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Meta is an odd beast. Admittedly, I still don't understand parts of it. Typically, requests the community can respond to get the required attention. They get decided upon, and acted upon. Requests related to tags, chat events, policy deciding and so on.

I don't exactly know or ever wondered how the psychological process works, but it seems that people just put a "decided" or "consensus" stamp on the thread. All is well, until . . .

Nothing of the sort happens in this meta, to my information. Except marginal cases that have nothing to do with the site's mission, all other requests get the attention they deserve, and the discussion and input they seek, but there's never final action.

If you need examples, there are countless out there. Just take a look at some of mine. Proposals asking for blacklisting, removing, or curating a tag, with a bunch of upvotes and comments, sometimes an answer, but never acted upon. That has been sucking the soul of charity off me. The only force that drives me to write this, and the only force that has persuaded me countless times to end the tagging haft-khan once and for all, only to hesitate.

To remedy this, we need some arbitration, at least. Modesty seems to get in the way of getting things done. The moderators don't step in since they don't see themselves in the place to decide where they feel there is no community consensus. Truth is, no meta question on any site gets agreed upon by every single member that could've participated. Thus, we may need to define thresholds and let them guide us where we can't decide ourselves. If you have a better idea, I'm all ears.

What I'm basically asking is for is a process that involves a minimum threshold of number of votes, score, comments, answers, or an arbitrary metric taking all these into account. When a post reaches the requirements, it's put in a queue to be acted upon, older posts first. (To be clear, that's not going to be something built-in, but a community-wiki meta post with a list of things that link to things, and one that is curated by the community)

Usually I never opt in for or endorse any system that introduces even more complication than to what SE offers, but this, or anything similar, is what this meta needs most right now.

What are your thoughts on this? What does it take to persuade ourselves to take action rather than letting meta posts rot and sending the meta users, the ones willing to help and participate, back home disappointed? Do we even need an active and acting meta, and do we need to act on things, or are those just election talk?

Please share your ideas in the comments and answers below.

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    Strongly-related: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/177550/… – Shog9 Sep 28 '16 at 21:41
  • I don't think there needs to be some minimum threshold. Pitch an idea; see if the community as a whole agrees, shrugs, or takes exception. If it's not the third, run with your idea, so long as it will improve the community. – J.R. Oct 22 '16 at 19:05
  • @J.R. the problem is that the community is always shrugging and you know it. This isn't my first post on meta, and thanks to the mod team (yay) we're finally getting something done. If I didn't post this we'd've continued our reign of apathy, so at the risk of becoming an annoyance, I wrote a meta post I should have long ago. And it works! There was 'universal consensus' on blacklisting [sentences], but no action. Thanks to this meta post, we got rid of the tag. – M.A.R. Oct 22 '16 at 19:08
  • @M.A.R. - I have answered almost 1400 questions on ELL, left over 5700 comments, made over 2000 revisions, and cast over 6000 votes. Don't talk to me about "shrugging" just because I don't share the same zeal for tags that you do. If you want something done about it, quit your whining and get to work. – J.R. Oct 23 '16 at 0:46
  • I would love to get to work, but Colleen won't let me. She's right, because we need to focused on one post at a time. I know how many posts you have edited, but how much have we? Why is there a problem with a more active meta? The whole point of this place is to create more users like you, not less. I don't need to prove anything here. If you're sure that tags aren't worth the effort, you should write some meta and guide us in the right direction, not stop us when we want to do something. – M.A.R. Oct 23 '16 at 14:56
  • @M.A.R. - I'm not trying to stop anyone from doing anything – quite the opposite! I applaud all efforts to improve the site. I only meant to say: don't be discouraged if you don't see a groundswell of support, and you shouldn't feel a need to wait until you get some arbitrary number of upvotes on meta before rolling up your sleeves. – J.R. Oct 23 '16 at 18:03
  • OK then. (ノ^◡^)ノ︵ ┻━┻ – M.A.R. Oct 23 '16 at 18:25
  • I have no desire to stop anyone from pitching in on the site. I just know that it's easy to get overwhelmed if we try to eat the whole cow in one meal. No-one should feel like they can't run their own ELL beautification project because I'm trying to resolve some older proposals. – ColleenV Oct 24 '16 at 16:16
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See: Currently Unresolved Proposal List

We're doing this a little less formally than my initial proposal, and I think that's a good thing so we don't get bogged down in process when common sense makes it obvious what we should do.

I'm willing to give this a go even though there are only 7 up-votes (no down-votes yet, so that's hopeful!) I will start going through discussions on meta to create a list of actionable items for us to try to close out, and try to figure out a sensible way to decide what we tackle first. I will publish the list, but right now I'm leaning toward making an executive decision on what we pursue as an initiative so we don't get bogged down. My goal is to have a list of possible initiatives done by Sunday 10/9.

What about having a featured initiative that lasts for 2 weeks? At the end of two weeks, we mark it 'Yes', 'No', or 'Not Enough Interest' (NEI). If it's 'Yes', we take some appropriate action. If it's 'No', maybe we move it to a list of declined initiatives. If it's NEI, it gets tossed back on the pile and we pick something else.

These initiatives have to be bite-sized and have a concrete action that can be taken. Getting rid of a tag, yes. Changing the wording of something in the help center, maybe (consensus might not be clear-cut enough if it's too much text). Encouraging users to not add signatures to their posts, no.

The thresholds for Yes, No, and NEI are a judgement call that you will have to trust your moderators to make based on the overall activity surrounding the initiative (and not just raw scores). For me personally, even having something marked No would be better than to have it languishing in a limbo state.

If it looks like there is a reasonable level of interest in doing regular initiative cycles (based on votes and comments on this answer), I will start sorting through meta posts and start a backlog as a thread with each answer being a potential initiative.

Our first initiative will be to prioritize the backlog. I need to think about the mechanics of doing that, but it will probably involve asking folks to up-vote at most three initiatives they would like to see be the next one we work on. If anyone has suggestions for how to go about picking the initiative to work on, I am open to them. At the end of two weeks we'll pick one of the items with the highest scores and pop it off the list. I'm not going to guarantee that we will go strictly by score for those either. I'm inclined to pick an easy win for our first try.

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    I like the idea of setting up a structure to prioritize initiatives, and agree that a low-hanging fruit will be the best proof of concept. I want to interject that I appreciate the amount of work that the whole thing will entail on the part of moderators. I question the use of votes as a dependable metric of value, though. I agree with Alan Carmack and others who see flaws in the model. When I moderated a newsgroup, we decided after a long and valiant effort that a herd of cats are not reliable arbiters of value, and that ruling by benevolent fiat worked best. Just my .02 quatloos. – P. E. Dant Reinstate Monica Sep 30 '16 at 2:56
  • Sure. When do we start? – M.A.R. Sep 30 '16 at 9:54
  • @Rubisco I'm going to wait a few days to give folks a chance to see it and think about it. Then it will take me a few days to figure out a backlog. – ColleenV Sep 30 '16 at 11:43

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