As a community, we should discuss how to frame the upcoming revisit of the Don't Guess the System Policy. We need a transparent and fair vote, so we ought to establish voting rules that prevent influences that negatively impact the transparency of the voting process. We have to acknowledge our initial situation and the expression of the will of our community therein.
Once a re-re-revisit is posted, lock it for a week.
This lets people draft up answers and prevents things like Fastest Gun In The West. It means that there will be an exact time at which the question will be unlocked and answers can then be posted at roughly the same time.
People will probably have free time somewhere within a week to draft an answer, so people who have five or six full days of work over each week will still have a chance to create answers, but I have no good reason for it to be only one week and not seventeen weeks other than that at some unknowable, arbitrary point, it would be too many weeks.
People have thought about this a lot so they probably already know much of what they would say and a week to get that all down on paper sounds good to me.
Wait an arbitrary (at least a month) amount of time until a clear winner emerges
Obviously, having voting end after a day or two is nonsense. Some people, who are active community members and have seen DGtS and formed opinions on it as it applies to this site, are not active every single day, or even each week. I suggest at least a month of time (which is how long, at a minimum, it takes for the featured tag to run out anyway), and if, after that, the scores amongst various answers are still very close, we should wait longer. People will, obviously, disagree about whether a score of 25 and a score of 23 means the 25-scoring question should be adopted site wide, but there would clearly be a lot of people disagreeing with that kind of change. Therefore, I suggest we wait until a clear difference exists.
I am not putting forward a precise definition in score or percentage for what counts as a clear difference between answers simply because I do not have one. This is the Sorites Paradox; just as I do not precisely when a heap of sand becomes a pile of sand, I do not know when close scores reveal a clear winner. It is not an exact thing, and that's okay.
Yes, this all has problems, and yes, there are ways to game and cheat the system, but I do not care about these. Why? Because I trust the people here not to do those things.
How shall we frame our upcoming revisit...?
With an eye toward the actual stakes.
Frankly, which way we end up going with DGtS isn't a huge matter for site health. Montagues argue that one way of handling it causes net good for the site while Capulets argue that's a net harm. If we change the practice those will swap. (I'm a Montague, by the way. Forrealz: it's a family name on my father's side.)
All of the above are reasonable people who care about the quality of the site and its utility for visitors. I say this informed both by faith and experience. They're drawing conclusions from their experiences and from mainsite events that admit nuanced (even conflicting!) interpretations.
Pulling back the curtain a bit: I was an elected moderator for three years and can't think of a practice that generated as much discussion (in meta and in chat), and which generated as little actual problems on mainsite. Some passionate arguments on meta, sure, but comment-sniping? Edit warring? Rage-quits and deletions and abusive language? Nope.
The actual stakes, then are the users involved.
It'd be really easy to come in heavy-handed and run a revisit in a way that ends up alienating some pretty-reputable Montagues or Capulets or creating a meta-mess that sours new users who come across it years from now.
A good process will:
- thoroughly and succinctly (good luck!) summarize the evolution of the issue, with plenty of meta links, so that users new(er) to the topic can get up to speed easily;
- allow enough time for thoughtful answers to come in, thoughtful engagement with those answers, and thoughtful response-answers to come in;
- lay out clear indicators of when action-/decision-points will be triggered--not so that people can game the system, but so that people are not surprised or undercut or cut short.
If you ask me--and nobody did--I think the current churn on meta is enough of a "heads up" that a revisit will come. No need to pre-announce it or anything.
Take some time to compose a good post laying out what's asked here and summarizing the state of affairs.
Make it clear in that post that you'll be waiting at least a month, or a few weeks after the latest answer's come in (whichever's longer) before evaluating what the scores might indicate.
Make clear in the post that a signal of 3:1 in favor of change is considered strong, that a signal 3:2 in favor of change is not considered strong enough to change the practice, and that anything in the middle is going to cause mods distress so please don't let's land there. (Or whatever you think are good thresholds.)
Comment frequently (every three or four days?) on the main post summarizing where things stand ("two new, good answers have come in this week--make sure to take a look and vote/comment, people" "no new posts this week but a bunch of voting, two Montague answers lead by small margins" "it's been two weeks since an answer's come in; if you are intending to write one but just haven't had the time please comment so" &c.).
When it's been a few weeks since it's been active, feature the post and start the "clock" anew. Now, with some well fleshed-out answers and discussions, is a good time to get some new eyes, some new questions, into the mix. (Add a little preamble to the post, maybe, explaining that this has been done?)
And then, when that clock's run its course... pray to whoever you think is listening that it's a clear (enough) signal one way or the other.
Note: This represents my idea as a user, not a mod. Don't take this as any kind of official stance or suggestion that this is something the mod team are planning to do.
Don't make it a re-visit
Clearly this will be a re-visit, this is ground we have discussed before and it is impossible to pretend that hasn't happened. However I would like to propose we create a new meta as if we were discussing a solution to problem for the first time.
The Problem With a Re-visit
By treating this discussion as a re-visit it becomes somewhat of a false-dichotomy, to repeal the policy or continue with no (or minimal) changes. While in reality we have a near infinite array of options and can choose to implement any solution we choose.
I believe this repeal/don't change option was reflected in the original results of the most recent revisit. Prior to become a mod, I voted against the moderator proposal to repeal at the time as it advocated for a complete reversal of the policy.
While I believe there is some ground to relax or modify the currently strict version, I am not in favour of a complete removal. If we make the next meta on the topic a re-re-revisit I fear that the same problem will force me to choose to keep the policy.
How this might work
The moderator team can workshop a question that describes the problem, identifies what has been tried and the pain points with the existing options. Comments on this and the other metas will help to identify what should be included here, as well as the opinions of users. Clearly this is impossible to get 100% perfect, however I believe the moderators are in the best position to make this post.
In line with Medix2's answer to this meta we can then lock this post after posting for 1 week. Giving time for feedback to be incorporated into the main question and for users to draft their answers before voting begins.
Answers to that post would take the form of 'policy' suggestions. A complete solution to the actual problem (questions that require system tags not having them), in a similar format to the "Don't guess the system", policy clarification meta.
I believe a question in this format will allow us resolve this in a single meta rather than requiring one for discussion and another for implementation. Answers will have clear actions for users to understand. The standing policy going forward would have a single source rather than a series of posts as we have had in the past.
How would voting work?
As Medix2 suggests we need to wait at least a month for voting to stabilise and for all users to have a chance to have their say. As for thresholds for acceptance, I hope it will prove to be a non-issue. That one answer or pair of similar answer will emerge as the clear favourites amongst the community, similar to how the results of the 5e meta panned out. If it is close, I hope we are mature enough to discuss and find an appropriate solution, perhaps a compromise between the top few answers (providing they aren't directly opposed).
I think it would be detrimental to agree to fixed thresholds ahead of time as it might lead to "We agreed to rules that say the result is X, but common sense says the result is actually more like Y" (unlikely but possible). Lets allow common sense and good judgement to prevail rather than overly prescriptive rules and formal voting.
Additionally I'd hate for any formal voting rules we made to become precedent for all meta discussions in the future. By not having rules there is no risk of that.
Just let the moderators handle it.
Someone_Evil has already asked us about what the mods are unsure about (votes changing ex post facto). We don’t need the formality you proposed in your answer. We elected them because we trust them to give guidance to the community when necessary, so let’s let them work.
How we could do that:
We should acknowledge that during the last year, we accumulated an overwhelming majority in favour of "Revert the policy, and treat these edits like any other." So we should treat it as our status quo in the regard of voting onus. Any Answer that advocates keeping the "Don't Guess the System" policy should gain a demonstrable majority by a large margin after a voting period of three months. If the voting process is close at all, we should treat the long process that led to the overwhelming majority in favour of "Revert the policy, and treat these edits like any other." as our policy, and we can only ask our moderators to enforce it as the will of our voting as a community.
If the majority should change again during an enduring voting process, we shall revisit the policy as soon as possible, but at least one year after the last revisit.
Initiating a revisit shall be a community process that stems from within a community of equals of equal power. So those of us who carry the elected moderator role shall not initiate a revisit. As moderators are otherwise also regular community members, they shall participate as any regular community member would in all other matters.
Our revisit shall start on the first of July 2021. This two-week span should give all of us ample time to draft answers that may gain momentum at the same pace.
We shall assume that all discussion related stems from good faith.