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Community leaders often draw attention to some content—announcements, important discussion topics, etc.—by giving it some degree of extra visibility beyond what is normal for content shared within the community. I use the term featured to describe this general status, but it is implemented in a variety of ways, including (with examples):

The Community Bulletin here on Stack Exchange does this for various types of content, including featured Meta discussions. (Please do not confuse the specific SE implementation with the broader concept that is the topic of this question.)

The practice is common in physical communities as well, from notes left on the office refrigerator to bulletin boards in coffee shops to public service announcements.

Content that is newly "featured" can draw additional attention from the community. However, if featured content is static for a certain amount of time, it can become stale. After seeing the same item enough times to quickly identify it as something they have seen before, users will begin to ignore it. Users who experience this repeatedly over the course of several visits may develop a habit of ignoring "featured" content and this habit may persist for some period of time after the content itself changes.

With the above in mind:

  • How can I determine the best length of time for a particular item to keep its "featured" status?
  • What qualities of the content and the community are important factors to consider?

My goal is to temporarily draw the attention of existing members of the community by using this feature to direct voluntary traffic to recent content that I think is particularly important. This practice will continue indefinitely, though not necessarily continuously.

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One of the big factors in this why it's featured.

If it's featured to publicise some event then it should expire around the event itself. Either just before or during the event. How long before the event should you post the publicity? Again this depends on what the event is. If it's a real world event that will require people to travel and make arrangements for places to stay then you'll need to publicise it earlier than if it's an online event that people can just click to view.

If you are publicising something like a proposed change to the way your community works then this would have to be well publicised, perhaps by a series of featured posts - each one different in some meaningful way - to ensure that any one post doesn't go stale. You can impose a deadline on this and make sure that all posts on the topic mention this deadline. This ensures that the discussion doesn't go on too long and that people are aware that they need to read and potentially act on the featured content sooner rather than later.

If your platform allows monitor the clicks on the featured content. That way you can spot when views start to tail off and you can decide whether to replace or simply remove the content if it's done its job.

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If you are able to do some statistics on your visitors, see if you can calculate the distribution of time between visits (for each visitor).

Then decide which percentage of your visitors you want to see the announcement.

If e.g. 90% visit at least once a week you know that putting the announcement up for 1-2 weeks is enough to reach at least 90%.

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