12
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Recently I (and some others in chat) realised that there is some scope for improvement in the site's structure, graphics, fidgets, etc. So we have decided to give it a shot. But since Stack Exchange is run by you, we'll first gather some opinions about how this site can be improved. Go ahead and give your opinions through comments and/or answers. Preferably, write just one proposal in one answer (instead of "we can improve this, this, this and that here"). If possible (like if the feature's already available on other SE site, or you can depict how it would look), add an image of that feature (can be real or even a drawing), just to give a better representation. The best ones will be voted up. Later, we'll call in community manager(s) to let them know and make the final decision.

List of Proposals: (oldest ones first)

The time period of this question has been extended. All the answerers are requested to edit and improve their answer, during this time period, if they need to do so.

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  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I think this is a good and useful endeavor, but truthfully very few of our members likely visit meta (and even fewer are likely to vote on these proposals). I think if we truly want this to be "community driven" improvement, this conversation/post will have to be publicized a little more widely in some way before changes are sought. $\endgroup$ – theforestecologist Apr 26 '17 at 19:00
  • $\begingroup$ I want fancy up- and down-vote arrows like Chemistry SE has. I don't know what icon it should be though. I was thinking a beta strand schematic, but that seems too bland. $\endgroup$ – canadianer Apr 26 '17 at 22:31
  • $\begingroup$ @canadianer why not post it as an answer? You'll definitely get upvotes on this ;) $\endgroup$ – another 'Homo sapien' Apr 27 '17 at 1:11
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @theforestecologist I am thinking to make an ad for this...will definitely post one on meta post of ads $\endgroup$ – another 'Homo sapien' Apr 27 '17 at 1:14
  • $\begingroup$ I suppose I could, but I didn't because I don't have any good ideas on what the icon should actually be. $\endgroup$ – canadianer Apr 27 '17 at 1:16
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Anything would work. If someone has some better image in mind, they are free to improve your post... $\endgroup$ – another 'Homo sapien' Apr 27 '17 at 1:17
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ @another'Homosapien' How about adding a list of the proposals with the links attached to the [key texts] in the order they were answered to the question? Because the recent answers end up at the bottom of the page (with the post by default opening with votes tab) and some of the answers are pretty long, it can save scrolling. $\endgroup$ – Tyto alba May 4 '17 at 20:05
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ What happens in 5 days? $\endgroup$ – canadianer May 24 '17 at 20:51
  • $\begingroup$ After 5 days, we'll close the discussion and call the community managers to have a look at these proposals. During these 5 days, you can submit a proposal you like, but not after it @canadianer $\endgroup$ – another 'Homo sapien' May 25 '17 at 5:39
  • $\begingroup$ @another'Homosapien' so is the plan just to show the community managers this whole discussion & see what they have to say? Or do we plan on using some arbitrary cutoff (e.g., 10 votes or maybe 6 votes like for community ads) for proposals to be forwarded? I think that a more structured "here's 3-4 things we want to change and this is why" request would go much further in actually enacting change vs a simple "look what we talked about" approach. Many of these proposals require relatively significant changes, so I think a little more direction/strong support on our end will serve us better. $\endgroup$ – theforestecologist May 26 '17 at 17:42
  • $\begingroup$ @theforestecologist honestly, I don't know! I thought the mods would better handle this further. I thought we could just say "based on what the community users have discussed here, we suggest that we could improve this site in following ways...". I feel like all proposals with > 0 score are worthy of taking forward. But if I can get a couple or more helping hands with this, it would surely be helpful. You see, I ain't very experienced with the system here ;) $\endgroup$ – another 'Homo sapien' May 26 '17 at 18:18

21 Answers 21

15
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Species ID question template

Problem: Being especially focused on species ID questions here, I notice I spend a lot of my time asking for addition/ clarification of specimen details (e.g., better photo, location, size, etc.).

  • Although the tag suggests adding some detail

    Please include as much information as possible on habitat (esp. where in the world you found the organism) and behavior, and ideally provide images.

    users still more often than not fail to include necessary information.

Proposal: It would be great if we could create some kind of template (or at the very least a series of annoying prompts or stops) to prevent questions from being posted without these info.

I'm not sure how this would work or if it was even possible, but here are my ideas about 2 separate approaches:

  1. When a user selects the tag, text is auto added to the question box:

    Location:
    Size:
    ... etc. ...
    

    The user would of course have the option to fill in those pieces of information or just delete the sections (b/c sometimes something like size is not well known). But the idea is that if we do half the work for them, the prompting might get them to just fill in the details.

Because the above idea has some obvious issues (and may or may not even be possible)...

  1. Instead of auto-generating text in the question box, what if instead a series of prompts or stops was initiated when someone selects the tag.

    • Perhaps this could be implemented on the side of the question box in the How to Ask instruction box.

    • Perhaps a dialogue pop-up appears when a user tries to submit a question without the words "location" or "size" or without including a picture. The pop-up could either reqire some mention in the question or simply re-iterate those data's importance in successful IDing (and not fully prevent question submitting).


Related Thoughts:

  • I think in general, the How to Ask instruction box could be used much more broadly and effectively. If dynamic instructions or examples could be generated based on keywords or tags, that'd be great. Even if additional links were added for common question types/issues (e.g., the species ID q's), that'd be an improvement.

Update:

I added a new meta post to address this proposal: Species Identification tag warning proposal.

  • This seems like the most viable approach to making something happen quickly. We can see how well it works!

  • Please vote/comment!

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  • 3
    $\begingroup$ I second your thought of expanding the instruction box. $\endgroup$ – Tyto alba Apr 26 '17 at 19:22
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Where did all of my brilliant comments go?! $\endgroup$ – canadianer May 10 '17 at 20:20
  • $\begingroup$ the template idea has the major problem that the tags are often selected after the text is written. But there is an alternative that already exists, you can add usage guidelines to tags. Ask a question on Stack Overflow and add the sql tag to see how this looks like. $\endgroup$ – Mad Scientist May 22 '17 at 8:37
  • $\begingroup$ Added new meta post to address this proposal: Species Identification tag warning proposal. Please vote/comment! $\endgroup$ – theforestecologist May 30 '17 at 23:02
10
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Ability to search Species ID posts using pictures

Problem:

Most people coming to Bio.SE to have their unknown specimen identified have two options: either browse through dozens (or hundreds) of old posts to see if they can find a match for their specimen, or (much more commonly) just ask a new question.

  • This first option requires opening each post individually, and therefore is incredibly time consuming. As a result, most users opt for option 2.

  • This is ok if it's in fact a new species (i.e., one not previously ID'd on Bio.SE before) or if one of our users can recognize it as a duplicate of a previous post.

    • However, with 600+ species ID posts, there is a good chance that there are un-marked duplicate posts.

Proposal:

Wouldn't it be so much better if you could sort through old posts by picture?

I have no idea how this could be done (and I'm fairly sure it actually cannot be done), but it would make our species ID posts MUCH more accessible to visiting users.

  • This would likely result in heavier traffic through the site.

Here's an example of how I think this could be done:

enter image description here

How this could work:

  • I envision one of 2 ways:

    1. Auto selects 1st image in a post

    2. Provide some ability for a user to select which image to include in search.

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  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Why don't we just make species identification off-topic all together?! Seriously though, this is a neat idea. I would like to see it for all posts that have an image. $\endgroup$ – canadianer May 2 '17 at 22:29
  • $\begingroup$ @canadianer yes, I suppose it would be cool to expand it to all posts. I framed it in the context of species-identification b/c it seems most immediately relevant/useful for posts with that tag. $\endgroup$ – theforestecologist May 2 '17 at 22:38
  • $\begingroup$ Thats actually interesting idea, but very difficult. Most probably we will have to talk to Google for this (or maybe stack overflow) for image search software. But once this is achieved, it will be a huge boost for the site. $\endgroup$ – another 'Homo sapien' May 3 '17 at 3:43
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ It doesn't need any special image search software. All that is required is for Stack Exchange devs to display whatever image is used by the questioner. $\endgroup$ – canadianer May 3 '17 at 17:31
9
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Make it clear that basic and trivial questions are off-topic

It seems obvious that if this site has any pretensions to quality, basic and trivial questions should be pulled. When I gained enough points to vote to close questions it appeared to me that there was no scope for doing this. Then I discovered others were voting to close questions of this type by classifying them as homework questions, much to the chagrin of the posters.

However, on following the link to the help entry on homework, I discovered the following:

What is a homework question?

• A request for help with an assignment

• Asking for help after exam feedback - i.e. "Why was this marked incorrect?"

A question that addresses a basic biology concept that may seem trivial to biology professionals

Good. But we need to be honest about this and put it in a category that describes it, e.g. “Low-quality question” (which incidentally comes up as a review category). That way users (and editors) will become aware that the site has certain minimum standards (even if they have to be interpreted subjectively).

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  • 1
    $\begingroup$ How about deciding a level (e.g. Standard XII) to clarify the margin of the biological concepts that would be considered basic and hence 'homework'? $\endgroup$ – Tyto alba May 8 '17 at 19:45
  • $\begingroup$ @Tytoalba — I have no idea what Standard XII is. I am not concerned with impossible definitions of standards, I am concerned that people are told that that their posts are off-topic because they are homework when they should be told that they are off-topic because they are too elementary. I don't want to change the practice, just let everyone know what it is. $\endgroup$ – David May 8 '17 at 21:01
  • $\begingroup$ By Standard XII I meant High school or Twelfth grade. I didn't mean to change the practice as well, just thought having the level mentioned will make things clearer, especially for users who are not professionals yet. $\endgroup$ – Tyto alba May 9 '17 at 5:10
  • $\begingroup$ @Tytoalba Since this is an international platform; and class-level scale is not similar in different countries/places/ institutes; they commonly seeks for age than class-name. So XII (12th) is the standard when student is 18 or 19 yrs (usually). Or also, "high-school standard" would be a more universal word than class or standard or grade. $\endgroup$ – Always Confused May 9 '17 at 11:37
9
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Little bit improvement in fonts

At-present the font being used for output / executed forms, creates some confusions places to places; such as the small-letter-L (EL) (l) and capital-letter-i (Aye) (I) are indistinguishable.

For say, when to type Isoleucine or Ile (should be aye(i)-el(L)-ee(E)), Illicium sp or i-L-L-icium (and Illiceaceae)... it is quite ridiculous (however BioSE is no exception, manyother sites show this problem).

I(i), l(L).

Current output form:

confusing form.

Current input form:

clear form

It would be very nice if the font which-one currently being used for input/editing/mark-up/pre-formatting, is used also in output. It doesn't have any such problems. Additionally; it has a strike-mark inside zero; making it very distinctive from capital-O (however on current output font the big, floppy circle for O looks very nice). However, this probably wouldn't look unprofessional- because I've seen several old research paper used clear fonts looking like Courier-new or DotumChe, and much more extreme than the current input format.

Update :

As user@David suggested; I have no objection to modern-alternatives- if it is distinguished well. However I would not much prefer Georgia because the small-letter-o and the zero is not very well distinguished.

Here I attach some example of common and standard fonts; with a suggested rating. (Don't worry; others' opinions to be consider)

rating of some common fonts

Some of the common confusions are I (cap i), l (small-L), O (cap-o), o (small-O), 0 (Zero); which has been sequentially shown in diagram. However there is another common type of confusion; that take place between 5, S and s (in some railway dot-matrix prints I've faced... I have read an S2 compartment as 52 !) however probably none of the modern, standard fonts do have that problem; so I did not included it.

Some other sources that may be utilized:

This webpage explains about cross-platform, serif fonts ; and also refers to Google fonts for some "web fonts". Among them; Lora, Josefin Slab, Taviraj, Droid serif, Noto serif, Libre Baskerville, Crimson text etc are some very good options.

This webpage mentions the list of font common to windows and mac.

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  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Thats a very nice idea, I never thought of that ;) $\endgroup$ – another 'Homo sapien' May 2 '17 at 5:38
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Thank you for your appreciation. $\endgroup$ – Always Confused May 2 '17 at 14:59
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ In principle, your idea is a good one, but the font used for input is a monospaced font and is completely unsuitable for body text. You would have to change to either a serif font, like Georgia or Times New Roman, which are cross-platform and work on iOS (and, I assume, android). SE English Language and Usuage uses Georgia. Old papers were always properly set in proportionally-spaced type by printers. Monospaced type is an unreadble relic of typwriters, only suitable for aligning DNA sequences. $\endgroup$ – David May 7 '17 at 17:19
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    $\begingroup$ Most of the fonts listed should be eliminated either (1) because they are not cross-platform on desktop computers, (2) they are not supported by iOS, or (3) They were not designed for print resolutions of 300dpi and above, rather than screen resolution which can still be less than half that. I am afraid that our only choices are Georgia or Times New Roman. I suspect that you will have difficulty in persuading SE to change from the status quo, which seldom causes problems. The other alternative is to use or create a web font, which would be cross-platform, but I doubt that would fly. $\endgroup$ – David May 8 '17 at 13:18
  • $\begingroup$ @David Times New Roman Would not bad. However I'm keeping the details alive. $\endgroup$ – Always Confused May 8 '17 at 15:27
6
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Some more button for the Visual editor tool-bar

(for improved visual editor support for the formatting task).


In a list form; some features that are important, so requires visual support. (Also the visual support works as a good tutorial, on the same time.)

For special characters like degree sign or ° (as in °C or °F), greek letters like γ , Γ etc; angstrom sign (I do not know command for it), Subscript , Superscript , Strike-out , no-execution <sup> abcd </sup> , etc; And for math and chemistry equations (as SE prefers MathJax and Lattex language for that sort of formating) some basic templates for chemistry and math equation, and if possible and a draw table feature with MathJax or Lattex Array.

.................................................

  • P. S. 1 : some formatting tasks which are very important, allowed, but absent in visual editor: .

The commands are mostly from markdown with allowing some basic HTML commands

Feature Name, Example, Command, comment

Greek (Caps), Λ, &Lambda; (Greek letter name initial in caps)

Another example, Ω, &Omega;

Greek (small), λ, &lambda; (Greek letter name initial in small)

Another example, ω, &omega;

Degree , °, &deg; Application: °C, °F 45°

Subscript, Subscript, <sub>Text under Subscript</sub>, application: 6CO2 , 8O2 .

Superscript, Superscript, <sup>Superscript</sup>, application: 10-9, 13C , 136C168O2.

Strike-out, Strike-Out, <strike>Strike-Out</strike> , (given only in question mark ?)

No-execution of command; <strike>abcd</strike> , `` Text under a pair of backtick characters.

These type of commands should be available in the visual editor.

.............................................................

  • PS:2 Some of the formatting task, like basic chemistry and math equations require MathJax; but Lack of visual editor makes them cumbersome for beginners in this site.

SE recommends MathJax, a variant of Latex, to write chemistry and math equations. Some sites use LaTex array to make tables; which could be helpful in answering, too, as the text could be easily extracted from such type of tables.

..............................................................

Update:

The proposal is being declared as community wiki. If anyone want to add/ elaborate/ reframe statements (except delete others' input); they could do that. As it seems user@David tried to add up lot of details through a separate answer. Anyone could improve this answer.

...........................................................................

A "community wiki" post means a post designated for edit and improve by multiple users' collaborative efforts; so not restricted by ownership of one individual user. Anyone with certain small-amount of reputation (score or points), can participate in a community wiki. In contrast to community-wiki posts; a "NON-community-wiki" means anything here excluding than community wiki; i.e. non-community wikis are any posts restricted to ownership of one user.

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  • 2
    $\begingroup$ See Underline text in Stack Overflow wiki editor and related Meta.Se posts about underlining text on SE sites. $\endgroup$ – theforestecologist May 2 '17 at 17:49
  • $\begingroup$ @theforestecologist — Please don't ever underline text anywhere. It is a typographical abomination that only exists because of the bygone era of the typewriter. $\endgroup$ – David May 8 '17 at 17:24
  • $\begingroup$ @David Okay; on your feedback I'm removing that option since it is not supported by the prog language used here. $\endgroup$ – Always Confused May 8 '17 at 17:28
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ What is a Community Wiki? What does this all mean? I would like to improve the formatting on this site. The most common problems are subscripts and superscripts because of the chemical nature of things. If we can fix that, that's as start. It's the most important thing because anyone who knows how to use their operating system (or Google) can insert unicode characters, but subscripts and superscripts are styles, which is why they need word-processor like support. $\endgroup$ – David May 8 '17 at 21:07
  • $\begingroup$ @David Me too want to see improved formatting support on this site. $\endgroup$ – Always Confused May 9 '17 at 8:07
4
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Greeting Bot

How about having a bot that greets new users and provides them all the valuable information about the site in a short summary so that users tend to read it and post on-topic questions and write good referenced answers. I know that new users get notification about the tour page, but only some people read them and also the on-topic and off-topic questions are not mentioned in the tour page. There is help center for that but it has many questions in it, and I don't think anybody goes through it. The representation of the bot should be attractive enough to lure the user to read it. It should only provide the information about posting on-topic questions and writing a good answer and not about other features of the site. The new user should not think the bot as a human, a message like "I am a bot" also should be included in the welcome message.

The bot should provide information about:

  • Personal medical questions and health advice. (covered in the tour page)

  • Homework questions.

  • Low-research effort questions.

  • Too broad and opinion based questions. (covered in the tour page)

  • Providing well-referenced answers.

  • Avoiding copy-paste of answers from other sites and articles.



The greeting bot may do its works in following ways.

1. When the user first opens an account in the site; the bot will send a greeting message. The bot will show a flash-card/pop-up and (also send a copy to inbox) The message would be kept always on top until 3 months spent after the user reads it and visits all the links. The preview of this particular message in the inbox dropdown; with a bright, red or orange flair.

Here is a sample template of the message:

"Hi User@X. Welcome to biology SE, a great place to submit questions about biology, from any corners of the world. Please take a very small tour of 1 small page, to get some overall idea. For any help required, browse the Help centre.

However, we primarily look for your own, unique questions, that would enrich or/and rectify the world's knowledge, when the question will be saved to the database. For detailed informations; see what/ how to ask and don't ask.

You can answer, too. However we look for a clear and logical answer, backed up with reference(source) or axiom. You could include pictures, graphs etc to improve the understanding. However, opinion-based answers and hypothetical (speculative) answers are usually discouraged. For details, go through how to write a good answer and other articles about answering. Whatever if you find a question about which you can tell or explain well, or something important not yet mentioned in existing answers; please feel free to write an answer.


  • To write the questions or answers, you will need to use some simple commands or codes for input or edit. As a result, a formatted-text will be found as output. That means the system is NOT- what you see is what you get. Some very basic of them are also available in form of visual editor toolbar at top of edit field. Also at right side of the edit area, the yellow box. However, to know the codes in details; visit correct methods of formatting ".


When the user will publish a question / answer for the first time:

The user will obtain a flash-card as well as a inbox-message (for future use).

  • For question:

"Congrats! You have successfully posted your first question. Let the world visit what you've pointed out. Don't forget to follow-up your post. Visit the coming answers and comments whenever possible. Check your notification inbox.

Your reputation or score will change depending upon how the visitors across world are rating it. They may upvote or downvote it. If any downvotes come, please don't take those emotionally. See the reasons and try to improve the question accordingly. Visit articles about asking"

  • For answers:

"Congrats! You have successfully published your first answer. Your effort will help the world on now and for future. Don't forget to follow-up your post. Visit the coming comments. Check your notification inbox.

Your reputation or score will change depending upon how visitors across the world, and the asker, taking it. The users may upvote or downvote your answer, and if your answer satisfy, the asker may accept your answer. If any downvotes come, please don't take those emotionally. See the reasons and improve the answer accordingly. Visit articles on answering"


When the user will receive the answers to their first question.

Both a flash-card and a message (for future use).

"Hurrah! you have some answer(s) for your question. Read them carefully. Upvote those answers, which are useful and clear. You may downvote too, if you found an answer wrong or unclear. But please don't use any of them in hasty or rampant way. Read thoroughly before taking any actions. Downvoting without any comment, is highly unrecommended. If you downvote, it is your responsibility to retract it, if the answerer has been improved that fault.

Accept the answer which one best solves your purpose, or satisfy you the most. But before accepting the answer, make sure you've read the answer well, the answer indeed solves your purpose/satisfy you, and the answer is correct and authentic".

For further information, see What should I do when someone answers my question?


When the user gives the first vote on any of the post (Question or answer)

For first upvote:

  • flash-card:

"Congrats; you're going to put your first upvote. Have you read the post carefully? Your vote matters a lot. Judge a post according to its content. Help us find the hidden gems."

Button: OK

Button: No, I'll read once more

  • and after the upvote a message at inbox:

"Congrats; you've put your first upvote. Have you read the post carefully? Your vote matters a lot. Judge a post according to its content. Help us find the hidden gems.".

In case of first downvote:

(a bit more elaborate flashcard than the current)

  • Flash card:

" You are going to downvote a post. Are you sure this post contain something wrong/unclear? Your vote matters a lot. Do not misjudge any post. We are all here to learn. Be respectful to others.

It is strongly recommended to put some comment to the user, so that they can improve the post or understand their fault.

Button: Vote-down. The post contains something wrong or unclear.

Button: Not now... I want to read again.

* Do not forget to retract the downvote if the user later on sufficiently rectify their post.

  • Inbox message:

"You've put your first downvote, because you were sure that the post wrong or unclear. Your vote matters a lot. Do not misjudge any post. We are all here to learn. Be respectful to others.

It is strongly recommended to put some comment to the user, so that they can improve the post or understand their fault. "

* Do not forget to retract the downvote if the user later on sufficiently rectify their post.



Anyone can add if anything more should be provided by the bot.

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  • 2
    $\begingroup$ An illustration image maybe...? $\endgroup$ – another 'Homo sapien' Apr 25 '17 at 11:55
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Very related things were discussed here about welcoming new users. So they could be automated as canned response. Especially the formatting help. $\endgroup$ – Always Confused May 1 '17 at 18:50
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Yes; you and community members can reframe the sentence to make more polite and welcoming (sorry if my words look like cruel due to improper English)... but formating help is really a big help. When I was new to SE I took a lot of days to know that there is an entire page about formatting commands. $\endgroup$ – Always Confused May 1 '17 at 19:16
  • $\begingroup$ @Mesentery Though it is a community wiki; I'll take time to think some scribbles before I finally submit the edit. $\endgroup$ – Always Confused May 2 '17 at 15:03
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ However, concept of greeting bot is very nice $\endgroup$ – Always Confused May 2 '17 at 15:19
  • $\begingroup$ @Mesentery Why you can't? Tell me; where can I improve? As well I know this is a community wiki, the upvote will not reward me reputation, you need not to worry about my reputation increase. If you think the post is good/helpful... go for upvote it to make it successful. $\endgroup$ – Always Confused May 4 '17 at 6:19
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Mesentery Okay don't worry. Thanks for your appreciation. $\endgroup$ – Always Confused May 4 '17 at 6:28
4
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Improve Migration options

This suggestion relates to those with sufficient reputation to vote to close, who see a ‘close’ link under a question. On clicking the ‘close’ link one gets a set of options for one’s reason for doing this, one of which is “off-topic because...”. After clicking this one gets another set of options, one of which is: “This question belongs on another site in the Stack Exchange network”. Clicking this gives only a single option: “belongs on biology.meta.stackexchange.com”, which is never appropriate for me. Why? And why can’t one just enter the SE site that one thinks it should be migrated to?

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  • $\begingroup$ The list was not at initial. After the proposals came; someone made a list and included to original question. Maybe yours one would be included in the list. $\endgroup$ – Always Confused May 7 '17 at 20:00
  • $\begingroup$ You need not to look that list. If you find something improvement to BioSE could/ should be done which have not done yet; you feel free to write it in this post. $\endgroup$ – Always Confused May 7 '17 at 20:06
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Me too could not find any article specified for migration on the help centre. This and this maybe some helpful link. Looks like our help center needs a lot of improvement $\endgroup$ – Always Confused May 8 '17 at 4:06
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @AlwaysConfused — I don't think you understand the specific problem I raise because it is only encountered by those with sufficient "reputation" to vote to close posts. I'll edit the above to make this clear. $\endgroup$ – David May 8 '17 at 13:20
  • $\begingroup$ This is technically already possible by selecting 'other' and just typing in (preferably with hyperlink) the name of the SE community you think is appropriate. However, I agree that more options for migration sites would be nice /quicker. I'm not sure if the dynamic site-selection you describe is actually possible, but I do think we could add more common sites (chem, phys, CV, SO, history, etc.) to the migration list. $\endgroup$ – theforestecologist May 11 '17 at 13:48
3
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Want a countdown clock for comment-editing and chat editing.

While comment-editing we get an indication about how many character-spaces remaining; but not the time. Though times in minutes passed after first publishing, is shown; that is not exactly a "countdown"; and often inaccurate probably because the page sometimes get desynchronized from the main SE server at phases of network connectivity problems or maybe there is some-other cause. And also that timing cannot be seen while editing turned on.

Current view of comment editing window .

Screenshot-1: Current view of comment editing window. There is no indication of time remaining. After 5 minutes from the moment of first publishing the comment; the edit could not be submitted.


There is similar problem in Chat.

Current view of comment edit.

Screenshot-2: Current view of chat edit; part of this conversation.


However; it gives some indication; when only 10 seconds left.

Warning at Ten seconds left.

Screenshot-3: Warning at ten seconds left.


Which ends at a glance.

Edit blocked

Screenshot-4: Times up for continue editing.

And also, there is no direct way for knowing while edit chat; how much total time is provided to edit a chat.



It would be very nice; if a small countdown watch shows

Time remaining / total time.

Here is one sample:

Sample clock

Picture-5: Sample format of clock. The "indicator" is the main feature; showing the available time (remaining time). 5.a. is the sample of layout of entire clock (the actual size could be smaller, as the community decides. My recommendation is 3cm (wide) X 1cm (tall) or something similar).

In the diagram 5.b. the rightward contraction of the indicator with time, has been shown. The coloured (highlighted) region is at right- side because it is the indicator for "remaining" time (and NOT of consumed or spent time). The colour green indicates a safe time. The yellow means warning; and the red means danger-time started, or unrecommended-amount of time has been consumed.

Also other forms like circle/ pie-chart type clock could be used; however IMO the bar-graph is more simple.


PS-1: Once such a countdown clock has been developed; we would be able to use the
same clock/ its variant for broader purpose; like countdown for bounties (in days), or election time (in weeks or days) etc.

PS-2: The block-quotes in this post are just to increase readability... otherwise having problem to recognize which-one caption goes to which-screenshot.

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3
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Make the Question/Answer Preview Editable

It often happens that I (or anybody) write long answer and put some MathJax (or image or something) at the end. Then I have to scroll down and check whether it is displayed correctly. For example, I scroll down...scroll down...scroll down and see that I forgot to put the $ symbol after the equation. Then I scroll up...scroll up...scroll up and put that symbol. After that again scroll down...scroll down...scroll down and see that I forgot to put the closing braces. This takes a lot of time and causes a lot of irritation. To counter this, we could instead make the preview itself editable. One could simply write their answer in preview, put some links, images and symbols from the floating toolbar (which could be placed at the side of screen). This would make editing a lot more easier and one would be able to edit the answer preview instead of the code for it.

The visual editor toolbar would be floating (so that it remains at the same position even if you scroll the screen). Also when we write some equation, it would get converted to its preview form as soon as the equation gets completed and you press the spacebar. For example, suppose you are writing \$\ce{H_2O}\$. Now, as soon as you press spacebar, it automatically gets converted to $\ce{H_2O}$. And when you click anywhere on $\ce{H_2O}$ (or press backspace), it will again display as \$\ce{H_2O}\$. This would make editing equations and formulas a lot easier.

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  • $\begingroup$ So basically you are requesting an WYSIWYG -group of typing interface? $\endgroup$ – Always Confused May 19 '17 at 8:13
  • $\begingroup$ Also we should make the visual-editor-bar 'floating'. $\endgroup$ – Always Confused May 19 '17 at 8:15
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Somewhat different from that. Like we would type \$\ce{H_2O}\$ and it will convert automatically to $\ce{H_2O}$, and when we click on it (to edit) it again shows up as \$\ce{H_2O}\$. An yes, I mean the editor toolbar would be floating. I will make that clear in the answer. $\endgroup$ – another 'Homo sapien' May 19 '17 at 8:32
  • $\begingroup$ Great. Just like an automated bot corrects the hyperlink numbers when I add new hyperlink at intermediate position of a completed text. However I did not know yet the mathjax and La-tex language other than blindly copy-paste codes (and slight modification). I've just started to read more carefully the articles about MathJax and La-tex. $\endgroup$ – Always Confused May 19 '17 at 13:25
  • $\begingroup$ Autocorrect options sometimes bring a lot of trouble. These might happen with this proposal too. So, to tackling them need to be part of this proposal. $\endgroup$ – Always Confused May 19 '17 at 13:29
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Now I understand the severity of the problem. It is painful and killing unnecessary time for small edits. $\endgroup$ – Always Confused May 22 '17 at 18:25
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Another simple way could be keeping the edit field and output field side-by-side. $\endgroup$ – Always Confused May 22 '17 at 18:26
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @alwaysconfused that could work too, but IMO an editable preview would be more attractive and user-friendly ;) $\endgroup$ – another 'Homo sapien' May 22 '17 at 18:42
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, but then I would prefer a separate small box (small edit area) below or above the text selected for edit; showing source code (in contrast to wysiwyg-visual editors). $\endgroup$ – Always Confused May 29 '17 at 14:02
  • $\begingroup$ It would be also very great if we could scroll the edit-preview. In fact even if I have an editable preview; It would be much helpful to get a scrollable preview. Because it will allow compare larger chunk of source code and the output; as well the mini edit fields will not cover up nearby text. So functionality like side by side markdown, and look(appearance) much like the same as present, except just a tiny scrollbar. $\endgroup$ – Always Confused May 29 '17 at 14:11
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @alwaysconfused you mean just like the previews can be scrolled now? Like scrolling the whole page? I'd prefer that over just a small scrollable preview box. But I can't agree with your first point; the whole point of editable preview is to merge answer edit box and answer preview, so that they can't be differentiated from each other. $\endgroup$ – another 'Homo sapien' May 29 '17 at 16:31
  • $\begingroup$ On my last one comment; I told only a single, another alternative method (not about the editable preview(your method)). Where; just like we scroll the edit field with a small scroll bar; I should be able to scroll up the the latest portion of the preview. It was my intuitive response when I used MathJax and longer text. I did NOT meant anything about "merging" through any of my comment. Probably without picture in comment any severe misunderstanding taking place. $\endgroup$ – Always Confused May 29 '17 at 19:31
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Scrolling up of the whole page required to see the entire preview. That simultaneously rise the edit field out of screen. Instead if I could fix the position of edit area; and could scroll the preview with a "inner" scroller (just like an inner scroller already exists in the edit field); I would be able to easily correlate the source code (markdown and MathJax) and the output. $\endgroup$ – Always Confused May 29 '17 at 19:45
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Are you telling this comment as "first comment"? ("Yes, but ... editor") ? It tells nothing about margin. It tells when you want to edit preview (like hit backspace as you prefered); $\ce{H_2O}$ should not replace the preview for it. Instead It should show a small rectangle just beneath or above (but touching) $\ce{H_2O}$ showing the source code $\ce{H_2O}$. $\endgroup$ – Always Confused May 29 '17 at 19:54
  • $\begingroup$ Recently I have learnt that there is a "split" option in the view-menu of MS-word. It serves exact same purpose as this question, but in another way. This too could be an option. $\endgroup$ – Always Confused Nov 30 '17 at 17:50
3
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Ability to "Accept" clearly correct answers for non-active members

[NOTE: based on a discussion in the comments below [here and here], I now see that this is not a necessary proposal. -- However, I've left it here for discussion sake.]


(Less of a visual idea and more of a functional proposition).

Problem:

There are countless number of answers on this site (like most SE sites) that have received correct answers but were never checked as accepted. In many cases, the asker is no longer active on the website so acceptance will likely never occur.

  • This is often times a result of a user getting an answer they like to a specific question and never returning to the website.

  • My definition of "correct" entails that an answer has an obviously correct answer that has preferably been upvoted and has not been contradicted by answers from other "well-respected" users.

  • Some examples: here, here, here, etc.

Motive:

The site is littered with questions that have been well answered but appear to need further attention because of never having been checked as accepted.

  • When I scan through tags of interest to answer "unanswered" questions, I have to weed through a number of these questions to find questions that actually still need a good answer.

Proposal:

In cases where both an answer is correct AND the user is no longer active (i.e., maybe has been > 1-2 years since last log-in) we should incorporate some form of community or moderator initiated answer-accepting protocol.

  • Again, we would have to define what constitutes a scenario in which an answer can be accepted by someone other than the OP.

    • Answer deemed "Correct " (see above)
    • User has been inactive for X period of time (I propose 1 year)
    • Answer does not contradict the intentions/wishes of the OP (asker)
    • Other criteria??

This could be incorporated in a number of ways:

  1. Add a mod flag

  2. Give ability to mods + users with silver or gold tag badges regarding the specific tags of the post in question.

  3. Create a pathway to acceptance via meta post voting.

  4. Other ideas?

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  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Nice proposal; good practical application. $\endgroup$ – Always Confused May 2 '17 at 18:23
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    $\begingroup$ meta.stackexchange.com/questions/3669/… $\endgroup$ – canadianer May 2 '17 at 22:31
  • $\begingroup$ @theforestecologist In case of a new user do not follow-up to their first question / show a rare follow-up; the Greeting bot should send mails/messages to the associated mail / social media / open ID accounts. The bot can also offer password recovery options or permanent SE user account request. $\endgroup$ – Always Confused May 4 '17 at 2:41
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @canadianer Very relevant link, but I would dislike community-accept at-random. ( My opinion goes more with this answer ). Because the purpose of acceptance is not just to mark the question as answered, or an answer is good; but it is an unique right to the asker to award the answer the asker ownself found most useful/satisfactory. But in conditions, want. $\endgroup$ – Always Confused May 4 '17 at 4:16
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    $\begingroup$ Questions with upvoted answers don't count as unanswered. Acceptance is overrated, in fact I would instead argue we should get rid of it altogether. In any case, accepting an answer only means that the OP liked it. Not that it is right, helpful, wonderful or even good. Only that the OP happened to prefer it. So forcing a meaningless tick mark like this seems pointless. Just upvote the answer and it has the same effect as far as the unanswered count is concerned. $\endgroup$ – terdon May 8 '17 at 8:39
  • $\begingroup$ @terdon I agree that acceptance is overrated (at least as far as concerning general applicability of Q & As) and I agree with everything you say. The only aspect that bothered me was that answered questions without acceptance show up in "unanswered" searches. In some tags, it becomes almost overwhelming. BUT, I did not realize that this was only the case if the questions lacked upvoted answers. In that case, I (or someone else) can either upvote a good answer that might have been ignored or opt to answer it better. That is a much better "fix". Thanks for informing me! $\endgroup$ – theforestecologist May 8 '17 at 11:26
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    $\begingroup$ Here's the relevant FAQ post from the main meta: meta.stackexchange.com/q/18870/203101 $\endgroup$ – terdon May 8 '17 at 11:28
  • $\begingroup$ You might want to delete this post then, so that we don't take this idea forward :P $\endgroup$ – another 'Homo sapien' May 27 '17 at 6:31
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    $\begingroup$ I think my comment serves that purpose well enough. I think it should stay for completeness sake $\endgroup$ – theforestecologist May 27 '17 at 12:21
2
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Improve support for subscripts, superscripts and special characters

This is a major annoyance which, in my opinion should have high priority in our wish list.

There are three aspects to this:

  1. In the editor it should be possible to select subscript or superscript or bring up a palette with Greek letters and arrows. The lack of this results in badly formatted chemical formulae, or when people use the obscure mark up with dollar signs (this is 2017 for crying out loud) it appears in a different typeface. I personally don’t have a problem as I use HTML markup and paste UTF-8 characters from my Mac’s character palette. But others don’t know how to do it, and I shouldn’t have to. (Likewise the lack of a spell-checker.)

  2. There is a problem with titles. Apparently it is not possible to do subscripts and superscripts in titles. Users should be warned to spell out the names of compounds instead.

  3. Titles with markup that renders ok on my Mac, just show the raw markup on my iPhone. This is really poor. Everything else is mobile-friendly. SE should sort this as a matter of urgency.

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  • 1
    $\begingroup$ This is, most probably, the same as this. We have google spell-checker (and I've seen it work many times). $\endgroup$ – another 'Homo sapien' May 8 '17 at 17:17
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    $\begingroup$ I can't believe it! Someone downvoted this suggestion immediately I posted. Come on, at least give a reason — we are supposed to be discussing proposals. $\endgroup$ – David May 8 '17 at 17:19
  • $\begingroup$ @another'Homosapien' — well for goodness sake give the heading a meaningful name. It's not buttons we want, it's functionality. And my post addresses other aspects of the markup problem. $\endgroup$ – David May 8 '17 at 17:21
  • $\begingroup$ @another'Homosapien' — and furthermore my post focuses on what is really essential — and achievable — for this site. A shopping basket including drawing tools detracts from what is important. $\endgroup$ – David May 8 '17 at 17:27
  • $\begingroup$ @another'Homosapien' — What precisely has Google spell checker to do with Stack Exchange? I can run my Safari spell checker (and generally do), but the people that use this site seem to know so little about their computers that the only way to have a hope of getting them to check their spelling is if it is provided within the editor. $\endgroup$ – David May 8 '17 at 17:31
  • $\begingroup$ I mean we have google spell checker at stack exchange (well, I honestly don't know whether its SE or chrome that checks my spellings). Your heading too doesn't give even a hint about improving title, you need to fix that. $\endgroup$ – another 'Homo sapien' May 8 '17 at 18:22
  • $\begingroup$ @David I did not meant at all that the draw table feature is prior. I wrote "if possible, some basic chemistry and math template and a draw-table". Also I requested/ suggested for more button for of course their functionality; and not at all as some extra teeth or extra sticker. $\endgroup$ – Always Confused May 8 '17 at 19:50
  • $\begingroup$ @David If you think downvoting without commenting is a great problem (at least I think so); you may start a discussion for that. $\endgroup$ – Always Confused May 8 '17 at 19:52
  • $\begingroup$ @David I've modified my answer as community wiki. Feel free to merge it with the community wiki. I should do that earlier. $\endgroup$ – Always Confused May 8 '17 at 20:12
  • $\begingroup$ @another'Homosapien' — I deliberately phrased my title "improved support" to cover both support for the editor and support for viewing on mobiles. As a programmer and web designer I regard that as valid. If you have a suggestion for something clearer do make it. $\endgroup$ – David May 8 '17 at 20:54
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    $\begingroup$ I'm on mobile now, so I can't give you an example, but are you aware that the site supports mathjax? This is a sort of markup language that lets you enter equations and chemical formulas and the like. I'm sure there's a meta post about is somewhere. $\endgroup$ – terdon May 8 '17 at 22:11
  • $\begingroup$ Ah, that's what you consider antiquated. I see. OK, that's kinda perfect for me but then again I wrote my thesis in LaTeX. $\endgroup$ – terdon May 8 '17 at 22:14
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    $\begingroup$ @terdon — I am aware that the site supports a markup I have never heard of, that appears to render text in a serif face, distinct from the current sans face, and that your average user will not attempt. I wouldn't either. I typed my thesis on a typwriter (in monospace), but we are talking about what the average user will do in 2017 and how to get him to subscript or superscript chemical formulae. $\endgroup$ – David May 8 '17 at 23:03
2
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Making comment mandatory with Downvote

Many a times people just go on and give a downvote to a question or answer, with absolutely no intention of giving a reason for it. Although SO already gives a notification of giving a comment with a downvote, it barely helps. Thus, we should make giving a comment compulsory when someone gives a downvote.

  • this could happen as when one clicks the -1 button, the user would be notified that there downvote will not be registered unless they write a comment for it.

  • this option could be made optional for questions or answers if they already have -1 points or lesser.

  • in that case (above), we could give an option that if they agree with a comment already there (the first downvoter always has to give a comment), they can give a +1 to that comment instead of writing another comment (but they must either +1 the comment or write another comment).

  • we could make a comment template like I am downvoting this answer because.....

  • if the OP does not like the reason for downvote (or they don't consider the reason as appropriate) or if they have improved what the downvoter had critisized, they could give a (kind of) notification so that the downvoter (or mods maybe) can remove that comment and downvote from that question/answer.

    • We could also make some template comments for people so that they know what to post with a downvote, or people who are reviewing close votes (or maybe low quality posts) as it will save their time. Some suggestion from my point of view are (you can add/edit/remove suggestions based on your opinion):

      1. Lack of (Proper) Citations: I am downvoting this post because it does not contain valid/any references for the claims it makes.

      2. Content Problem: I am downvoting this post because, in my opinion, there are severe problems with the content in this post which need to be edited and improved immediately.

      3. Different Opinion (from OP): I am downvoting this post because I do not find the OP's claim satisfactory/justifiable. In my opinion, the claim "[put the line from post here which you find incorrect]" incorrect or not sarisfactory because [your opinion].

      4. Other (please give details on what you find wrong in the post): I am downvoting this post because [write the comment here].

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  • 4
    $\begingroup$ A discussion on meta: Encouraging people to explain downvotes $\endgroup$ – Tyto alba May 10 '17 at 15:13
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @tytoalba that doesn't seem to encourage users much though :/ $\endgroup$ – another 'Homo sapien' May 10 '17 at 17:10
  • $\begingroup$ @another'Homosapien' Maybe the users do it in worry to be get identified and receive revenge-downvotes? (same I felt before I put downvotes at the earlier time). But however, I think it should not be a big deal in a healthy and purely-academic community. $\endgroup$ – Always Confused May 17 '17 at 8:07
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    $\begingroup$ @alwaysconfused for revenge downotes the other person also has to give a comment, and if the comment reason is not satisfactory, the OP can contact the mods to nullify the downvote (I think we also need to have this facility since it is most probably not availble yet). $\endgroup$ – another 'Homo sapien' May 17 '17 at 9:26
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    $\begingroup$ @another'Homosapien' Wow very nice point; I missed it. $\endgroup$ – Always Confused May 17 '17 at 9:43
  • $\begingroup$ Although I like this idea, I think if we'd make commenting on downvoting mandatory, we'd have to create a list of generic reasons for people to choose from since many questions have the same problems (of course with the option to include a custom comment as always). People moderating the poor questions sometimes do not want to write the same explanation over and over... $\endgroup$ – theforestecologist May 18 '17 at 21:44
  • $\begingroup$ @theforestecologist I added that point in my answer. Is that what you were suggesting? If yes, please give an upvote (I really want to make this happen) :-) $\endgroup$ – another 'Homo sapien' May 20 '17 at 11:51
2
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Bring the article about formatting, on main help page.

Summary:

Bring the article about formatting, on main help page. Also along-with separate purely technical articles (including formatting) from non-technical, moral/ ethical, law/ regulation/ moderation related articles


Details:

On current version of Help centre; there is no mention about formatting on the main or top help page.

Screenshot.
Screenshot of main page of help centre, current-view.

It actually displayed in Our model, and trimmed into "view more".

After clicking view more
After clicking view more- screenshot of full list of articles under "Our model", as per current set up.

Alongwith a lot of irrelevant (in that sense non-technical or partly-technical) articles like Be nice, expected behaviour, how not to be spammer etc; making it finding purely technical-help articles like formatting and search hard.

IMO formatting help is an important technical lesson that should be easily reachable. So it should be brought to the top page of help centre; and also with similar purely technical support separated from code-of-conduct, reputation etc non-technical or partly-technical articles.

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  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I think the help sections on this and most SE sites are not very useful. You need to know what you're looking for and even then I find it easier to search for htings in google rather than the help center directly. I agree that the help center needs to be shuffled around and you've only commented on the tip of the iceberg in my opinion. $\endgroup$ – theforestecologist May 18 '17 at 21:41
  • $\begingroup$ Same to you. I too often find required help articles via google/ SE search box; i.e. a short cut method, because the long cut method here is not as such helpful. But I always look for long-cut paths (whatever it be windows file or program, or the mailbox or an institute's website.) $\endgroup$ – Always Confused May 19 '17 at 7:49
  • $\begingroup$ First of all; they should keep a feedback field beneath each and every help page; so that people can mention what they found troubling. Such as missing, or duplicated, or misplaced, or creation or merging folders required, or difficult-to understand, or too-short or too broad, or if need flowchart or graphics, etc. According to feedbacks, at a certain time interval (1 yr or 6 month), articles should be updated. Old locations may be kept as redirect pages (like Wikipedia) so that links used in various places don't get non-functional. Meta is not good way to catch on spot. $\endgroup$ – Always Confused May 19 '17 at 8:00
1
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SO-like Floating Header

Stack Overflow is famous for its floating header (among many other things). This is what I mean:

header

floating

Though, obviously, biology.SE is not as big a site as Stack Overflow, yet such a floating header might be useful in many ways like:

  • it would let someone instantly know if they have received a notification (especially when they're down somewhere, reading comments below a very long answer, it'd save the effort of scrolling).

  • given the amount of users who actively participate in review (which is very low), this could instantly notify someone if there is pending review on their part (by replacing 'Documentation' and 'Jobs' with 'Close Votes' or 'First Posts' etc., much like what currently happens with Suggested Edits).

  • It looks nice...(will hopefully attract more new users to join in and actively participate)

PS: What if we display the user's all-time rank on their header? It will, most likely, encourage competition among users and they will tend to write better answers, both quantitatively and qualitatively. We could also put a "hide" button so that the floating header converts to the normal header we have now. This would be helpful for the users for whom floating header seems messy.

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  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Regarding SO's new header, the dev has mentioned that it will roll-out to all sites, some time later.... $\endgroup$ – Andrew T. Apr 28 '17 at 15:18
  • $\begingroup$ @AndrewT. Oh really?! Thats great then... :) $\endgroup$ – another 'Homo sapien' Apr 28 '17 at 15:45
  • $\begingroup$ Please no! That horrible, awful, ugly, distracting and just weird thing with the notifications on the right hand side of the page and its associated lost of vertical screen real estate will, sadly, be applied to all sites eventually. Let's not hurry the unfortunately inevitable. What you ask for will be done to us in time so let's enjoy its absence while we can. $\endgroup$ – terdon May 7 '17 at 13:23
  • $\begingroup$ @terdon :/ why not look at the positive side...? $\endgroup$ – another 'Homo sapien' May 7 '17 at 14:17
  • $\begingroup$ Oh, I do! The positive side, for me, is that they haven't yet pushed that to the other sites :) Sorry, but I really dislike the new SO look and am treasuring the little time without it we have remaining. $\endgroup$ – terdon May 7 '17 at 20:55
  • $\begingroup$ @another'Homosapien' One thing is not clearly mentioned in this question; which one "feature" is being called as "floating" header? Also, In the picture there I could see at least 3 "header-like" things (1. top menu bar written Stackoverflow, . 2. middle big band with sign up ads, 3. again a similar menu bar showing the inbox, a medal sign, etc). $\endgroup$ – Always Confused May 8 '17 at 19:24
  • $\begingroup$ @terdon I've seen in stackoverflow; the menu bar always remain visible of the top of screen whereas in bioSE with scroll down the page the menu bar go out of the page. I'm NOT sure is it being called "floating" header; but this feature (always visible menu bar) would help me a lot. $\endgroup$ – Always Confused May 8 '17 at 19:27
  • $\begingroup$ I am agree with @terdon in one fact; the darker, colourful, illustrated theme looks much better than the colorless and flat Stack overflow. And please keep our menu bar black. $\endgroup$ – Always Confused May 8 '17 at 19:30
  • $\begingroup$ @always yes, many people like it. Many people hate it. I just happen to be in the latter group. You should have seen the reaction when that black menu bar was first implemented. But yes, I absolutely do not want that floating header which is why I down voted this and left my previous comment. In any case the point is moot, SE have announced that all sites will eventually get it. $\endgroup$ – terdon May 8 '17 at 22:19
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    $\begingroup$ @AlwaysConfused color can, obviously, be changed. Yes, this is what is called floating header (since it always "floats" at the top). It is dynamic too, when you scroll down, its look changes a bit. And I deliberately signed in to show how it'd look after signing in (medals, etc.) $\endgroup$ – another 'Homo sapien' May 9 '17 at 5:40
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    $\begingroup$ @terdon I'm visiting BioSE from some point of 2016 and there is the black menu bar from the beginning; so I did not saw saw the debate/consensus you're telling about. Maybe the always visible menu bar is not distracting me because of my large, 21.5" LED monitor of desktop; However if you feel the always-visibility of menu bar will distract you, and if you feel it is inevitable to the community; there could be ways, such as a hide button or [ooo] that appears when the page is scrolled down. $\endgroup$ – Always Confused May 9 '17 at 7:41
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    $\begingroup$ @alwaysconfused thats an awesome point! I've added that part in the answer too :) $\endgroup$ – another 'Homo sapien' May 9 '17 at 10:04
  • $\begingroup$ @another'Homosapien' When you'll get time; you should make it clear in the answer, what is being meant by "floating", and which-1 area of the screen is being called as a "header". Also, I can't agree that increased instant display of score/reputations could be beneficial. Only important thing is instant notification. But I check reputation up/downs only at a time interval when I wish. Btww the sudden flash-ups of score / notification startles me, that rattles the mind and distracts me from Q/A. I dislike anything sudden or flickering. Distraction will increase if the hide button is not kept. $\endgroup$ – Always Confused May 9 '17 at 10:40
  • $\begingroup$ @another'Homosapien' But of-course, the always-visible search-box, help button etc would do a lot of help, and would save the time for scrolling. :) IMO not-Only the menu bar (header?) but also the Visual-edit-Tool-bar should available on the screen in cases I've stretched the edit area and working at the lower portion of the edit area. $\endgroup$ – Always Confused May 9 '17 at 11:20
1
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WhatsApp®-like tick-mark besides the comment

WhatsApp like tick marks beside the comment to know whether the user has received and read that comment.

enter image description here

This would certainly increase the experience.

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  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Would not bad; because during a temporary conversations in comments (not in a chat room), and then deletes the comment ; we need to use the +1 or upward arrow (Δ) button for exactly same purpose that previous comment has been received. $\endgroup$ – Always Confused May 17 '17 at 10:02
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    $\begingroup$ How to know whether the message was delivered? $\endgroup$ – JM97 May 17 '17 at 10:25
  • $\begingroup$ @JM97 Reload the page once or twice. If the refreshed page contains the comment; then certainly the message reached the network properly. If you think the message may get deleted on reload if not transfered properly; you may select-all and copy it to clipboard $\endgroup$ – Always Confused May 17 '17 at 11:14
  • $\begingroup$ Related: this discussion on online visibility of users. $\endgroup$ – Always Confused May 17 '17 at 11:25
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    $\begingroup$ I prefer the present form. Having that double tick beside a comment or anything that could eventually mean read and ignored will really kill the 'on-topicness' of SE. I personally will regret that. $\endgroup$ – Tyto alba May 17 '17 at 12:46
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    $\begingroup$ I don't see this being useful enough to ever be incorporated. The main site is not meant to be a conversation. If you are truly that curious/anxious to read a comment or to ensure someone else has read a copmment, then that conversation should most likely be moved to chat anyway... $\endgroup$ – theforestecologist May 18 '17 at 21:46
1
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A user-friendly tutorial and help for MathJax within Help Centre.

Our help centre articles on formatting, Advanced formatting (or expended formatting guide), Editing help-LaTex though explains very well about markdown language and basic HTML commands, but they contains too little informations. The Right hand side help panel for MathJax help, leads to http://www.math.harvard.edu/texman/ but it is not much appropriate for who want to quickly learn MathJax to write equations in Stack Exchange. Such as the Begin and End commands that we usually do not use in Stack Exchange; may confuse the user.

There are also big efforts, done in form of questions and answers in Mathematics meta and Chemistry Meta; but it still needs to be arrange the informations in an easily readable and systematic way, and to include in help articles.

I'm learning MathJax (from Web sources) as well writing some sample tutorial materials within one answer in Sandbox. It seems I would be able to finish it within this week (however that is undefined). I'd be grateful if it is reviewed by experts and the material or patterns included in the proposed tutorial.

Update:

I've resumed writing the tutorial material. But I'll be able to contribute only 15 minutes to 1 hour per day, for upcoming 1 month at least. So the required time to finish it, would be accordingly. However the chapter content may give a tentative idea.

I'm also looking for a safe offline MathJax editor where I will be able to save the files.

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Ability to notify moderators who put my question on-hold/closed

I have gone through a situation where I asked a question, it had it's problems and was hence put on hold by 2 moderators (say A and W) . 'A' also put in a comment below the question mentioning why it was being put on hold and that I should rephrase it if I can. I edited my question, and responded to 'A''s comment asking him/her to have another look. 'A' did; confirmed the question is better now and changed his vote. 'A' also mentioned that he could even answer it once 'W' also removed his put-on-hold vote.

Now it has been a while, and I have no way to contact 'W' and tell him to see my edited question. Some people are upvoting the question, and some can even answer it, but I don't know how to get the hold off from the question.

One way of solving this could simply be to allow to reply to the moderator who voted on one's question. When someone comments on a question/answer, their username comes as an option if you start typing '@' followed by the initial letters of the person's username. So anyone who participates (either by providing an answer, or comment or the question), his/her username gets stored somewhere in the context of the answer/question and can thus be called when you want to respond to him/her. So, I think we can also store the username of the moderator who voted against the question, so as to inform them of changes or for other queries if any.

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    $\begingroup$ You might not be able to see, your question has 3 reopen votes now, 2 more and it will be open for answering. It appeared on the review list once someone cast the first reopen vote. The other user you mention didn't retract their vote. Once a question is closed, the votes are locked. The Q can only be 'voted to reopen' by the community, including the OP if there's no reputation bar. In between any user with a blue diamond is the community's elected moderator and anyone else is a general user. $\endgroup$ – Tyto alba May 24 '17 at 11:18
  • $\begingroup$ This will help. $\endgroup$ – Tyto alba May 24 '17 at 11:23
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    $\begingroup$ @Tytoalba, ok so let me try to understand. So once my question receives 5 close votes, its closed. And then it requires 5 reopen votes to be open for answering. And these 5 votes can come from anyone (with the rep), not necessarily a moderator. $\endgroup$ – user1993 May 24 '17 at 11:36
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    $\begingroup$ Yes. If a vote is cast by a mod, the question will not require any further close or reopen votes and will be closed or reopened straight away. $\endgroup$ – Tyto alba May 24 '17 at 11:40
  • $\begingroup$ @Tytoalba ok, so that's what i am saying. I want to have a way that I can tell the moderator who who voted to close that 'come, see my changed question' - and be able to discuss things with him/her (in case he/she hasn't commented and is therefore inaccessible) $\endgroup$ – user1993 May 24 '17 at 11:44
  • $\begingroup$ It kinda depends on that mod too. It could be possible that the mod themselves have not logged in to the site since they closed the question, and in that case we have no way to contact them (even email would not work). All we can do then is to wait for another mod or 2 more reopen votes. $\endgroup$ – another 'Homo sapien' May 24 '17 at 12:27
  • $\begingroup$ @another'Homosapien' but i can clearly see their last logged time on their profile page, and they have logged in $\endgroup$ – user1993 May 24 '17 at 12:29
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    $\begingroup$ Ah thats just the case here (I meant a more general case ;) $\endgroup$ – another 'Homo sapien' May 24 '17 at 12:32
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Allow users manually add some similar or related question in a righthand-side panel.

Sometimes we found highly-similar question or question with related concept (within one SE domain say bioSE or cross-domain say one at physics SE and another in Chemistry SE) that the automatic prediction system often miss. We often add them as comments.

But besides the currently used prediction system; if we could add them manually at a separate field (not just as comment); then-

  1. It will help the users to found similar concepts (quite like wikipedia's feature "See-also" that is also done manually).

    • It would help to find similar topics, compare, correlate and better learn.
    • It would be enjoyable; and engage more readers in actively reading. as I enjoy wikipedia's see also section a huge lot.
    • would help an expert answerer to a similar or related problem being searched by many people in separate domains. Thus would increase interdisciplinary nature and would reduce tunnel-vision.
  2. Would help the moderators to finding and suggesting "possible duplicates", and "other helpful sources".

  3. It could be also used to improve digital track-record of similar question; and could be used to make more accurate tag map and improvement of automatic prediction of similar questions.

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Increasing visibility of all answers to a single question

This proposal is about viewing answers of a question. for another similar proposal on question viewing list, see here

If a question have several (4, 5, 6) or many (7, 8, 9, 10 or more) answers; it could be distracting for the readers to scroll through all the answers, and find a good answer hidden in the crowd.

The all sites route chart do have an excellent solution... they use a grid view (thumbnail view) and also allow the list view as an option.

Grid view and List view icons
Image: Grid view and list view icons on all-sites list.

We also already use a similar technique in our Tags page, where the page divide the list into many columns.

We could use similar method (thumbnails) to questions having large number of answers. It would NOT be the default view; but if a question receives above certain number of answers, the user would be able to tap a button to get a grid view. On grid view; all answers would be shown as small thumbnails. On clicking/ double-clicking a thumbnail-answer, the thumbnail will get expanded, and the answer could be scrolled down.

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Alternative suggestions

    1. If there exists problems/ complications / distractions in grid view (as pointed out by @another'Homosapien' excellently, then, within the current list-view, some-amount of vertical trim (not as much as Gmail's inbox) could be used only when the number of answers are many (more than 6 or 7).
      When the users (visitors) will click the particular answer or a 'read more' button; the answer will become expanded. It will remain expanded until and unless the user clicking on 'show less'. The visitors will be allowed to keep more-than-1 answers or all answers on same page, and same time.
    1. Another solution could be- instead going through any sort of contraction; at end of each answer there could be navigation button for [^] previous answer or [^] previous section , [V] next answer or [V] next section, [^]Top of this-answer , [^] Top of page , [V] Bottom of page, etc. Wikipedia and many other sites have quite similar-type of navigation buttons - and that do not require any page reloads also (and those buttons can work on disconnected internet!), and also help to get the exact link to paragraph easily. So this feature may be a great advantage.
    1. Another solution could be, on right-hand side, showing excerpts of all answers as thumbnails, within a box.

^ Add any other alternatives above this line Please do not remove the label

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N.B.

    1. To obtain better meaning of the question in small thumbnail / contracted answer; you could take an optional highlight (up to 800 or 1000 characters maximum) and 2 or 3 diagram, nominated by the user, to display on the thumbnail.
    1. Whatever in grid or list; the answers should not be contracted too much. The user should be able to find important informations and figures at a glance. Also if an answer is small; say within 800 or 1000 characters max; we need not to necessarily shrink .
    1. If list-view implemented, allow the visitors to keep expanded more than 1 answer (up to all answer) expanded.

^May add notes above this line. (please do not remove the label)

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  • $\begingroup$ Its a nice idea, but you have made it more complicated in the last point. Instead of thumbnails, we could show an answer summary, which would also display the score and the answerer so that readers can get to know if there is a nice answer somewhere in the grid. We could also higlight answers with more upvotes. $\endgroup$ – another 'Homo sapien' May 13 '17 at 14:40
  • $\begingroup$ That may be one alternative (are you telling about trimmed or shrinked answer in list view (as happens in Gmail)? However Grid view helps in scan better. And SE "all-sites" thumbnails are not very small. However it is just a suggestion; everything else would depend upon community. $\endgroup$ – Always Confused May 13 '17 at 19:21
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    $\begingroup$ I haven't seen the "all-sites" grid you're talking about, but yes, I meant something very similar to gmail. $\endgroup$ – another 'Homo sapien' May 14 '17 at 0:54
  • $\begingroup$ @another'Homosapien' I've changed the title to a more generalized one. However I could not change the title on the list presented in the question. $\endgroup$ – Always Confused May 14 '17 at 16:04
  • $\begingroup$ by "all sites" I meant SE have a page, containing the list of all the SE-sites or domains. The address of it is stackexchange.com/sites , and the structure of this page is very favourite to me, because it is much user friendly than many other site's sitemap. Btw Grid-view/thumbnail view is default view of this page; but on the icons at top right portion (the same icon used in this answer); you could see the page in list view also. $\endgroup$ – Always Confused May 14 '17 at 16:24
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Improve image attachment.

  • Automatically put a margin for the image-attachment. Preferably narrow margin.

  • Show the image in a lightly-shaded block (similar to cite or block-quote).

  • Automatically put image or figure number.

  • Make image description (which is shown if image load fails) mandatory.

  • Show a field, containing image title and detailed image description; close to the image; preferably inside the block-quote like block.

  • If the user forgets/ do not want to give these details; automatically put the image description (that was used for showing when image load fails) as the image title.

Anyone could improve this proposal by adding / reframing / elaborating inputs. If you think something else about images should yet be improved; you please feel free to mention that.

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Option to enable "Grid View" in question browsing list.

This proposal is about question-browsing list; different from another proposal on answer-view

Just like All-sites route chart; which offers both "Grid view" and "list view"; it would be very helpful to find questions, if the questions lists (on questions page as well as site's main page) could be also seen as grid view.

We already have use of this grid/ thumbnail type view mode in another SE site; the All-sites site map. Here are some screenshots from that site:


Allsites screenshot Grid view list view button Grid-view and list-view icon.


Allsites screenshot Screenshot. Variant of it could be used in question browsing list-too. We could use a larger thumbnail for each question.


One site in previewHere the preview of 1 site has been shown. (Intentionally I've chosen the Music site because the Card of Biology site is too indistinguishable from its background).

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N.B.

    1. However please keep other aspects of question lists same as now; especially the two features:

" <--previous 1 [2] 3 4 5 Next--->"

and

"Load 15 30 [50] per page".

It gives me the big picture, and it is controlled and much easy to find stuffs compared to auto-loading social media posts like fb or G+ threads.

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    1. To obtain better meaning of the question in small thumbnail, you could take an optional highlight (up to 500 or 600 characters max) and 1 diagram, nominated by the user, to display on the thumbnail.
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