The Loop: Our Community & Public Platform Roadmap for Q2 2021

Here's where the Community platform is going this quarter. Spoiler: We’re taking on a lot of big projects.

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Q1 2021 was an unusual quarter for the Community team as we worked to break up into sub-teams for specialized work. We approached it as an experiment we would iterate on and not something that couldn’t be changed. We worked together to identify the best way to approach splitting up our daily tasks to the work of our three sub-teams.

Now, at the end of Q1, we’ve started to hit our stride. Work is starting to naturally fall in the three categories. We make sure to meet twice a week as a full team to talk through anything that should be shared or things we’re noticing that are falling by the wayside. This ensures that through this process we’re accounting for all of the things the team is used to handling.

We’re taking on a lot of big projects this quarter. I believe this work has allowed us to talk through the things we think are important and build some trust around our processes. Stephanie Cantor, the program manager of the Community Team, spoke with each team member and other stakeholders to determine the most important projects for us this quarter. Then, she and I worked together to formulate this roadmap. As for the Public Platform team, in Q1 the focus was to deliver on the two major initiatives we had in flight: overhauling Review Queues and automating the moderator elections process. Both of these projects made up the bulk of the work done by our development team and this quarter—we are wrapping up the final bits for each of these. In parallel, we kicked off an alpha test for a new editor experience and began product discovery on a new theme entirely, addressing outdated answers on Stack Overflow. This quarter, our community can expect to hear more about the outdated answers project as well as another new theme we are tackling: new user onboarding.

Public Platform: Roadmap

Below are the major initiatives we’ll be focusing on in Q2.

Product Pillars April May June Content Management Review Queues: New reviewer onboarding Outdated answers: allow users to flag an answer as outdated Review Queues: Workflow updates Inclusion ← New user onboarding discovery → Grow & Scale Automating site elections: Final incremental improvements Stacks editor alpha: Incrementally release improvements to alpha test

Review Queues

Last quarter, we overhauled the Review Queue interface and refreshed each queue to provide reviewers with more context to make deliberate, thoughtful decisions on review tasks. This quarter, we will be releasing an onboarding experience to provide reviewers with better guidance to make their reviewing experience more successful. We will also be working on optimizing review queue workflows to address some long standing pain points with how effectively posts pass through various queues.

Automating moderator site elections

Last quarter, we released a series of internal tooling updates to streamline the set up and management of moderator site elections for our community managers. We also released updates to improve the experience for community members voting and participating in elections. This quarter, we will be wrapping up this project with a few more incremental improvements before calling this project complete.

Stacks editor alpha test

Last quarter, we kicked off an alpha test to get feedback from the community on what is needed to bring a new editor experience to the network. Over the course of the quarter, we will be making improvements to the editor based on the feedback we received.

Addressing outdated answers

Last quarter, we kicked off a project to begin tackling the issue of outdated answers. We ran a survey to better understand the various use cases that might cause an answer to be out of date. This quarter we plan to release a temporary flagging mechanism that will allow users to flag and classify out-of-date, or less-than-optimal answers, so that we can collect a data set to analyze. The data we gather will allow us to quantify how pervasive the issue of outdated answers is on Stack Overflow.

New user onboarding

New users struggle to get the help they need or understand community expectations and site mechanics. Critical first experiences such as asking and answering are intimidating, and most users are unaware of quality standards or are met with system barriers that are confusing to them. This project aims to educate new users about the platform and guide them through these first critical experiences and set them up for success.

Community Roadmap

Below are the major initiatives we’ll be focusing on in Q2.

Community Pillars April May June Community at our Center Top Mod-Only Page Guidance Redefining Community Promotion/Open Source Ads Moderator Messages Template Revamp Community Builders SLA & Process Improvements Inclusion Dev Survey 2021 Grow & Scale Compiling Reasons for Closed Questions Three Vote Closures  Area 51 Lifecycle

Top Mod-Only Page Guidance

Pages that moderators use frequently do not have a lot of documentation that would help newer moderators understand the possibilities of what they can achieve as moderators; as a result, we put together a write up that would help moderators and newer moderators understand what features and possibilities offered directly to moderators.

Redefining Community Promotion/Open Source Ads

Community Promotion/Open Source Ads are an initiative we’ve had for 11 years, but we haven’t revised it a single time since we kicked it off. Additionally, the program uses code no one maintains, and the Ads team would like to get rid of it. Both of these things prompt a revision of the program as a whole before being able to refresh it for 2021.

Moderator Messages Template Revamp

Our moderator messages have not been updated for a long time. They’re widely used as a template network-wide whenever moderators contact users about issues and impact several people every day on Stack Overflow. However, they’re too apologetic on being contacted and not specific enough. It’s a quick way for moderators to get a notice to someone, but it’s not great for exemplifying what is actually the problem.

Dev Survey 2021

As a part of our annual commitments, the Dev Survey continues to be a priority to us! This year, the goal is to get the survey and the analysis out quicker than years prior, so expect to see updates soon!

Compiling Reasons for Closing Questions

There’s no consensus or one single source of truth for question closing on Stack Overflow. There are lots of scattered Meta posts and discussions in a sort of “common-law” way, but no digestible primer on the topic. Nor are there concrete guidelines on when to close versus not.

Area 51 Lifecycle

As we are planning for growth in both the Community Management team and in the Public Platform team, we need to decide how much time we can invest in moving forward with Area 51, in terms of:

  • Cleaning up tech debt and ongoing maintenance (from a dev perspective)
  • Supporting new communities as they graduate into sites (from a community management perspective)
  • Supporting the continued expansion of network sites… or not (from a product perspective)

Three Vote Closures

On some sites, communities are struggling to get questions closed and reopened due to a shortage of reviewers. We can help them out by reducing the number of votes needed to review a close / reopen task from five to three. This has been tested on other sites previously, including Stack Overflow, Web Apps, and (with single-vote closure) on Hardware Recommendations.

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