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This community has a base set of policies and procedures spelled out on our site tour. Beyond that, the particulars are hashed out in Meta through discussion and voting. Answers that are voted up and have a majority backing then become site policy. Thus Meta has the appearance of authority.

I observe that Meta is also sometimes used as a deposit box, where personal reflections/opinions/observations that are stored may later be drawn on in conversation, comments, etc. by a link. While this is a convenient, and economic use of Meta on a personal level--it saves typing, it enables us to communicate larger blocks of information in a smaller space--I am concerned about the potential for confusion, especially to new members.

This potential for confusion is especially imminent when moderators use Meta in this way. It naturally creates the impression that personal agendas are site policy.

How can we avoid such confusion?

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This is a good question that deserves some thought. Meta is very important, and posting links to meta is a useful way of helping users (new and old) understand the site and contribute to it's direction as members of the community here.

The post Dan linked to in the comments above is helpful for understanding when a meta post really is 'site policy', but in brief, "it's a judgement call"1. I think that in cases where a post doesn't have clear community acceptance, linking to it without an accompanying disclaimer isn't usually a good thing to do for new users: as you say it's easy to give the impression that we are quoting site policy when that isn't the case.

And yes, I think you are also right that the potential for confusion is increased when a comment has a diamond attached. We should probably be even more careful than others about doing this.


1 I personally think a post needs at least a handful of upvotes and at least double the number of upvotes than downvotes to be clearly 'community accepted' but that is just a rule of thumb and not supposed to be interpreted as an alternative to sound judgement.

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In order to avoid such confusion can we:
1) Use Meta links to instruct members on what has emerged as general site policy.
2) Avoid use of meta links to reflect personal persuasion/opinion unless stating "This is not site policy but..."

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