# Feature requests being declined on ground of two summers old threads on other websites.

I made a feature request in this thread for including newlines in comments, and it was promptly declined. The reason was that it was discussed in May 2009 in some other website. It was the equivalent of shutting the door on the face of a petitioner.

I find it highly anguishing that on the one hand certain users here are harassed for not keeping in line with some inconvenient system rules, and on the other hand requests for changing those system rules are ignored without any consideration or response.

If the aim is to help the users, then either users should not be harassed for minor violations of unreasonable rules, or help should be given when users ask for a change in the said rules to make way for an easier life for everyone.

• Making feature requests about changes to the underlying StackExchange platform should be done at meta.stackoverflow.com, as that's the proper SE site for any discussion of the SE platform as a whole. – Isaac Dec 9 '10 at 16:51
• @Isaac: For me it is enough that this feature request is granted on this website alone. I don't want to make any changes at stackoverflow or other bigger sites. I don't want to interfere in communities in which I don't belong. – user1119 Dec 9 '10 at 16:57
• @George: The feature request does not belong here--it's not about whether it's enough for you or not, it's about who the feature request is relevant to and who needs to read it. The feature request is relevant to all SE users and would need to be read by the SE developers. That's why feature requests belong on meta.SO. It's not interfering in communities where you don't belong, it's putting the feature request in front of the people from whom you're requesting the feature. – Isaac Dec 9 '10 at 17:02
• @Isaac: No, the feature request happened because of mobbing action by those in power, to the point that a valuable contributor is on the verge of suspension. It doesn't matter so much if you can't grant the feature; there is something you can do instead, which is to stop mobbing the poor user in question. It is better if he is left alone and keeps contributing to the site. If I post the feature request at stackoverflow, the issue of one valuable user here being harassed wouldn't be addressed. Not only the moderators, but a whole bunch of borrowed muscle from another website came here for this. – user1119 Dec 9 '10 at 17:11
• @George: Borrowed muscle? Mobbing action? That's quite a skewed view of what happened and quite a loaded way to express it. And none of that changes the fact that you're requesting a change to the SE platform and such requests belong on meta.SO. – Isaac Dec 9 '10 at 17:51
• @Isaac: users do not always have enough information to say whether a given feature-request requires a change of the StackExchange platform across all sites (e.g., not all of them have TeX rendering). Or developers may change the platform, but activate a feature only in some sites. It is correct for users to post the feature-requests on the sites for which they want the features. There are tag-sets in place for interested users and developers to read all metas at once. Posting locally allows a sample of site-specific opinion and not numerically dominated by the huge meta.SO population. – T.. Dec 9 '10 at 17:52
• @T..: Users not knowing/having enough information is perfectly understandable, hence my initial comment explaining the issue. Persistent argument that the feature request belongs here when it has been concluded repeatedly that it is an SE-platform issue is ridiculous. Duplicating that argument in new questions is just noise. – Isaac Dec 9 '10 at 17:55
• @Isaac: I believe those earlier conclusions precede the tag-sets feature that allow SE developers and others to read the feature requests (and metas in general, if they like) on all sites. The "read all metas" tagset is on the first page. Generally, I think users can speak locally and migration or re-posting -- crossposting would be really desirable but is not supported -- can happen as an additional or later phenomenon. There is an opinion-sampling function separate from the feature request itself. – T.. Dec 9 '10 at 17:57
• Things change. A [status-declined] request from 18 months ago can become more attactive in light of changes since then: new user population, new features, new problems, etc. If SE developers want a strict precedent-based system as suggested in @Isaac's legal analogy, they certainly haven't said so. – T.. Dec 9 '10 at 18:06
• @T..: I wasn't suggesting a precedent-based system (I meant to refer to the fourth amendment directly, not precedents following from it); I was suggesting that (1) temporal proximity is not entirely relevant and (2) meta.SO isn't just some other web site, it's a sort of capital of the SE network. – Isaac Dec 9 '10 at 18:12
• @Isaac: Since you are a programmer, let me quote from the Tao of programming:  A novice asked the master: “In the east there is a great tree-structure that men call ‘Corporate Headquarters’. It is bloated out of shape with vice presidents and accountants. It issues a multitude of memos, each saying ‘Go, Hence!’ or ‘Go, Hither!’ and nobody knows what is meant. Every year new names are put onto the branches, but all to no avail. How can such an unnatural entity be?” (...ctnd) – user1119 Dec 9 '10 at 18:58
• (...ctnd) The master replied: You perceive this immense structure and are disturbed that it has no rational purpose. Can you not take amusement from its endless gyrations? Do you not enjoy the untroubled ease of programming beneath its sheltering branches? Why are you bothered by its uselessness?'' – user1119 Dec 9 '10 at 18:59
• Ok, so, like that novice, I do not understand the immense structure of stackexchange and stackoverflow, and the endless gyrations of the headquarters. All I want is a simple environment for typing questions and answers in mathematics and sharing them. I do not want to complicate my life by getting involved in complicated maneuvering needed to convince the headquarters. Life needs to be simple. Moderators like you are supposed to be the interface between us and them. Rather than clamping us down, why aren't you taking up our side with the headquarters? – user1119 Dec 9 '10 at 19:02
• @Isaac: I apologize then for the mistake. I hope you don't mind. Anyway you are an administrator person here. Rather than taking up the headquarters' point of view, you could also adopt the users' point of view. That is all I am saying. – user1119 Dec 9 '10 at 19:05
• @Isaac: Sorry to see you leave as an administrator, and thanks for the good work you did while you held the post.Frankly, I am hesitant to post meta.SO because I think they will not take this very seriously. This feature request was the direct result of recent troubles here; over at stackoverflow this background will be missing. – user1119 Dec 9 '10 at 19:13

that on the one hand certain users here are harassed for not keeping in line with some inconvenient system rules

If you find it inconvenient, I recommend enabling the below GreaseMonkey script (easy step by step instructions with screenshots:)

requests for changing those system rules are ignored without any consideration or response

There is a response, but this is a duplicate request. Asking the same question again doesn't tend to elicit a different response.

• It's worth keeping in mind that this isn't a community of programmers and there are a lot of users here who have no idea how to work GreaseMonkey. (For example, although I could probably figure out how to enable this workaround it might take me up to an hour and there's no guarantee it would actually work.) – Noah Snyder Dec 9 '10 at 17:53
• Ooh, shiny! Totally works. Learn something new every day! – Noah Snyder Dec 9 '10 at 18:13
• @noah Good idea. I updated the post with better instructions. – Jeff Atwood Dec 9 '10 at 18:19
• This works for me, though it involves a bit of effort. Thanks for explaining clearly. Earlier KennyTM had explained only for mozilla firefox. This is better. – user1119 Dec 9 '10 at 18:49
• +1 because Chrome is the best browser around. – Nathan Osman Feb 1 '11 at 2:19

I'd like to repeat what I said here, thinking of each x.SE website as its own site and its own community is the wrong way to think about it and is only going to lead to frustration and disappointment. They're trying to build a network not a collection of individual sites. It's better to start accepting the things you can't change.

Some things (like TeX support) make sense to vary from site to site, while others (like how comments behave) are likely to hamper the ability of users to understand what's going to happen as they move from one SE site to another. This is why general feature requests belong at meta.SO.

I'm not sure if this has been explained clearly by the SE team anywhere, but it's clearly true from their actions.

This general point is separate from the particular point of why the SE team is bull-headedly sticking with a terrible design decision in the face of widespread user discontent across their entire network. But nonetheless the place for this to be decided is meta.SO since it's going to be a decision that if it's reversed at all will be reversed network-wide.

1. If you petition for world peace outside my house I would shut the door on your face with no doubt. :) Your petition is fine, but it is done in the wrong place. It is written right in the /about page that

If the question is about the Stack Exchange engine in a general sense, it should be asked on Meta Stack Overflow instead.

and enabling new lines on comments in an SE engine issue having nothing specific to do with the math site. Meta.SO is not just an “other website”. This is the place where that should really go to. The originating reason of the request doesn't make that technical problem more suitable here. (Ideally, we should be able to migrate that to meta.SO.)

2. Even worse, the exactly same request has been raised before. If this were posted in meta.SO, it would be immediately closed as duplicate (just like this), and I would surely cast a close vote if I see it. Posting the same request everywhere many times won't make it come true if the back-end team stands firm on the decision. Yes the issue was created in 2009, but what has really been changed in 2 years that invalidates the discussion? Hardly, and the result would still be . Therefore, I have simply carried the expected message to the post, just like before. I don't know since when this becomes a mobbing action.

If you think your reason is so valuable that the SE developers will reverse the decision (this has happened before, but not common), you should create a new answer under the old request. By doing this, the post is also bumped back to the front page, so developers can revisit the problem again. (I have done that for you already, you could add link to any background that is missing.)

• Apologies for the "borrowed muscle" comment. I was referring to one guy here who was teaching people that a certain key is named "enter" instead of "newline" or "carriage return". I was just venting out the frustrations.Sorry to see you go. You were an excellent moderator. I had imagined that you were one of the SE staff; now I see differently. It would be great if you can continue, though. There is no one other person responding as much to technical requests and does routine cleanup tasks. – user1119 Dec 9 '10 at 19:44
• @George: OK I see. I won't be continuing since I would have even less time on the SE network in the coming year (thesis, blah), plus the community seems to favor professional mathematicians more. – kennytm Dec 9 '10 at 19:52
• Sorry if you felt sidelined by the mathematical community and felt that your work was thankless. But at least in my view, you did a lot of the housekeeping tasks far better than any professional mathematician would have done(unless s/he were to devote fully to this site, skipping work). – user1119 Dec 9 '10 at 19:57
• "plus the community favors professional mathematicians more." - I find it curious, then, that (seemingly) only two of the five candidates we have are professionals, so to speak. In any event, the loss of a moderator with "technical feelers" is nontrivial in my book. Thanks for the time and effort you have given this site, Kenny. – J. M. isn't a mathematician Dec 9 '10 at 20:01
• I for one think that some amount of SO experience among the moderators is an unambiguously good thing and am sorry that this divide seems to have come up. – Noah Snyder Dec 9 '10 at 23:04

I agree with Noah's assessment. Even though I dislike this design decision, it would be an even poorer decision to introduce interface non-uniformity between the various SE sites. Already this non-uniformity between MO and here proves problematic to heavy users of both sites (such as Robin). Such problems will only multiply if MO chooses to diverge further from the SE platform. Similar problems occur with nonuniform implementations of MathJaX on both sites, e.g. one cannot simple copy-and-paste expressions to reuse LaTex fragments when answering related cross-site questions. This greatly encumbers cross-site pollination. The MO developers may wish to keep these issues in mind before further diverging from the SE platform. Personally I think that a much better open-source platform for math could easily be developed, and we have many competent members who would probably gladly contribute to such an effort (including I). But until then we should strive to make the best with what we have.

• "...one cannot simply copy and paste expressions to reuse $\LaTeX$ fragments when answering related cross-site questions. This greatly encumbers cross-site pollination." - in relation to that... – J. M. isn't a mathematician Dec 9 '10 at 19:38