First, I would like to apologize that our behavior caused so much work for so many people, and we appreciate that you acknowledge the efforts we have taken to rally and educate our community. I believe this is an example of where communication may have resulted in significantly less work and stress for everyone on both sides (SE, Bioacoustics).
Yes, we actively coordinated the education of our inexperienced community to ask/answer/vote on SE and reach 200 points. At times the process felt very much like an insiders’ game where the rules were confusing (at best) for newbies such as us-- but our intent was not to game the system (despite appearances). As has been noted, we are an enthusiastic community– perhaps at times we were too enthusiastic. We do not deny the actions we have been accused of, but our intentions were good (we would not have worked so hard if that were not the case!). I see this as a learning opportunity for our Bioacoustics Community, but also for SE (see here).
So, where do we go from here? Yes, clearly, we need to ensure we have good behavior, but at this point the questions are: (1) How do we (Bioacoustics) move forward? And: (2) Can SE take steps to minimize this behavior in the future?
How do we (Bioacoustics) move forward?
Do we move forward?
As the leader of this effort, I can speak directly to the history of this proposal (the history started in 2018), and I can say that while there are alternatives, I strongly feel that this is the best platform for our needs, and I strongly feel that we can (slowly, surely) build a successful site with active and dedicated community members. It appears from the overall response that SE is willing to allow us to continue our efforts. There have been discussions from our community about moving to a different site, and there are many that are deeply frustrated with our experiences to date, but I would recommend that we continue our efforts to create a Bioacoustics Stack Exchange.
Behavior Change: The intention of the massive suspensions were to encourage change – that is easy enough going forward. But know that we had very good intentions and were working very hard to teach our community how to use SE – and we were trying to navigate this frustrating process on a timeline. On the one hand we are commended for working hard to reach & educate our community, but we are suspended for too much coordination. Fair enough, as many of us did take it too far– but for newbies such as us, the rules have the transparency of a kaleidoscope.
Electing our own Moderators: Now that our most active and enthusiastic people have been suspended, they are unable to be a moderator for >1 year. We then must either:
- Identify alternative moderators from less active or less experienced users (after our community has been severely wounded), or
- Use moderators who are not dedicated to our community.
Neither of these choices is in our best interest or will help us succeed, and we are given only a few days to make this happen.
We would like to respectfully request that the Community Moderators help us identify a path forward so that we can consider electing from at least a few of our initial Moderator Nominees.
I’d be happy to elaborate on how we got into this mess– but where we stand now is that we have been crippled at a point in the process where we have a matter of days to rally a wounded community. We are not trying to game the system, we are trying to build a successful site. I hope the moderators will consider our good intentions.
Opportunities to improve SE for communities such as ours
It is clear that Area51 is not meant for communities not already embedded in the Stack Exchange network, but I am encouraged that there may be at least some interest in changing this. Based on my experiences, I have provided suggestions to @JourneymanGeek’s question on on how to better accommodate communities such as ours: How should a new site with a good userbase *outside* the Stack Exchange mainstream get itself bootstrapped?
The problems related to voting were not due solely to the need to garner 100 users with >200 points. These problems stemmed from a frustrating registration process, unclear and confusing expectations, a very limited ability to communicate with the community, and a deadline that sets up good intentioned and dedicated groups such as ours for failure.
We SEE the value of SE for our community, we KNOW we can get there, but please understand what an intensely unnecessarily frustrating process this has been for us so far. We would like to move beyond these frustrations and get to the real work of supporting a successful site.
(Preferably with help rather than obstacles, and preferably with a timeline that is supportive rather than punitive.)