4

Since important policy decisions regarding Ask Ubuntu's scope are taken using voting in Ask Ubuntu Meta, it's important that as many people as possible participate in the discussion related to changing policies of Ask Ubuntu in Ask Ubuntu Meta (by voting/commenting/some other way). (Something related: What is considered a community consensus on Meta?)

I created some SEDE queries to get the total number of posts per year and the number of posts per year with a score more than 10 in Ask Ubuntu Meta. You can check the results here:

Year Total Score 10+ Score 10+ as % of total Score 10-
2010 741 174 23.4818 567
2011 1285 255 19.8444 1030
2012 2148 323 15.0372 1825
2013 2090 382 18.2775 1708
2014 2094 261 12.4642 1833
2015 1325 207 15.6226 1118
2016 1473 342 23.2179 1131
2017 942 207 21.9745 735
2018 674 139 20.6231 535
2019 528 152 28.7879 376
2020 457 100 21.8818 357
2021 368 56 15.2174 312

Here are the above results as a graph to make things more clear:

Stacked bar graph

[Credits to BeastOfCaerbannog for the nice graph! If you are interested to make the graph on your own, you can refer the code used by me: https://paste.debian.net/1236724/ (once again credits to BeastOfCaerbannog!)]

Note: The data might change a bit if the old posts get upvotes/downvotes.

There were days in Ask Ubuntu Meta when posts (which are not even related to policy decisions) had chances of getting more than 70 votes. [Example (excellent answer by Zanna)... Gone are those days!]

The recent policy change proposal just got approximately only 40 votes and this is sad to see. The 10 years anniversary post got more votes than it.

I might be judgemental to compare the state of Ask Ubuntu Meta just based on votes. But I feel that the active users of Ask Ubuntu Meta do know that other forms of interaction (like comments, answers) too have decreased substantially in the recent past.


Thinking about votes in meta made me think about election statistics. The reason why I thought to look into election statistics is because I thought that voting can be considered as a metric to determine community participation in taking important decisions for the community (i.e., in this case, choosing a moderator).

I could not find any SEDE data about this (or I didn't search properly). So, I found the data manually from https://askubuntu.com/election.

Election year Number of people who voted
2011 145
2012 180
2013 240
2014 680
2016 1006
2019 1185
2020 1499

Let's look at the data graphically:

Bar graph


After looking into the data, these are the questions which I have:

  • We can clearly see a huge growth in the number of people who voted in the election since the past few years. But votes in meta have decreased over the past few years. Does this indicate that there is no correlation between these two facts?

  • There is a complaint being raised by some users regarding accepting the policy change as the votes were low. How do we deal with the issue of declining participation in Ask Ubuntu Meta? Should we perhaps have the tag for more than a month for posts regarding a policy change? Should we invite more people to meta? (and how do we invite them?)

  • As of creating this post, I have never participated in an election. According to information shared by a fellow user, I got to know that notifications are sent to users regarding the election.

    So, wouldn't it be a good idea to send notifications to users regarding voting in policy change proposals in meta? Maybe the staff can help with that.

  • Another issue could be the fact that meta is hard to find. So how can it be made more accessible? There have been some requests made in Meta Stack Exchange regarding this (which are worth checking out):

2
  • 1
    I did not vote on the policy change proposal at the time because the way it was formulated didn't make sense to me. The options seemed to be yes leave it as it is and no don't change it. The post itself was TL;DR. I don't think the problem was lack of engagement with meta or lack of interest in this area of policy on my part. I would like to see a count of number of meta questions with a score of 10 or more for the last 10 years, not just the last 2.
    – Zanna Mod
    Dec 8, 2021 at 4:44
  • 1
    @Zanna I have added the graph. I hope it will be helpful. Dec 8, 2021 at 21:00

2 Answers 2

9

Thanks for posting about this topic. I think it is a real problem that meta participation has declined, because if a smaller proportion of site users participate in meta, the site becomes less democratic.

As you mentioned in a comment, meta is not very discoverable. It became less discoverable in October 2017 with the implementation of the new top bar which, in my opinion, was a disaster for community moderation, because the and the buttons that had been in the old top bar, encouraging people to participate in improving the site, disappeared.

I wanted to know whether meta participation had decreased relative to main site activity since the top bar was redesigned.

BeastOfCaerbannog kindly made this wonderful graph showing how the total numbers of posts on main and meta changed over time:

both main site and meta posts decline from 2014 and particularly from 2016 onwards, but meta posts decline faster

The last five years show a divergence, where activity on both sites declined, but meta activity declined more.

With regard to the question of how we change policy, I don't think that I have any fresh insights. That earlier question you linked to has answers that I more or less agree with. At least, I don't know a better way to reach a policy decision than through an open discussion on meta, where all and especially dissenting views are taken seriously and addressed. We can probably work on doing that better.

But your question leads to a more practical question: how do we let people know that meta exists, that they can come here to ask for change? Perhaps we can investigate whether other sites across the network have seen a decline in specifically meta participation and seek design improvements that could address it.

In the meantime, we can continue to feature important posts and perhaps try to take opportunities to mention meta in comments to let new users know about it.

2
  • 1
    Thanks for the answer Zanna! Jan 6 at 15:47
  • 3
    I'm in AU for a decade, I lost track of meta button for years after using mobile app for some time. Things changed on me after I came back. To the level, I was using my profile previous meta questions to link me to meta site, until a month ago where I started looking where it is hiding and how is review queues (I hate its "always ON" red button). My mind was always on other things that I never looked for root cause. :( "management of change", It is killing me at work, now here. Thank you both for putting some light. (multi-click access ==> not important)
    – user.dz
    Jan 8 at 10:32
3

People not voting on site policies and more generally not taking part in Meta means they accept how site policies are being managed, else they would engage and vote.

As far as specific questions to be featured, I think just requesting it in a comment on the question seems appropriate as mods are suspiciously omnipresent.

6
  • 3
    hahaha we get notified of every new question on meta
    – Zanna Mod
    Dec 8, 2021 at 4:39
  • 2
    Well, it could also be because of the fact that many are unaware of meta. Dec 8, 2021 at 14:56
  • 1
    If they aren't aware of Meta, how much do you truly desire their being involved in site policies?
    – Paul
    Dec 8, 2021 at 15:15
  • 4
    @Paul The reason they could not be aware of meta is probably because of the way the site is designed. You have to click on SE icon to go to meta. It would be nice to have meta link in the side-bar. Just because one is not aware of meta, we shouldn't stop them from being involved in discussions regarding site policies. Dec 8, 2021 at 15:53
  • I you have issues with site design, please post suggestions at MSE.
    – Paul
    Dec 13, 2021 at 16:41
  • 1
    @Paul I have already posted about it MSE. Also, other users too have done it. Jan 6 at 14:28

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .