every day. Their tireless work on behalf of the network is always awe inspiring.

Additionally, the Public Platform team deferred a few projects in favor of focusing on fewer projects at a time. Some projects, such as testing the new editor and research into downvotes carried into Q4, while others were deferred for the time being.

This quarter we worked together again on suggesting new projects and voting on priorities. Huge thanks to the CMs who advocated for the things they felt were most important to add. Without further ado, here is our Q4 roadmap for the Community and Public Platform teams, followed by some more context on some of the projects:

Q4 2020 Community Roadmap October November December Community at our Center

  • Lavender Letter

  • CM Workload Audit

  • Moderator Council: Governance

Community Builders

  • 10 Year Celebration for Sites
  • Three-vote Close and Reopen Tests

  • Stack Gives Back
  • Winter Bash
  • SME Content Release


  • Downvotes Survey

  • Moderator CoC Reporting

  • Moderator D&I Training

Grow & Scale

  • Stacks Editor Alpha Test

Connecting Users to Opportunity

  • Area 51: the way forward - Discovery

  • Interaction Modeling / Engaged User Satisfaction

Content Management

  • Teacher’s Lounge Moderation
  • Review Queue, Release 2: Mod UI for Reviewer Suspensions

  • Automating Site Election
  • Review Queue, Release 3: UI/UX Revamp
Winter Bash and Stack Gives Back

It’s Q4, and that means it’s time for our favorite Winter events. This year you’ll see some fun new hats as we work to refresh the contest and introduce some new challenges for Winter Bash. For Stack Gives Back, we’ll be compiling our list of charities and reaching out to the moderators to see which they’d like to choose, in order to make a donation in their honor as a thank you for everything they do.

CM Workload Audit

Coming out of the Ticket Smash, we wanted to make sure that we didn’t get near this level of backlog again. We put this project on the calendar to do an audit of incoming tickets, from moderator escalations, the Contact Us form, and the other things that come our way. Once we better understand the average we can better predict our bandwidth. This will especially help as we start to hire new people for the team.

Moderator Code of Conduct Reporting

As we committed to in our response to the Lavender Letter, we’ll be working to close the loop on Code of Conduct reports submitted by our moderators. Currently, our existing process for our moderators to make a CoC report is somewhat unclear: in the past, they’ve emailed the CMs or pulled them aside in chat, in addition to using the dedicated option in the Contact Us form. We want to improve that process by ensuring there is a record of reports by making sure there is a single intake point for these, along with follow through and support the entire way.

Celebrating 10th Anniversaries

This is an exciting year as we have a bunch of sites hitting their 10th birthday! We’ll be working with those sites to give them some special flair to celebrate such a big milestone. You can check out the sites reaching double digits here.

Three-vote Close and Reopen Tests

Last year we lowered the number of votes needed to close and reopen to 3 on Stack Overflow and we ran similar tests on WebApps and Hardware Recommendations. While we’re still discovering which types of sites can best benefit from this change, many of our sites have requested it, so we’ll be running similar tests on those sites in the next few months. This wasn’t originally on our roadmap, but hearing our moderators talk at this month’s Moderator Facetime event about how it’s something they’re really interested in spurred us to add this to Q4.

Downvotes survey

Voting is one of the top pain points we hear from users. Many users report feeling confused and discouraged when their posts are downvoted. What's more, they often don't understand why they are getting downvoted, and they often don't get guidance on what they can do to improve their posts. On the other hand, downvoting is one of the primary mechanisms we use to protect our site quality. This quarter we are running a short survey to gain insight into why users downvote questions and answers on Stack Overflow.

Review Queues

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. Last quarter, we updated the experience for suspended reviewers to provide them with more context and guidance about why they were being suspended. This quarter we will be updating the moderator experience for suspending users and revamping the UI & UX of the Review queues pages to improve usability and discoverability of actions that can be taken on tasks.

Stacks Editor

Our 12 year old editor is getting an upgrade! This quarter we’ll be running an alpha test on Meta Stack Exchange and Meta Stack Overflow to get feedback from our power users. This new editor supports markdown and rich text (aka WYSIWYG) modes, along with a slew of other features, and has already launched on Stack Overflow for Teams. We’ve gotten some early feedback from our moderators. Next, we'll begin alpha testing with our community will help us find gaps that need to be addressed before exploring deployment on Public Q&A.

We are happy to receive and respond to your feedback on Meta Stack Exchange.