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In the comments on my answer to WendiKidd's question about a Canonical Post I recalled that during Private Beta we had a temporary "banner" across the top of the splash page, with a message encouraging users to participate on the Meta. This appears to be SOP—the most recently betafied site is currently displaying the same thing:

enter image description here

And I have a dim memory (or do I? it may be my own figment) that something similar was displayed on ELU during last year's elections to promote voter turnout.

It occured to me that if this could be made a stock component of all sites, editable (and suppressible) at will by the moderators, it would provide a means for communicating with visitors—particularly new users and our Learners, who appear to visit Meta only exceptionally.

It could be used routinely to remind users of any Preferred Practices which seem to be being neglected:

Be sure to upvote useful Questions and Answers!
If you ask a Question, give members of the community 12-36 hours to respond
Then, say “Thank You” by Accepting an Answer
Context, context, context! (It's easy to provide too little context; it's hard to provide too much)
If you don't understand an Answer, ask for clarification in the Comments

And it could also be used to advertise matters of temporary importance: what prompted the memory (and this suggestion), in the first place was a discussion about how to encourage Learners to give us more thorough feedback on proposed Canonical Posts.

LEARNERS: Help us help you better: review and respond to the featured Canonical Post.

I haven't been a programmer for 25 years, but it seems like it would be a pretty easy patch, particularly if the hooks are already in place.

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  • So... at one point this was actually available to mods on all SE sites, and it quickly became apparent that although they were used very infrequently, they were very, very annoying, and the feature was removed from mod use.
    – waiwai933
    Commented Jul 18, 2013 at 23:29
  • @waiwai933 Ah ... the triumph of experience over hope. Commented Jul 18, 2013 at 23:37
  • @waiwai933 You should post that as an answer. You got it. If you mention the frequent abuse and the "Community Bulletin" feature that replaced it, you got a pretty good answer. Commented Jul 18, 2013 at 23:56
  • 2
    Overall, I like your “List of Four,” although I am a little uneasy about, Say “Thank You” by Accepting an Answer, but only because I see a lot of answers on ELL accepted within the first hour or two. I'd like to see that tempered some – it's especially sad to see a bad answer accepted (i.e., one that dispenses erroneous or incomplete information) just 90 minutes after an otherwise good question gets posted. I took the liberty to modify your list; if you don't like my changes, feel free to suggest an alternate edit.
    – J.R. Mod
    Commented Jul 19, 2013 at 10:24
  • @J.R. Good point. I have always relied on the competence of editors. Commented Jul 19, 2013 at 10:33
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    Ah, a pity! I quite liked this suggestion, I thought it would be very useful. Hm, two thoughts: to counteract the annoying factor, they could have a hide/dismiss option so users could hide them and never have to see them again. That should take care of that, right? @RobertCartaino It's sad that it was abused. I wonder, if a change to the banner had to be approved by at least two moderators, a-la the new custom close reasons, could that help prevent any abuse and make this a possible viable feature again?
    – WendiKidd
    Commented Jul 19, 2013 at 16:35
  • @WendiKidd I believe yous guys also have the power to designate any SE address for inclusion in the Community Bulletin. Commented Jul 19, 2013 at 21:10
  • @StoneyB Sort of. If a meta question scores over a certain number of votes (I think 3?) it's automatically put in a pool to be randomly selected for the Community Bulletin. We can add the "featured" tag to any meta question, which automatically puts it into that pool of questions without it having to get any votes. But you're still picking out of a pool when displaying the items. I'm not sure when questions 'expire' and aren't eligible to be displayed any longer. I know that the "featured" tag automatically removes itself from the question after 30 days.
    – WendiKidd
    Commented Jul 19, 2013 at 21:46
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    If I could add my tuppence worth; a collapsible banner with the points presented by StoneyB is I believe a necessity in this site like ELL. The "mistakes" new members unintentionally make are repeated continually, an unobtrusive visual reminder for new users on the "rules" and "procedure" in ELL will do more good than harm. Too often I see new members arrive with tons of enthusiasm to then abandon the site due to incomprehensions and frustrations with a system that may appear arbitrary and fickle.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Jul 22, 2013 at 12:15

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