A couple guidelines for the site have been discussed, and on some of them there seems to be a consensus. Would it be beneficial to push some of the undecided ones through prior to going into public beta, as to leave a better impression on new users? It would also set a nice example of how to phrase questions/answers.

I'm thinking of " How should references to journal articles be provided? " in particular.

A big downside is we don't have that many meta users yet, so it wouldn't be very democratic to decide on these topics already.

  • There will always be a form of bias as survey studies have shown us; forcing all users to take part would likely be more harmful than the voluntary participation bias we're seeing now. It's a private beta, we HAVE to solve these issues with a limited set of users.
    – Ben Brocka
    Jan 25, 2012 at 20:00

3 Answers 3


First thing you need to keep in mind is that even when there is a consensus on Meta, that's not necessarily the end of the story. Plenty of folks don't read Meta normally, until someone starts making lots of edits, or voting to close, or retagging, and linking to a Meta post when asked why...

Cleanup before the private beta ends is a fine idea. I support it wholeheartedly. But make sure your cleaning results in improvement, not just busywork: adding citations to a poorly-cited post improves it, regardless of the format; changing just the format of citations on a well-referenced answer doesn't necessarily make it any better.

Besides editing, you can close poor or off-topic questions, flag already-closed questions for deletion, and - of course - post new exemplary questions or answers. All of these help to make the site look professional and active when it goes public.


I think a citation cleanup at this stage is very premature. Democratic issues aside, our problem at the moment is primarily one of content rather than presentation. Any cleanup efforts should be aimed at closing the numerous vacuous questions and producing more questions and answers of quality.

Questions like this will scare off experts before they ever get a chance to grime about citation style. I'd never recommend seeding for seeding's sake, but surely we all have more questions blocking our intellectual endeavors that fall under the umbrella of cognitive science.

  • I think we've been doing a reasonably good job of closing off-topic questions... A number of us are trying to pounce on them in chat.
    – Josh
    Jan 26, 2012 at 19:54

True, it wouldn't be very democratic, but it might be ok, if we(meta users) can find a way to measure how well we represent cognitive science experts.. Honestly, am not sure true democracy(as in equal rights to all) is a good idea in these cases anyway....

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