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This is from Area51:

Sites remain in beta for at least 90 days to build up a critical mass of users, questions, and participation.

We are at day 86 and our stats are good. We have hit a slowdown but the numbers are getting better. So the numbers are ok. What is going to happen in 4 days from now?

  • When could we hope to see this site released?

Some of you have more experience with Stack exchange than me but I know that the 90 days period is just a symbolic mark. I've seen other SE that are still in beta after 2 or 3 years. Their stats used to be acceptable maybe but now the are usually not high enough for a full release and they are unlikely to improve after so long. For some topics, it's possible to come with new questions but less for other. I think we could be in the second category but it's still unclear for the moment.

If I look at the History SE, they have been in beta for 1157 days and their stats today are just under the requirements. If the activity does not increase, could it get closed or can it stay in beta forever as long as there is some activity? And is it really a problem to stay in beta indefinitely?

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    $\begingroup$ I second that last question: "And is it really a problem to stay in beta indefinitely?" I read the "What beta means" article and nothing that makes much difference as far as asking and answering questions was apparent to me. But I am totally new to stack exchange. Did I miss something important? $\endgroup$ – Ville Niemi Dec 13 '14 at 12:43
  • $\begingroup$ I could post an answer but really I would just be ripping off Michael and Monica. Things are going well here and it seems we pretty regularly have new users which is very important for the long term. $\endgroup$ – James Dec 16 '14 at 15:34
  • $\begingroup$ @VilleNiemi would you mind posting a link to the "What beta means" article? It's the question I came to WBMeta looking to find an answer for, but I can't find anything like what you referenced. Thanks. $\endgroup$ – nitsua60 Sep 23 '15 at 0:46
  • $\begingroup$ @nitsua60 meta.stackexchange.com/help/whats-beta $\endgroup$ – Ville Niemi Sep 23 '15 at 10:47
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As Monica has already pointed out, the information on Area 51 is woefully out of date. (Great phrasing, so I'm borrowing it.)

When could we hope to see this site released?

The site is already released. It's here, there's activity (plenty of it!), and more than one of the higher-ups seem to feel that we are taking on a difficult type of subject matter and handling it well. I would consider the risk, at present, of the site being shut down to be very small.

What could perhaps cause the site to not eventually graduate from beta would be if there is a marked deterioration in the quality of content posted, or if the site's scope turns out to broaden considerably. I do not believe we are seeing the latter (questions are being closed for various and from what I see appropriate reasons, and what's more, they are being closed by community voting rather than by the infamous mod-hammer), and my personal feeling is that while some posts, particularly questions, turn out needing work beyond the first revision, the community appears to be guiding newcomers which is almost certainly a huge plus in the eyes of the people with the keys. In general a few (1-3) questions are closed per day out of the 5-15 or so questions posted per day; consider that some of these are reopened later, and that is not a bad fraction at all.

A few things that we do have (almost certainly an incomplete list):

  • High quality content
  • Lots of activity compared to many other sites
  • Lots of community decision-making, including voting on posts and closing/reopening questions
  • A very active Meta site
  • An active chat room
  • A generally welcoming atmosphere where more experienced community members guide people who are new to the site and/or the Stack Exchange format in general
  • An increase in new content added; currently questions are trending marginally upwards, and answers are practically taking to the skies and are currently close to the site's all-time high since the public beta began. Upvotes are trending upwards while downvotes are holding relatively steady and starting to trend upwards at a much lower level.

All of these are great signs going forward, but the fact that the site is able to generally keep producing high-quality content (as also indicated by the voting pattern shown by the community at large) is a stellar sign in my book at least.

Which pretty much brings me to the bottom line. Keep up the good work. Try to bring new people into the fold. Post links to great questions and/or answers elsewhere on the Internet. Keep mentoring new users (remember that we are all new to this at some point). Keep contributing. Keep voting, both up and down as appropriate. It's a great sign in a way that question votes are not very far below answer votes; around a quarter of all up and down votes are on questions.

TL;DR: Let's prove with every action that this site is worthy of graduating, and eventually it will graduate. Until then, let's obsess more about ensuring that it will eventually graduate than about exactly when it will.

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Sadly, the text on Area 51 is woefully out of date on this point. The shortest time to graduation for any SE 2.0 site (that is, all but the few oldest) was six months and that was a while ago. On average it takes about two years, with some sites having been in beta now for close to four years.

My understanding is that SE will let sites linger in beta for years so long as they think there are still users there and there's at least a little activity. On the other hand, if a private beta gets off to a slow start they're much more willing to shut that down. I don't know what counts as still active (is there a minimum number of active users? how active?).

We are doing well. Yes we need to increase the number of questions, without compromising quality of course. I suspect we'll be one of the faster sites to graduate -- but that it could still be a year or two.

Also, SE's designers are very overloaded, so even once a decision is made to graduate a site, it can take 6-12 months to actually implement it. (Yes, I believe they recognize that this is a problem. Whether it changes how they manage graduations down the road, I don't know.)

So, bottom line, please take Area 51 with a huge grain of salt, and meanwhile please focus on making this an awesome site with lots of great questions, stand-out answers, and engaged users.

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