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Edit: Posted a similar question on Area 51.


It seems that there is only one part keeping us in beta: our lack of asked questions. Here's a screenshot of this (as of August 14th):

screenshot of our site at Area 51

I know this isn't really our culture, we prefer to have more thought-out questions than a simple Q&A question on our main site, but how we can get some more people to come up with their own challenges? That could probably alone get a lot of progress in that direction.

And, by the way, I know of the similar question here, but in the span of that 7 1/2 months, everything has increased except for the questions/day. The "avid users", "total users", and "visits/day" have increased about 30-50% in that time period. Questions/day decreased by about 1 per day.

It also appears that Code Review has a similar problem with their answer ratio (1.8, with everything else better than ours), because of their culture. They are the only one who's been in beta longer than us, and not by long.

As a side note, at our current rate of growth, we would rival Ask Ubuntu in size by the time we would get that required number of questions (15) a day.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I still haven't heard a good answer as to why we should care about getting out of beta. \$\endgroup\$ – Peter Taylor Aug 15 '14 at 0:00
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    \$\begingroup\$ Would you like some more inviting artwork and a more fun, fitting look than this sterile stuff? No offense, but it is kinda sterile. \$\endgroup\$ – Isiah Meadows Aug 15 '14 at 1:11
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    \$\begingroup\$ @impinball I don't think we actually want to graduate already. If we did right now we'd only have a bit over 60 users who can close vote, 12 users who have access to the moderator tools and no one would could delete and undelete vote (except mods of course). I think we need to generate a few more high-rep users before graduating is actually beneficial. \$\endgroup\$ – Martin Ender Aug 15 '14 at 12:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ @MartinBüttner And where's this stat? \$\endgroup\$ – Isiah Meadows Aug 15 '14 at 12:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ @impinball Here: stackexchange.com/leagues/88/alltime/codegolf The "Total Reputation" table gives the amount of users with N+ reputation, which is useful to see how many users would have a privilege. \$\endgroup\$ – ProgramFOX Aug 17 '14 at 9:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ Why is having artwork connected with number of of closevoters/mods? Maybe just develop the artwork without leaving beta, so there will be no obvious "stick" "forcing" us to get out of beta. \$\endgroup\$ – Vi. Sep 1 '14 at 21:34
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Although I am a mod, I am not speaking on behalf of anybody but myself in this post.

The Community Team looks at a number of factors in deciding when and whether to graduate a beta site. The stats you see are one indication, but it's definitely not "only one part keeping us in beta". Sites that are Excellent in all categories are not guaranteed a graduation, and there have been sites graduated that have one or more non-Excellent categories.

So let's not talk about increasing question volume. That would be disastrous for this site, if we don't improve the question quality! Although I'm kind of a backseat mod these days, whenever I go to the front page, I often see challenges that are half-baked, that should have gone through the sandbox process first. My honest opinion is that until we address the quality issue, this site is simply not ready to graduate.

To that end, I'm tempted to use a new style of moderation where I nuke all the half-baked questions I see[1], even ones with answers attached already. :-P This is certainly a departure from the laissez-faire style of moderation that I prefer, but my feeling is that without a major disruption of that sort, this site may never be ready to graduate.

Comments welcome. :-)

[1] I am not trying to go against the community consensus on what posts are or aren't acceptable, simply that we enforce it a little more...strictly. ;-)

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I would say that the limiting thing for us is more the sandbox than anything. \$\endgroup\$ – Isiah Meadows Aug 15 '14 at 2:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ @impinball Well, I've been trying to ask for a dedicated sandbox site for a while, and I know you've been too. \$\endgroup\$ – Chris Jester-Young Aug 15 '14 at 2:23
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insert message about not speaking in mod-voice here

Okay, first of all, stats aren't everything. If the site didn't change except for 10 more halfhearted. mediocre questions, we wouldn't be a single step closer to graduation. In fact, having to deal with those low quality filler posts would even be a setback to the quality of the site as a whole.

But more importantly, we shouldn't be doing things so that we can graduate. We should do exactly what we would do if the site had already graduated. That is, work to improve the quality of the site, not to pass some arbitrary statistics. We're not going to graduate when a few numbers line up perfectly; we're going to graduate when we're ready.

So don't even think about graduation when you visit the site. Think about making it better. Not better as in arbitrary statistics, but better in the way you would if the site was already a full-fledged, graduated Stack Exchange site. That is what's going to be better for the site in the future.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Ok. If you checked my link, I pointed out a sort-of flaw in the human element for describing whether a site has passed beta or not. I'm finding it's not an issue about us as much as an issue with Area 51's algorithms. \$\endgroup\$ – Isiah Meadows Aug 15 '14 at 2:05
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    \$\begingroup\$ @impinball The human element is not a flaw. The job of the Community Team is to decide if a Stack Exchange beta site has an actual established community before graduating the site. We are starting to have a community, which I'm very happy about, but I'm not sure if it's really established yet. \$\endgroup\$ – Chris Jester-Young Aug 15 '14 at 2:23
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ChrisJester-Young Really? I'm not so sure that the community factor is a problem in our case; the meta and chat here are both very active with a thriving sense of community. I think the problem is more with simply sustaining a substantial flow of high quality challenges. (And of course efficiently handling the not-so-high quality ones.) \$\endgroup\$ – Doorknob Aug 15 '14 at 2:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Doorknob You're right, it's not fair for me to compare our community with the likes of some of the more established SE sites. So I take my comment back. But yes, we absolutely do need better quality challenges (and handling of poor ones). \$\endgroup\$ – Chris Jester-Young Aug 15 '14 at 2:32
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I think that the single biggest thing standing between us and a much higher number of questions is the lack of frameworks for automating scoring of challenges. Especially KOTH challenges, but also even simple code-golf challenges. People would be more willing to post challenges if there was less work involved in maintaining them.

Some people in the chat room have discussed making such frameworks. More effort in that direction would help the site and community as a whole.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I agree this would make a big difference. Maybe we should arrange a push when a few of us can get together at once and get this done? \$\endgroup\$ – trichoplax Aug 14 '14 at 22:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ I just may consider helping with that myself (I likes me some JS ;-). \$\endgroup\$ – Isiah Meadows Aug 15 '14 at 1:13
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I don't necessarily think that being a bigger site (compared with your example of Ask Ubuntu) would give us more questions. We are already closing questions on a daily basis. Questions here are not problems that we needed an answer to, they are well thought out challenges that don't correspond to a practical need. This means that people who enjoy using this site don't necessarily have questions to ask (even if they really like the idea of asking questions). As we build up a larger base of previous questions it becomes harder for people to think up things which are not duplicates.

I think what will make the biggest difference is having a discussion about where the gaps are. Where the areas are that are waiting to have questions asked. There is a lot of potential for duplication, which isn't bringing us anything new, but there will of course be plenty of good ideas in between that we simply haven't thought of yet. We could use some pointers to areas that need more questions. Perhaps a meta post where people can answer with one kind of question they'd like to see, and the votes will indicate which of those kinds of question are most in demand. People could even comment to say "this is the kind of question I would place a bounty on".

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I actually mentioned that dilemma (along with Code Review's similar dilemma) in my Area 51 post (link in question). \$\endgroup\$ – Isiah Meadows Aug 15 '14 at 1:11

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