SE Podcast #33 – It's Back!

by Alex Miller

on October 15, 2012

It's Back! Welcome to episode #33 of the Stack Exchange podcast.  We've got a brand new co-host (Jay Hanlon, our new VP of Community Growth) plus our guest this week is David Fullerton, VP of Engineering at Stack Exchange.

  • So what's new in the seven months since our last podcast? Check out the new and improved review queue! If you've got enough reputation, you can see the review button at the top of any Stack Exchange site. The new system is clearer to use and it's fast thanks to a ton of AJAX goodness.

  • From the community side, one of the most important things about the review queue is the First Post queue - a list of the very first post from each brand new user.

  • You can also filter the queue, so you can tell it what kind of posts you want to look at - "only duplicates", for example..

  • There's a badge connected to using the review queue, so people are (naturally) gaming it. There's an incentive to just go fast instead of thoughtfully helping to improve posts.

  • If we add a "reopen" queue, will we then have to add a "reclose" queue?

  • We're looking at tweaking all of the language surrounding closing questions, including the word "closed" itself. "Not constructive" is itself not constructive feedback. How about "insufficiently objective"? "Poor thinking"? "You're dumb"? "Subjective"? - but we have such a thing as good subjective. It's not an easy thing to figure out.

    • (4:07PM - first mention of Taco the Siberian Husky.)
  • Closing questions is on the road to deleting them, but we still have hope for closed questions - or at least for the user who asked the bad question. Closures need to provide feedback to the users who asked the questions, so they have the opportunity to dispute or explain the situation.

    • (4:16PM - first mention of Yahoo! Answers.)
  • Got suggestions for how we re-word the close descriptions? Post them on Meta! The one thing that we need to be conveying is that Stack Exchange is a place for expert answers to factual questions, not shopping recommendations or discussion questions.

  • So what does Wikipedia do with content like this? Jason Punyon is here, apparently! He's impressed with the way Wikipedia points out the problems they have with their articles with a big box right at the top. Wikipedia faces many of the same problems we do, with the faceless cabal of "moderators" deleting content at will.

  • Okay, let's talk about something else.

  • Bigger picture: how do we teach new people how to use the site? We're working on a new "About" page! (Here's the old one.)

  • Example: tagging your first question! The current system tells new users they have to give their question at least one tag, but then it won't let them create a new tag. They have to understand that there is a list of existing tags from which they must choose. (Or we'll make the random forest do it for us.)

  • So! What's happened to the company in the last six months?

  • We opened a sales office in Denver! We're expanding our office in London! We hired Jay! Put your profile up on Careers 2.0, because it's exploding and that's why we're hiring salespeople for those two offices (and the NYC one) like crazy!

  • We're hiring a ton. We're hiring developers for Careers in NYC and for the Core Q&A team in NYC or telecommuting or hanging out in our sales offices in Denver or London. (The offices and the sales people are very nice. Plus there's free lunch.)

  • We're hiring a product designer! And a product manager! And a senior sysadmin!

  • We're getting a new office in New York City, by the way! If you've got enough rep, we'll give you a lifetime membership to come hang out in our offices now and then.

  • So what else has happened? We've done some promotions. We've got a patents site. We've got an app development contest with Microsoft going, so you can win prizes (including cash) for developing a Windows 8 app. Apptivate.MS. The MS stands for Microsoft or Malaysia or Multiple Sclerosis or Montserrat (it's the last one) but Microsoft uses it the most. (Montserrat is really small and probably has a viceroy.)

We'll see you next week!