For those of you who have been following or peripherally aware of the drama around the network the last few quarters, a new chapter has opened, and it seems a brighter one.
The company hired a new Head of Product & Community, Teresa Dietrich, and so far it seems she is really committed to repairing the relationship between the company and the community.
In particular, she explicitly recognizes the value of the long term users, in their role as curators, and has started driving new features to help them do their jobs. This is refreshing after years of telling the company that question quality is our #1 gripe, and seeing no investment in fixing it.
But I wanted to call attention to one point that I think is of particular interest to the members of EL&U, as it’s brought up regularly here on Meta:
We are making fundamental changes to how our close question system works so that it’s a friendlier experience and more educational for post authors, while making it easier to edit and reopen closed questions, and reduce the burden on curators.
Questions that get voted to be closed will be hidden, giving authors the opportunity to improve their questions in private. Our hope is to make it easier on everyone by providing clearer guidance and encouraging better questions. This project is broken down into a series of improvements that will be rolled out iteratively over the next few months, during which time we’ll be measuring to ensure each change contributes to overall question quality and to improved reopened questions.
I think this will be an enormous improvement¹. I think it will also, counterintuitively, please the “be more welcoming to newcomers” camp, who are usually in opposition to the close-voting contingent.
Because, as one answer on the MSE summary observes:
[W]hen I was active in curation, we'd often downvote closed questions just to get them hidden from the site's front page. That sucked for everyone involved. This new approach has the potential to be much better.
Now, there will be less incentive to downvote in tandem with our closevotes, improving the experience for the OP, and making it less likely that a negative experience scares them off, rather than sticking around, engaging in the comments, and improving their question.
And for those fly-by-night OPs who still remain, well, at least their questions won’t be clogging up the front page anymore.
¹ Now, it’s not stated that this change will be rolled out to all sites, but given the procedural UX unification we’ve seen from SE recently, I wouldn’t rule it out. But even if it’s only applied to SO initially, note that that’s true of the “Ask A Question” Wizard too, and the same roadmap notes that this going to be rolled out to the international SE and network sites this month, so if it’s effective, we’ll see it too, eventually.