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I'm inclined to think that it's not, given my experiences here and on MO. meta.MO is, rather surprisingly, pretty laid back. There is no voting on topics, and it gives us a place shielded from the competitiveness of votes and closure.

Contrast this with meta.math.SE. It's been said countless times by Jeff et. al. that stackexchange is not designed for discussions, and this is clear because discussions are not threaded, and the comment boxes are specifically designed so it's painful to have discussions in them. meta is, almost by definition a place created specifically to discuss site policy and the community. Why are we using stackexchange for one of the things it was specifically designed to suppress?

I propose that we create a forum using vanilla like MO and give it a shot instead of this meta.

Edit: Since the community has "spoken", so to speak, how do we take actions to get this implemented? There is absolutely no problem getting a vanilla test-forum up and running, the only issue is how to get a link to it up on the top of the page. If we want to have a fair test, there should be a link to this alternative meta up at the top.

I'm reasonably certain that I can convince Andrew Stacey to host it on the same server as the nForum (the forum attached to the nLab), but if the administrators would rather host it on their own servers, that would be fine too. The main issue is, as I said before, convincing the administrators to link it for us or create the forum themselves.

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    $\begingroup$ Indeed, meta.M.SE (and meta.*.SE in general) have always seemed to be a case of having a hammer and thinking everything is a nail. $\endgroup$ – Mariano Suárez-Álvarez Oct 19 '10 at 4:11
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    $\begingroup$ If the meta.MO admins allow a new category (or even a single new discussion thread) for meta.math.SE, then the already running platform can be used to start. $\endgroup$ – T.. Oct 19 '10 at 4:34
  • $\begingroup$ Why not just make a forum on one of the various free forum services floating around? $\endgroup$ – Paul VanKoughnett Oct 20 '10 at 14:06
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    $\begingroup$ One option would be ask the moderators to sticky a meta thread with a link to the new meta site. Can this be done? $\endgroup$ – Akhil Mathew Oct 21 '10 at 23:58
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    $\begingroup$ I'm having no part of that. If the admins really care about which one works better, they should give both metas a fair chance. $\endgroup$ – 97832123 Oct 22 '10 at 0:08
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    $\begingroup$ can you provide links explaining exactly what you think is going wrong -- eg to "failed" meta.math.se questions -- so everyone can look at the evidence and make an informed decision? $\endgroup$ – Jeff Atwood Oct 22 '10 at 19:48
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    $\begingroup$ @Jeff: Here are some that I can remember offhand (because they involved me). meta.math.stackexchange.com/questions/504/… meta.math.stackexchange.com/questions/832/… among other questions. I'm sure that the user @T.. will be able to document a much more substantial number of such discussions. $\endgroup$ – 97832123 Oct 22 '10 at 21:02
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    $\begingroup$ @978 based on those two examples, you want a place to argue with and berate your fellow users? Our engine does not facilitate such behavior. Take that off-site, please. $\endgroup$ – Jeff Atwood Oct 22 '10 at 21:23
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    $\begingroup$ @Jeff Atwood, I think you have misunderstood the arguments for having meta operate differently. $\endgroup$ – anon Oct 22 '10 at 21:45
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    $\begingroup$ @Jeff: I don't agree that what you've said is a proper characterization of either of those issues. $\endgroup$ – 97832123 Oct 23 '10 at 4:34
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Based on our unqualified success (despite our initial trepidation) with Meta Stack Overflow, I now believe that our engine works very well for this. The community agrees.

https://meta.stackexchange.com/questions/18811/two-months-on-is-meta-working-as-a-replacement-to-uservoice

Joke aside, the Q&A also works for this site.

It's not ideal, especially for discussions, but it motivates them to be more concise and less aimless. You can't fall into a 10 page discussion that nobody wants to read from the beginning, because the only way to "chat" is through comments. The fact that this is limited actually helps people avoid slipping into useless and endless arguments in my opinion.

Also, you don't need to post "I agree with you". You can just vote to express the fact that you agree (or disagree).

Not perfectly, mind you, but it's more than sufficient for discussion and feedback -- and its very design tends to produce more focused, readable discussions.

After over a year, there are no credible, backed-by-evidence arguments being raised that Meta Stack Overflow is "not working".

(Note that voting here on meta does not affect reputation. That's by design, and documented in the meta FAQ.)

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    $\begingroup$ Has the community also found that all communities are equal? $\endgroup$ – Mariano Suárez-Álvarez Oct 22 '10 at 19:24
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    $\begingroup$ @Jeff: There are credible backed-by-evidence arguments that meta.math.SE is not working. The problem with SE2.0 is that without more site-specific customization, it doesn't really work as well as one would hope. On MO, Anton has changed as much of the SE system as he can reasonably hope to without having direct access to the code. Also, see Mariano's comment. $\endgroup$ – 97832123 Oct 22 '10 at 19:29
  • $\begingroup$ Also, Jeff, the thread above contrasts discussions in meta.SO with uservoice, not with an actual legitimate discussion forum. $\endgroup$ – 97832123 Oct 22 '10 at 19:37
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    $\begingroup$ @978 Anton's decision was based on the fact that he had no other options at the time, not that it was somehow more correct. If you want to do off-site stuff, you are obviously free to do that -- but it is off-site and completely outside our purview. $\endgroup$ – Jeff Atwood Oct 22 '10 at 19:40
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    $\begingroup$ @mariano sure, but for all ~25 other communities we run, this is the first I've ever seen of this (and it's based the old data point of Anton's original historical decision). Feel free to take a look at all the other metas to prove that to yourself, if need be. $\endgroup$ – Jeff Atwood Oct 22 '10 at 19:42
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    $\begingroup$ @Jeff: This is not "based on" the old data point of Anton's decision. As an active member of both meta.math.SE and meta.MO, this "data point" comes from months of active usage of both metas $\endgroup$ – 97832123 Oct 22 '10 at 21:10
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    $\begingroup$ @Jeff Atwood, it is useful to read the experience of the other sites & thanks for posting that, but I think the situation and community is rather different here. $\endgroup$ – anon Oct 22 '10 at 21:47
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    $\begingroup$ @muad: Yeah, we got 978... and other people who disagree a lot. And loudly so. =/ $\endgroup$ – Jens Oct 22 '10 at 22:40
  • $\begingroup$ @Jens, I don't understand what you mean. $\endgroup$ – anon Oct 22 '10 at 22:55
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    $\begingroup$ @Jeff: I thought you were supposed to vote based on the quality of the question/answer, not based on whether you agree with it. $\endgroup$ – Paul VanKoughnett Oct 23 '10 at 1:37
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    $\begingroup$ @Jeff: I understand that you may have had different experiences on other sites, but SE is not a good fit for meta.math. Your argument consists of "well it worked for SO, so it should be good enough for you!", which is, as Mariano pointed out, a bit silly when understood in the proper context. $\endgroup$ – 97832123 Oct 23 '10 at 4:33
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    $\begingroup$ @978 the two posts you cited to support your position aren't just harmful, they are actively evil. If your "evidence" is that our engine makes it difficult for vitriol and bedlam to thrive in meta -- then from my perspective, that is completely by design. If you feed on that kind of chaos, take it off-site. $\endgroup$ – Jeff Atwood Oct 23 '10 at 5:17
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    $\begingroup$ @Jeff: The reason for the chaos and bedlam is precisely that the issues were not dealt with and further that the site is not properly equipped to deal with any sort of contentious disagreement between users and the moderators. $\endgroup$ – 97832123 Oct 23 '10 at 5:41
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    $\begingroup$ @97832123: People who disagree being a subset of professional mathematicians does not mean that all (or most or many) professional mathematicians are such people. $\endgroup$ – Isaac Oct 23 '10 at 5:42
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    $\begingroup$ @Isaac: Of the professional mathematicians participating in meta, all of them have agreed that SE is a bad choice for meta... $\endgroup$ – 97832123 Oct 23 '10 at 5:46
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In certain cases, a threaded forum may be a better tool for meta discussions. But you still have the problem that forums tend to become noisier and noisier until the "signal" is lost in all the "noise." I suspect this community wouldn't have as much of that problem as other sites.

I prefer to think of meta site "debates" as a form of deliberative assembly:

  • A question is posed;
  • You weigh in with a carefully-thought-out response;
  • Then a short comment session;
  • Followed by voting.

Meta.math.SE doesn't work exactly like that but the goal is to get to a reasonable answer quickly without branching into different discussions.

The design of Meta.math.SE doesn't welcome (or even support) inter-answer debates. If a subject under discussion demands that type of interaction, I imagine the soon-to-released chat.math rooms will work nicely.

Many discussion benefit from open debate; Question… Answer… "What do you think of that?" Back and forth, many-to-many, until all facets are thoroughly explored to its natural conclusion. Then the key points — or even the final outcome — of the debate could be posted to meta for those that come after.

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    $\begingroup$ @Robert: It is currently extremely difficult to follow discussions that span multiple answers (this does happen, rather frequently, in fact). Regarding your last comment, I think that it is complete nonsense. What makes it any easier to have questions/answers/discussions/debates using this software compared to the software used for meta.MO? Having used both, I can say for certain that meta.MO is significantly better suited for the task. Why don't you read through meta.MO and take a look? We have actually resolved issues on meta.MO. That's more than I can say for meta.math.SE. $\endgroup$ – 97832123 Oct 20 '10 at 18:43
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    $\begingroup$ Also, the 500 character limit on comments here is so god-damned annoying. $\endgroup$ – 97832123 Oct 20 '10 at 18:43
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    $\begingroup$ The problem with what you describe as deliberative assembly is that that is not a discussion. Not even legislative bodies, who are supposedly ones who use that model, use it: all discussion happens elsewhere, and is of a much different form! That type of discussion is rather a multi-monologue. $\endgroup$ – Mariano Suárez-Álvarez Oct 20 '10 at 19:45
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    $\begingroup$ Also, chat.*.SE sounds like it is a variant of IRC, which is quite different from, say, meta.MO or (and mentioning this will show my age) good ol' email lists. IRC is not a good place to have discussions either---in particular, it is not a good place to have off-line discussions. $\endgroup$ – Mariano Suárez-Álvarez Oct 20 '10 at 19:48
  • $\begingroup$ (I'm using off-line in the sense of not in real time) $\endgroup$ – Mariano Suárez-Álvarez Oct 20 '10 at 19:48
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    $\begingroup$ I'd agree that many questions benefit from open debate, but I don't think this platform is designed for that. In fact, the way comments and answers can be moved up and down their threads, I'd say it was actively designed to prevent it. That's a good thing for math.SE, but a bad thing for meta. A forum would give the users more freedom and the discussion more clarity. As another example, muad's recent threads about a disagreement with another user are really not questions, and so don't really belong here. If this were a forum, I'd have less of a problem with those threads existing. $\endgroup$ – Paul VanKoughnett Oct 20 '10 at 19:54
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    $\begingroup$ @978 we explicitly suppress discussion because it inhibits learning. See blog.stackoverflow.com/2010/09/good-subjective-bad-subjective -- though we relax the limits some for meta to turn the knob a bit more towards leniency. $\endgroup$ – Jeff Atwood Oct 22 '10 at 19:46
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    $\begingroup$ @Jeff: You seem to have a completely different idea of what meta should be used for. Unlike SO and MO, math.SE is a community-run and community-organized affair. On SO, you can (and frequently do) do basically whatever you want as an administrator. SE2.0 sites have a completely different use for meta (specifically discussing policy and making decisions about how the site should be run). $\endgroup$ – 97832123 Oct 22 '10 at 21:06
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    $\begingroup$ @Jeff: Also, your last comment is completely irrelevant. I am not arguing for discussion on the main site. I'm talking about meta. Meta serves a completely different purpose than the parent site. It's almost like you haven't read anything anyone else has written WRT this issue. I'm sorry that I don't take your blog posts as the "gospel truth" (although many of them are very on-point!), but that's because unlike some of the people here, I have a mind of my own and make decisions after careful contemplation. (I also think that seeing "meta-tags" as an absolute evil is a bit silly.) $\endgroup$ – 97832123 Oct 23 '10 at 4:37

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