5
\$\begingroup\$

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.

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5
12
\$\begingroup\$

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.

\$\endgroup\$
6
  • \$\begingroup\$ Given the long time period we're proposing, and the use of the featured tag, I'm not sure FGIW applies here. If the voting period were a day, yeah, it would be a problem, but it shouldnt be an issue here. \$\endgroup\$ Jun 16 at 16:37
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ @Thomas Yeah I'm not really sure how those interact, but an answer could, theoretically, be up for a very long time before another is posted which means votes and comments and revisions will all get front loaded onto that question. I can't know what, if any, effect that might have on the final outcome, but I'll be happier safe than unsure \$\endgroup\$
    – Medix2
    Jun 16 at 17:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ Why not just feature this post for a week and tell everyone to think about what they'll post (so there's no need for a lock when the actual discussion is posted)? Just an idea. \$\endgroup\$
    – Laurel
    Jun 18 at 23:12
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @Laurel Because then their answers may not answer however the actual question is phrased. If the actual question is posted, people can model their answers to address precisely what it brings up and it lets people comment on the question post for clarifications and alterations which may have impacted those same answers \$\endgroup\$
    – Medix2
    Jun 21 at 12:09
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ So an awkward correction on something which is that there is no good lock type for this, which is to say, no lock type that will prevent answers but not comments and votes, and I'm not sure we'd want to stop those. We can go with just having the question closed for that week, though. I'll trust folks not to reopen it prematurely \$\endgroup\$
    – Someone_Evil Mod
    Jul 22 at 14:10
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ It's been two days and we haven't seen an answer in favor of keeping the policy so the experiment has failed. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 2 at 13:48
11
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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 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.

\$\endgroup\$
5
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ FWIW the featured tag is automatically removed after a month (usually slightly longer for reasons) and we'd usually wait at least that before considering a discussion fully settled. \$\endgroup\$
    – Someone_Evil Mod
    Jun 16 at 14:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Someone_Evil Yeah, this answer, to me, feels a good bit like a "because of course we would do this" kinda thing, but I still wanted to get it out there anyway. I will incorporate the featured tag mechanics into the answer though \$\endgroup\$
    – Medix2
    Jun 16 at 14:44
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Yeah, so this is basically what I expected when I said "leave it up to the mods". \$\endgroup\$ Jun 16 at 19:32
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ IIRC when I was a mod and we did a re(-re?)visit some behind-the-scenes conversation was that we'd want to see a pretty clear signal to change stance: we hypothesized that something like 3-to-1 in favor of position A would probably be enough to warrant a change. Close calls or even a 60-40 split in favor of a change didn't feel like enough. And there's a lotta grey left in between. IMO, positive votes give an unambiguous signal, while negative votes are less useful, effectively double-counting positive votes elsewhere. (Presumably.) Doppelgreener or SSD or mxy might recall better than me... \$\endgroup\$
    – nitsua60
    Jun 16 at 23:18
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ ...and current mods could always dig back into those discussions if they care to do some spelunking =) \$\endgroup\$
    – nitsua60
    Jun 16 at 23:19
8
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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.

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  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ Oh, and I do think it should be the moderators/a moderator posting it. This is a prime case for moderator action: there's a thing to be done, there's no particular reason it has to live under one user's name rather than another, and we've already gone through a process to identify a few "chosen" users to handle unusual things. \$\endgroup\$
    – nitsua60
    Jun 18 at 3:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ "(I'm a Montague, by the way. Forrealz: it's a family name on my father's side.)" - ...That's awesome. :D \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast StaffMod
    Jun 18 at 3:11
  • 5
    \$\begingroup\$ 3:2 not being enough to change the practice seems to give the policy far too much intertia. I know that if the scores settled at +60 repeal and +40 remain, I’d be a little salty if I were in favor of repeal. \$\endgroup\$ Jun 18 at 9:05
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ That may well be. I'll lay my cards on the table: I am in favor of change, a position I tried not to let get too much air while I was an elected mod. That said, I'm also small-c-conservative enough, or perhaps it's "gun-shy about upsetting the boat" enough, to want to somehow give some weight to the ten years of experienced and careful and thoughtful users who felt differently than I do. But this (where to put the cutoff) is definitely one of those things where there isn't a "right" answer, and even if there were there'd be no way--even in retrospect--to know... \$\endgroup\$
    – nitsua60
    Jun 19 at 18:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ ...whether we got the "right" answer. All of which, in my experience, indicates that treating the people right--since there will be saltiness--is of paramount importance. \$\endgroup\$
    – nitsua60
    Jun 19 at 18:56
2
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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.

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  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ I'm in favor of a meta that encourages us to figure out third options for handling the situation that are neither “no policy” nor “the policy as-is”, and would much prefer that to a meta that winds up with us focusing on that dichotomy alone. However, we also need to be open to the idea that “no policy” or something like it will likely show up as a serious suggestion to that meta and may even turn out as the most popular choice. (I mean, I expect a third option to win, but even I can't say how this will turn out.) \$\endgroup\$ Jun 21 at 10:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ Can you give an example or two of what sort of policy implementations you think there are between a total repeal and the policy’s present implementation? I’m finding myself unable to come up with any in between, which makes me think this idea won’t work, or at least, will just be “repeal” vs. “policy as is”. \$\endgroup\$ Jun 21 at 11:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ @doppelgreener I hope that 'complete repeal' is one of the answers presented, I likely won't vote for it, but will abide by it should it emerge as the winner. It should exist as it represents the community. I also hope that there are a few solutions we haven't heard or new ideas that this method would encourage where previous revisit have failed. \$\endgroup\$
    – linksassin Mod
    Jun 21 at 14:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Thomas Markov I can think of some 'guidelines' that may work as a middle ground to the current policy and no policy. But it's outside the scope of this meta to present them here. I only include them for the fact that when posing the question we should allow for their theoretical existence. \$\endgroup\$
    – linksassin Mod
    Jun 21 at 14:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ @linksassin Were you expecting proposals for repeal to come without guidelines for handling questions in absence of a policy? \$\endgroup\$ Jun 21 at 14:25
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ It seems to me these guidelines that may work as a middle ground are probably going to be integrated as part of a repeal proposal anyway. No one ever has understood "repeal the policy" to mean "add whatever tag you think might be it, no matter how ambiguous the question", and we need to stop characterizing it that way. \$\endgroup\$ Jun 21 at 15:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ThomasMarkov My issue is that some users will take it that way. I'm expecting proposals to repeal would include something like "Only add it if you are sure." and users with good intentions but limited experience will add it believing they are sure. I'm hoping for stronger guidelines that can indicate the kind of evidence required to be 'sure'. \$\endgroup\$
    – linksassin Mod
    Jun 21 at 23:27
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ For me, I don’t think it’s realistic to expect an in-between solution to work, and I doubt I’d vote for one—I would probably prefer no policy over that. The primary advantage of the strict policy is eliminating arguments. Any weaker, nebulous policy I can imagine is just going to have people arguing about whether something fits or doesn’t. At that point we might as well cut out the middle man and just have arguments about the merits of adding a system tag or not based on the practical question, not on how it fits some inevitably-under-defined policy. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Jun 24 at 18:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan perhaps you are right, and voting will indicate that. However I don't want the meta question itself to preempt the ability for such a compromise to exist. \$\endgroup\$
    – linksassin Mod
    Jun 25 at 10:43
0
\$\begingroup\$

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.

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17
  • \$\begingroup\$ Please read “Is something wrong?” Yes: Too much moderation this is a stark issue. \$\endgroup\$
    – Akixkisu
    Jun 16 at 9:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ As far as I'm concerned I will simply quit the community if we are going into a vote that then gets cutoff at an arbitrary point again, if we have a vote that is not tranparent in that manner or that disregards our long voting process. \$\endgroup\$
    – Akixkisu
    Jun 16 at 9:05
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ I’m not sure what I’m supposed to take away from a five year old post about a different set of moderators. \$\endgroup\$ Jun 16 at 9:06
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Right, I read it, and it might as well have been written about another planet. Our moderators are great at doing what is suggested there, and what I suggest in this answer is exactly the kind of exception handling they should be doing. \$\endgroup\$ Jun 16 at 9:11
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ No, this is a community vote, not a "The mods have spoken, therefore the issue is settled." matter. And moderators should act as community members in that regard. They way they have handled that last time caused severe issues, and we do not want to repeat them, after all we have a majority vote that is quite clear. \$\endgroup\$
    – Akixkisu
    Jun 16 at 9:15
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ I voted for those same moderators. I trust them to handle exceptions and honour their words - but I do not accept them as dictating the frame of the discussion or as community leaders whose views I need to serve. Moderators are not our policy decision-makers - we are as a community, and they are an equal part of that as members, not our leaders. \$\endgroup\$
    – Akixkisu
    Jun 16 at 9:31
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ @Akixkisu I don’t think it’s a matter of faith. I don’t doubt that your proposal is genuine and well intentioned. I just disagree with its utility and necessity, which doesn’t have anything to do with you personally. \$\endgroup\$ Jun 16 at 9:46
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ “Set the terms of policy discussions, and begin and end them” is not carved out as a thing diamond mods are solely responsible for, such that we should just go “hands off, leave it to them” just because they're mods. This is a community activity, and moderators do this as an extension of community membership. Moderators are best placed to do this in exceptional situations, but this doesn't mean we should just take our hands off as a community and divest ourselves of involvement. If moderators happen to open the meta, they would even be helped by understanding how we want to go about this. \$\endgroup\$ Jun 16 at 10:04
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ The reason Akix may be pointing to that meta is because it came from an era where we found that moderators were acting as the sole arbiters of community policy to the exclusion of the rest of the community, and it was very much not working. Moderators have started several recent major policy discussions because of the issues we were seeing, and mods certainly have an easier time doing this than anyone else on controversial topics, but that doesn't mean community members cannot do this or at the very least get involved in setting the terms of the discussion. \$\endgroup\$ Jun 16 at 10:05
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ So while I might upvote an answer that suggests there's some good reason the mods should be handling this all on their own, I cannot support an answer that appears to come from the POV that this is solely their domain from the outset and not our business. \$\endgroup\$ Jun 16 at 10:12
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @doppelgreener I’m not saying “this is not our business”, I’m saying “I trust them already to handle it”. \$\endgroup\$ Jun 16 at 10:18
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Right, but why are we trusting them to handle it to the point we wouldn't even discuss it ourselves? This is putting the totality of the responsibility of organising that meta on the mods and suggests we shouldn't even be involved, on very little basis I can see other than “because they're the diamond mods.” That's the, y'know, “diamonds should be handling this because it's their job” kind of position. I do trust them, but that doesn't make it solely their responsibility and not our responsibility too. \$\endgroup\$ Jun 16 at 10:23
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ @Akixkisu this is very incorrect and my attempt to establish a useful Q&A to address the tension between the mods at the time and some of the community was an unmitigated disaster. It was very much bound in time and place. \$\endgroup\$ Jun 17 at 17:33
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast I think I can do one of two reasonable things here, 1. discuss this with you at length, explain to you my reasoning, listen to what you have to say on the matter or 2. drop it and acknowledge that we could argue here. I employ the second option \$\endgroup\$
    – Akixkisu
    Jun 17 at 19:56
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ @Akixkisu A most excellent choice. 😁 \$\endgroup\$ Jun 17 at 20:09
-12
\$\begingroup\$

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.

\$\endgroup\$
9
  • \$\begingroup\$ “This two-week span” That's the two-week span from now til 1st July, right? \$\endgroup\$ Jun 16 at 10:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ @doppelgreener yes, but we could adjust that or I could phrase it more clearly :) \$\endgroup\$
    – Akixkisu
    Jun 16 at 10:23
  • 7
    \$\begingroup\$ -1 If the results of the vote will be predetermined to be "Revert the policy" with no regard to actual votes (unless they reach some unspecified "large margin"), then it is the opposite of "transparent and fair vote". Why even make it a vote then? Just declare a policy as de-facto in effect and be done with it. \$\endgroup\$
    – SilentAxe
    Jun 16 at 11:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SilentAxe do you have a better proposition in mind? \$\endgroup\$
    – Akixkisu
    Jun 16 at 11:40
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @Akixkisu No, if I had, I would have posted an answer. I currently have neither up nor downvoted the "Just let the moderators handle it". Because while it risks ignoring the wishes of the community, this answer explicitly advocates ignoring part of the community that might be in favor of keeping the system. \$\endgroup\$
    – SilentAxe
    Jun 16 at 11:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SilentAxe The vote over there sits at a score difference of more than 20 votes in favour of reverting the policy, which is a clear majority, but that is not how we enforce things due to the framework of the last vote. If there is reason to define a large margin, I'm very much open to transparent definitions. So "Just let the moderators handle it." is that reality in which we have an answer that has a score that is more than 20 higher which we currently disenfranchise, see rpg.meta.stackexchange.com/a/11597/44723 \$\endgroup\$
    – Akixkisu
    Jun 16 at 11:52
  • 5
    \$\begingroup\$ @Akixkisu I personally haven't voted on the original question because I haven't had a reason to look at a year-old discussion that has reached a conclusion of a policy that I don't object to. If I had, I would have voted against the top answer. I get that it seems you have been arbitrarily disenfranchised by mods because of the rules of the previous vote, but that doesn't give you rights do disenfranchise people like me. If you want a fair vote then come up with a way that is fair on it's own and not just designed to compensate for past wrongdoings. \$\endgroup\$
    – SilentAxe
    Jun 16 at 12:13
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ In case it wasn't clear - my main objection was that there was a default result that was presumed to be a winner (even while having less votes than others). Additionally (but this is relatively minor point) I also object to the ban on revisiting policy in less than a year, which seems to be designed to silence all the opposition. \$\endgroup\$
    – SilentAxe
    Jun 16 at 12:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SilentAxe When it comes to the established status quo of our community voting process, we have to take in the result of our current voting. So any new vote does not happen in a vacuum. We would vote to confirm or deny those results. So the question is, should we merely not re-vote and affirm the votes that we already did as the new policy (to revert old policy) and be done with that, or should we revisit and if we do visit, what position has the onus to overrule the other? I think an alternative would be to say "the majority has spoken." as you suggest. \$\endgroup\$
    – Akixkisu
    Jun 16 at 12:28

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