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We've got some pretty important (to my mind) site-definition meta questions out there already, with more to come, but there hasn't been very much community participation on them to date. What can we do to get more of the community to come over here and help define how this site's going to work?

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Don't forget the obvious — Simply start having the discussions.

The 7 Essential Meta Questions of Every Beta

Users will emulate what they see and a bustling meta with intriguing activities will encourage even further discussions.

But don't just copy/paste the overly broad, generic questions from that blog post and expect everyone to just jump in with definitive answers. Questions like "How are we going to promote this site?" sound more like a homework essay assignment rather than something that will inspire interesting content and get results. These activities have to remain interesting to the users. Instead, try coming up with interesting ideas of your own and ask specific questions that can rally everyone around small, incremental units of work.

The second way to keep folks engaged in meta is to treat every meta question like gold. If someone comes here with a problem, make sure their issue is tended to. If someone comes here with suggestions for the site, be sure to respond. There's nothing more disturbing than a user reaching out to their community to promote the site (or asking for help), only to be met with complete silence.

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  • Thanks! Your points about nuggetizing questions and making sure there's at least some response to each idea sound great. – Isaac Moses May 12 '11 at 16:28
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If you tag meta questions with , this will force the question to show up in the sidebar on the main site. (Only moderators can use that tag...)
Of course you're still limited in how many questions...

Judicious use of the system message (the blue banner up top) can also be helpful in pointing users to meta in general, or to a specific question.

And - patience, it's still new here ;)

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I've seen SE sites that have a "visit meta" section in the sidebar, with links to some meta questions. This would be greatly helpful.

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  • Sounds like a good idea. Any examples? What does it take to implement this? Is it just a switch that SE has to throw? – Isaac Moses May 12 '11 at 16:28
  • I saw it on diy.stackexchange.com. No idea if it's standard or common, or what is involved in implementing it. – Dave May 12 '11 at 17:50
  • @Dave I looked at a few sites, and it seems to be standard on launched sites, but absent on beta sites. It seems to me that beta sites is where it's most important. – Isaac Moses May 12 '11 at 17:56
  • Eventually you can restore that message at the top of the page directing users to meta, which should increase participation. – Dave May 12 '11 at 18:05
  • This is indeed present on this site as well. – Rebecca Chernoff May 12 '11 at 18:53
  • @Rebecca, If you're referring to the system message, I overrode that temporarily to offer help with account migration issues, but I'll put it back. If you're referring to a "visit meta" sidebar element, I'm not seeing it. – Isaac Moses May 12 '11 at 19:43
  • @IsaacMoses i.imgur.com/3cQhO.png – Rebecca Chernoff May 12 '11 at 19:44
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    @Rebecca, Oh I see, it's on question pages, but not on the front page. On launched sites, it's also on the front page. – Isaac Moses May 12 '11 at 19:48

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