When Will My Site Graduate?

At 90 days into beta, we're supposed to evaluate each Area 51 beta site and either "pass" or "fail" them as full Stack Exchange sites. Some sites feel they're not going to make it.

Please do not close GIS SE The Geographic Information Systems SE site has one more day of beta. We are Excellent in Qs answered and answer ratio, Okay in visits/day and Worrying in number of questions and number of avid users. Are the admins planning to shut us down? Please don't! We may be small, but we're good and growing. I've been working in the GIS field for almost 15 years and been active on every applicable BBS, mailing list, online forum and wiki for that time. I can honestly state that GIS SE has something that all those others didn't, and that something is valuable and worth nurturing. Give us some more time, please. Thanks.

Users put a lot of effort into their sites and, understandably, they feel a sense of attachment and responsibility for the site's well being. If you look at the beta evaluation statistics recently added to Area 51, you'll see ratings -- from "Excellent" to "Worrying".

It's true that GIS shows a "worrying" number of questions and a "worrying" number of avid users. But GIS also rates "excellent" at answering the questions posted to the site. More holistically, if you browse around at gis.stackexchange.com, it's clear that this community produces high quality questions and answers that make the internet better. That's our mission. That's the driving goal behind all our sites. Shutting down a site like GIS would not advance our goal of making the Internet a better place to get expert answers to questions.

As long as the questions and answers are of high quality, and people get answers to their questions, you shouldn't worry about the site actually being closed. However, GIS will probably stay in beta longer than average to make sure it builds up a solid user base. And that's the good news: by this criteria, almost all of the current sites should be allowed to continue.

How long can a site stay in beta?

The simple answer is, it takes as long as it takes. We'll wait. If a site needs more activity, go out and evangelize it. As long as your site shows steady progress and continues to make the Internet a better place to get expert answers to your questions, it will march on. We don't want to kill a site because it hasn't reached full status in 90 days. Nor do we want to set a hard 90-day limit and launch a site too soon.

There's more to the health of a Stack Exchange site than having a lot of questions and answers. There's an economy to the site with reputation as its currency, and voting drives that economy. A site absolutely needs on-going, sustained voting to build a class of leaders that help run and govern the site. Without leadership, there can be no community.

So from this point forward, the graduation date of a site will depend heavily on having enough users with sufficient reputation to properly lead and govern the site. It's much more important to graduate a site when it has become self-sustaining, and has established a healthy community of avid users, closers, and editors -- rather than imposing an arbitrary 90-day limit.

Thus, the order of launch will favor those beta sites which have achieved the most "excellent" ratings on our Area 51 stats panel. For everyone else -- keep going!

Why are editors and closers so important?

Private and public beta sites operate under reduced reputation requirements. This allows young sites to grow rapidly. However, when the site graduates from beta, the privilege levels return to their normal levels.

Private Beta Public Beta Graduated 1 15 15 Vote Up 15 15 15 Flag Offensive 1 50 50 Leave Comments 1 100 100 Edit Wiki Posts 1 125 125 Vote Down 1 150 150 Create New Tags 1 200 200 Retag Questions 500 750 2000 Edit Posts 1 500 3000 Vote to Close 2000 2000 10000 Access Mod Tools

This can leave a bit of a leadership vacuum if the site does not have enough 2k and 3k rep users to edit and close posts. Web Applications, for example, can not close questions through the community vote. Neither can Pro Webmasters. Moderators are left single-handedly regulating and policing the site, and that's not healthy for a community.

Why not adjust the reputation levels for new sites?

If the site needs interim reputation levels, that is a strong indication that the site isn't ready to graduate.

... it would just be yet another beta stage on top of the private and public betas. We don't need 4 beta stages. **If the site is going to graduate, it needs to graduate. **Perhaps basing graduation off of number of users at the different rep levels instead of a hard 90 days would be a better indication of a community's ability to self-police and readiness to be a real site. — rchern (webapps moderator)

Every site needs a solid group of experienced users who can assist in moderating the site. Perhaps we've all become a bit jaded about the importance of participation through voting. It is imperative that beta users cast as many of their 30 daily votes as they can. We've added reputation leagues and more incentives to vote. All we can do now is continue campaigning.

In the earliest days of Stack Exchange, we started a lot of beta sites in quick succession. Those sites are now racing past the end of their official 90 day beta periods. And that's OK. There's no harm in staying in public beta far beyond the initial 90 days, so long as the quality of the Q&A; is high and it's not a ghost town. It takes the time it takes. But if you want your site to graduate from beta sooner rather than later, encourage your fellow community members to vote early and often!

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