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While it's nice that the site has finally graduated, it seems that the privilege levels may be a problem. It makes sense for them to have risen, but I wonder if they've risen too high.

In the past, I've tried to be a fairly active editor and and voter for closing and reopening questions. At this point, I can no longer do either. Looking at our user page, we have very few users a reputation greater than 2000, and a fairly small handful over 3000. Of that handful, a non-insignificant percentage has been absent for over a month.

Does anyone else feel like this will be a problem for the site going forward? In the past, it's been brought up that we're a fairly stingy community (I agree). In my opinion, the combination of these two problems could greatly reduce our communities effectiveness.

Do we have any plans to deal with this moving forward?

  • 19 close votes and counting... Looks like there's just two active people left over 3k right now (safe the mods how might not mod-hammer the votes). – Ghanima Nov 25 '15 at 21:07
  • @Ghanima: Yeah, I've noticed that... I also noticed you're still in the most recent 5, which is certainly concerning. – Jacobm001 Nov 25 '15 at 21:11
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    I am sure I can make it to 3k by, say, christmas, new years tops ;-) – Ghanima Nov 25 '15 at 21:14
  • @Ghanima: Yeah... I'm trying to vote more in general, and I've increased a little, but I won't be up there that fast :P If there's 3 of you, at least there's enough people to clear the queue! – Jacobm001 Nov 25 '15 at 21:15
  • Just 13 rep to go. So excited ;) Guess tomorrow will be the day they announce "adjusted levels" ;) – Ghanima Nov 28 '15 at 22:41
  • @Ghanima: I hope you get it soon, there's 40 things in the close queue. Get to work, slacker! :P – Jacobm001 Nov 29 '15 at 3:26
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    Actually it's 18 points, I cannot even substract simple numbers... And I just spend some time to further increase the close queue - yet there's still 1700+ unanswered questions. – Ghanima Nov 29 '15 at 3:39
  • @Ghanima: Glad to see physicists make stupid math mistakes too... Anyway, looks like you made it, congrats! – Jacobm001 Nov 29 '15 at 5:14
  • Yeah meee... Looks like you filled that queue! – Ghanima Nov 29 '15 at 5:55
  • @Jacobm001 - your worried that's there 40 in the queue - other sites get a bit worried when there's a 1000 (or in the case of SO, perhaps 10000) :) – Wilf Dec 3 '15 at 0:49
  • @Ghanima Let me push you a bit further over your 3,000 - does a "Vote to close" take something off your rep as a "Down vote" does? – SlySven Dec 7 '15 at 20:09
  • @SlySven, no it does not. But it's also not necessarily the same. Down votes could be thrown on question that are on-topic. – Ghanima Dec 7 '15 at 22:25
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The only recourse we have for things like this is by making requests via Meta SE. I'm not a huge participant there but I do glance through and read questions semi-regularly. Before I jump into what I see the issues there being for us...

Does anyone else feel like this will be a problem for the site going forward?

I feel it's already been a problem. We have never had enough people with close/reopen voting privileges, etc. That is partially because we also have a problem getting members to participate in the system to the extent that they already can, e.g., by upvoting and creating more high rep users. Making it a difficult ediface to budge.

Put another way, the site has some peculiarities which make the one size fits all deal particularly awkward. However, most of the community on Meta SE isn't from here, and there's no real reason for them for them to be sympathetic to our peculiar problems.

Of course, this problem is not so peculiar that it only affects us -- but I think many or most of the other sites it affects are still in beta. We did not graduate because of our stellar leaderboard. To be sociological, taking this problem to the SE community at large means running into the inherent conservatism of any community, namely, if a problem doesn't affect most members but it does imply the entire group has to change policy, they will tend to take this as an affront and respond that they haven't been wrong up to now and therefore there's nothing wrong with the way things are now.

On the other hand, since the policy around graduation recently changed,1 and this change is no doubt part of why we did graduate, we could in fact be considered an exemplary case of a site which deserved to be graduated under the new policy but that makes apparent the need for some more policy adaptations.

Someone already brought this up for discussion in pretty much that form several months ago:

Can we make automatically-scaling reputation thresholds work?

The response was pretty underwhelming, which is still better than "overwhelmingly negative", but it does imply there is not enough interest for anyone in a position to act to take notice.

Anyway, the discussion seems to have stalled at that point and the best place to start would be to pick it up there. It could be something that will become more of an issue if a wave of similar long term beta sites are graduated.

So, not an impossible goal, but don't hold your breath or get your hopes up. Based on this question and that one from Meta SE, the focal points of the issue might be:

  • That the jump from "beta" to "graduated" thresholds might be better done with a scaled system than involves saying we want/need a certain percentage of overall users with certain privileges, then set the thresholds to achieve this.

  • A point of resistance to this is fairness: How do you then deal with the system over time? Should privileges once awarded be permanent? If so, at what point should the thresholds which filled the quota from the last point be set? Or should they constantly roll up, meaning, the number of people with particular privileges remains tied a percentage of total users, but who those people are may change?

  • How to deal with the issue of a "stale pantheon", whereby users can accumulate high rep by virtue of being long term but not necessarily active?

Keep in mind again that part of what makes things problematic for us is an unusually low participation rate in terms of voting; the last point would not be such a big deal otherwise (meaning, again, the system already works as is most places). Part of what we have to do is justify why this is the the nature of our peculiar beast, and something that is unlikely to change, but should be acknowledged and adapted for because there is some reasonable explanation for it.


1. That's not exactly an explanation of that but contains a lot of discussion about it, including, unfortunately, a reference to the "strong support" for raising privilege levels as part of the process.

  • I've been wondering lately if maybe users' rep should scale with the permissions when a site graduates, but that comes with a whole host of other issues. I think a tiered reputation system would honestly work out the best. We have a beta level, and a graduated level. I think an in-between or two would work well. – Jacobm001 Nov 25 '15 at 21:13
  • There may be an inkling of good news on this front. There's a "teacher's lounge" chat room for all S.E. mods; we can, e.g., ping each other to ask if it is appropriate to migrate a question. Anyway, this issue came up this morning and there is definitely a potential group of other mods that may be on side with this. I won't have time until next week, but if I can come to some kind of consensus with them, and present it that way on Meta, then it may be taken more seriously with the powers that be. – goldilocks Nov 26 '15 at 12:41
  • Also: There's a possibility I can ask SE staff directly to tweak our levels, I will look into that. – goldilocks Nov 26 '15 at 12:41
  • Good to hear. Thanks for the updates. – Jacobm001 Nov 26 '15 at 18:26
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I am with you in this matter and I'd really like to have my close/reopen votes back ;) What if we all started voting a little more...

Actually I do not understand how the rep level for the privileges are set. To give an example Worldbuilding has a max level of 5k whereas RPi has now 25k. And the high-rep active user base at worldbuilding is even larger than here. So my feeling is, yes, the levels have risen too high.

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    It's based on the difference between "beta" and "graduated" sites, but I can't tell you where it is definitively and officially explained. – goldilocks Nov 19 '15 at 14:47
  • Yes, but Worldbuilding does not cary "beta" in its name. So I assumed they graduated too. – Ghanima Nov 19 '15 at 16:58
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    Graduated sites keep the same privilege levels as public beta sites until they get a design. Raspberry Pi got both graduated and designed at the same time (this was the original graduation behaviour before we started doing design-independent graduations). (cc @goldilocks) – Adam Lear Nov 19 '15 at 21:23
  • @AdamLear, thank you for the insight. – Ghanima Nov 19 '15 at 21:42
  • remember elections are coming up and you could get all site privileges - including the open close hammer as @goldilocks refers to it. – Steve Robillard Nov 22 '15 at 0:47
  • Which addresses the issue just in part (say for two people instead of twenty or so). Delegates vs. community... – Ghanima Nov 22 '15 at 11:35
  • Bit of an update, see new comments on my answer here. CC @SteveRobillard – goldilocks Nov 26 '15 at 12:43
  • Remember that even before you get 'close' privs back, you can always submit a "should be closed" flag. – Mark Booth Dec 2 '15 at 14:11
  • @MarkBooth, that's just a partial help, as somebody (actually multiple somebodies) has still to process the queue (and maybe the mods don't want to hammer things down). We certainly noticed a steep incline in unprocessed close votes. Right now I have still 7 flags waiting for review. – Ghanima Dec 2 '15 at 15:19
  • I agree @Ghanima, I suspect that a good time to increase privilege requirements would be when there are at least 100 people with 3k rep. – Mark Booth Dec 2 '15 at 16:55
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As goldilocks♦ said, there has already been some talk about the splitting off the different elements of graduation according to whether sites need those elements. Privilege Levels are an excellent example of the sort of thing which might be worth holding off on. Unfortunately, until a pressing need for such facilities are demonstrated I doubt significant development time will be spent on them. As such, any problems we have here as a result of graduation, may have an impact on the direction of future graduations.

Although it is fantastic that we have graduated, we will all have to work extra hard to keep up the good housekeeping work, and help the moderators whose workload could jump significantly until we have more 3k and 10k users.

That means we have to continue to suggest edits, even if we have wait for them to be approved; it means that we have to flag, even if we can't vote to close and it means we have to vote. The way we get more trusted users is to support good behaviour and help peoples reputation grow, it is as simple as that.

  • I'm curious as to what you think would demonstrate a pressing need. It takes 5 votes to close a question. We have only had 3 users do anything with our close queue in the last week. Our site simply doesn't have the users required to do basic maintenance tasks as a StackExchange site. – Jacobm001 Dec 2 '15 at 5:01
  • I think this will come down to the moderators @Jacobm001, if they can show that they are pretty much having to deal with all closures, or having to deal with lots of "should be closed" flags, then they may be able to suggest privilege levels which might work. – Mark Booth Dec 2 '15 at 14:09

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