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As we're now one week away from the end of the 90-day beta period, I thought I'd re-raise the issue of our beta period progress. So, what news?

(This question really is about news, rather than about how we can bolster our progress, which I think was pretty well covered in the previous question.)

At least on the proposal site we are no longer listed as "worrying" in any category, but still only "okay" in terms of questions and visits per day. Under "avid users" we're still listed as "okay" but we're very close to "excellent."

  • Does anyone have any new news from our SE overlords? Say, for example, what's the likelihood that in a week this site will just disappear?

  • Any progress on getting officially sponsored/hosted/some other arrangement by ACM/SIGACT?

  • Does the fact that we're in talks with SIGACT (and by "we" here I think I mean Suresh) mean that SE would delay any potential demolition until we finish talking with SIGACT?

  • ...?

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    $\begingroup$ about visits per day, I guess one reason for having smaller number of visits on area51 than we really have here (2,839 at this moment) is that many people (including myself) use noscript plugin with Firefox and block scripts from Google Analytics. I guess this is a less problem on other sites but I would expect a much higher percentage of CS people to use this plugin and block Google Analytics. Maybe we should post this as a bug (the difference between visits listed here and on area51). $\endgroup$ – Kaveh Nov 8 '10 at 0:39
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    $\begingroup$ Based on some of the responses, I just wanted to clarify: my main concern is not graduating from beta (I agree that, right now, graduating from beta wouldn't necessarily be a Good Thing), but simply that the site not disappear. Thanks for the informative answers everybody! $\endgroup$ – Joshua Grochow Nov 8 '10 at 14:56
  • $\begingroup$ I've just checked on the proposal site, and we've just hit Excellent on everything except the number of questions which is "Okay". Does this mean we might be graduating sooner than we thought? $\endgroup$ – Joe Fitzsimons Nov 14 '10 at 9:04
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On the specific questions: many sites are staying in beta longer than 90 days, so I'm not particularly worried on that front. SIGACT discussions continue: I've exchanged some email with the SE folks and they are on board in principle. Lance was supportive (in principle) when I spoke to him at FOCS, and I also resolved some questions that he had for the SE gang. The SIGACT exec committee meets sometime in November and he said he'd bring it up then. So we should hear something soon. As for whether this will delay any graduation from beta, I don't think so.

But I agree that graduation from beta is not necessarily the best thing in the world if we don't have the right mix of high-rep users, and given that sites are not being axed at 90 days, I'm not entirely worried. We definitely could use a larger pool of regulars, but our user base is growing steadily, and hopefully over time our pool of 200+ rep users will also grow.

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Judging from the blog posts “When will my site graduate?” by Robert Cartaino and “Pruning season” by Joel Spolsky, it is highly unlikely that the website is shut down in a week. See also other websites on Area 51 which have been in public beta for more than 90 days.

At the same time, it is unlikely that we graduate the beta in a week because the strategy seems that the websites in all-green graduate first.

My guess is that the number “90 days” has little real effect. We should continue to be a good community, and I guess that we will graduate the beta eventually.

Added: By the way, “graduating beta” does not only mean that we have our own site design and that we have probably less chance to get shut down. Actually, from the system point of view, the most relevant effect of graduating beta is that the thresholds for some privileged actions are raised from the beta level to the normal level. This means that it is probably not good to go out of beta if we do not have many users with high reputation points.

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  • $\begingroup$ Are there any "all-green" websites? Latex may come close but other than that, I couldn't find one. $\endgroup$ – Matthias Nov 7 '10 at 23:58
  • $\begingroup$ Yeah, it seems like graduating from beta is a bad thing. Unless that correlates with getting a new design, but apparently it does not. $\endgroup$ – Robin Kothari Nov 8 '10 at 0:15
  • $\begingroup$ The main change will be closing and editing posts. Editing is useful, but not very essential right now. On the other hand closing questions will become very difficult, it will require +3000 reputation points (currently we have 5 non-moderator above this threshold, while we have 30 users with +1000, and I have seen users with reputation below this level voting for closing questions so probably there is a typo there, the site says that +500 is enough for voting to close a question, and we have plenty of them right now.) $\endgroup$ – Kaveh Nov 8 '10 at 0:17
  • $\begingroup$ @Matthias: Currently I do not know any all-green beta websites. All the all-green bets websites with more than 90 days I know of have been graduated. $\endgroup$ – Tsuyoshi Ito Nov 8 '10 at 0:42
  • $\begingroup$ @Kaveh: Some of the numbers shown on the FAQ page are incorrect (probably obsolete). Voting to close requires 500 rep points during beta, 3000 rep points after beta. I have read somewhere that the thresholds shown on the “privileges” page are taken directly from the same variables used in the actual code to check privileges and that therefore they should be always correct. $\endgroup$ – Tsuyoshi Ito Nov 8 '10 at 1:50
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    $\begingroup$ @Robin: it looks like one advantage of "graduating" is the availability of data dumps: blog.stackoverflow.com/category/cc-wiki-dump $\endgroup$ – András Salamon Nov 11 '10 at 14:44
  • $\begingroup$ @András: True for now, but I am not sure if that is their solid policy or they will provide also data dumps of beta sites eventually. $\endgroup$ – Tsuyoshi Ito Nov 11 '10 at 15:37
  • $\begingroup$ TeX will graduate the beta soon. Every metric shown is either green or very close to green. $\endgroup$ – Tsuyoshi Ito Nov 11 '10 at 17:11
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I see two main weaknesses (both mentioned by others too):

(1) Not enough questions. (2) Not enough users at 3,000 rep.

I'm going to try to ask a question a day for a while. This is as long as I have something (1) I really want to know the answer to and (2) that isn't totally stupid. (1) and (2) are not disjoint sets.... I think if other people try to ask questions more regularly too -- especially those who are in the 2,000's -- it'll be good for both the site and the site statistics.

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    $\begingroup$ Aaron, actually I am not very concerned about the number of questions. I think we should try to get more experts and graduate students from areas we are weak at the moment, very high percentage of our questions are still in complexity/algorithms/graph theory. Even [cg.comp-geom] and [cr.crypto-security] have less than 20 questions. I hope that the CACM article will be effective in getting more experts in other areas interested in using the site. $\endgroup$ – Kaveh Nov 8 '10 at 0:54
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    $\begingroup$ It's a SIGACT News article. CACM would be much broader. Maybe someday. :-) I was going to start another question on meta for places we might send that announcement, or something similar. For example the Foundations of Mathematics or the DISC/PODC mailing lists. $\endgroup$ – Aaron Sterling Nov 8 '10 at 1:14
  • $\begingroup$ You are right! typo :). good idea, I guess each of us are on a few mailing lists, it would make sense to coordinate the places we want to post it. $\endgroup$ – Kaveh Nov 8 '10 at 1:22

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