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This site may reach a fair amount of people that are willing to keep Latin and the institutions teaching and studying it alive. If a university is planning to sack all its remaining Latin professors or a country is planning to demolish its classically oriented institute in Rome, those involved might make a petition and want as many as possible to sign. But is asking for petition signatures or any other such support on-topic here, either on main or on meta?

Here are some proposed answers:

  • Such requests should be posted as questions on main with a specific tag. (I don't like this, since such questions would not be real questions even if disguised as such. This site is for questions and answers. The main site should be reserved for Latin itself.)
  • Such requests should be posted as questions on meta with a specific tag. (I think this is better than the previous, but still not good.)
  • We should make one meta question to which all such requests would be posted as answers. (This sounds reasonable to me. Requests would be in one clear place instead of flooding all over the site in any situation. And if it doesn't work out, we can simply lock the question and change our mind.)
  • Such requests are completely off-topic on both main and meta sites. (This sounds reasonable as well. I'm not sure if this site should be used as a tool to rally forces for any cause, even if most users agree with the cause.)

I find it inevitable that this would come up at some point, and I would much prefer to have a policy in advance. Not everyone with the power to decide about funding thinks that Latin is worthwhile.

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    Would this even be useful? The entire purpose of a petition is to target a specific audience whom would be affected by a change. If a school is planning to sack a bunch of Latin professor, they could not care less about what everyone on the Internet thinks about it. They want to know what their students, both current and prospective, think about that change. Unless the target audience is "anyone who can access this web page" then Stack Exchange isn't going to be a great place to advertise a petition. Even then, an online petition would still carry very little weight. – animuson Feb 28 '16 at 6:25
  • @animuson, sometimes universities care for their public image. A petition with a bunch of signatures shows that abolishing Latin would harm their image. Sometimes petitions have a non-zero effect. The petition can also remind a university that harming Latin also harms history and philosophy, for example, so they can't just remove one thing without effecting the others. Whether or not (global) petitions really work, some people will make them, and we should know what to do with them. – Joonas Ilmavirta Feb 28 '16 at 9:40
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I'd go with the fourth alternative: Petions are off-topic (no matter how much sympathy for the content I might have).

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    Far fewer people would ever see it in chat, I think. – Cerberus Feb 27 '16 at 23:08
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I'd suggest that this sort of thing best fits in chat, not main or meta. Main should be devoted to the Latin language, as you say. Meta, in general, though more flexible, is still best for discussions closely related to the site itself.

Chat, on the other hand, is much more flexible. One can make a call to action there, and, if others agree, they can star the message, ensuring that it receives some visibility. In fact, such an announcement would get more visibility on chat than in a dedicated meta post (as you suggest), since all petitions after the first two or three would be relegated to the bottom of the page, where only the most dedicated meta readers will find it.

  • I had forgotten about chat since I have never used it on any SE site. It sounds like a good solution. Even if such requests are best fit for chat, should they be strictly off-topic for meta? – Joonas Ilmavirta Feb 27 '16 at 22:29
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    Yes, my preference would be that petitions be strictly off-topic on meta, unless somehow related to this site. – Nathaniel Feb 27 '16 at 22:32
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One platform for such announcements would be our chat room. As long as you observe the usual rules (don't interrupt people's conversations, don't spam), you can post events there. Other users can "star" them, so that they will be featured on the right-hand-side of the screen for other people to see. (Having an easily starrable comment makes this easier, e.g. FYI: Conversational Latin Seminar at the University of Helsinki, February 2016.)

That said, of course a post on meta would be much more desirable (formattable, editable, upvotable, commentable, etc.). I think that posting a FYI meta post would be alright. If people dislike the content of the post, they can downvote or cast close votes. If there are too many of these posts, we can discuss their on-topicity in another meta post.

But the community of Latin learners is relatively small (for now!), and there might be a large portion of people genuinely interested so for now I would say to use your judgement and give it a try.

Saying this I'm thinking of these posts being few in number; I'd be against our meta becoming a news feed for all things Latin. For frequent announcements I'd say to post in the chat room.

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    I agree: Meta is fairly free and open on most websites. Until it turns into a problem somehow, I don't think we should forbid things that at least some reasonable people would be in favour of. Even if those people are a minority (after all, a good community does not impose the will of the majority on the minority unless there is a real problem). – Cerberus Feb 27 '16 at 23:11
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We don't want Meta to become a petition spam fest. However, it seems at least a few reasonable people are in favour of the idea of the occasional petition on Meta. So I think the majority should not impose its will and forbid what the minority wants unless it becomes a problem.

So, for the time being, I propose that we watch closely how many petitions are posted Meta and allow them initially; as soon as we see too many petitions posted, we restrict or ban them.

Petitioners are cautioned not to post more than the occasional, very important petition.

We could institute a standard procedure:

  • Petitions must be posted in chat first, asking those present for their opinion.

  • If most people in chat find that the petition fits the site well enough, the petitioner may proceed to post the post on Meta.

  • If not, the petitioner should not post it on Meta.

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